The National Museum of the Marine Corps
Since opening to the public on November 10, 2006, the National Museum of the Marine Corps has quickly become a place for Marines to convene, share their experiences, celebrate their victories and honor their fallen. The Museum has welcomed over 5 million visitors and has received rave reviews from Marines and civilians alike. Currently the Museum includes over 1,000 artifacts including tanks, aircraft, small arms, uniforms and over 1,800 photographs, letters and illustrations. Interactive and immersive experiences allow guests to travel along the frozen TokTong pass in Korea amidst enemy troops, disembark a helicopter into the landing zone atop Hill 881 South in Vietnam and experience American history as seen through the eyes of Marines.
At 120,000 square feet, the Museum opened with exhibits documenting World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War, as well as galleries on boot camp, combat art, and the current Global War on Terrorism. Three additional galleries interpreting the period from 1775 through the Civil War, the Age of Expansion and World War I opened June 5, 2010.
The Foundation is currently raising funds to complete additional galleries and spaces within the Museum to tell the stories of Marines from 1975 through today. Once complete, the Museum will encompass more than 237,000 square feet.
Semper Fidelis Memorial Park
Semper Fidelis Memorial Park overlooks the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Dedicated to the service of all Marines, it is a place of remembrance and reflection. The Park is located on approximately 23.3 acres of high ground and is an important part of the Museum visitor’s experience. Interwoven paths cross and meet at significant rally points where monuments erected to honor various Marine Corps organizations and those who served in them provide places for visitors to pause and contemplate.
The Marine Corps Heritage Center also includes the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, located adjacent to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Dedicated in 2009, the award-winning chapel has become a focal point of Semper Fidelis Memorial Park. The nondenominational chapel seats approximately 90 worshipers and is a venue of choice for weddings, funerals and other important ceremonies.
In addition to benches and memorials, 30,000 commemorative bricks line portions of the paths throughout Semper Fidelis Memorial Park. Family members and friends may donate bricks engraved with the names of their loved ones to forever attest to the honor, courage and commitment that embody the Marine Corps.
Semper Fidelis Memorial Park includes 1.07 miles of trails. The ADA compliant pathways provide additional access to Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel and the southern section of the Old Kings Highway, as well as Prince William County Park Authority’s Locust Shade Park. An additional network of paths now extends throughout the wooded grounds.
The park provides visitors with three scenic overlooks, the Timothy T. Day Overlook, The Patrick F. Taylor Overlook and the Chesty Puller Overlook. These overlooks welcome visitors at different points around the park, providing quiet, peaceful areas for reflection and contemplation.
The monuments within Semper Fidelis Memorial Park honor Marines of the past and present. Each monument is a place of reflection for Marines, family members, friends, and the visiting public, who can become more aware of Marine Corps history and the sacrifices made to protect the freedom of our Nation. The Park comes alive with strategically-placed commemorative statues of former Commandant of the Marine Corps LtGen John A. Lejeune, LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, Iron Mike, Molly Marine and Sgt. Reckless – The Korean War Horse.
The highly decorated Marine Corps LtGen John A. Lejeune, known as “the greatest of all Leathernecks,” served for more than forty years with the Marine Corps. He led the noted Second Division (Army) in World War I, and was Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps from June 1920 to March 1929.
With over 35 years of active service, LtGen Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller is the most decorated Marine in American history, and the only person to have received six of the Nation’s second-highest military awards for valor. Today, the Marine Corps’ mascot, “Chesty Pullerton,” a purebred English bulldog, is his namesake.
The term “Iron Mike” is military slang for an especially inspiring, brave and tough service member. A number of servicemen and women have dedicated statues to American fighting forces in the name of “Iron Mike.”
Originally erected in 1943, the statue of Molly Marine became a way to promote the enlistment of females into the United States Marine Corps. Now, 70 years later, the statue symbolizes the poise, professionalism and integrity of all Marines, men and women, who fight for our freedoms.
Sgt. Reckless, deemed “America’s War Horse,” was a small Mongolian mare immortalized as a national hero in 1954 when the story of her heroic journey during the Battle of Outpost Vegas was told. During the battle, Sgt. Reckless made 51 roundtrips in one day, carrying over 9,000 pounds of ammunition to her brothers and sisters on the battlefield.
The monuments featured in the park include:
Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel
Situated in the woods of Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel is a nondenominational chapel that serves as a contemplative space where Marines and all visitors can remember the service and sacrifices of those who have served our nation. Dedicated October 22, 2009, with a ceremony including Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work and Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway, the chapel provides a special place for reflection, enhancing the visitor experience to the Marine Corps Heritage Center campus.
Designed by Denver-based Fentress Architects, architects of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the chapel’s structure evokes images of improvised field chapels familiar to all Marines. Constructed using natural materials such as stone and timber, the chapel, with its glass walls, was built upon the concept of a "transparent chapel in the woods," allowing visitors to remain connected to the surrounding nature. With seating for 77 and the ability to hold up to 140 people, the chapel is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is available for weddings, funerals and other ceremonies through the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
Read Washington Times article on the Chapel
Photo Gallery from Chapel Dedication
Last Tank Battle
By Colonel H. Avery Chenoweth USMCR
The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation. Your charitable donations to the MCHF are tax deductible as allowed by law.
Tax ID # 26-0803466.