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4 Military Museums to Visit on Veteran's Day

Four Exciting Veterans Day Military Museums
Allianz - Four Exciting Veterans Day Military Museums

Was the last military museum you visited full of rusty cannons and dusty medals? Well, you went to the wrong place. New technology and immersive exhibit design have enabled museums to vividly tell the stories of the men and women who fought in American conflicts. Here are four of the best to visit this Veteran's Day.

1. The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center in Fort Benning, Georgia

Grunts — as foot soldiers are often called — rarely get the glory. That’s not the case at the National Infantry Museum, which opened in 2009. This sprawling museum is known for its “The Last 100 Yards” exhibit, an array of life-sized dioramas that recreate battles from Yorktown to Iraq. Visitors can experience what it was like to fight in a World War I trench, a Korean bunker, and the jungles of Vietnam. The museum’s also home to the Ranger Hall of Honor and the Hall of Valor, which honors infantrymen who have received the Medal of Honor.

Why you should visit: Even if you spend hours exploring the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, you won’t be able to see all of its exhibits and collections.

2. The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia

When you’re driving along I-95, you can’t miss the soaring roofline of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which was inspired by the iconic photograph of Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. This modern museum plunges visitors into the lives and history of America’s Marines, from boot camp to combat. There’s even an M-16 rifle-firing simulation you can try. One note: this museum may not be appropriate for young children, because the exhibits include vivid and sometimes graphic depictions of combat. A dedicated children’s gallery is part of the museum’s planned expansion, scheduled for completion in 2020.1

Why you should visit: More than a collection of artifacts, this museum immerses visitors in the experience of serving in the Marine Corps.

3. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio

Wheels up! The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the world’s largest military museum dedicated to aviation. Four huge hangars house more than 360 aircraft, spacecraft and missiles. You can see the rare SPAD XIII, a French biplane from World War I; the B-29 Bockscar that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in World War II; the B-2 stealth bomber; an F-16 Fighting Falcon; and the C-141C Hanoi Taxi, which rescued the first American prisoners of war from Vietnam in 1973. Most aircraft can be viewed only from the outside, but you can walk through four presidential planes. To feel what it’s like to be a pilot or an astronaut, try the museum’s new virtual reality transporter, which simulates a space voyage, or its motion simulator, which puts you in the cockpit of historic planes.

Why you should visit: The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the closest you can get to earning your airman’s chevron while keeping your feet on the ground.

4. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana

The National WWII Museum lets visitors understand this momentous conflict through the eyes of one participant. When you visit, the museum issues you a dogtag for a real soldier, and as you explore, you learn his story. Artifacts, archival footage and soldiers’ stories are interwoven to help explain the biggest war the world has ever seen. The museum’s 4D film, “Beyond All Boundaries,” is also highly praised. Plan on spending at least four to five hours in this museum.

Why you should visit: Not only are the exhibits world-class, but many of the museum’s volunteers are veterans who are glad to speak with visitors about their experiences.

Heading out on a grand tour of America’s best museums? A good domestic trip insurance plan will cover common travel crises like trip delays, lost or delayed baggage and emergency trip cancellations. Get a free quote!

Richmond-based travel writer Muriel Barrett has a terrible sense of direction, and has spent many happy hours getting lost in Barcelona, Venice and Jerusalem. Her favorite travel memories all involve wildlife: watching sea turtles nest in Costa Rica, kayaking with seals in Vancouver and meeting a pink tarantula in Martinique.

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