The Hidden Venues of Military History.

The top 6 hidden museums and memorials in DC & VA.

Tourists and even locals commonly visit the more traditional military museums and memorials located throughout Washington DC and the connecting states. And for good reason. As a country, we have taken extraordinary steps to ensure our military heroes (and families) is not only recognized for their service, but never forgotten. 

Museums are like the quiet car of the world. It’s a place you can come to escape, where there’s authenticity, there’s uniqueness, there’s calm, there’s physicality. Thomas P. Campbell

As a veteran, I have a passion for history, specifically military history. I am blessed to live in a city that offers so many venues honoring the men and women of our armed services. I want to share a few hidden nuggets displaying a unique, and often original exhibits of our great military history. 

The National Museum of the United States Navy

The National Museum of the United States Navy, or U.S. Navy Museum for short, is the flagship museum of the United States Navy and is located in the former Breech Mechanism Shop of the old Naval Gun Factory on the grounds of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. 

The National Museum of the U.S. Navy collects, preserves, displays, and interprets historic naval artifacts and artwork to inform, educate, and inspire naval personnel and the general public.

The Marine Corps Museum

Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful – a phrase synonymous with U.S. Marines and their legendary contributions in every clime and place. Here at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, we’re faithful to preserving and telling the material history of this elite fighting force. 

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is the historical museum of the United States Marine Corps. Located in Triangle, Virginia near MCB Quantico, the museum opened on November 10, 2006, and is now one of the top tourist attractions in the state, drawing over 500,000 people annually.

The Museum already tells more than 200 years of the Corps’ rich history, but we’re certainly not finished yet. In cooperation with the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, we have completed construction and design on an additional 115,000 square feet where we’ll tell more of this amazing story. We’ve already opened the Marine Corps Combat Art Gallery, the Medal of Honor Theater and the Children’s Gallery. Lin Ezell, Museum Director

The Coast Guard Museum

Since its inception in 1790, the USCG has tirelessly answered the call to duty, saving lives, enforcing maritime law, combating terrorism, facilitating commerce and protecting the environment. The vital responsibilities of the USCG are carried out by highly trained men and women who perform these missions with honor, respect, and devotion to duty Coast Guard

Yet, the Coast Guard is the only branch of the armed services without a national museum to celebrate its role in the life of our Nation and to honor the men and women who serve. The public is generally unaware of the scale and scope of the Coast Guard’s missions. We have come to expect the MOST from the Coast Guard, but there is no place for the USCG to share with the public its history, to demonstrate its critical role in protecting us, and to highlight its relevance to the greatest issues facing our Nation.

“Our family is proud to contribute to this important National project and naming the Polar Explorations Gallery in recognition of our father, J.D. Power, III is a real honor.”

Susan J. Curtin
Chair, National Coast Guard Museum Association Board of Directors
Partner, Power Family Enterprises

The National Guard Memorial Museum

The National Guard Memorial Museum is a military museum hosted by the National Guard Educational Foundation. It is located in northwestern Washington, DC, near the National Postal Museum, Union Station and Georgetown University Law Center.

The National Guard’s story transcends all eras of our nation’s history, encompassing millions of citizen-soldiers past and present. Now, more than ever, Guardsmen are being asked to do more, both domestically and abroad. Today there are nearly 470,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen comprising the Army and Air National Guard in 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, spanning more than 3,300 American communities.

Members of the National Guard serve both their states and their nation, making the National Guard the only U.S. military service that handles domestic and international missions in a unique state-federal partnership. Honoring their service and heroism for present and future generations is our duty and calling.

Marine Barracks Washington, D.C. 8th & I

Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., also known as “8th & I,” is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps. It was founded by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801.

Located on the corners of 8th & I Streets in southeast Washington, D.C., the Barracks supports both ceremonial and security missions in the nation’s capital.

The Barracks is home to many nationally recognized units, including the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, the Marine Band, the official Marine Corps Color Guard, and the Marine Corps Body Bearers. It is also the site of the Home of the Commandants, which, along with the Barracks, is a registered national historic landmark.

Enjoy one of the evening parades which are free to the public (Reservations). The parades require reservations and can quickly sell out. You might also choose to see the drill team during one of their Tuesday parades located at the Lincoln Memorial (no reservations required).

Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America. Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve. 

Download the Museum Parent Toolkit

Blue Star Families is an all-volunteer military community making unprecedented sacrifices to serve our country. Blue Star Families was founded by military spouses in 2009 to empower these families to thrive as they serve. We’re committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors – individuals and organizations – to create vibrant communities of mutual support. We believe we’re all stronger when we take care of one another.

For more information on Blue Star Museums, please see the Frequently Asked Questions. The 2019 Blue Star Museums program began on Saturday, May 18, 2019, Armed Forces Day, and ended on Monday, September 2, 2019, Labor Day.

Let me know of other great military museums and memorials that might otherwise go noticed.

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