What: National Infantry Museum
Where: Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga.
When: Mon. – Sat. 9 – 5 pm, Sun. 11 – 5 pm
Cost: Free, (donations welcome)
While initially not on our agenda during a trip through west Georgia, my boys and I decided, after a day of hiking and touring in the rain, to take a slight detour and visit the dry, indoor, National Infantry Museum on the base of Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. By the time we arrived, we only had 45 minutes to see the museum, but it was enough time to know we want to go back.
The museum tells the heroic story of everyday Infantrymen through a collection of more than 30,000 objects. It chronicles the journey from training through every conflict from before the Revolutionary War to action today in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is a special gallery recognizing Medal of Honor recipients and one that pays tribute to the family and loved ones the soldier leaves behind. Children will enjoy the play space and costumes available for role play in this gallery.
The central exhibit, titled “The Last Hundred Yards” immerses you in life-sized dioramas depicted the fight for the last hundred yards of some of the toughest battles throughout US history. As a mother of three boys, I have very mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m proud of the men and women who would sacrifice so much for my freedom. On the other, the thought of my boys in any of those scenes is more than just a little disturbing.
The highlight for the boys was the rifle range. For a $5 fee, guests can fire weapons in a training simulator, just like the one used by the soldier’s training at Fort Benning. Thankfully, my children don’t need to be sharp shooters. After repeated warnings to “think like a sniper, don’t be trigger happy,” each one fired all the ammo within seconds. I was assured they could be whipped into shape in no time, so I gathered my chicks close to me and we moved on to the next gallery.
In addition to the various galleries, there is also an IMAX Theatre. Prices for the IMAX movie range from $6 – $8. Behind the museum is an authentically recreated World War II Company Street. Each of the seven buildings is furnished with period pieces and includes audio recordings of life on an Army post during the 1940s.