Refocused Patton Museum illuminates military history
June 20, 2013
Leadership and Gen. George S. Patton have become synonymous, so it was only fitting that when the Fort Knox museum was rebranded it became the Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership June 14 during a rededication ceremony.
Prior to the actual ceremony Chaplain (Col.) Byron Simmons, the post chaplain, also acknowledged the importance of leadership in his invocation.
"May we dedicate ourselves to the knowledge and power of leadership. Over one-third of the world's population lives without freedom," he prayed.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, the commander of Cadet Command and Fort Knox, said the day was also about celebrating the Army's 238th birthday as well as the new direction the museum is taking by highlighting the Army's leadership.
"Today we are unveiling a new focus for the museum," said Smith. "Gen. Patton is the common thread between Fort Knox's past and its present and future. The Armor Center and the people who lived and worked here were the strength and legacy of Fort Knox; our culture and our mission was to produce armor and cavalry capabilities for the Army."
The rededication was also a culmination of a three year, $5 million overhaul of the museum, which is about 70 percent complete.
Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear said Fort Knox is a fitting home for the museum because of the post's history.
"Museums are more than collections of artifacts," said Beshear. "You are going to be amazed. You are going to be thrilled. (Patton was) one of the great motivators in this world, the Patton Museum will have much to teach us as long-term plans come to fruition."
Beshear said the day was also about celebrating those who served.
"I'm very proud to (have) served in the Army Reserve and rose to the glorified rank SP4," Beshear told the crowd. "(Now) I'm the commander in chief of the Kentucky National Guard."
He also thanked and recognized those who were instrumental during the museum's transformation.
Smith noted that the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor, as it was once called, celebrated the legacy of the museum.
"Gen. Patton was a pioneer in mechanized combat," he said. "He helped develop the Army's armored warfare doctrine."
Smith pointed out that the museum isn't only for the military. It has ranked as the third-most visited museum in the Army museum system, and it stood as one of the 10 most popular tourist attractions in the state of Kentucky.
Although it was a popular tourist attraction, things changed with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decisions. When that happened more than 75 percent of the museum's artifacts moved to Fort Benning, Ga., with the Armor School.
Smith added that after armor's move, Fort Knox became the human capital of the Army with the addition of the Human Resources and Cadet commands.
"We had an entire museum without a vision," Smith explained. "We searched for a new identity. We had to figure out how to bring this together."
Patton's leadership was the perfect vehicle to focus on leadership through experiences, explained Smith.
"Gen. Patton's (leadership) spanned across two centuries (and) two world wars," Smith said. "(It's) leaders that make the ultimate difference in warfare--not equipment."
Patrons will also have an opportunity to see the technology's impact in the museum.
"The exhibits will tell the story," said Smith, "(the exhibits) tap into technology. (It) will be quite a treat to immerse yourself in this equipment and allow you to make a decision (with the decision theory game)."
Beshear also paid tribute through a moment of silence for Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker who passed away suddenly early Friday morning.
"Those of you who knew Tim know he would be the last one to want this to be a somber occasion," said Beshear.