WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 8, 2008) -- The Army's senior enlisted member said he believes the National Army Museum, scheduled to open in 2013, will play a key role in inspiring future Soldiers.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston said he is confident that the museum will showcase Soldier stories that will motivate youth to strive for the excellence exhibited by those who have gone before them.

"We've always said that the Soldier is the centerpiece of our formations," Preston said, "and when the young men and women of today walk through the National Museum and they see the legacy of those who have served before them, they can envision themselves being part of the future generation of Soldiers who have served in the Army."

Preston noted that although the Army has numerous smaller museums across the United States, no national museum exists to "fit the pieces together."

"When you look at the history of the Army, you also see the history of our nation - and that story needs to be told," he said. "By having a national museum, you're able to tell the complete history of the Army, from the birth of our nation forward."

Preston sees the National Army Museum serving a multitude of functions in relation to the public's understanding and appreciation of Army history, and also the preservation and advancement of the all-volunteer force that is the U.S. Army. He believes the museum will be a valuable tool in everything from aiding recruiting to enhancing the professional development of the non-commissioned officer corps.

"What we want for those young men and women who visit the National Museum and aspire to be a Soldier - we not only want them to aspire to be a Soldier, we want them to aspire to be a non-commissioned officer," said Preston. "I envision the National Museum as an opportunity to showcase our non-commissioned officers, to tell the history of our non-commissioned officers, and to recognize those non-commissioned officers that stand out in the pages of history," he continued.

The National Army Museum is to be built at Fort Belvoir, Va. - a location that Preston said he finds appealing both because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., and because of observations he has made since Sept.11.

"I've really gained a deep appreciation for the great number of tourists I have seen come to Washington, D.C. since they opened the 9/11 Memorial outside [the Pentagon]," he explained. "For those who come here to look at the monuments and museums, the National Museum of the Army is going to be one of the highlights of the tour."

Preston also voiced his support for one of the museum's first initiatives - The Registry of the American Soldier - an online service that enables anyone who served in the U.S. Army to have his or her name and service history placed on record at the museum.

"The registry is a great opportunity for all of our veterans who have served," said Preston. "There are still millions of veterans that are alive today that we don't know a lot about, and the registry can capture their service and contributions to our nation."

The registry, along with the latest news and information about the National Army Museum, can be accessed at <a href="http://www.armyhistory.org" target=_blank>www.armyhistory.org</a>

The National Army Museum is planned to be built through a partnership between the Army and the Army Historical Foundation, a non-profit organization.

(Nick Rhinehart writes for the Army Historical Foundation.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16