The National Medal of Honor Museum of Military History, conceived to educate present and future generations about the extraordinary sacrifices made by recipients of the Medal of Honor, was the first such museum created in the United States, partially because Chattanooga was considered a patriotic location, according to George Davenport, a member of the museum board, who, along with museum executive director Jim Wade, presented a program about the museum to the Signal Mountain Lions Club Sept. 11.
The Medal of Honor, America’s highest award for bravery and valor, was first given by George Washington in 1782 and created permanently in 1863. Since then 3,549 men and one woman have received the award for heroic activities, including nine from the Chattanooga area.
Since its creation in 1988, the museum has had several locations and is currently housed in Northgate Mall, near the Picadilly Restaurant. The contents include artifacts from the nine local Medel of Honor recipients, with other information about each conflict of American history. These include military equipment, uniforms and other material. The material includes the numerous Medal of Honor design styles which have evolved over the years.
The museum hosts about 6,000 visitors annually with limited resources and space and maintained entirely by volunteers.
"We are looking for a downtown location, but funding makes the search complicated," said Mr. Wade. "We are learning from the past and moving forward. We are currently developing a business and vision plan and for funding."
In addition to funding, other needs include publicity and patronage. He urged Lions club members to become Medal of Honor Museum volunteers and "help it be all it can be."
Volunteer needs include meeting the public at the museum to explain it, clerical and office workers, carpentry and technical support, artifact research and presentations of a staff portable exhibit at schools and other locations. The professional report presented by Mr. Wade and Mr. Davenport is available and an educational program for schools in being developed now.
Exhibit hours are Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. For more information, to schedule a group visit or to volunteer, call 698-4511 (archives) or 877-2525 (museum). There is a web page at www.mohm.org and email at email@example.com. The museum is 501C(3) non-profit and completely staffed by volunteers.