Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

Blue Star Voices

Andrew and Grant Palmer at the National D-Day Memorial on June 6, 2010. Photo courtesy of the Palmer family

I am very excited to see the Blue Star Museum program kick-off its third season. As an Air Force family living in Northern Virginia, we have made a concerted effort to visit as many Blue Star Museums in our local area as possible. In many cases, the Blue Star Museums we have visited are venues that we would likely not have discovered had they not been participants in the program.

Our first visit to a Blue Star Museum was a trip to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, on June 6, 2010. Because it was the anniversary of the battle, there was a commemoration ceremony featuring the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. There were a number of D-Day veterans present, and I was able to introduce our two sons, Grant and Andrew, to some of the vets. Reflecting upon the opportunity, I realized that my children meeting D-Day veterans would be roughly the same as my grandparents meeting veterans of Gettysburg or Antietam. The trip to Bedford allowed us to stop by another Blue Star Museum, the George C. Marshall Museum, located on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia.

Andrew and Grant Palmer pose with President Benjamin Harrison at the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site during a family trip to their hometown of Indianapolis. Photo courtesy of the Palmer family

Not all of our Blue Star visits require a great deal of planning or a long drive. On more than one Sunday afternoon, we just packed the kids in the car and jaunted off to a local museum. One trip was to Morven Park, a historic home in Leesburg, Virginia, that served as a look-out for Civil War soldiers and as a home to a former Virginia governor. A trip to Old Town Alexandria allowed us to visit the Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary Museum and Gadsby’s Tavern, two Blue Star sites that are within walking distance of each other. These Sunday trips are usually greeted with a chorus of, “Dad, do we have to do history stuff?” from the back seat, but once we get to the museums, the boys seem to enjoy the visits and there is even some evidence that they are actually learning. And truth be told, the Sunday excursions usually include ice-cream at their conclusion.

The Blue Star Museum program provides military families a chance to visit museums in the summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together. As a military family, we have enjoyed the time we spend together visiting Blue Star Museums, and I quietly marvel at the fascinating lessons the boys have learned at the diverse museums participating on the program. We are grateful to the National Endowment of the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and the MetLife Foundation for making this program possible.

This summer, the Air Force is moving the Palmer family to Warner Robins, Georgia. While our summer will quickly evaporate as we move the household goods and settle into the new home, we will carve out some time to explore Blue Star sites in Georgia, including the Andersonville National Historic Site, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and Georgia’s Old Capital Museum.




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