Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The National Museum of the Marine Corps.

I stopped on my way home to see this. I'd just finished The Last Stand of Fox Company, a book about Marines in Korea. It's damn good if you like that kind of thing, and I do.

I knew the museum covered Korea, and that a big chunk of that was about Fox Company, so I thought I'd check it out.

This is part of a life-size diorama showing a Fox mortar crew. It's in a large room where the tracers fly in, artillery lights up a distant hill, explosions rock the floor and the taped voice of an actor playing the CO calls in artillery strikes. They also lowered the AC to simulate the cold these Marines had to endure.

Which, I'm really sorry to report, was one of the lamest goddamn things I've ever witnessed. These men fought through nights of 30-below temperatures. Guns froze. Grenades didn't go off. Almost all the men suffered from frostbite.

Dropping the AC so a bunch of flip-flopped, T-shirt-wearing tourists could get a little chill is bullshit. Sorry. It's a nice try, but no cigar for this one. And I know I'm a geek about these things, but I wanted more about this battle, not just a cold room with mannequins and special effects.

The museum tries to illustrate with these dioramas the significant battles that shaped the Marine ethos, from Guadalcanal and Iwo to Hue and Khe San. But for some reason, they gloss over WWI and the battle that gave the Marines their nickname, Devil Dogs.
My first imporession of the museum was OK. They really tried to make it interesting and instructive, even giving people a taste of boot camp.

But the more I thought about it, the more it all seemed like that chilly room. It's a santitized view of service. We see pink wounds on mannequins but no dead. They write about the mines in Vietnam, but not about the horror of Bouncing Betties that tore through young men's thighs and genitals.

There is none of the sad brutality of combat. We're told about sacrifice, but it's held at a distance. It's as if they took to heart Tim O'Brien's observation that if we told young men the truth about war, no one would ever sign up again.

One oversight that really struck home was the display of Marine and Navy insignias that represented the dead of Iwo Jima. There were more than 5000 of them stuck to a large sheet of plexiglass.

No names, just insignia, as if the emotions we feel at the Wall in DC are inappropriate here. I know, I looked for the name of a young Marine private named Prosper Terrenoire and he wasn't there. That's because in this museum, war is fought without death. They display numbers of dead, but you don't see their faces.

And I think that's a disservice to the men and women of the Corps. I think we owe them a museum that not only celebrates their honor, duty and valor, but shows us why those are rare and important virtues, worthy of our reflection and admiration.

I wanted to like this museum. I really did. But I think our Marines deserve something better. I think they deserve a museum that isn't afraid to show what it really means to be a Marine.

Semper Fidelis.


Anonymous said...

Personally, I feel that your description of this museum is highly inaccurate. I have been there on multiple occasions, and have been watching it grow for several years. The Chosin room is simply a way to make the museum more interactive for people of all ages, and in no way is it cheesy enough to be considered 'one of the lamest goddamn things I've ever witnessed.' It's something different to keep people's interest up as they make their way through.

As for glossing over WWI, if you toured the entire museum you may have noticed the section displaying what is coming next in the second phase of the museum, including an extensive section on the Battle at Belleau Wood, which, as you mentioned earlier, gave them the nickname of Devil Dogs. In fact, 40 Marines from Quantico put a great deal of their time and energy during the past few weeks into filming a reenactment of the battle. This film will be shown in a section dedicated to tis battle which will open in the summer of 2010.

Finally, before you go around claiming that this museum does a disservice to the Marine Corps, I suggest you talk to the veterans that love and volunteer at this museum daily, as well as the active duty soldiers who come here to share their stories of combat with the visitors. The majority of the employees are active duty or former Marines, and I believe that if they had any doubts about or problems with the museum, it would not be as it is today. This is one of the most interesting museums I've ever been to, and it will only get better over time.

David Terrenoire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Terrenoire said...


I take your criticisms to heart. I can understand why people have affection for this museum and hesitated posting this so as not to offend them.

I also understand that parents and families can find comfort and pride in this museum and I respect that.

But I stand by my opinion.
As a veteran, and one of a large military family, I think the museum doesn't go far enough in portraying what it means to serve. I expected more, that's all.

That's my opinion, and I'm just a schmuck with a blog, so I don't fool myself into thinking it's any more than that.

Perhaps I spoke too harshly by calling it a disservice. I'll give you that.

But the Chosin Room AC is still lame. Nice try, but lame.

Anonymous said...

I have no particular comment about this blog, but I would like to say that your political commentary has been quite sparse since (I assume) you realized that your boy "the Messiah" has proven to be even worse than Rush and Sean told you he would be.

He ignores the constitution, scoffs at the free market system, seeks to limit free speech, is on a mission to enact a healthcare system that has failed miserably all across Europe and in Canada and every time he makes a speech in a foreign country he sympathizes with their "blame America" mentality. I don't even know who’s side he is on anymore...

He has shown that he has no grasp of economics or foreign policy. His economic recovery package has succeeded only in increasing the national debt and he has absolutely no idea what to do about Iran or N. Korea.

I guess going "radio silent" is your version of turning the other cheek, but when you turn back you are not even going to recognize an America you once fought to defend... And that is sad.

It's not too late to post the fact that you and slightly over half the voting public just f'd this one up...

David Terrenoire said...

Yeah, Anonymous, things would be so much better with McCain, Palin and the feckless GOP in charge.

I've posted things I'm unhappy about here but if you think I'm about to pile on with factless bullshit like you just did? Nope, that ain't me.

There are plenty of jerkoffs talking smack like "I don't even know who’s [sic] side he is on anymore..." without me sticking my oar in.

And if you really want to engage on Obama's shortcomings, and there are some serious ones, pick a name other than anonymous. That one's been taken.

Gary M said...

"He ignores the constitution, scoffs at the free market system, seeks to limit free speech..."

"He has shown that he has no grasp of economics or foreign policy. His economic recovery package has succeeded only in increasing the national debt and he has absolutely no idea what to do about Iran or N. Korea."

Is this pud just recycling stuff from the good old days with George W. ? And by whose measure have the healthcare systems in Europe or Canada failed?

These guys are so afraid of the new that they'll hold onto the shittiest end of any stick that remains from the past. Sounds like an angry old white man to me...

Joe Saundercook said...

"Anonymous" has already been taken -- priceless. Cheers to the great closing line!

Maybe A-mous is worried that you're the type of meat-head who gets out of the car and beats the crap out of people who honk their horns...

... instead of just being a vitriolic old bastard who rails against the system.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous has been taken?" That's the best you can do? Yeah, that's a good one. The reason you aren't defending Obama, Dave, is because there is no defense. And if your best defense is to say, “well he's no worse than George W,” well that speaks volumes doesn't it...

Gary, if you know nothing of the horrors of Universal Health care in Europe and Canada, you haven't been paying enough attention to even participate in this discussion.

And I'm not afraid of the “new”. Except for a brief 8 years under Reagan, we have been putting up with your "new" since the "New Deal." I am ready to get back to the conservative principals on which this country was founded. The principals that made us the greatest civilization in HUMAN HISTORY... Obama is the living antithesis of those principals.

You guys are so lame it's pathetic.

Enjoy your four years boys, cause it's gonna be a short run. Many Americans may have been lulled into a trance by the orations of "the Messiah," but his true colors are already shinning through just over 100 days into his "reign."

Anonymous said...

Here ya go Gary, read up. Pay special attention to the first link which relays a first hand account of the Canadian Health care system from a Canadian.

If you don't believe words from the horses mouth, check out this one...

I know you guys don't want to believe this, but Obama is not looking out for your best interests. He does offer change, but he doesn't offer hope and you guys better figure that out quickly before he dismantles our entire democracy.

If Obama is allowed 8 years, your children/grand-children may never know what it is like to live in a truly free society where men make their own decisions rather than the government making them.

Gary M said...

Anonymous- Did you read this first link? The bottom basically refutes all the "horrors" described by this anecdotal piece. Besides, almost all of the downsides described can be attributed to our own current system.

And who said we were looking to mimic exactly the systems of Canada or Europe? The majority of the American people see that there is huge problem with skyrocketing costs and affordable care for all people and that something must be done. But you probably can't see that from your windowless bunker. Come on out, Mac. There must be some kids crossing your lawn you can wave your fist at.

Do you think this is the best health care system that the "greatest civilization in HUMAN HISTORY" can offer?
And as far as Obama being the antithesis of the principles on which our nation was founded- if anything, he is living proof of the principles of equality and opportunity of which the Founders wrote.

charlie stella said...

Wow, I turn my oversized head just a few minutes and then this ...

I’m not sure which side to take here … I agree with the Mr. Anonymous (from herein, you get the mouse badge of dishonor, pal) regarding Democratic supporters ignoring Democratic deficiencies but it’s just not so on this blog (Dave, while often put into the snooze zone and comas by my political rants) does, in fact, turn up the heat on his guys. He gets very passionate about the military and we all should respect his service (anyone who has served).

I thought he was more than kind (and respectful) to Micky about the original post here, but that wasn’t enough, I guess, for el mouse.

I have issues with Obama, too … mostly that he’s just another politician and because of his charisma and smarts he really should be a lot more radical if he’s ever going to effect any REAL CHANGE, but that change needs to be in the opposite direction of where signor mouse seems to want to go. If anything, Obama has been playing too close to dead center (to placate the forever scared shitless in his own party).

But I’m so sick of politics as usual (sorry, but I haven't seen an iota of change yet) and both parties, I won’t consider voting for either major party again in this lifetime (unless the Democrats grow a genuine pair of balls and defend the concept of equal rights for all—to include jobs, security, health insurance and marriage, etc.).

I invested a lot in the Dems most of my life and they’ve disappointed over and over. I tried the Reps and they were shamelessly incompetent and corrupt (and just the way Wall Street was treated with these asinine bailouts, the Reps were never held accountable). We need a third party and we need it fast.

The new “change” looks more and more like the same old same old. If mouse thinks Obama is too radical, wow … I don’t know what to tell him, except I think he missed the cheese. Palin, hot woman that she is, is also one lost lady. She’ll net you a zero gain come 2012. Newt and Rush … those two continuing to mouth off will get the Reps closer to a landslide loss is my guess.

For Dave: I saw a book in the Times review this Sunday that looked very interested and fair, according to the review (but it’s $30.00) about the Bataan death march.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, nationalized healthcare and unaccountable czars are not "more of the same." Sorry. They are a significant move towards statism. Again, Obama is putting into place a system that will control ALL aspects of your life, from your healthcare and well being to your dealings in the financial sector. He is not looking to govern, he is looking to rule. With regards to Palin, you are wrong about her and I suspect you know it. She is a true conservative. She will reduce the role of government in your life, promote the free market system and curb this ridiculous entitlement spending. That is a 100% gain my friend. And if you think even more people are going to vote for Obama in 2012 than they did in 2008, you are delusional. I would say two-thirds of the people I have spoken with who voted for Obama admit they regret their decision. Most also say they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for McCain, and I don’t blame them. I didn’t like doing it myself, but with the absence of a real conservative presidential candidate on the ticket, I had to choose the lesser of two evils.

Obama not only will not win in a landslide in 2012, he isn’t going to win at all, unless he abandons his statist agenda, which we know he will not. In fact, the reason he is pushing all this crap down our throats so quickly is because he is afraid that the American people are going to reverse the congressional majority on him in 2010, and he is right to be afraid, because THAT is the #1 priority of conservatism, not winning in 2012. Why should we sit around and let Obama destroy our country for an additional 2 years when we can take a huge step towards regaining control as soon as next year.

Watch what they say, not what they do. If Obama truly believed the American people are as stupid as most Libs, he would be taking his time, slowly spoon feeding us his agenda, instead he knows his time is limited so what he DOES is try to cram it all down our throats before we can do anything about it. If the Dems truly believed Sare Palin and Conservatism was no threat to them, they would concentrate on the jobs they were elected to do. Instead what they are DOING is trying to destroy Palin in anyway they can and trying to enact unconstitutional limits on YOUR (and mine) free speech by telling radio stations who they can and cannot allow on their airwaves. Watch what they do, not what they say…

PS - call me a "mouse" if you want, but It doesn't help you refute the things I have said. Of course, nothing will help you there…

Gary, if you consider those inept attempts to explain away the poster's (who has LIVED the horrors) concerns then you again are ignorant. Most of them simply counter the poster's point by saying "oh, well it isn't same in all provinces of Canada..." Okay, maybe not, but it IS very similar. If you wish to dismiss first hand accounts of what your life will look like in 8 years under Obama, feel free. Do nothing. I could care less. But I am not going to let this radical ideologue ruin my country. I can promise you that.

Gary M said...

Dave, I don't know how you put up with this on a regular basis.

The hard part about having a dialogue with people like this Anonymous (AKA gutless) commenter is that they never deal with facts or anything based in what has actually happened. Everything is opinion. "He'll do this...", "She'll do that..."" You'll be sorry when this happens..."-- like he's fucking Nostradamus. If I had his powers to predict the future I'd sure as fuck be a lot happier than this open cyst appears to be.

Anonymous, you have revealed your true colors and 2 out 3 of the people I've talked to agree that they're not going to let a conservative idealogue like you ruin their country.

I can promise you that.

David Terrenoire said...


You have to understand that there are conservatives who can lay out an intellectual and principled argument for their view but they're becoming fewer and fewer in today's GOP.

They're being replaced by people like Anon who operates out of irrational fear and a willingness to believe those who gladly profit from that fear, people like Rupert Murdoch, Sun Myung Moon and Rush Limbaugh.

When he says that Palin is a true conservative and liberals are trying to limit free speech by deciding who should and shouldn't be on the radio, then you know he's one of those who will never be swayed by contrary arguments. He's lost.

It's sad that so many of our fellow Americans live in such fear. It must be an awful way to live.