Army leaders broke ground Wednesday at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia on the site of the long-awaited National Museum of the U.S. Army.
The 186,000-square-foot facility will cost about $200 million and is scheduled to open in 2019. The Army Historical Foundation, which has worked more than a decade on the project, has raised more than $135 million, primarily from individuals. The organization hopes to raise the additional funds as quickly as possible to keep the construction on track, reported Stars and Stripes.
The Army is the only branch of the military without a national museum covering its entire history. The museum, which will be located just outside Fort Belvoir’s gates, will cover the Army’s history from the initial militias formed in Massachusetts in 1663 that would become the foundation for the National Guard through to the modern-day Army. It will feature about 30,000 artifacts and documents — including uniforms, weapons, protective equipment and letters — and more than 15,000 pieces of artwork.
Officials estimate the museum will attract 500,000 to 700,000 visitors a year.
Army Secretary Eric Fanning said the museum will honor the service and sacrifice of the more than 30 million Americans who have served in the regular Army, the National Guard and the reserves, but it will especially serve to honor men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in battle, according to the story.
“This museum will serve as a monument to them — a memorial to all who we have lost and to war’s incredible cost,” Fanning said. “From the Revolutionary War to our fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the Army that has borne the greatest share or our nation’s loss — fully 85 percent of all Americans who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.”