National Prisoner of War Museum in Andersonville GA was dedicated April 09, 1998 while crowds estimated as upwards to 5,000 attend, many of them American Ex-Prisoners of War, and in many cases their wives.
I attended the dedication of this museum monument as the Vice-President of the Combat Veterans Group, an organization formed to support the therapy for Combat Related Post Trauma Stress Disorder at the Dublin GA Veteran Administration's Carl Vinson Medical Center.
We called off the CVG meeting and the therapy session for the day so members of CVG who could make it would have the opportunity to attend the dedication. A number of members, and some brought their families with them, came to the dedication including Dr. Martineau, many of CVG's officers, several of the CVG's Ex-POW members, and other members of CVG.
Macon GA Channel 13's News crew was there to record the dedication activities and chose to spend some of their time recording our presents there. They, also, took the time to interview some of us including Gus Allbitton, President of the Combat Veterans Group; Scotty Aycock, Co-President of the CVG; Dr. Bolivar Martineau, our therapist; and Joe Paulk, CVG Member and Ex-POW.
The Dedication, starting at 1030hrs, included speeches and presentations by John Romine, Chaplain American Ex-Prisoners of War; Sanford Bishop, United States Congressman; William Fornes, American Ex-Prisoners of War; Jerry Belson, Southeastern Regional Director of the National Park Service; Zell Miller, Governor of the State of Georgia; Wayne Hitchcock, National commander of the Ex-Prisoners of War; Griffin Bell, former U.S. Attorney General; John McCain, United States Senator and Ex-Prisoner of War; Robert Phillips, Chaplain of the American Defenders of Bataan & Corregidor; Fred Boyles, Superintendent of the Andersonville National Historic Site.
The Marine Corps Band of Albany GA under the direction of MSgt Ross Bennett provided music for the festivities, a Joint Arm Forces Color Guard presented the National Colors, and The Partners of the Project were in charge of the ribbon cutting.
This was a well put together ceremony, and most everyone seemed to appreciate the activities. While with this many people there can be expected a little bit of hassle factors this was kept at a minimum. Various members of the Armed Forces, and members of the GA State Patrol provided efficient parking and traffic control. There were shuttles provided from the parking area to the Museum. A LARGE tent was setup as shelter for the speeches before the ribbon cutting. Inside the tent there were close circuit televisions that offered better viewing of the speakers for those in the back of the tent. This sort of made all seats in the tent good seats for the activities.
VHS tapes of the Museum including interviews with Ex-POWs from various wars that the United States has participated in. (I believe my description of this is film is correct, but I will not have an opportunity to see it for a few weeks.) Also, there is a VHS Tape of the Dedication Ceremonies that was on sell by order. For those interested a copy of the Order Form for these VHS Tapes is on my WebSite at http//www.tbass.com which can be printed and sent to the address included with the order form.
The museum opened to the public with the conclusion of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Many of the people crowded in for a their first view of the actual National Prisoner of War Museum. There were so many people going in that I decided to not try to go into the museum at this time.. This both got me out of the crowd and made a little more room for those who had traveled much further to see it. I can always go see it at a later date.