Friday, June 20, 2008

Visitors Like What They See: Open House for NG Memorial Museum

Tour guides and Capitol Hill staffers accepted an invitation this week to visit the National Guard Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and liked what they saw. “This shouldn’t be such a secret,” said Frank Fitch, a guide with Capitol Tours, after wandering through the museum Wednesday afternoon. “I’m impressed. It’s an impressive story,” said Alan Weinstein, a self-employed tour guide in the city. “You’ve got a good story to tell.”

Staffers for several well-known lawmakers, such as U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Ct., U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., were equally taken with the museum on the lower level of the NGAUS headquarters building. One even promised to return with her children. Fitch said he would try to change a tour schedule next week to include a stop at the building he said he has passed hundreds of times without knowing the museum was inside. That, of course, was a major purpose for the two-hour open house. Jonathan Bernstein, director of the National Guard Educational Foundation, said the outreach of the event was to tour guides, hotels and Capitol Hill staff to raise the profile of the museum that tells the history of the National Guard. “Everybody that came in said, ‘I had no idea this was here,’” Bernstein said. But everyone also said they were impressed and promised to return.

Bernstein said Hazell Booker, industry and association liaison at NGAUS, was the driving force behind the event. Plans began only two months ago. He said the event will probably become an annual event held earlier in the year before tour schedules are finalized.

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