National Guard May 2012 : Page 34

Taking Flight By Ron Jensen A retired Air Guard pilot is now at the controls of the Guard museum just as construction is set to begin on a much-anticipated new exhibit NNE ARMSTRONG HAS always aimed high. As a child, she wanted to be an astronaut “My dad said, ‘Well, you have to be a military pilot,’” she recalls. At the time, all astronauts had flown jets for the military. She never saw outer space, but the new deputy director of the Na-tional Guard Educational Foundation (NGEF) did see much of the planet as a C-5 Galaxy pilot for the Air Force and later flying the smaller C-22B A when she joined the District of Co-lumbia Air National Guard in 1992. Through two decades of flying to points around the globe, Armstrong, who retired after 20 years in uniform in 2003, was enriching her love of history, which was her field of study while earning a master’s degree at Washington College in Chestertown, Md. She now puts that interest to bear in the job she began in February. “Anne brings a very unique skill set to the deputy director position,” says Luke Guthrie, the NGAUS direc-tor of membership, development and marketing. Her time as a Guard pilot, plus her education, which includes a law degree from The Catholic University in her hometown of Washington, D.C., he says, gives her a unique perspective to help educate the public on the Guard and where it fits in America’s history. “Critical in that is how the commu-nity supports us and how we support the community,” she says. But her education mission doesn’t stop there. Guardsmen, she says, also need to have a better understanding of the legacy they’ve inherited. “To be a well-rounded Guardsman, you should know your history,” Arm-strong says. “And then you can predict your future with some certainty.” She is now also in charge of the National Guard Memorial Museum 34 | Na tional Guard

Taking Flight

Ron Jensen

A retired Air Guard pilot is now at the controls of the Guard museum just as construction is set to begin on a much-anticipated new exhibit<br /> <br /> ANNE ARMSTRONG HAS always aimed high. As a child, she wanted to be an astronaut “My dad said, ‘Well, you have to be a military pilot,’” she recalls.<br /> <br /> At the time, all astronauts had flown jets for the military.<br /> <br /> She never saw outer space, but the new deputy director of the National Guard Educational Foundation (NGEF) did see much of the planet as a C-5 Galaxy pilot for the Air Force and later flying the smaller C-22B When she joined the District of Columbia Air National Guard in 1992.<br /> <br /> Through two decades of flying to points around the globe, Armstrong, who retired after 20 years in uniform in 2003, was enriching her love of history, which was her field of study while earning a master’s degree at Washington College in Chestertown, Md.<br /> <br /> She now puts that interest to bear in the job she began in February.<br /> <br /> “Anne brings a very unique skill set to the deputy director position,” says Luke Guthrie, the NGAUS director of membership, development and marketing.<br /> <br /> Her time as a Guard pilot, plus her education, which includes a law degree from The Catholic University in her hometown of Washington, D.C., he says, gives her a unique perspective to help educate the public on the Guard and where it fits in America’s history.<br /> <br /> “Critical in that is how the community supports us and how we support the community,” she says.<br /> <br /> But her education mission doesn’t stop there. Guardsmen, she says, also need to have a better understanding of the legacy they’ve inherited.<br /> <br /> “To be a well-rounded Guardsman, you should know your history,” Armstrong says. “And then you can predict your future with some certainty.” <br /> <br /> She is now also in charge of the National Guard Memorial Museum and the NGEF library, both of which are located on the first floor of the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Although the library and its treasure trove of Guard books and documents was one of the great attractions of the position, she says the museum and its archives have captured her attention since coming on board.<br /> <br /> “A library, by its very nature, is educational,” she says. But a museum pulls history from books and gives it life in the form of objects that tell stories free from the limitation of words.<br /> <br /> “It makes it much more immediate,” Armstrong says. “I think it’s a matter of human nature and how people learn.” <br /> <br /> She mentions Brown Bess, the weapon carried by soldiers of the British Empire at the time of the Revolutionary War and on display in the museum. It is linked to the 43rd Regiment of Foot, which was in the fighting at Concord Bridge and Lexington Green as an upstart group of colonies took on the crown of England.<br /> <br /> “That was there in 1775,” she says of the weapon. “It gives you an immediate sense of time. That’s powerful.” <br /> <br /> Amelia Meyer, who has been an archivist with the NGEF since June 2011, has seen that same power from objects in the only museum dedicated to the entire National Guard.<br /> <br /> “I have been taught that saving and collecting historical documents and artifacts is crucial, if for no other reason than simply preserving the past,” she says. “But after I’d spent a couple of months here, I saw how many Guardsmen spent time in the museum, not just reading labels or looking at old uniforms, but interacting with the objects and really taking pride in a heritage that they were a part of.” <br /> <br /> She’s met parents of Guardsmen who used the museum to learn more about the organization their children had joined. Others with no connection to the Guard are surprised at the Guard’s role in America’s history.<br /> <br /> “There’s an emotional and educational value to the museum as much as an historical one,” Meyer says. “It’s not just about preserving old things. It’s about connecting the past to the present and making the Guard accessible to everyone.” <br /> <br /> The desert boots on display that were worn in Iraq in 2003 by Capt. Kenneth W. Stice of the Arizona Army National Guard are linked to the shaving kit that was carried in France during World War I by Pvt. Thomas Dale Reno of the Pennsylvania Guard.<br /> <br /> Armstrong comes aboard just as the museum is undergoing a major renovation. The new 9/11 Era Gallery (box below) will detail the many contributions made by the Guard since that day when terrorists attacked America.<br /> <br /> “This is going to be a key addition to the museum,” says Armstrong.<br /> <br /> From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the historic response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to the expansion of the Guard’s State Partnership Program, the gallery will showcase a force of citizen-soldiers and airmen that has taken on new missions and done so with pride and conviction.<br /> <br /> “The new gallery is going to highlight important global missions … and give visitors an appreciation for the impact the Guard has had on the nation and the world,” says Guthrie. “It’s important to note that this is the first major renovation since the museum opened a decade ago.” <br /> <br /> The Design Minds, a firm from Fairfax, Va., is in charge of creating the gallery. Construction is scheduled to begin in a few weeks and be complete in November, he says.<br /> <br /> “The Guard story is a uniquely American story,” says Guthrie, who directs NGEF fundraising.<br /> <br /> Visitors from around the world visit Washington, D.C., the seat of the world’s most dominant democracy, he says. But the Guard has been around since before that democracy began.<br /> <br /> The museum now and the new gallery in the future, he says, are critical to telling that story.<br /> <br /> An important feature of the new gallery is going to be a memorial wall, Guthrie says, which will honor the more than 700 Guardsmen who have died in the war on terrorism.<br /> <br /> The wall will provide, he says, “an opportunity for reflection” as visitors come to understand the sacrifices made by Guardsmen not just throughout their 375-year history, but up to and including today.

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