News

    Atlanta's Patriotism Museum Celebrates American Spirit

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joshua Levs

    In the years since the September 11 attacks, many Americans have expressed a newfound patriotism. But patriotism means different things to different people. The strict definition is 'love for or devotion to one's country but just how that love or devotion is expressed can sometimes be a source of controversy. A new museum in Atlanta is taking on the topic.

    When you step into the National Museum of Patriotism, you're literally surrounded by famous patriotic quotes. In colorful letters on the white walls, you see the words of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, John Wayne, Mark Twain, and more than a dozen others expressing love for the United States.

    Just off the lobby is a small theater, where you see a short film with some striking images: an American flag being raised, a flag being burned, and a flag-draped coffin.

    You see fighter jets taking off. The film says patriotism means different things to different people and it ends with this wish: "We hope you'll take time to reflect on what it means to be an American. And we hope you'll find your own answer to the question what is patriotism."

    This is your introduction to a 1,000-square-meter museum packed with bright multi-media exhibits exploring topics like American symbols, volunteerism, and expressions of patriotism during World War II. It's the brainchild of Nick Snider, a retired executive who originally just wanted a place to show his collection of patriotic pins. Then he decided to do something much bigger and more complex.

    "I think I had a sense of realization that there has to be something far greater than my collection that has a sense of embellishment about love of country," he says.

    From the day in 1997 that he announced plans for a museum of patriotism, his advisors were concerned. Some feared the name suggested a right-wing conservative bias, but Mr. Snider saw it as mainstream.

    "Because there is this center of America that says we speak to what America is about," he explains. "We make the sacrifices that we do and we have to build this country to be what it is. And historically, our successes far outweigh our mistakes as proven by how successful we are and how many people want to be a part of what we are about."

    Nick Snider wanted the museum to celebrate that. There were lengthy discussions about what sort of exhibits would go into it, and some touchy topics were batted around. But he and his advisors decided that, at first, the museum would not explore the history of protests or consider what behavior is patriotic in a time of war or look at times in world history when atrocities were committed in the name of patriotism. Mr. Snider says he's not a scholar of history or experienced curator qualified to lead that kind of discussion.

    "One of the challenges you face is if you don't have the right credentials to defend controversial subjects then don't take yourself down that road," he adds. "Because what will happen is you'll find yourself backed into a corner embarrassed and ashamed of whatever it is you thought you knew."

    So controversial issues receive only a brief mention. A video on American Indians says they've come to symbolize collective responsibility for the environment. An exhibit on immigrants simply notes that African slaves were brought to the colonies. There is a nod to the civil rights movement with a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    The Museum of Patriotism opened on July 4 and visitors are starting to discover it. Melanie Johnson, whose husband is with the Army National Guard in Kuwait, says she believes the museum fills a need. "I think there a lot of people that just take so much for granted and just don't realize what it means to love your country, but sad to say it's the people who need to visit here the most that probably never will come," she says.

    But the museum suggests that more and more people are discovering their patriotism and looking forward to exploring it. A multi-media exhibit of the aftermath of 9/11 shows Americans becoming aware of what they have in common.

    Film Audio:

    "We are the power of one.
    The power of one…
    The power of one…
    We are united.
    We are America."

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.