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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs