There have been two 880-mile trips to visit the city and especially the Museum in the past few years, and each departure took along a vow to return.
For a WWII veteran, the Museum is an unmatched source of both memory and inspiration; it is superbly realistic in its exhibits and it gives comfort in its portrayal of modern American military power and, above all, professionalism of individual soldiers.
Nowhere else has this veteran so enjoyed the relaxed escape, at the Museum entrance, into a quiet wandering amid personal memories, totally oblivious to the daily verbal and print politics assailing either our military missions or the causes involving those missions.
There must certainly be an interesting and uncountable number of personal reactions among the Museum’s thousands of visitors, either civilian or military, including veterans, to the amazingly detailed exhibits and the equally compelling photography and films.
For this veteran, there was almost an uncontrollable urge to sit again in the display jeep and recount literally thousands of miles traveled in California’s desert and Tennessee’s woods maneuvers, England’s training country lanes and French and German unmarked routes. Our last jeep in enemy country use was heavily sandbagged with no windshield.
For a personal aside, I never visit the Museum without being riveted at the intensely detailed exhibit of the protagonist commanders at Bastogne and the American general’s scornful rejection of a surrender demand. For me, and thousands in khaki, it marked a turning point in WWII for which there was no turning back to victory.
Of course, there is no better way to see North Carolina’s natural beauty than to travel the Route 40 Interstate through its mountainous entrance, past the state-nurtured wildflower displays and the Pigeon River sparkle and the historic Asheville area.
For a resident of Arkansas cotton-field, Mississippi River flatlands, the journey to North Carolina is not a trip, it’s a most pleasant venture. And to enjoy Fayetteville’s ethnic restaurants an even more pleasant episode.
Like all WWII veterans, I have a time limit to these enjoyments. I intend to use it to the utmost.
(Editor’s Note: Frank Anderson, a WWII veteran, and resident of Arkansas, has visited Fayetteville and the Airborne & Special Operations Museum more than once. He put his sentiments about both in this recent letter to local family members.)