HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The Mississippi Armed Forces Museum reopened Saturday just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.
Due to the pandemic, they’ve been closed since March, but officials say Independence Day was a great time to open their doors back up.
“What better patriotic holiday to remember our freedom as a country,” said museum director Tommy Lofton.
The museum officially opened in 2001. Lofton says it was created to showcase the military service of Magnolia State residents.
“Since that time, our goal has been to tell the story of Mississippians and of military service by Mississippians,” said Lofton. “Both in the National Guard and in the regular military. And, we also cover all service branches including the Merchant Marines, and you know, try to tell the story of Mississippians who have been involved in all different wars and different conflicts of military service.”
One United States veteran had a special reason to visit the museum Saturday.
“I spent a lot of time at Camp Shelby with the 114th MP Company out of Clinton, Miss.” said United States veteran Barry Barrett.
Other visitors came out to teach their grandchildren about military history within their own families.
“Their poppy, my husband, served in the Vietnam War,” said Hattiesburg resident Joy Lines. “He was a two tour Vietnam Vet, and we have other family members as well that served. And so they really appreciate getting to come here, and this gave us something special to do on the Fourth of July.”
It’s safe to say the kids enjoy the museum and all of its exhibits.
“It was very interesting,” said Zach Driskel. “It’s very cool what we saw here that they worked on.”
One visitor says she enjoyed the museum because of what she wants to be when she grows up.
“Seeing all of the cool headgear,” said Ashlee Driskel. “I want to be a pilot when I grow up, so I like seeing all the aviation things.”
The museum offers many exhibits. Visitors are able to see exact replicas of United States Navy ships as well as actual aircraft and tanks used by the United States Military.
Lofton says the artifacts they have on display have a special purpose.
“We have artifacts that have been brought back from various wars, but we also have artifacts that I say were sent home,” Lofton said. “Because those individuals didn’t get to come home. And we have these artifacts that family members were kind enough to donate to us so that we can continue to tell their loved one’s story.”
Before stopping by, be sure to have a photo I.D., and be prepared for a temperature check at the gate.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Admission is free.