With a snip, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove officially opened the new Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby. Several hundred people turned out for opening day on Saturday.
"Today is a great day for the men and women of Mississippi who have served their nation in the armed forces," Gov. Musgrove said.
The keynote speaker was Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Inouye who spent 10 months training at Camp Shelby in 1943.
"We used to say to ourselves, anyone who can survive Shelby, can fight in any battle," Sen. Inouye said.
Inouye served in Europe and lost his arm when it was shattered by a German rifle grenade. His unit was the most decorated in World War II and he thanked the people of Hattiesburg for his accomplishments.
"If it weren't for you, I don't know what the record would have been," Inouye said. "Because of my experience here in Mississippi, I believe that I am a better person today."
After the ceremony, Sen. Inouye and Gov. Musgrove toured the museum along with the public. Exhibits range from the War of 1812 to the current war on terrorism. After the tour, veterans said the museum was definitely something to be proud of.
"I'm really impressed," said Elmo Bell, a Hattiesburg veteran. "It's very realistic. The artifacts are very moving. It's a real credit to Hattiesburg and all of the armed forces."
"As far as a military museum, this is the finest in the land," Inouye said.
Veterans say the new Armed Forces Museum will give the younger generation of Mississippians an understanding of sacrifices that have been made for their freedom. And it will show current members of the military how much their service is appreciated.
The Armed Forces Museum is still collecting stories and artifacts from Mississippi veterans or veterans that trained at Camp Shelby. If you have items you would like to donate, you can contact the museum (601) 558-2757 or you can e-mail the museum director.
The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Monday.
By Amanda Jones