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By Charlie Sellers
Dear Friends of Andersonville,
Summer has once again arrived at Andersonville National Historic Site and numerous projects, many supported by the Friends of Andersonville, are either underway at this time, or soon will be. This includes the replacement of the windows in the National Prisoner of War Museum. This project was a partnership between the Friends of Andersonville and the National Park Service where funds provided by the FOA were matched by the NPS through special funding that was provided to the NPS in support of our 100th Anniversary in 2016. This project will replace the windows in the museum alcoves and restroom areas of the museum and reseal and replace the protective film on the skylights in the museum and lobby areas. This project is being done to ensure that the museum and its contents are protected from damage for years to come.
The National Park Service was fortunate to receive funding for another significant project this year, which is for the replacement of the heating and air conditioning systems at the National POW Museum. The funding for this project was a National Park Centennial initiative aimed at addressing significant maintenance needs in our highest priority facilities.
With the continued support of the Friends of Andersonville, we held another successful Memorial Day commemoration. The Robins Riders from Warner Robins, GA assisted the park with the Avenue of Flags and hundreds of volunteers assisted with the placing and removal of over 20,000 American Flags on the graves at Andersonville National Cemetery. A special thank you goes out to Lieutenant Colonel Kent Morrison, USMC (Ret), who served as our keynote speaker.
The Friends of Andersonville has provided continued funding for the Prisoner of War research grants for this year and three grants were awarded this year.
We also used a donation from the FOA to hire an intern to work in our curatorial facility, assisting the park Curator with cataloging prisoner of war related items that we maintain in our museum collection.
Later this summer, we will host another American Conservation Experience (ACE) crew that will be working in the National Cemetery to realign and reset headstones as well as placing topsoil and seeding sections of the cemetery. The ACE crew is a youth initiative program for which we receive special funding from the NPS. It is a wonderful opportunity to expose our youth to the National Park Service, but even more importantly, the operation of the National Cemetery.
Planning continues to move forward for the park’s National POW/MIA Recognition Day which is observed on the third Friday of September each year. We are extremely appreciative of the Friends of Andersonville for your continued support of this annual event. Commemoration activities will include the National POW/MIA Convocation on Wednesday, September 14th with featured speaker Dr. Derek Mallett. Dr. Mallett worked at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Honolulu, Hawaii and will be speaking about the ongoing work to identify the unaccounted for from America’s past conflicts. He currently serves as Assistant Professor of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Gordon, Georgia. On Friday, September 16th, the park will host a rededication of the USS Pueblo plaque located in front of the National Prisoner of War Museum. Several members of the USS Pueblo’s crew, who were held prisoner for 11 months by North Korea in 1968, are expected to attend this rededication. We are working with The Ride Home to help bring these POWs and to plan this year’s activities.
While it may seem early, I would like to remind you of the Wreaths Across America event that will be coming up on December 17th. It is never too early get the word out to all of your friends and family. Our goal continues to be to place a wreath on every headstone in the National Cemetery every year. Their website is www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
I also want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that on August 25, 2016, the National Park Service will be 100 year old. I invite you join us in our celebration as we look forward to the continuing partnership with the Friends of Andersonville as we move into our second century.