LSU Military Museum Grand Opening
The evening of April 7th, 2022 marked the Grand Opening of the William A. Brookshire LSU Military Museum. The museum is an impactful site that memorializes LSU’s heritage as the “Ole War Skule.”
The grand opening was a terrific event, with attendees witnessing a flyover, a march of ROTC Cadets, several impactful video salutes, and remarks from both LSU President William Tate and Governor John Bel Edwards.
Governor Edwards said, “I had the honor yesterday to attend the grand opening of the William A. Brookshire LSU Military Museum. Over 1,700 names mark the rotunda of the museum, each representing a Louisianan who made the ultimate sacrifice. May we never forget their service.”
The Military Museum is located inside Memorial Tower, one of the oldest and most sentimental buildings on LSU’s campus. Dedicated to the Louisianians who died in World War I, the tower is the perfect location to house the museum. Colin Raby, a student employee at the museum, explains his thoughts on the tower by saying,
“Memorial tower was built as a monument to the worst losses but has also served to highlight the best of LSU's influence while inspiring hope for ... a better tomorrow.”
The Memorial Tower has gone through extensive renovations to modernize and create the ideal environment for the Military Museum. According to Raby, “The improvements and exhibits aim to reconnect visitors with the history they may not have known or have forgotten.”
The museum is divided into two wings, the main entrance being the central doors of the tower. Raby describes the museum by saying, “Upon entering, visitors will see the beautiful balance of a modern aesthetic combined with distinguished military maturity, indicating the monumental displays of military history. The 175-foot tower looms large at the apex, both physically and [metaphorically], representing the impacts everything inside has on LSU and our nation's history.”
He continues, “Then in the wings, above each visitor, like the aspirations they represent, are words that can embody both the best of the past and the best of the future, should we accept their charge. Words like ‘selfless, trust, fortitude, integrity, and respect.’”
Each display in the museum’s gallery is uniquely influential. One display, seen to the right, features a mesmerizing statue of Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, a world-renowned Union General who was the first superintendent of LSU.
Another memorable display is the letters written back home from soldiers. This display truly humanizes the soldiers who we venerate, as well as highlights the importance of their sacrifice and the extreme cost of freedom.
When asked to identify his favorite display, Raby explains, “Picking a favorite display is difficult since every display relies on the contributions and actions of those who came before and highlights different parts of LSU alumni impacts.” Although Raby could not pick a favorite, he does describe one exhibit: a profile of Lieutenant General (Ret.) Russel L. Honoré.
Raby recounts the General’s biography by saying, “A native of Lakeland, Louisiana, Honoré has received many military honors and led the Department of Defense's response to Hurricane Katrina and Rita and was asked to chair the investigation into Capital security infrastructure following the January 6, 2021 events.”
Raby also elaborates on one of the exhibit’s quotes that reads, “’You were born free by accident. You live free by choice. To die free is your responsibility.’ These are particularly pertinent words since, in the middle of a museum, they highlight that the work done by the many distinguished people on display is not finished”
Raby also tells the story of the “Long Purple Line,” which is a phrase that emphasizes the ties every LSU student has to those who have come before and who will come after.
Leaving us with these words to contemplate, Raby says,
“The great LSU Campanile serves as the physical capstone to the foundation we are charged with continuing to build on and improve, all while encouraging and empowering others to do the same.”
Read Raby's full interview here: