Enter the doors of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and you enter a space that speaks to the very core of what it means to be a United States Marine.
This central gallery brings to mind feelings of courage, determination, compassion, innovation and the tight bonds that are formed between comrades in arms. The artifacts, vignettes, testimonials, and images in this space honor the contributions of every Marine.
The terrazzo floor depicts the transition from ocean to shore, represent the Marines' mission of amphibious assault. Soaring up from the floor is a 210 foot stainless steel spire, inspired by the famous Iwo Jima flag raising, suggesting the raised barrel of an artillery piece, a bayoneted rifle or an drawn Mameluke sword. Anchoring the rear of the gallery, a three level observation deck and elevator tower, resembling a ship's superstructure, reminds visitors of the strong Navy-Marine Corps partnership. Portraits of eight Marines look over the area and the surrounding travertine walls are engraved with evocative quotes.
Suspended over the gallery are four aircraft key to Marine history: a Curtiss "Jenny" from the "Banana Wars" of the 1920's, a pair of elegant but deadly Corsair fighters from World War II and an AV-8B Harrier "jump jet." On the ground, an LVT-1 amphibious tractor breaches the defensive log wall on the Pacific island of Tarawa, while a Sikorsky HRS-2 helicopter disembarks a machine gun unit onto a Korean War position.