The Few, the Loud, the Marines

In the atrium, Marines disembark a Korean War-era Sikorsky chopper. OOH RAH!

Anything writ in stone, especially in serif type, invites quiet reflection. Except “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?” Graven on the wall above the National Museum of the Marine Corps’ atrium, this World War I rallying cry summons fist-pumps, shouts of “YEAH!” and enlistment.

Backstory: The 120,000-square-foot space, paid for by the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, opened on Nov. 10, 2006.

Inside: First up is the Making Marines exhibit, where visitors queue for booths offering 360-degree aural beat-downs from a drill instructor. Gunfire and more yelling follow in the four war galleries (one for each major 20th-century conflict). Retired planes and choppers patrol the ceiling’s airspace. The immersive battle dioramas amp up the realism; North Korea’s icy Chosin Reservoir is aggressively air-conditioned, and Hill 881 South in Vietnam is stifling. Wear layers.

Must-See: The museum possesses both flags flown atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima, and displays them one at a time. The flag in the famous 1945 photo is the second, raised after the first was deemed too small.

Outside: The free-standing Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel shares the main building’s skewed triangle shape, meant to evoke the flag-raising at Iwo Jima.

Gift Shop: “Wouldn’t it be cool if that ‘sons of bitches’ quote were on a faux-marble magnet?” has a $6 answer. Whether you want to live forever is a personal decision.

National Museum of the Marine Corps, 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Triangle, Va.; 877-635-1775.

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