POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force reopened to the public Monday.
Just in time for Memorial Day.
While there are new restrictions in place, the museum welcomed guests ready to pay their respects to all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom.
“It’s sometimes easy to see that as 26,000 names but those are people. Those are sons and brothers and boyfriends and husbands and dads. Those are people and lives that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Marketing and Communications Director Pearl Fyderek.
26,000 lives lost in the Mighty Eighth Air Force alone. But not forgotten.
“Our mission is to preserve and share the stories of heroes of the Eighth Air Force and we’re going to continue to do that. We’ll find away to do that whatever it takes,” said Fyderek.
What it takes for the museum to continue their mission right now means extra disinfecting and adding guidelines to keep everyone safe.
But it didn't take long to prove to be more than worth it.
“Visiting here is very personal to many people,” Fyderek says.
Whether they’ve served like Neal Harden, who was visiting with his family from Florida.
“You know, I’ve deployed in combat several times so I certainly have an appreciation for those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.”
They’re visiting out of respect, like Charlie Mayes.
“Most of my family is in the military so I felt obligated to come see this.”
Or perhaps the museum is a reminder of a lost loved one like it is for Ned Naden Basinger.
“My father was in the Eighth Air Force, or Army Air Corps, in WWII.”
This Memorial Day, it seemed all who came found what they were looking for.
“I am so grateful for all the sacrifices that people have given for us,” said Ned Basinger.
A reminder of the past. And from that, hope for the future.
“We stand here in masks today talking to one another, to me, it even hits home more because I know this mask is going to come off and we’re going to beat this thing,” said Cheryle Basinger.
The Museum has changed their hours and days of operation for the time being.
Aside from Memorial Day they will typically be closed on Monday’s for a full cleaning and are open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.