I'm in the San Antonio area this week and, with Memorial Day approaching, I thought I'd finally pay a visit to a place that's been on my list for awhile: the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum at the Fort Sam Houston Army Base. The exhibits here pay tribute to those often-unsung heroes, the medics whose job took them to the front lines of battle to rescue the wounded, and the doctors and nurses who tried to save their lives. It's one of the most outstanding facilities of its kind dedicated to the restoration, preservation and exhibition of significant historic medical items.
The U.S. Army Medical Department Museum celebrates the history of the Army Medical Department from the Revolutionary War up to the present. At the front of the museum is a wonderful memorial dedicated to combat medics. I found it quite emotional as I prepared myself to enter and face the stories of tragedy, bravery and self-sacrifice. Inside, the layout is set up chronologically, with artifacts and memorabilia showing the contributions that were made by medics and the dedicated doctors and nurses who treated the soldiers at the bases and hospitals. There are displays covering specific events (such as the aftermath of the Battle of Little Bighorn), scientific advances, medical developments, and exhibits where uniforms, medals, and lots of interesting photographs are on display. They also feature some actual military medical vehicles which drew a lot of interest from the visitors, including myself.
I was especially impressed to learn that 52 individuals serving with the U.S. Army Medical Department were recipients of the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest award for military valor. Many Purple Hearts were also awarded to these courageous medical men and woman.
For me, one of the most emotional moments was when I walked through a train that was set up as a mobile hospital and used during the Korean War. As I made my way through, I could only imagine what went on right where I was standing. Many lives were saved there, but countless lives were also lost …men and women fighting for our country.
Let us take time this Memorial Day weekend, and long after, to remember them and thank them for paying the ultimate price!
Note: There is no charge to visit, but when making plans, remember that the museum is closed on Sunday, Monday and holidays.