July 31, 2019 – In defining action that puts an end to rampant rumors, resolves lingering questions, and ensures the future of a widely-supported national museum honoring America’s Medal of Honor Recipients, the National Medal of Honor Heritage Foundation today announced the museum will be built in Mount Pleasant. The newly-formed non-profit also unveiled a comprehensive strategic development plan that identifies costs, and specific fundraising and construction objectives, with a targeted July 4, 2023 opening. Organization leaders were joined by federal, state and local government officials for the announcement, which was made aboard the USS Yorktown at Charleston’s Patriots Point.
Comprised of nationally recognized personalities with strong support from military and veterans organizations, the private sector, and others, the National Medal of Honor Heritage Foundation has breathed new energy and excitement into a museum whose fate once seemed uncertain. Adding weight to its efforts and plan, designating legislation issued jointly by the House of Representatives and the United States Senate grants the non-profit exclusive authority to build the nation’s only National Medal of Honor Museum, with the requirement that it be built in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Under Senate 1633, originally sponsored by Senator John McCain, the museum may not be located in any other city or state, and no other project may call itself a National Medal of Honor Museum.
The announcement is the latest move by the Foundation to pick up the mantle on the stalled project. Earlier this month, Chairman W. Thomas McQueeney issued an open letter to the community and press, affirming Charleston’s Patriots Point as the official, permanent site of the National Medal of Honor Museum. McQueeney’s frank, one-page letter followed extensive behind-the-scenes efforts to rebuild relationships, implement financial controls, and restore order in the wake of disastrous failure by a previous group. Today’s announcement aboard the USS Yorktown is unwelcome news for remaining members of the prior organization, who recently made a series of claims about alternate siting candidates and national monuments—despite lacking any authority or the Congressional designation to do so, and without revealing details of the costs or funding sources for the alleged projects.
Bringing an authoritative voice to the project, Chairman McQueeney affirmed Patriots Point as his vision of the formal, permanent siting for the National Medal of Honor Museum. In addition, he made clear that the National Museum already exists on the “Fighting Lady,” the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point, and will be expanded under a new strategic vision implemented by the Foundation. Under Senate 1633, which became law in 1999, Congressional designation is provided for only one national museum.
Chairman McQueeney also made a solid ‘Museum or Money Back’ promise. Under the Foundation’s plan, central corpus funds will be reserved exclusively for construction costs. Expenses not associated with construction, bricks and mortar, and things inside the museum will not be paid out of corpus funds, ensuring that failure is not an option.
The NMOH Heritage Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation formed for the purpose of bringing the existing museum to a land-side site. To accomplish this, the Foundation will raise $45 million through public, private, and corporate efforts to right-size the new facility – a figure less than half the amount sought by a previous group.
The NMOH Heritage Foundation consists of an advisory board with ten members from across the US, who are nationally-recognized in their fields. In addition, there is a 13-member executive board enhanced with high-profile citizens of the Charleston community. A 51-member “Special Forces Team” of volunteers, experts in marketing, events, website, finance, public relations, construction, hospitality, and other needs, will provide special project support.
“This is a transformative moment for the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center,” Foundation Chairman Tom McQueeney said. “This Foundation has taken the stalled Patriots Point Project and put it on the path to reality. With proper focus, a diverse team of top-tier professionals, and a bold strategic vision, the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is on track to open its doors – at a savings of more than $50 million.”
“It’s very significant to me that it’s in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. No one is going to get in our way this time,” said Medal of Honor recipient General James E. Livingston. “This museum is important to our young people. It will serve as a source of inspiration for the next generation, preparing them to be the leaders of the future.”
“My compatriots in Congress designated this place as a national site – the only national site for the Medal of Honor Museum – in its 1999 Senate Bill 1633,” U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson said. “To those who will undertake this honorable task for the citizens of our community, our state, and our nation, we as members of Congress will vehemently support this effort.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. It is presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.