PARACHUTING: Into the Future, General Lee Museum

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I just went with my group of DAR ladies to the Major William C. Lee Museum in Dunn. We are one of the patriotic groups, so the trip is a no-brainer. One of our Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) members set it up for us. Our President, Paula Hildebrand traveled from Wake Forest for this event. gloria-gulledge-general-lee-resized-web

We had the docent there schedule a tour for us. We were in the middle of it, and I was as excited as the first time I’d seen it. No, wait, that’s wrong. I was way MORE excited about it than I had ever been, military being my son’s and my husband’s interest, but not particularly mine.

As Gloria Gulledge went on about different memorabilia, like a huge old flag they have framed there, I was struck with the amount of first times, of invention, of tipping point moments that had occurred with this one point in history, through this one man. It was astounding. I would almost say he exploded into a moment of history as potently as had Churchill.

Don’t expect me to tell you all those things, because I can’t. You will just have to call and take the tour yourself, and it is more than worth it. It was at least as good as the one we attended through the LBJ house in Texas, and I would say it was way better. I promise you, they didn’t pay me to say this or advertise for their museum.

I can remember all the way back to its beginnings, when some classmates of mine and a colonel I knew from before my overseas trek started talking about doing this project in a fine Southern home in Dunn, NC. I didn’t give it much credence, not being quite as smart as I think I am. However, this project has grown. The exhibits have multiplied. The one-of-kind moments have, as well. Like the permanently lighted artwork of a major artist which takes you there to that time frame. The uniforms have grown, authentic ones used and discontinued–from WWI days to now–showcased in glass cases on three separate floors boasting a regular set of stairs and a servant’s set of stairs. It also house the Dunn Area Chamber of Commerce. They have a discontinued bicycle that they jumped from planes with in enemy lines, to get out of there once they’d landed. They have authentic guns and rifles used by every phase of military and foreign military. They have statues, old photographs, letters, furniture, stories, and more.

Follow Gloria from the red room to the blue room to the–you get the idea–all are full of story, dates, and times of the action, what lead up to the grand moments of history, and what sequels it has had. It even has tie-ins to things like the history of the development of 5-star generals. I just thought they had always been and ever would be, sort of like the doxology in a Sunday service.

William C. Lee in a miraculous moment started our governments’ parachuting unit. In no time, they had 50 men.That grew to 500, to 1000, to 8,000. Initially, he saw the Germans using it and was captured by it, implemented the idea once that was his assignment by using prototype circus exhibits in a story which sounds more like a total made-up fantasy fiction than like history. Don’t expect me to get my facts right or to repeat a tenth of it, because I can’t, but the docent, a teacher and history lover herself is immersed in this and has been for years, and makes the history of it all come alive right before your eyes.

Our President Paula, Left, Jane Tart, Treasurer, Right

Our President Paula, Left, Jane Tart, Treasurer, Right

I would actually say she lassos you and forces you into her time capsule and takes you back in time to the first moments, the moments of inception, the invention moments. You can probably surmise that would excite the imagination of an artist as I am.

In recent years I was asked to re-do the brochure the Commission has on its featured museum, which I did, with monumental help from Christian de la Mirand, a photographer who for a short time owned the Photography shop near me on Broad Street. The brochure is given out by the Dunn tourist agency,

Our collaboration on the brochure was a fun time, and reminded me of having collaborated on the graphic presentation of another 3-dimensional exhibit in Holland when I lived in Germany. It was a visual story, as well, on a little known phase of history–one of researching and documenting Bible distribution into closed countries, complete with sound in the story. I wish I had taken pictures of that!

And this experience was a one of a kind, as well, as the Cornelius Harnett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is slated to end its history at the end of this year. I’m so glad to have been a part of it for a few years before that.

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