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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP
Every American soldier has a story to tell that gives the rest of the world an inside look at U.S. history through eyewitness account.
Consider the story of Cpl. James Tanner, a Union soldier who lost both of his legs during the American Civil War at the Second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Va., in August 1862. When he recovered from his injuries, he learned to walk again with the aid of prostheses and resumed his military career by working as a stenographer for the U.S. War Department, which was originally responsible for U.S. Army operations and is now known as the U.S. Department of Defense.
Almost two years later, on the night of April 14, 1865, sometime after 10 p.m., Tanner found himself using the skills from his new-found profession to record eyewitness testimonies of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Tanner lived next door to the Petersen House, where President Lincoln was brought following the shooting at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Tanner was asked to come over and record via shorthand the accounts of the shooting while events were still fresh in witnesses’ minds.
Tanner recalled in his notes, “I was conducted to the rear parlor where I was directed to take testimony of what transpired…I transcribed my notes by 6:45 a.m. then went back to the room where the President lay dying.” Tanner was among those present when President Lincoln died.
Last month, Boeing announced its sponsorship of the Soldiers’ Stories Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Army, where stories like Cpl. Tanner’s will be represented, and every soldier will have the opportunity to share his or her own story. Those collective narratives comprise the Army’s history and an important part of U.S. history.
When completed in 2015, the Soldiers’ Stories Gallery will honor the nearly 30 million men and women – 14 generations of soldiers – who have served in the U.S. Army throughout the past 235 years. The new, state-of-the-art facility will be built along the Potomac River at Fort Belvoir, Va., near Washington, D.C.
The museum will document all facets and time periods of Army life – from the Revolutionary War through present-day conflicts – and the Soldiers’ Stories Gallery will consist of 20 to 30 free-standing, bronze-finished pylons, each representing a soldier and displaying his or her story. Twelve of the pylons will stand in marching formation to represent the uniformity of the Army as well as the individuality of the soldier.
Boeing pledged its sponsorship of the gallery on June 14 at a ceremony celebrating the Army’s 235th birthday. To tell your own soldier’s story, visit the National Museum of the U.S. Army website and log in to The Registry of the American Soldier.
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