Marine Corps Legacy Museum

The Marine Corps Legacy Museum (MCLM) officially opened on November 10, 2001 (November 10 being the birthday of the United States Marine Corps). The MCLM is the country’s only private, historically comprehensive Marine Corps museum. It is sponsored by the Association for the Preservation of U.S. Marine Corps History, Inc., an educational non-profit corporation chartered in Arkansas in 1998. The museum, located on the town square in Harrison (Boone County), is the culmination of ten years of planning and effort by the father and son founders, Captain D. A. Millis and Gunnery Sergeant D. A. Millis II, both retired marines. They and their families serve as volunteer officers of the corporation and the museum; there are no salaried staff members.

From the beginning, two basic premises dictated museum policy. First, the museum is a professional effort, not a hobby; thus, when the museum is eligible, it will seek accreditation from the American Association of Museums. To further this goal, the association was contacted early on to ascertain its criteria, and the museum was structured in consonance with those criteria. Second, museum displays and presentations strive for accuracy.

The museum’s displays depict the history of the Marine Corps from 1775 to the present, with large cases displaying uniforms, weapons, equipment, and art covering that time period. Each display is interwoven with the U.S. history of the period, giving the patron not only a view of the history of the marines but the policies and global events that required marine deployment—missions as diverse as guarding the nation’s embassies overseas, guarding the U.S. mail at home, conducting assaults on Japanese-held islands in World War II, conducting rescue and life-saving operations around the world, and spearheading the U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. The museum shows the marines and the equipment they used to accomplish their missions in more than 200 years of service.

The museum staff conducts an educational outreach program, presenting classes to students from grade school to college. Some presentations are made in the museum, but many are given on school campuses. Another museum project is an oral history program aimed at enlisted marines, to document Marine Corps activities with a perspective not usually provided by senior officer biographies or organizational histories. These personal histories have become a part of the museum’s archive, which contains hundreds of books, photos, periodicals, and documents relating to the corps and the nation.

Museum involvement in community activities resulted in its being awarded the Main Street Harrison Community Commitment Award for 2001; a certificate of appreciation from the commanding officer of the Kansas City, Missouri, recruiting station for its support of Marine Corps recruiting; and a letter of appreciation from the Boone County sheriff’s office for community support. In 2003, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation awarded the museum the Colonel John H. Magruder III Award for excellence in presenting Marine Corps history in a museum setting. The museum was the first organization to qualify for the award since 1999. In 2005 and 2006, it was a finalist in a field of more than 2,000 nominees in the Arkansas governor’s Henry Awards program.

Since September 11, 2001, the Marine Corps Legacy Museum is one of the few marine museums readily available to the public. With the exception of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, all others are on Marine Corps bases where access to civilians is limited. It is also the only comprehensive Marine Corps museum in the central United States. In 2007, the museum completed an additional twenty-six timeline displays.

As of 2010, the museum is no longer open for public, walk-through visits, pending a search for funding.

D. A. Millis
Marine Corps Legacy Museum


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