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United States service members visit Liberian National Museum

 

Written by Spc. Caitlyn Byrne
27th Public Affairs Detachment

United States Africa CommandMonrovia, Liberia – Joint Forces Command – United Assistance service members from the Barclay Training Center got to experience some Liberian culture, January 20th, when they took a quick bus ride to the Liberian National Museum.

The museum is nestled near the center of Monrovia, the nation’s capital and after some research on the part of the JFC-UA civil affairs unit, a cross-cultural exchange trip was initiated for those Soldiers deployed to BTC.

Members of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) civil affairs team coordinated for a group of around 30 to 50 Soldiers to travel to the Liberian National Museum.

Joint Forces Command – United Assistance service members, deployed to Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, take a tour of the Liberian National Museum, Jan. 20, 2015, in Monrovia. The JFC-UA sponsored museum visit was initiated to allow service members deployed in support of Operation United Assistance to more fully understand and experience Liberian culture. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

Joint Forces Command – United Assistance service members, deployed to Barclay Training Center, Monrovia, Liberia, take a tour of the Liberian National Museum, Jan. 20, 2015, in Monrovia. The JFC-UA sponsored museum visit was initiated to allow service members deployed in support of Operation United Assistance to more fully understand and experience Liberian culture. (Spc. Caitlyn Byrne, 27th Public Affairs Detachment)

The entrance fee for the first fifty Soldiers admitted into the museum was taken care of by an anonymous donation from service members within the JFC-UA.

They also spoke to Lamie L. Taweh, the educational officer for the Liberian National Museum, who said that he was glad to host a tour of the museum for the visiting Soldiers.

“I hope to provide a deeper cultural background to the Soldiers about Liberia,” said Taweh. “I believe that people, in general, come to museums not just for the objects that are displayed but for the story, the history and deeper meaning behind them. I believe in an open exchange of information between our cultures, so that we may all learn from each other.”

Soldiers arrived at the museum mid-morning, and after stepping off the bus from BTC, were greeted by Taweh and two other museum volunteers. Once inside, Taweh led a tour throughout the building that consisted of all three floors. Each floor is designated for different mediums and forms of art.

“The first floor is sculptures, masks, statues, all solid pieces of Liberian culture,” said Taweh. “The second is paintings – many beautiful paintings – all by local Liberian artists depicting our history and our culture, while the third floor is photographs, also of Liberia taken throughout history, some dating back to the early 1900s.”

Following along the tour, Soldiers were allowed to view and explore all three floors on their own, as well as the monuments and statues that surround the museum outside.

Taweh pointed out monuments and informed JFC-UA Soldiers of their history, including a memorial statue to an 1822 voyage of freed slaves; a monument dedicated to J.J. Roberts, the first president of Liberia; and the actual tomb of William V.S. Tubman, the 19th president of Liberia.

Throughout the tour, JFC-UA Soldiers were allowed to take pictures and closely examine all of the museum’s artifacts and artwork.

Staff Sgt. John Edmonston, native of Anchorage, Alaska, noncommissioned officer for the 194th Military Police Brigade, said that he thoroughly enjoyed being able to visit the Liberian National Museum.

“I think that the Liberian National Museum trip is a great cultural awareness experience,” Edmonston said. “I feel like it has taught me more about Liberian history and it has been nice to come out and see a different side of Liberia as well.”

Both Soldiers and the Liberian museum volunteers thought that the JFC-UA trip to the Liberian National Museum was worthwhile.

“It helps expand our cultural horizons, and it allows us, the Liberian people to reach and interact with other cultures, getting as much information that is truly tangible; it is not just actual but factual,” said Taweh.


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