Throughout the summer, until Labor Day on Monday, September 5th, military servicemembers and their families can experience the vast history of Fredericksburg for free. Blue Star Museums, created by the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families (in collaboration with the Department of Defense), is entity that allows museums to offer free admission throughout the summer to military families at museums around the United States. Fredericksburg is fortunately home to six Blue Star Museums: Fredericksburg Area Museum, Gari Melchers Home & Studio, The James Monroe Museum, and the Washington Heritage Museums of Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, Mary Washington House, and Rising Sun Tavern.
Anne Darron is the Executive Director of Washington Heritage Museums, and is proud of the collaboration they have with Blue Star Museums. Washington Heritage Museums has participated with Blue Star Museums since before Darron joined in 2013, and she is thrilled that they continue to offer these experiences to military families.
“It’s not only the servicemember who serves” she said, “but the family.”
Washington Heritage Museums was created in 1890, when a group of women worked to save the Mary Washington House from being dismantled. They approached the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now known as Preservation Virginia), who helped in the survival of Mary Washington House. All of the Washington Heritage Museums are tied in some way to the family of President George Washington, particularly his mother, Mary Washington (Mary Washington House was her home for many years).
Darron said that it is fortunate how much attention is now paid to the families of active-duty servicemembers, and believes that Blue Star Museums is assisting with a great service. One of the great offers of Blue Star Museums’ participants is that they allow free admission to families even if the servicemember is not present. Darron is thrilled how often families take advantage of the offer that these museums provide. Seeing as many military families are often moving around the world, Blue Star Museums is a great organization for providing comfort, education, and entertainment for them.
Darron sees plenty of connection to military service within Washington Heritage Museums. For instance, Hugh Mercer was a brigadier general during the American Revolution, whose legacy lives on at Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop. Darron believes that the connection to military service throughout the Washington Heritage Museums will intrigue military families who are learning of Fredericksburg’s history for the first time. She is happy that Blue Star Museums expands the audience of Washington Heritage Museums, and invites guests who may have normally not visited these historic sites.
As for the participation of military families, Darron sees Blue Star Museums as a wonderful opportunity for them to learn the history of Fredericksburg. She has witnessed a lot of military families who go out of their way to learn the history of their new town every time that they move, and believes that it is helpful and informative to visit these sites with their children. Darron believes in the phrase “If you don’t study history, you are condemned to repeat it,” and hopes that these families can learn from the history that Washington Heritage Museums, and Blue Star Museums as a whole, convey to the public.
Free admission for military families at Blue Star Museums occurs every summer, from Armed Forces Day to Labor Day. You can find all of the Blue Star Museums, including those in Virginia and Fredericksburg, here.