To the sound of fifes and drums and an artillery salute by costumed troops of Yorktown and Jamestown, the cornerstone for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown was unveiled Friday.
On May 10, 1975, the cornerstone for the Yorktown Victory Center was unveiled by then-Gov. Mills Godwin. The center opened a little less than one year later as one of three bicentennial centers in the state built by the Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission.
“’Today we mark a new beginning of a new building dedicated to our beginnings as a nation,’” said Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Inc. President Sue Gerdelman, quoting Godwin from the 1975 cornerstone dedication. She said the same words are true for the coming American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, “but on a grander, 21st-century scale.”
Members of the JYF Board of Trustees and JYF Inc. Board of Directors unveiled the cornerstone Friday. The new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will open about three years from now, in 2016.
“That’s going to be a facility that will provide for a living history experience for everybody who visits Yorktown. It’s an experience we’ll be able to see through the lives of the men and women who lived during the Revolutionary War,” said York County Board of Supervisors Chairman Walt Zaremba (District 1).
The ceremony to unveil the cornerstone began with the Fifes and Drums of York Town playing the processional. H. Benson Dendy III, chairman of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, welcomed the crowd of board members, community members and donors to the event and welcomed the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation 18th century Honor Guard to present the colors.
Several speakers highlighted the events with remarks about the importance of the Historic Triangle working together as a tourism destination, the features and planned galleries for the new museum, the way museums can be used as an education resource rather than just a tourism destination, and the way revolutionary wars are viewed in a global historical context.
University of Virginia Professor A. E. Dick Howard, who teaches courses in law and public affairs, spoke about different revolutions across the world and the difference between them. He said the French Revolution ended with the Reign of Terror and Napoleon Bonaparte’s dictatorship; the Russian Revolution began with “promises of a utopian society” but resulted in gulags and the Iron Curtain.
The American Revolutionary War “was about the American people grappling with the question of how a free people could govern themselves, how they could have liberty, how they could give government the power it needed to do things for the common good and yet limit that government … in order to secure individual liberty,” Howard said.