Today was the grand opening of the Armed Forces Military Museum. The museum first opened it's doors to the public at 10:00 am with ceremonies beginging at 12:30pm. The list of ceremonies was as follows: An intorduction from local radio host Jack Harris,the Posting of the U.S. Colors, Presentation of U.S. Flag by Congressman C.W "Bill" Young, Raising of the flag and National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, Invocation, Ribbon Cutting by City of Largo Mayor Patricia Girard, Guest Speakers, Keynote Address, Dedication of Memorial Walk, Unveiling of the Sculpture "TAPS", "Last Roll Call" for fallen servicemenof Tampa Bay area who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Taps by the Marine Corps League Bugler and the Closing Remarks. The Museum Experience Upon arriving at the museum, which is hidden at the end of a Cul De Sac in a light industrial part of town, you immediately notice the flags of the different service branches and Old Glory. You drive through a portion of the building lined with camo nets to the parking area in back. You then walk through a type of garage where you pay admission before walking to the main entrance. There is a small consession stand outside and picnic tables in the garage so you can sit in the shade to eat. You are greeted at the door by a statue of a charging soldier with the business end of his M1 staring at you. As you walk through the door, you find yourself in a room containing the displays of Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force uniforms through the years. These seemed to consist mainly of dress or dinner uniforms. There were also displays of the hats of the different branches demonstrating the changes over the years. The next room is full of the ordnance and munitions. Bombs, rifles, mines, handguns, grenades, machineguns and bayonets from different countries grace the room in beautiful displays. There are even bayonets from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars on display. As you pass through the double doors into the next room, you find yourself thrown into the American trenches of WW1. Smoke and the sounds of gunfire are all around you. All the things that our soldiers relied on during this period can be found in this room. The atmosphere in this room is almost overwhelming. As you enter the next room, you find yourself on the flight deck of a Japanese Aircraft carrier. This is the Pearl Harbor room. Smoke and the sounds of airplanes and crew chatter add to the atmosphere. In the center of the room are some models of some of the ships that were lost a Pearl Harbor. These models are close to 12 foot long and full of detail. The Japanese items are on display in this room. There is also a large movie screen showing a black and white (dubbed from the original) film of the destruction of Pearl Harbor. The next room contains some Heavy artillery vehicles of WW2 and a torpedo disected to show you the complicated workings hidden inside. The next room thrusts you into a war torn German town. The walls of the building are riddled with bullet holes. There are busted windows and signs of fires. This is where you will find the German items. Many odd things you didn't here about can be found here. This display will really put into perspective, the terror that our young soldiers were up against. The next room puts you in the middle of Utah Beach on D-Day. A life like display of soldiers digging up mines greets you as you enter the room. The footprints in the mud, spent brass laying scattered around and the "Unfired" ammo waiting in the midst really make you want to grab a shovel and lend them some help. More displays of WW2 items can be found in this room. There is also displays of the items carried by our Airmen as well as a display on the Tuskeegee Airmen. In between this room and the next is the Officers Club and the Wall of Heroes. The Officers Club is a banquet room that can be rented and is decorated to resemble a quonset hut used by WW2 Army Air Corps personel. The next room is a large room and holds the displays for Korea, Cold War, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first thimg you notice is the Korean War era, U.S. communications tent. You can see what was needed to keep our finest informed during battle. There is also recorded raido transmissions playing for ambiance. The majority of the displays in this room are of tanks, cannons, troop carriers and the likes of these wars. Passing trough the next set of doors will take you back outside to the front of the museum. Head right to go back inside or to your car. Turn left to head to the Memorial Walk. While small, the Memorial walk is bordered by a pond and some beautiful plants and flowers. It is a brick path in which some names have been carved. 8x4 and 8x8 bricks have been laid out to make this path and can be purchased and engraved with the names of your fallen soldier for a fee. At the center point of the walk there is the "TAPS" statue. While a simple sculpture, it will still overwhelm you. This will make you sad and proud at the same time. I paid $5 each for my wife and I and my 2yo daughter was free. The price is a special price for today only. The regular price will be $8 after today. My 2 Cents While I was a little disappointed in the displays in the last room, the rest of the museum more than made up for it. I don't know if any of you have visited the museum at Ft. Leonard Wood, but this one beats that one 2 fold. Well, it's been 11 years since I been there, so I am comparing it to the museum at that time. My wife, who hates going to museums, even enjoyed this stating, "That wasn't as bad as I thought. I actually had fun." My daughter seemed to have a good time but that is more attributed to seeing new thiongs and running around. Bottom Line: If you are into military history and looking for a fun place to stop for a few hours on vacation, this is your place. I felt rushed (cranky 2 year old) and was still there 2 hours. Well worth the money and the detour.