A Letter from the Executive Directorasmith May 02, 2013
Greetings from Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum!
We’re enjoying a great spring at Patriots Point and we hope you are, too.
Last Friday, we were honored to welcome the remaining crewmembers of the USS Franklin (CV-13) – all WWII veterans – for their final public gathering.
The USS Franklin (CV-13) participated in Pacific Theater operations during WWII and was in service from 1944-1945. She is, perhaps, best known for an attack that took place on March 19, 1945, when two Japanese bombs struck the ship shortly before dawn. The bombs hit at the heart of the ship – igniting aircraft that were armed and triggering a gasoline vapor explosion that devastated the Hangar Bay. A recent count by a Franklin historian and researcher raised the total to over 800 killed and nearly 500 wounded.
Following this attack, the USS Franklin earned the designation as the most heavily damaged U.S. aircraft carrier to survive WWII. Today, she and her crew remain the most decorated in Navy history – earning two Medals of Honor, 19 Navy Crosses, 22 Silver Stars, and 1,100 Purple Hearts.
On May 17, 21 of these heroes gathered with their families one last time aboard the USS Yorktown. In honor of this historic reunion, Patriots Point hosted a series of events and educational programs throughout the day to allow the public an opportunity to speak with and hear from these heroes. We were proud to have the support of our local active-duty military groups and truly honored to host these heroes.
Last month, our museum posted the highest numbers seen on a single day in the past five years. On April 2, we welcomed more than 2,320 paid visitors and collected $35,483 in admission sales and $12,045 in the gift shop for a total of $51,608 in just one day. By comparison, an average day in April last year saw more than 998 paid visitors touring the museum and a total revenue of $22,770.
With this increase in attendance and in revenue, we’re on track to achieve the goals set forth in our Three Year Business Plan and to develop a new museum experience, with an additional 40,000 tickets sold annually, by 2016.
Speaking of our updated museum experience, work is underway to transform the USS Yorktown visitor experience. We are working with the MUSAIC Design Group to tell the stories of the USS Yorktown, her crew and pilots in a way that is engaging, immersive and educational. Over the next five years, our museum will be investing $4 million in major technological and format improvements to the USS Yorktown. We’re going to capture the sounds, sights and emotions of those who served aboard ‘The Fighting Lady’ and it will be an experience unlike any other in the nation.
We recently introduced a hologram in our Combat Information Center on Tour Route 3, and it’s just the beginning of this process. I hope you will visit us in the months and years ahead to experience the USS Yorktown in a whole new way.
Before I close, I’d like to take a moment to mention that Memorial Day is approaching on Monday, May 27. On this national day of remembrance, I ask that each of you take a moment to reflect on the brave men and women who gave their lives in defense of our country. We honor their service each and every at Patriots Point and we invite Lowcountry residents and visitors to join us for a special program at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Following a prayer by USS Yorktown plank owner, Rev. Harold Syfrett, guests will be invited to share their personal remembrances and pay tribute to the fallen. From 8 – 9 that morning, we will offer free admission for all those who wish to attend. I hope to see you there.
As always, on behalf of the Patriots Point Development Authority Board and our employees, we thank you for your continued support.
R. Mac Burdette