COLUMBIA, S.C. --
Tucked away behind the adjutant general’s headquarters in downtown Columbia, close to the University of South Carolina’s football stadium, lies a hidden gem: the South Carolina Military Museum, home to many South Carolina military memories and artifacts.
The museum’s director, Mr. Saddler Taylor, is honored to showcase South Carolina’s contribution to the America’s war effort. And for Taylor, the connection to South Carolina’s military history is a personal one. Not only does he lead the museum during the week, on drill weekends he leads Soldiers in the South Carolina Army National Guard as a lieutenant colonel.
“We deal with a subject matter that’s very personal,” said Taylor. “Veterans will see an old artifact that sparks a memory or a flashback.”
Taylor emphasized that a South Carolina Military Museum carries more significance than a mere brick-and-mortar history class.
Since taking on the director role about a year ago, Taylor has seen veterans from different eras still having vivid connections with the artifacts in the exhibits.
With multiple museum staff members witnessing the experience of visiting veterans or even themselves, Taylor emphasized the need to personalize the museum.
Already implementing plans to add life to the museum, he shared details about an ongoing program the museum is offering called the Oral History Program.
Taylor said this program is an audio interview given by appointment that allows veterans to share experiences in a specific war or an individual artifact in the museum.
“Just about everything in our collection has come from donations,” said Taylor. “People bring objects in from their grandparent’s generation and offer us to place them in an exhibit.”
Coming from a family rich in military background himself, Taylor said that people connect best through personal experiences and stories.
“We get a wide variety of visitors,” said Taylor. “From kids to basic training graduates, to veterans.”
With museum attendees coming from all walks of life, he said that the Oral History Program allows the ability to empathize and understand the reality of war and the servicemembers' sacrifices.
This program won’t be the last of its kind. Taylor explains that volunteers are provided opportunities to work with the program curator and lead research projects in their specialties for new exhibits.
“Whether you like giving tours or are good with your hands, anyone can be a part of sharing history,” he said.
Taylor invites servicemembers and civilians to either volunteer or visit and take part of experiencing monumental moments in history. The museum is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. The museum is located at 1 National Guard Road in Columbia, South Carolina. For more information, contact the front office at (803) 299 - 4440 or go to scmilitarymuseum.com.
Veterans Day would be perfect time to plan a visit. Taylor said this will be the first time in the museum's history that it will open its doors for the memorial holiday.