December 2018 marked a monumental time for St. Simons Island with the opening of the World War II Home Front Museum. For four years, the Coastal Georgia Historical Society diligently worked to collect local accounts and artifacts to showcase amongst their interactive exhibits. The men and women of this time were the greatest of generations, changing history and even the world, but what many don’t realize, is how much U-boat activity was right off our coast and just how close to home World War II actually was to the United States.
The following excerpts from the Society’s website detail how the Golden Isles played their part:
In 1940, as war-ravaged America’s allies, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called our nation the “Arsenal of Democracy.” Following Pearl Harbor, the Golden Isles became an important component of that arsenal and contributed profoundly to the war effort. The Society’s new World War II Home Front Museum at the Historic Coast Guard Station will tell the multi-faceted story of bold initiatives to protect our coast from German submarines, train fighter pilots, build Liberty Ships to supply troops overseas, and much more. State-of-the-art exhibits will provide authentic and meaningful activities for visitors of all ages to engage in, as they learn about this critical period in our nation’s history.
The Home Front Museum will preserve for future generations the truly inspiring story of Coastal Georgia’s profound contribution to the World War II effort. Detailing Glynn County’s extraordinary role during the war, the new museum will be the only permanent, standalone museum in the entire country relating to the World War II home front story. Remarkably, Glynn County was the only county nationwide to operate three critical strategic facilities – a Liberty shipyard, an airship base, and naval radar training facilities.
In 2016, the Society appointed Gallagher & Associates, a renowned museum design firm and lead exhibit designer at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, to develop the concepts and layouts for the museum. Divided into six themes, the exhibits will be housed in the two historic buildings on the site. Outdoor displays will add another dimension to the overall visitor experience. Throughout, personal stories will be told using interviews, artifacts, documents, and photographs from the Society’s collection.
We had the honor of attending the private opening ceremonies on December 8, 2018. As one of the most humbling opportunities, it was moving to be able to share the museum with the veterans and family members in attendance.
Museum tours are now opened to the public, and tickets can be purchased here (don’t miss the joint ticket options to tour the Lighthouse and the Home Front Museum).
In addition to touring the museum, we encourage you to also read Bob Bales’ article World War II Home Front Museum and the Role Coastal Georgia Played in the War for a more detailed account of the War activity in the area.