Friday, November 02, 2007
The U.S. Senate unanimously agreed today to designate the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce as the Official National Museum of Navy SEALs and Their Predecessors. The bill, which passed the House a month ago, now goes to President Bush for his expected signature. "This will put a national spotlight on the museum and help it showcase its collections to thousands more visitors," Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in a statement. "We owe a debt of gratitude to the Navy SEALs and their predecessors. This bill will help the museum tell these heroes' stories to a national audience," said Rep. Tim Mahoney, a Democrat from Palm Beach Gardens, who sponsored the bill in the House. The beachside museum opened in 1985 and is the only one in the country dedicated to Navy SEALs and their predecessors, including the underwater demolition teams.Featuring thousands of artifacts, including a Vietnam-era helicopter recovered from the bottom of the ocean, the museum attracts around 30,000 visitors a year. In addition to raising the museum's status in the eyes of potential visitors, the designation means it will be eligible to apply for federal grants. Michael Howard, the museum's executive director, has said he would use federal grants to help pay for some of the major projects currently underway including doubling the museum's size and upgrading its displays. "We've been kind of struggling to get on the map and get appreciation from the county, state, and nation. We're just elated to become a national museum," Howard said before the House acted. The congressional action came just in time for the museum to advertise its annual Muster event, a celebration on Veterans Day weekend that is open to the public. This year the event will take place from Nov. 8 to Nov. 11.