Did you know that Chattanooga is the birthplace of the Medal of Honor? The National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is a Chattanooga gem hidden in plain sight, right next door to the Tennessee Aquarium. If you’re like us, you may have walked by since its opening in February 2020 and wondered what was behind its doors — let’s just say it’s an experience we recommend everyone have.
This 19,000 sqft facility features immersive, award-winning exhibits that “tell the amazing, real-life stories of ordinary people who demonstrated extraordinary heroism under the most difficult circumstances.”
Along with the interactive — and incredibly detailed — exhibits, the center is also home to dozens of historical artifacts, medals, and more belonging to Medal of Honor recipients from near and far.
Most recently, the center accepted Challenger Commander Dick Scobee’s Space Medal of Honor — one of 28 Space Medals of Honor ever awarded — presented by his wife June Scobee Rogers, making it the only location in the country to have a Space Medal of Honor permanently displayed.
The exhibit is now open to the public, and is kicking off the center’s $2.5 million campaign to develop an immersive exhibit focused on the life of Scobee — equipped with artifacts from NASA, flight simulators + more.
While you’re checking out the newest exhibit, here are some other highlights of the center:
- Interactive maps to show the geographical location of recipients
- Informational videos + reenactments (One is even voiced by Dennis Quaid)
- Made-to-scale mannequins with historically accurate clothing
- Historical artifacts from recipients (one even dating back to 1818)
- Exhibits on Chattanooga recipient Charles H. Coolidge
- Exhibit on the only female recipient, Dr. Mary E. Walker (who was also a Chattanoogan)
The center has plenty of other local + regional facts included in its exhibits and tours — but we can’t spoil all of the fun, you’ll have to make a visit yourself.