Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Armed Forces History Museum combines fun with honor


Workers at the U.S. Armed Forces History Museum will be on a mission Monday to ensure the original meaning of Memorial Day — to honor the sacrifices of our fallen soldiers — is kept alive. At the same time, they'll incorporate what the holiday also has come to symbolize — the start of summer fun.

They'll do this with the Family FunFest. In its sixth year, the program includes activities for those well-versed in military knowledge as well as civilians wanting to spend a leisurely day with the family.

Cindy Bosselmann, the assistant executive director of the tiny museum in a former warehouse off Ulmerton Road, plans to see upward of 1,000 visitors come through the doors.

"The reason we do this is yes, to celebrate the beginning of summer but also to educate and honor those who have served,'' she said. "From our perspective Memorial Day's real meaning can get lost in the shuffle.''

There will be discounted ticket prices for admission to the permanent exhibits filled with war memorabilia including sticky bombs, bayonets, jeeps, tanks as well as an authentic Russian MiG-21 supersonic fighter jet on display at the museum's entrance.

For youngsters, there will be rock climbing, a bounce house and power bungee jumping.

Special guests also will be on hand, including the Bomber Girls, an all-female organization that raises money for military charities, who will reminisce with veterans and their families.

Sandy O'Hara, the 1971 Armed Forces Pin Up for the Vietnam War, will visit in the morning, autographing copies of vintage posters. O'Hara, 67, spent more than 40 years touring with "The Best of Burlesque," a dance and comedy show she created with her husband, David Hanson.

"Back in the 1970s, I decided to start visiting with soldiers because I felt they needed to know that not everyone was against the war,'' said O'Hara, who now lives in St. Petersburg. "We've lost sight of what Memorial Day stands for, and this event at the museum is a good one, especially for children who need to still learn about honoring those who have died.''

Also on hand will be the 1st Infantry Division Re-Enactment Camp, a group of World War II military history enthusiasts who will hold two weaponry demonstrations with rifles including an M1 Garand, an M1 Carbine, and an M1903 Springfield, according to John Thomas, the group's spokesman.

"We'll also set up an encampment, an authentic company command post for visitors to come visit,'' Thomas said. "It's fantastic to interact with veterans' families who otherwise may have only seen things in a black and white photo tucked away in an album. ...

"To actually let visitors see the weapons and uniforms and other items in real life and to be able to feel the texture of the materials make a lasting impression.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at or (727) 445-4163.

>>if you go

Memorial Day Family FunFest

The Armed Forces History Museum, 2050 34th Way N, Largo, will hold its sixth annual Memorial Day Family FunFest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. $10 for adults; $5 for youths 4-12. For tickets or more information, visit or call (727) 539-8371.

Armed Forces History Museum combines fun with honor 05/22/14 [Last modified: Thursday, May 22, 2014 11:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  2. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.
  5. As Trump's overseas trip ends, crisis grows at home (w/video)


    President Donald Trump headed home Saturday to confront a growing political and legal threat, as his top aides tried to contain the fallout from reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the president's campaign and transition teams.

    President Donald Trump waves as he exits Marine One on Saturday at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. After a nine-day trip overseas, the president is returning to Washington.