Museum of American Armor dedicates its $5 million home
outside of New York City
Public-private partnership empowers America’s heritage tourism as armor column rolls
Some 30 miles east of New York City, The Museum of American Armor has dedicated its new $5 million home on the grounds of a county rolling preserve where it will present some 30 operational armored vehicles within the broad context of telling the story of the American soldier.
The 25,000 square foot building is within the nearly 200 acres of Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Road, Old Bethpage, Long Island, where its period country roads, woods and restored farm houses give the visitor the feel of viewing armor and living history reenactments on the fields of France during the summer 1944.
Welcoming veterans from various military conflicts, museum president and founder Lawrence Kadish was joined by elected officials including Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, U.S. Congressman Peter King, co-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, History Channel’s Chief Historian and Vice President Dr. Libby O’Connell and British Deputy Consul General Nick Astbury during dedication ceremonies on June 6th, the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The museum is the result of a unique public private partnership that will allow Nassau County to access the powerful interest visitors have in the legacy of World War II and generate new revenue for a restoration village originally designed to recreate the 1800s on Long Island. Kadish contributed millions to make the museum possible.
Mr. Kadish stated, “WW II will continue to fascinate current and future generations because the stark depiction of good versus evil is so dramatic. In addition, everyone has someone in their family’s history who fought in the war, survived the carnage or was lost during that conflict. It also reminds us that the current War on Terror still demands American courage in the face of relentless evil.”
Nassau County Executive Mangano observed, “The ability to create an armored column that replicates the sights and sounds of American forces during World War II is one of the most compelling educational tools we have to recount the story of our GIs' courage, valor and sacrifice. Place it in this setting of vintage farmhouses and country roads so reminiscent of the WWII era Normandy countryside, and you have created a virtual time machine that ensures indelible memories for families.”
Congressman Peter King thanked the museum’s founder and president, stating, “Through the creation of this museum, Lawrence Kadish has ensured that we will have a better appreciation of our citizen soldiers and the role they continue to play in the defense of freedom. His considerable financial contribution to this new institution is staggering, but it reflects the depth of his commitment to tell the story of each and every one of us.”
An economic multiplier
Chief Historian for the History Channel Dr. Libby O’Connell said, “This announcement marks a unique commitment by public and private sectors to preserve and present a seminal chapter in the history of our nation... and our world. It also reflects a commitment to apply a variety of innovative resources to the task of funding the preservation of our history and serves as a national model for similar efforts.”
Heritage tourism has become a significant sector across the country, and this suburban county adjacent to tourism magnet New York City has an opportunity to grow its share of the market through this effort without cost to the taxpayer. A national survey found that heritage travelers who seek to connect with America’s past spend an average of $994 per trip compared to only $611 for other leisure travelers. The study also found heritage travelers are more frequent travelers, reporting an average of 5.01 leisure trips over a 12 month period versus 3.98 trips by non-heritage travelers. They prefer their leisure travel to be educational and they spend more on cultural and heritage activities. Finally, these individuals will travel farther to get the experiences they seek.
Commissioner Kelly and Tanker Horowitz
Museum Board member, former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly stated, “I am proud to be part of an organization that is not only paying tribute to every American who has worn the uniform, but is becoming a destination that will serve as a living, vibrant classroom that keeps alive the courage and valor of our American heritage.”
In addition to Mr. Kadish and Commissioner Kelly, board members include Ed Blumenfeld of BDG, Ltd., Michael Polimeni of Polimeni International, Steve Napolitano of First Nationwide Title and Frederick Daum of PSEG.
Hy Horowitz of Long Island, a Sherman tanker in General Patton’s 7th Armor Division, was among those who liberated the Buchenwald death camp. Horowitz said, “For the last six decades, veterans like me have been retelling the stories of valor and liberation so that, as Americans, we can understand what we did on behalf of humanity. It puts our country in perspective and it frames our place in the world. It is now time for a new generation to accept the responsibility of retelling that story so that the world is reminded that America stands for freedom, diversity and democracy.
Horowitz observed, “Lawrence Kadish understands that need and put an enormous amount of money into a building that will house an extraordinary collection of old friends. But he knows it's not about the armor - it's about the people. Americans, all. We have a story to tell andthis place will ensure that it is heard. My story, and that of a generation, will be in good hands.”
A collection of icons
Operational vehicles on public display include the iconic Sherman tank, a Stuart tank used extensively by the Marines during their Pacific campaigns, a potent 155 mm howitzer, reconnaissance vehicles that acted as armored scouts for American forces, the tank transporter nicknamed “the Dragon Wagon,” anti-aircraft guns and similar weapons that broke the back of the Axis powers during World War II. Other vehicles range from a classic LaSalle staff car in the markings of a Fleet Admiral, to jeeps, weapons carriers, half-tracks and allied vehicles such as the Dingo.
Beyond World War II programs, tributes are being created to the American service men and women who have served in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and the War on Terror so that the museum is able to fulfill its mission of honoring America’s defense of freedom throughout the decades. Recently, the museum added an operational M48 Patton tank that saw action under the flag of the Israeli Defense Force during the desperate days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission is $10, adults; $7, children 5 - 12 (under 5 are free); and $7, seniors, volunteer firefighters and veterans. Admission to the armor museum also allows you access to Old Bethpage Village Restoration.