We’re voting yes, for the future
We’re sticking to our guns. Since 2003, when people from Fort Smith first learned that the U.S. Marshals Service was searching for a city that would build a national museum the service, this magazine has been heartily in favor of “Bringing it Home.” We’ve campaigned for creation of the U.S. Marshals Museum with many words, pictures and actions, since then.
I’m speaking and endorsing this for – and with – my partner Linda Seubold, co-owner of Entertainment Fort Smith. In every way she could, including by writing many stories in these pages, Linda has cheered on the museum.
On March 12, voters will decide whether to enact a nine-month, one-time, one penny sales tax to raise funds to install “the museum experience” inside the new museum building that will open Sept. 24 on the Arkansas riverfront. The construction is paid for, with the approximately $35 million that has already been raised. Most of those donations have been from the state of Arkansas, and several generous local residents, including the very land it stands on.
The sales tax proceeds, estimated to be about $15-$17 million, will be spent to install the state-of-the-art experience that will surround and interpret artifacts and objects telling the whole history of the U.S. Marshals Service.
That “experience” will be in artful audio/visual presentation and interactive features. It will be much like the presentation methods in the nation’s Smithsonian Institution museums in Washington, D.C.
For example: for decades the historical, 1812 “Star Spangled Banner” was displayed hanging high and center in the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Today, millions of visitors view the flag in a climate-controlled, darkened walk-through exhibit with audio and video telling its fascinating story through images, voices and sounds. It’s unforgettable – and a much richer experience than only looking at it.
Finishing the Marshals Museum is just as great an idea as it was at the start, Linda says.
“The good reasons haven’t changed,” she said in a phone call from home. “It still has the same merit.” It will be a new tourism attraction and will enhance the riverfront and downtown.
And it recognizes the identity of this region specifically, dovetailing perfectly with the history told at our National Historic Site, heritage sites of the Cherokee and Choctaw nations and of the city of Fort Smith – past present and future.
Linda wants to rekindle the enthusiastic and cooperative spirit so many different people of Fort Smith and this area held at the start. The campaign to get the museum “went across so many groups,” she recalled. “That’s the best I have ever seen this city work together.”
We can, once again, at the ballot box, March 12. Let’s bring it home.
– Lynn Wasson, with Linda Seubold
This editorial appears in the March 2019 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith magazine.