UPDATE: Virginia War Memorial education center opens

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia War Memorial is opening the $10 million Paul and Phyllis Galanti Education Center Friday.

Paul Galanti is a former Navy prisoner of war for nearly seven years during the Vietnam War.

Paul Galanti knows all about sacrifice. He spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War. Now, some youngsters at today's grand opening can learn about that sacrifice, along with several other stories inside the education center.

"Sacrifice isn't taught anymore. And you can't walk through this place without seeing the sacrifices of 100,000 of Virginians and Americans, what they have made, so that everyone can do what they want to," Galanti said. 

Both Paul and Phyllis Galanti are symbols of that sacrifice.

They both hope everyone will come here to learn about our history. "To have a real feeling for what our veterans have done in various wars through exhibits of memorabilia, through stories, through films," Phyllis said. 

The center has been a long time in the making. Just an idea for years, ground was broken in July of last year. Now 14 months later, the $10 million center is a reality.

"It means a lot. Quite a thrill to say this is my place," says John Williams, who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He was thrilled to see this massive crowd surrounding him.

He had this message for the youngest of them here: "Congratulations, because they are beginning leaders of the world."

Here today and when they take the message from inside the center to their friends and loved ones.

"I think it'll be crawling with people from the beginning... I hope!" Phyllis added.

Ross Perot and Governor Bob McDonnell will be among the guests honoring the Galantis.

Events at the Virginia War Memorial at 621 South Belvidere Street begin at 10 a.m. Friday morning and continuing throughout the weekend.

Another grand opening event is taking place Friday night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is not open to the public, tickets are required.

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