Fort Benning is celebrating its 100th anniversary of being an integral part of Columbus.
Since 1918, millions of soldiers have trained at Benning, including the first all black ranger unit.
Signs around the museum say the US Army Infantry School was almost eliminated, but the Columbus Chamber of Commerce “aggressively” campaigned to save the project, bringing it home.
“The interesting thing about the centennial is it will be going on all year. It’s the opportunity to celebrate Fort Benning, which was actually started after the local efforts of community leaders and chamber of commerce leaders, back in the 1917 to 1918 time frame, and so what we’re here to do today is to celebrate that 100 years,” says Chuck Rossi.
Rossi helped organize today’s festivities at the National Infantry Museum giving visitors a glimpse into Fort Benning’s past, present and future.
Inside the museum, officer candidates brought the exhibits to life by dressing up as American heroes from the past. The volunteers shared information about infantry weapons used in US conflicts dating back to 1775.
Adults and children watched in awe as soldiers parachuted out of the sky during the Silver Wings demonstration.
While watching the show, World War II veteran, Jack Xanders shared his infantry experience with News Three.
Fort Benning’s Army jazz band and rock band provided entertainment while people enjoyed climbing in tanks and armored cars.
There was also a robotics exhibit where people interacted with the latest technology.
According to the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Fort Benning’s economic impact is around $4.75 billion.
From its inception, to 100 years later, people today tell News Three, Fort Benning is one of the city’s greatest accomplishments.
Rossi says, “It’s become a foundation of our city. I don’t think our city would not be nearly what it is today. Even the companies in our town take advantage of the trailing spouses that are with our soldiers. They work here, and the opportunities that have flourished because of Fort Benning. It has really become a cornerstone to our city and our city’s success.”