March 24, 2013 – Parris Island Marine Corp Museum – St Helena Island – Beaufort, South Carolina

It poured all night.  And, for those who’ve never spent a rain storm in a motor home, it sounds like you’re inside a snare drum!

The rain continued throughout most of the morning, sometimes lightly and at others torrentially!  At one point, Debbie heard a dripping noise and quickly tracked its source to a spot just behind the windshield.

 

Thus, far we have not been able to track it back to its source.

After lunch we went to the Marine Corp’s Museum at its Parris Island Recruit Training Center.

 

The Museum was not dissimilar to the Infantry Museum we’d visited last week.  Its exhibits included uniforms, weapons and depictions of major engagements in which US Marines have been involved dating back to the American Revolution.

Two Centuries of USMC Uniforms

Dress Uniform (circa 1812)

Rifles (circa 1812)

Rifles (circa 1861)

Chosen Reservoir Campaign Mosaic

This history of African Americans in the Marine Corp was also covered in detail.

Howard P. Perry, the first African American Marine – enlisted June 1, 1942.

There was also a fitting tribute to the Corps from former President Reagan.

 

Leaving the base, we spotted both some new recruits just arriving

 

as well as others spending a Sunday afternoon on the Parade Grounds.

 

There was also a large, scale model of the famous Iwo Jima monument in Washington depicting five US Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the American flag on Mount Suribachi on February 23, 1945,

 

Are you aware of the two etching on the base of the monument?

  • “In honor and memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since 10 November 1775”
  • “Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue.”
From there we traveled to St. Helena Island, once, and still, home to many Gulah (descendants of slaves who live in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia who have preserved much of their African linguistic and cultural heritage).  We’d hoped to visit an art museum featuring Gullah art, but it was closed by the time we arrived.

We also were just minutes too late to tour the Penn Center (or Penn School as it was originally called, was founded in 1862 – about six months before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, and about three years before the Civil War ended.  It was one of several schools established on Saint Helena Island as part of the Port Royal Experiment. The leaders of this experiment were primarily philanthropists, abolitionists, and missionaries from Pennsylvania. They came to the Beaufort area after Union soldiers took control of the Port Royal Sound and forced the Confederates to flee, and their purpose was to help abandoned slaves prepare for freedom by teaching them how to read and survive economically. They named the school in honor of their home state.

Gantt Cottage – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Penn Center Home (During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference often met at the Penn Center. The center served as a rare retreat where members of both races could meet peacefully without being threatened or harmed.

Brick Church

Benezet House –Residence Hall

Out Buildings

Less than a mile away, we stopped at the Chapel of Ease (circa 1740), constructed of Tabby (a building material consisting of lime, sand, water, and crushed oyster shells),

 

the church was built to make it easier for the local people to attend services, as the main church in Beaufort was too far away.  A forest fire on February 22, 1886 destroyed all but the exterior walls and it was never repaired.

Continuing further out on the island to Land’s End, we walked the grounds of Fort Freemont.  The original site was developed in 1875 and included a wharf extending into Port Royal Sound, as well as a clapboard hospital structure to support the Parris Island Naval Base.  At the onset of the Spanish-American war, the wooden hospital was demolished and replaced with a concrete building and the existing fortifications. The first battery was emplaced by 1898. Battery Jessup and Battery Fornance were added in 1899.

 

Despite being constructed more than a century earlier, these fortifications reminded us of the Germans’ bunkers overlooking the beaches of Normandy in June 1944.

The hospital section includes a square, two-story colonial revival structure, subsequently incorporated into part of a private residence.  Earthen bulwarks protect the harbor side of the masonry buildings that rest on a granite foundation.  The roof is designed to collect rainwater for storage in a large cistern. An extensive duct system is used to ventilate the structure.

Despite the legends and local folk lore we failed to see any of the reputed ghosts which draw thousands of curious onlookers every year.

Our last destination of the day was Beaufort (featured in the New York Times, and named “Best Small Southern Town”).  We walked along the waterfront quay,

 

had a great diner at Plumbs

 

and drove past any number of grand old homes.

Before leaving, we saw a most unusual sculpture made entirely of driftwood.

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