It's an honor to have the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center in Chattanooga

Many of the museum's exhibits place an emphasis on truly setting the scene. / Staff Photo by Jennifer Bardoner

On a rainy day in April 1862, a secret group of Union soldiers commandeered a locomotive and literally tore up the tracks on their way to Chattanooga, a Confederate stronghold where they were ultimately captured. Nearly 159 years later, on a drizzly afternoon in March, I went to the Charles H. Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center which honors the heroic acts of those first Medal of Honor recipients and the many who have followed in their footsteps.

A journalist and nearly lifelong Chattanooga transplant, I was familiar with some of the stories expounded on in the museum - like that of Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the medal, and fellow recipient Desmond Doss, "the conscientious objector" memorialized in Mel Gibson's 2016 film "Hacksaw Ridge," both of whom claimed Chattanooga as their home for a time.