The Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center is well on its way to meeting its $6 million campaign goal, officials said at a news conference Monday.
Last year, supporters raised $1.25 million. This year, as the campaign enters its second phase, its goal is to raise an additional $2 million before construction begins in 2019, said Bill Raines, a retired U.S. Army major general and the center's chairman.
The center received a $250,000 contribution Monday from U.S. Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Diane Black and her husband, David Black.
"I met Charles Coolidge," David Black said. "It was a real honor. It's an honor to be here and to be a part of what's happening here. Nothing great like this happens unless it's for a great purpose, and it happens with great people."
B.B. Bell, retired U.S. Army general and chairman of the center's advisory board, said the donation is "going to go a long way towards helping us achieve our dream of opening a Medal of Honor heritage center in the state where the Medal of Honor originated, here in Chattanooga."
"This just gives that much more confidence to those who were considering a large donation," Raines said.
Other gubernatorial candidates were solicited, Raines said.
"As we have significant lead donors like this morning, we will continue to make announcements," he said. "We think this is a non-political heritage center. These Americans who serve, and most of whom gave their life, were [doing so] to protect our way of life," he said.
Scheduled to open in February 2020, the Heritage Center will be a 19,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the home and lasting tribute to Tennessee's 32 Medal of Honor recipients.
The center, once finished, will feature interactive and immersive exhibits. For example, people will be able to walk through exhibits built to replicate the trenches soldiers fought in during World War I. It'll also feature periscopes that visitors can look through to see the Germans moving.
"To give that sense of, 'My goodness. This was not just child's play,'" Raines said.
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