SALT LAKE CITY — Georgiana Champion patiently followed the long line of sightseers at the Independence Through History Museum on Friday, pausing to take in the artifacts from World War II and whispering to herself, "I remember this."
Champion's aged, 84-year-old face clouded as she recalled watching the movie "Hitler's Children" when she was a teenager.
"It was terrible," she said.
As she gazed at a confiscated Japanese flag on which someone had doodled a skull, she also recalled seeing Japanese people being taken from church to the internment camps.
Despite some of the darker periods of U.S. history, Champion said she loved seeing the artifacts because "it's part of me."
"And that's how it should be for everybody," she said.
The museum, set up at the Grand American Hotel and sponsored by Mercury One Events, was part of Glenn Beck's three-day "Man in the Moon" tour stop in Salt Lake City.
Jeremy Boyd orchestrated uniting the artifacts for the museum, calling them a "contrast between dark and light" in U.S. history. It was also first time some of the pieces had been brought together, he said.
Artifacts from the life of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, Boyd said, "steals the cookies." On display was Smith's gold pocket watch, engraved with "J.S. Jr.," his pocket bible that was the only one Smith signed his name in, and the Smith family bible.
Reid Moon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a collector of rare Bibles, said there were only three Bibles owned by the Smith family.
“This is realistically the first time two Bibles that belong to Joseph Smith are together since the mid-1800s," said Moon, owner of many of the books on display at the event.
First editions of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price also were on display.
Ed Zabish visited the museum Friday and said it tells the "story of America" through the artifacts.
"You leave feeling very patriotic," he said.
Other items at the museum included Arnold Friberg's original of "The Prayer at Valley Forge," a piece of the Berlin Wall covered in graffiti, Abraham Lincoln's desk, and the flag that went to the moon on Apollo 11.
Gary West described examining prayer books from Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette as a "once in a lifetime" experience.
"Obviously, they're very beautiful artifacts that gives us lots of history," he said. "Where we came from, our foundation, and what we should remember."
A Nuremberg Nazi flag was on display for the first time since World War II, Moon said. Charles Manson's shotgun was also on display, as was the last letter written by Martin Luther King Jr., and a first edition copy of "Mein Kampf," signed by Adolf Hitler.
Kristy Hendershot said she liked that both the good and bad of U.S. history was displayed in the museum. It gave museum-goers an opportunity to learn from that history, she said.
Erik Hoffman said he attended the museum with his two sons because "they need to learn history and why we make mistakes."