While most people visit New Orleans for Madris Gras or Bourbon Street, or even perhaps for the Creole history or food, my husband wanted to go to the National World War II Museum. Keith is a true World War II history buff and when we headed south this past February, we decided to divert from our path and include a stop at the museum. Keith Darcy, Public Relations Manager of the WWII Museum was kind enough to arrange the museum tour for us so that I could cover this for my blog and Senior News & Times, the paper for mature adults over 50 that I write for.
The National World War II Museum is recognized as New Orleans #1 attraction, and for good reason. The museum is a comprehensive coverage of the war that changed the world. The war that changed country boundaries literally walling Germany in half. The World War II museum is huge. There is so much to see.
The museum offers a great way of sharing history with the patrons. Each visitor can choose a dog tag of a former soldier, or civilian then throughout the visit follow this individual. This offers each visitor a personal perspective as you travel through the museum journey. My solider had been a submarine commander. His career started out with disaster, but turned around as he was given a second chance. Sadly I later learned that he lost his life in a submarine battle, but he died as a hero.
We started out our visit after downloading our dog tags and picking out our soldiers. Then we scooted on over to the Solomon Victory Theater and watched the amazing movie, Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by Tom Hanks. This is a 4D experience which sets the tone for the entire visit. The movie like the museum recounts both the European and Pacific theaters telling the whole story of the war.
We toured many of the exhibits and took time out to eat at the great restaurant in the museum. In fact, when we asked the concierge at our hotel where to eat lunch that day, he recommended the museum diner.
There is so much to see that we tried to prioritize what we wanted to see and we made sure to go to the Boeing Center to get an up close view of planes and equipment. Be sure if and when you visit that you schedule the day and in that you will probably need a bit of downtime just to sit because the museum is so big that there is a lot of walking involved. Keith Darcy said that there are plans for major expansion in the future, so that will just get larger as time goes on!
The museum has a plan, a mission, according to the Museum information, “The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.”
The museum is inspiring for all ages. There are so many facts that I may have learned but forgot like the brutal invasion of China by Japan, and the fighting in North Africa. This truly was a World War.
One of the most touching/haunting stories is from a US Army-issue portable altar. The story is, “Capt. Oscar Henry Reinboth used this portable altar while serving as a chaplain with the 349th Infantry Regiment, 88th Infantry Division. On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1944, Reinboth – who was fluent in German – delivered a sermon on the front lines over a loudspeaker in both German and English. During that time, the fighting ceased, but as soon as the sermon ended, shooting began again.”
At the museum they accomplish telling the experience of the War and the sacrifices made by sharing the personal details that make the stories come to life like the Propaganda posters, the personal stories of individuals and multimedia experiences, and an expansive collection of artifacts and oral histories. One item that really stood out to me was a tattered American flag which survived one of the many battles. While we were there, several groups of students were coming through the museum and it was wonderful to see them learning what so many young people had to go through to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
This Memorial Day, I will remember the soldiers of this war and other wars and those that helped out on the home front. This is just a brief observation of an amazing museum. For more information, log onto https://www.nationalww2museum.org/.