Saturday, May 23, 2015

The National World War II Museum


My husband and I took a trip to New Orleans in February (you can read part one and part two on these highlighted links, and a side trip to antebellum plantations on this link), and one of the places we visited was the highly acclaimed National World War II Museum. located in the central business district of New Orleans, Louisiana, at 945 Magazine Street.  Museum exhibits offer visitors an opportunity to experience the war through the eyes of the men and women who lived it. Interactives, oral histories, personal vignettes all add a very meaningful perspective to a visit.

(All photos, and photo collages, in this post can be enlarged for easier viewing if clicked on)


As we were staying in a hotel in the French Quarter, we took a streetcar a few stops across town to the museum. As you can see from the collage above, the museum is the ranked by Trip Advisor as the number 1 attraction in New Orleans, and as the number 4 museum in the country, and the number 11th in the world! You can see a model of the museum building in the lower right corner of the collage.
The 4D movie we saw on our visit was called "Beyond All Boundaries," narrated by actor Tom Hanks.  The movie is an optional feature, but I highly recommend it as a refresher to the history of WWII. It is shown in a specially built theater that makes the film "come alive" with many effects. A preview of this movie can be seen on this Youtube link.


The museum has been designated by Congress as the official WWII Museum of the United States. It is located on a 6 acre campus, and presently consists of five soaring pavilions that house historical exhibits, on site restoration work, a period dinner theater, and restaurants. The construction of two more pavilions are planned in the coming years.


Actual vehicles and equipment used in the war are on display in one of the pavilions.... 


Some of the land vehicles on display...


...and some of the airplanes, used in the war, are also on display, hanging from the high ceiling.


An elevator takes you up to one of two levels, where you can walk along gangplanks and see the airplanes and other exhibits.


On level two you are at eye level with the airplanes....


 ..and level three  you look down on the airplanes--it is a wonderful way to see their size and all their details.


There are also actual jackets worn by the WWII pilots of the airplanes on display, along with stories about the missions they flew.


Another optional feature we experiences was the Final Mission of the USS Tang Submarine. in this intimate and personal experience 27 visitors per "patrol" are given a "watch bill" representing a specific crew member, and many will be "enlisted" to perform specific tasks to navigate through the battle. My husband and I manned the torpedo launches. At the end of the experience, the visitors will find out if they were among those lost or one of the few survivors of the sea battle.


The submarine fleet  made up just 1.6% of the Navy, but it destroyed more enemy ships than any other single type of vessel
.

Another feature of the museum is a "train ride" where you are picked up from your home town and sent off to report for service in the armed forces.


After disembarking the train you go to a kiosk where you get the "dog tags" and description for a soldier that you can now follow through the exhibits.


 The 3D walk through exhibits of the war torn battle areas of both Europe and the Pacific were mesmerizing to walk through! You find out the role the person, whose dog tag you carry, played in the war.  It makes the experience very personal.


There were many short films to watch and many artifacts on display


At the end of these exhibits one could listen to actual recordings of WWII veterans telling their personal stories of their experiences in the war, in the Oral History Database.  You can also listen to a few featured on the web site on this link.  There was also a database for the Medal of Honor recipients of WWII.


All of the United States services were represented-- the Marines, the Army, the Air Force. the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines.


On this Memorial Day weekend let us remember the 407,316 brave men and women who gave all for our country during their service in World War II.

The number of deaths and wounded around the world of both military and civilians as a result of WWII is mind staggering. Let us hope and pray that there will be an end to all war. That all countries, religions, races can one day learn to live in peace!


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Monday, May 18, 2015

True Heroes


I am so very proud of my nephew Patrick--pictured on the right in the photo collage above--who participated on Sunday, May 17th, 2015, in the first ever "Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb."  He and another 999 participants climbed over approximately 2,000 steps to go 90 stories high in the new One World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York, that was built to replace the Twin Towers that were attacked and destroyed on 9-11-2001.  The participants were from 26 states and four countries, male and female, firefighters, military members, friends and family members of fallen first responders, among others.  My nephew was honoring his father, my brother, who was a New York City firefighter for almost 30 years. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was formed to honor Stephen Stiller, one of the 343 fire fighters who lost their lives on 9-11.  His heroic story can be read on this link.

Captain Billy Burke. photo source.

The Tower Climb was also in memory of firefighter Captain Billy Burke, who lost his life on the 27th floor of Tower One, as he was helping two trapped men, one of whom was in a wheelchair, trying to escape the burning building.  Tower Two had already collapsed and Tower One was soon going to do the same, but Capetian Burke told the other firefighters to leave, as he would stay with the men on the stairs.  His last words were: " Keep going, I'm right behind you."  Captain Burke's sister came from Florida to do the climb--you can read her story and see a video of how she trained for the climb on this link.


Building For America's Bravest video can also be watched on this link.

To participate in this event my nephew had to pay an entrance fee and he also fundraised to support the foundation "Building For America's Bravest" that builds smart homes" for catastrophically wounded soldiers, most who are double, triple and even quadruple amputees. The smart homes allow amputees to be able to live as normally as possible with their injuries. One such veteran, Army Sgt. Bryan Dilberian, a triple amputee, who lost both legs and his left arm, when he stepped on a IED in Afghanistan in 2011,  joined in the Tower Climb today, climbing up the stairs on his prostheses! You can see a short video interview with him and read his story on this link. My nephew was very inspired when he saw Bryan climbing the stairs, and when he saw him complete the task!


Patrick has made my family proud before, as he is also a brave mountain climber when he is not teaching high school language arts classes, and being a loving husband and father of two daughters. I blogged about his ascent to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro on this post.  He has since climbed Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Washington. He also entered the Tower To Tunnel race last year but a last minute injury prevented his run.  Never-the-less, the money he raised for that event went towards the Tower to Tunnel Foundations's many wonderful charity causes.  Patrick made the 2,000 plus step Tower Climb climb in 27:28 minutes, accomplishing his goal of doing it in under 30 minutes. Patrick, you are a true hero among heroes!  We are so proud of your accomplishments!


If you would like to donate for this very worthy cause, Building For America's Bravestyou can do so on this link. These men gave so much and deserve our support to help live the rest of their lives as functionally as possible in a handicap accessible home of their own. The waiting list for such a home is so long--please consider helping these true heroes.

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