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.
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.
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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