Wednesday, December 14, 2016
We visited The National WWII Museum in New Orleans today. Dad is a charter member, so he was excited to be able to visit. The museum opened its doors on June 6, 2000, on the 56th anniversary of D-Day. Originally intended to commemorate the storming of the Normandy beaches, it was designated by Congress as America’s national WWII museum just four years later.
Dad was welcomed by staff and volunteers at the museum. Everywhere we went in the museum, he was recognized and thanked for his service. He wore a special lanyard that identified him as a WWII veteran, and was give royal treatment throughout. It was gratifying to see the respect he and other WWII veterans received at the museum.
There are currently five buildings, with more being added. One building, the Boeing Center, houses several airplanes, trucks and tanks. There are four viewing levels, allowing us to see the airplanes from several angles.
Before joining the Army Air Force, Dad had worked at North American Aviation in Inglewood, California, where a couple of the planes had been built. The B-25 bomber was used in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. It’s the largest fighter here, equipped with 14 forward-firing machine guns, more than any other Allied aircraft. The P-51D was fitted with a Rolls-Royce engine, giving it a greatly extended range, which allowed longer bombing flights than had been possible earlier in the war.
Another building was devoted to the battles in Europe and in the South Pacific. Dad had served in the South Pacific so, after the aircraft, this was most important to him. Mark and I found it fascinating as well.
After touring the exhibits, we watched Beyond All Boundaries, a video production about the history of World War II. The production included some environmental enhancements – rumblings under our seats as we watch the airplanes drop their bombs, or ships shoot their cannons, a bright flash and wind following the drop of the A-bombs. It was quite a stirring production.
It was a full day, but Mark and I still managed to spend a little time on Bourbon Street after dinner, where we watched the people and enjoyed some good music.