The National WWII Museum

Quick! In what city is The National WWII Museum located? If you answered, Washington, DC you would be wrong. New Orleans has the honor of hosting the museum. New Orleans? Why, other than it is a great place to visit? 

Think Higgins Boats, those low slung, battleship gray, flat bottom barges with ramps for unloading men and material. Those very same boats portrayed in WWII film after WWII film, often illustrating the terrifying ordeal men experienced as their landing craft arrives at the shoreline of a D-Day beach, the ramp lowers, and the men scramble out to a battle in progress. Higgins boats were designed by Andrew Higgins of Louisiana and his company Higgins Industries helped build thousands of the vehicle and personnel carriers. And, yes, there is a Higgins boat on display in the Museum’s main lobby (and one visitors can ride in the calm waters of Lake Ponchartrain, not far from the city’s center). 

But, the Museum is about much, much more than Higgins boats. The Museum covers the American experience in the Second World War, from the build up to the war, to each of the major battlefields, and to its end in a heart rending exhibit of the aftermath of the bomb that ended the war. It is a huge place, covering five separate buildings, all chock full of aircraft, artillery, vehicles, uniforms, photographs, films, video and sound recordings of personal accounts of the war. A one or two day visit can hardly do justice to the collection and to the story the Museum tells. Thankfully, the Museum has organized the trove of WWII artifacts in a digestable manner, from a look at the history that took America and its Allies to Germany (The Road to Berlin) and to Japan (The Road to Tokyo), life on the homefront, and a unique display of WWII aircraft. 

If you haven’t been, you should go. If you have, you should plan to go again, the Museum is expanding with much more to come. It is truly a pilgrimage worth making for anyone interested in learning more about WWII and for all of us who are the legacy of the war.

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