Last weekend Megan and I had the wonderful
opportunity to visit the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. We
were in Baton Rouge for a wedding on Saturday, and the next day we
decided to go on an adventure. It was Meganís turn to choose our
adventure, and she chose the D-Day Museum in New Orleans. It was
really a good choice.
I had just finished a book by Stephen Ambrose
entitled ĎComradesí. Most of you are familiar with Stephen
Ambrose. He was an historian and the author of numerous books
including Citizen Soldiers, Undaunted Courage, and D-Day. Comrades
is a non-fiction book telling of the deep friendship that
developed between many famous and non-famous men alike. In one
chapter, Ambrose discusses the friendship between himself and
Gordon "Nick" Mueller.
In 1988 Ambrose brought the idea of the D-Day
Museum to Nick. At the time Nick was the vice chancellor for
continuing education at a local university and was able to provide
Ambrose with invaluable support. The first thing Nick did was to
supply office space, a secretary, and student workers.
Ambrose knew little of how much red tape it
would take to make a living, breathing history of the United
States and the American people. He wanted to include a tribute to
all the nations and nationalities of the world that had resisted
tyranny and fought for freedom. Together Stephen and Nick began by
applying for federal and state grants and collecting donations
from private sponsors.
On the first floor is the Louisiana Memorial
Pavilion showing several of the weapons of war. There is also an
information desk, the Malcolm Forbes Theater, a coffee shop, and a
gift shop. There is also a display to test your knowledge on WWII,
a book for veterans to sign, and a small table with post cards
depicting stamps from the era. The postcards are provided for you
to write a message and sign your name. The cards will then be
distributed to Veteranís Hospitals so the patients will know of
The one side of the second floor has displays
of what was happening on the home front. Many of us will remember
our momís counting tokens trying to determine how many groceries
she could buy. Meat, sugar, and shoes were just a few items that
were rationed. Tires and gasoline were also on the list so travel
was very difficult.
Remember, the United States had the 18th
largest army in 1939. Germany, Italy, and Japan were each over a
million military personnel. We had a lot of catching up to do, and
citizens had to forfeit much of their personal comfort to prepare
for war. Most of the people co-operated, but there were some who
bought off the black market, which was illegal. The other half of
the second floor displays our involvement in the Pacific Theatre.
The third floor information explains the
planning that went into where and when we would make our first
foray into Eastern Europe. It explains how mock equipment and fake
radio broadcasts were made to deceive Hitler into thinking the
attack would come from the north. It also shows the buildup of
troops and equipment in Southern England for the attack on
Normandy. This is also the section that shows you pictures of the
actual assault on the beaches and the parachutists dropping behind
the German lines.
Thorough-out the museum there are large
pictures of men in combat. There are also many artifacts with
personal descriptions with the story behind the artifact. There
are numerous mini-theaters where you will listen to veterans tell
of their experiences on the battlefield. Each narrative is
accompanied by a picture of the individual speaking.
The museum opened on June 6, 2000 and sits on
the site where Andrew Higgins designed and perfected the Higgins
Boat. These boats saved many lives as they were able to get troops
ashore much more quickly than other landing vehicles. Higgins
boats were used extensively in the Pacific Theatre of Operations
during the island hopping phase of the war.
The National D-Day Museum is located on
Magazine Street and Andrew Higgins Drive in the warehouse section
of New Orleans. Thereís a parking lot beside the museum, and it
cost $5.00. There is a charge of $6.00 for seniors and Iím not
sure how much for younger citizens or children. Allow plenty of
time and wear comfortable shoes.
This museum is well worth your time and effort.
It is a fitting tribute to not only our military forces but to the
civilians during WWII. Peace.