Historical Pilgrimage: The World War II Museum in 2022

This week, I was in my old stomping grounds of New Orleans. I still hold a huge amount of affection for the city where I lived and taught as a member of the Tulane Law School. No matter how short a trip is, I always make it over to the World War II museum.  As many on this blog know, I am a military history buff and the museum is nothing short of a pilgrimage. I consider it not just a must-see destination in New Orleans, but the finest military museum in the world. Every time I visit, there is a new exhibit or an entirely new building.

There is a new building being constructed that will hold a rotating theater, a collection on the concentration camps and Anne Frank, and other features. When completed, there will also be a laser show outside that uses the side of the building as a backdrop, including being able to sit through a Bob Hope show from the war.

One new display is the The Real Image of War: Steichen and Ford in the Pacific.  It features the camera and films of the war. World War II featured some of the bravest and more most accomplished photographers in history, often men who followed the first wave of landing forces into the meat grinders of Iwo Jima, Normandy, and other battles. Two of the most famous were Edward Steichen and John Ford.  Ford was not a combat photographer but applied his genius to creating documentaries and films on the war.

 

There is a new striking sculpture in front of the museum showing young pilots at a mission briefing next to the piece of the Atlantic War (pock-marked by bullets from Normandy). There is also a new hotel operated by the Hilton (the proceeds go to the Museum’s educational fund).

The collection of the museum is so large that, despite numerous trips, I never fail to find something new.  I am often thrilled to see a German 88 up close (one of the most fearful and lethal weapons of the war).

However, it is the little items that often leave the greatest impression like the wrist watches worn by men who stormed Normandy or other beaches. Then there is a small beautiful vase that somehow survived the Nagasaki bomb that still shows blast burns or the small bottles melted in the horrific heat.

This museum an American jewel that can all be proud of.  That is a pride not only for what our countrymen achieved in this war but how we have preserved their stories and history. So, trust me, do not leave New Orleans without giving yourself a day to enjoy the World War II museum.

26 thoughts on “Historical Pilgrimage: The World War II Museum in 2022”

  1. The Professor is a student of military history. The scholarship never ends! If I’m ever in New Orleans, I’ll look up the Museum. My father and all three of my uncles served in that conflict.

  2. Thanks for your travel suggestion. I am also a Military History Buff. I live in Pinehurst NC, so I would like to recommend to you when in this area you should visit The U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum (ASOM) in Fayetteville NC. It is a first-class institution. Also, nearby within Fort Bragg are the Museums of the 82nd Airborne and JFK Special Warfare School. If you are a golfer, do not forget to visit Pinehurst for some great golf.

  3. “Then there is a small beautiful vase that somehow survived the Nagasaki bomb that still shows blast burns or the small bottles melted in the horrific heat.
    This museum an American jewel that [we] can all be proud of.”

    I do not take pride in a war crime.

    1. What was the war crime?

      Before you answer, consider the bombing raids going on at the time and the death and destruction they had on the Japanese. On that basis alone, the bombs had justification based on the number of spared lives. Many other things need to be included before drawing such a conclusion.

    2. “I do not take pride in a war crime.”

      So instead, the U.S. should have prolonged a war, that Japan started — and thereby risked more American soldiers being injured and killed?!

  4. I am very lucky to have seen the museum but I am lucky to have served in the Military that made this museum possible. Without the men and women who served would there have been such a place?

  5. Democrats are basically German Socialists 1930’s…they are full fascists…..where all opposition is Destroyed and the RULE OF LAW is IGNORED!

  6. The Imperial War Museum was a favorite stop on my travels to London….but it has lost its allure.

    Duxford, their equivalent to the National Aviation Museum at Dulles, is an absolute must see Museum.

    The entrance….and the walk uphill with all of the etched glass panels depicting the American Aircraft Losses in the European Theater of Operations is sobering as you can begin to grasp the numbers of Men lost by the Air Force.

    Then…you enter on the second floor looking at the Tail of the B-52 and all of the aircraft hanging from the ceiling and displayed on the floor.

    The Shuttleworth Collection on a Flying Day is pure magic and enjoyment.

    The USMC Museum at Quantico is also a must see….it is done very well.

    When I walked off the Ramp of the CH-46, which has heat and aircraft sounds piped in along with vibrations……I stopped in my tracks as many old memories came flooding back.

    It is right we should preserve our history and learn from it.

  7. one should schedule several days to visit this museum. i’ve been to the Imperial War Museum in London pre and post renovation. This museum puts the IWM to shame the renovation of the IWM ruined it

  8. Dear Mr. Turley,
    Thanks for the article and articulating your opinion. I was on the board at the Museum from 2009-2016. It’s an amazing place, full of amazing stories, and staffed by some very very special people. I hope you go back, and I hope others that read this go and see it in person. Please tell your school districts about it. There are many programs for teachers and students, both in person and online.

    I was very fortunate to be on the board. It was a special time in human history, and the museum chronicles America’s involvement in it.

    1. My Dad was at Pearl Harbor. He kept a wonderful diary of those days, which the WW II Museum took into their collection. He would have been so proud to know that!

  9. When and if things get back to normalcy I highly recommend all Americans visit Normandy. I walked the beach and for the life of me can’t understand how anyone survived the landing. The young today can’t shine the shoes of the men and women who lived those days overseas and at home.

  10. On the legal side, my father, Wm H Mouton, was the navy legal officer at the New Orleans Naval Air Station and his uniform is on display at the entrance to the Pacific War area.

  11. National WWII Museum is a great monument to its founders, Stephan Ambrose and Nick Mueller. Have visited often and can’t wait to return. Have had the opportunity to travel with the Museum on a cruise to Normandy during the 70th Anniversary of D-day. A remarkable experience. Tom Brokaw, numerous historical authors and Normandy combat veterans giving thorough, and first hand accounts of the locations we visited. As a WWII history buff, you might be interested to read: “The Panzer Killers: The Untold Story of a Fighting General and His Spearhead Tank Division’s Charge into the Third Reich”, by Gen. Daniel Bolger (USA-Ret.). Interesting perspective on General Maurice Rose, the leader of the 1st Army’s, 3rd Armored/Spearhead Division. Keep up the good work. GJW.

  12. I agree with you about the museum. Great place to visit and see it all. Love New Orleans. Been there many times. Love the great food and especially the pastries. Truly a great place for professional meetings. The museum is almost as good as walking around on Omaha Beach.

  13. Ever been to the World War 1 Museum in Kansas City? Definitely worth a visit if in the vicinity.

  14. I’m a stranger from the City of New Orleans ..
    Mississippi Delta one more unique place…

    1. seriously? what were you looking for in the museum. i’ve been to numerous military/war museums and this one ranks number one

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