After resting a couple of days from our New Orleans French Quarter eating fest with Larry and Ruth, we returned to the city to explore the National World War II Museum and to grab a couple of more muffulettas. We love exploring museums wherever we go as they expose us to the historical perspectives that they offer. We had driven by this museum each time we entered New Orleans and were anxious to visit it.
The museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum of Washington DC and Congress has designated it as America’s official National World War II Museum. It is contained in four large buildings with a fifth building being constructed which is schedule to open in 2020. It is a very high-tech museum with lots of interactive video displays that lets you personalize what you can watch and listen to. It also gives you a “dog tag” which you press against selected displays that logs into a computer system and keeps track of what you have seen. This then allows you to “return” to the museum in the comfort of your home and further explore the details of where you went while at the museum. It is a nifty way to maximize one’s ability to learn the most possible from the museum.
As you might expect, the museum is massive and one could easily spend days inside, taking it all in. It has just about every engine of war on display including many WWII airplanes hanging from the ceilings, landing craft, various vehicles, cannons, tanks, displays of various hand weapons and arms, and huge sections of the buildings dedicated to the history of each major theater of WWII. You can even book a ride on a WWII PT boat. If you are a WWII buff, this is certainly the place to go to and spend as much time as you can afford.
It is all very enlightening and is one of the best museums we have ever been to. However, we ended our visit on a really depressing note. When you buy your entrance ticket, you can opt for taking in the 45-minute movie called “Beyond All Boundaries”. It is narrated by Tom Hanks and is a visual, 4-D experience of the battles of World War II featuring stories, archival footage and advanced special effects. Even the very comfortable seats you are seated in vibrate and jiggle when bombs explode and tanks pass over you. However, we found it very depressing as it contains lots of actually footage that shows the most gruesome results of war and how it impacts civilians. During the presentation we learned that over 65 million people were killed during WWII. I had no idea so many people were killed. We both had previously known about the number of soldiers that were killed on all sides of the war (about 20 to 25 million) but did not realize so many civilians had died due to military activity and crimes against humanity. In fact, this number greatly increases further when you add the number of civilian deaths directly attributed to wartime famine and disease (approximately 25 million more). The graphic scenes and the impact of watching this movie was so depressing to both Mary Margaret and I that after it was over, we decided we had seen enough and decided to cut our visit short and left. We both also think that the lingering impact of the recent Parkland, Florida school massacre and the continuing lack of response by politicians to the mass murders that repeat itself in the US also laid a heavy hand on us during our visit to this museum.
On our way back to our state park and LeuC, we did stop at the Central Grocery and picked up a couple of the huge muffuletta sandwiches. Between the two of us, we split one for lunch and dinner today while freezing the second one, saving it for some future day.