Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cultural Exhibit (The National D-Day and World War II Museum)

Michael Booty (
Mrs. Welsh
LIS 201
30 March 2010
The National WWII Museum
The cultural exhibit I chose to attend was the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The entire exhibit is filled with history and artifacts involving World War II. Previously, before a few years ago, the museum was originally known as the National D-Day museum. This is thanks to Andrew Higgins. Higgins was able to create the first boats which contribute to amphibious warfare. These boats he constructed in New Orleans were the same boats which were used in the D-Day Invasion on Normandy Beach in June 1944. Thanks to his contributions to the war effort, the National D-Day Museum was decided to be built in New Orleans. Throughout the years, the D-Day Museum grew in size and added numerous exhibits. When the National D-Day Museum first opened, it consisted of one enormous exhibit which consisted of the war within the European theatre. Now, the museum consists of the original European theatre as well as the Pacific theatre. In addition to the museum’s exhibits, there is also a movie theatre with a World War II movie as well as a brand new building across the street from the museum itself. This building contains a 4-D movie which captures the emotions of the D-Day Invasion. However, the last time I visited the museum, this building was not completed so I could not visit it. I cannot wait until the next time I go so I can see this movie. I have never even seen a four dimensional movie.
Although I have been to the museum numerous times, every time I make the trip I learn something new. First walked into the European theatre which discusses the current state of affairs in Europe in the late 1930s. Hitler’s rise to power forced many to react quickly. It also shows the state of affairs in America and other countries which were involved in the war. There is one section which always sticks out in my mind. It shows the sizes of the Nazi army compared to the British army and the U.S. Army. At the time, the U.S. Army ranked in the mid 30s while the Nazi Army was seen as one of the World’s best. The tour takes you through the times leading up to the war and throughout the various battles and conflicts leading up to the D-Day Invasion. Another section which stands out to me is the one with the weapons. There is an entire section devoted to the weapons of the war including Nazi weaponry and uniforms compared to the American uniforms and weapons. I can also remember there another section which consisted of a large grass wall. Within this wall are eleven guns aimed to shoot at you. This is an example of how soldiers hid and plotted ways to hide but protect themselves against the enemy. Immediately following this area, the exhibit begins to discuss the D-Day Invasion. This section has one area which has many smaller toy planes. These toy planes represent the thousands of planes used in the invasion. In addition to the planes, there are hundreds of little toy boats as well which are meant to represent the millions of boats used in the invasion. After numerous rooms filled with information on the invasion itself, there is a section which explains the activities following the invasion leading up to the victory of the Allied forces. One of the sections I remember here most, is the Holocaust, There are life size pictures of the Holocaust including information on each one. After reading the pictures I headed to the movie theatre downstairs. Here, I watched a forty minute movie which contained information about the invasion and interviews from men who fought in World War II. This movie was interesting because it contained first hand interviews of men who flew planes, served in submarines and ships, and even fought on the ground in the invasion as well as the rest of the war. I believe it is interviews such as these which help younger people who were not in the war able to understand the things these men went through.
After seeing the movie, I moved out towards the center of the museum. Here, guests can view actual World War II vehicles such as tanks, planes, and military jeeps. However, vehicles are not the only thing which can be found out in the lobby. There are also former World War II veterans who sit and tell their stories to all the visitors. Once again, I thought this was one of the most interesting aspects of the entire exhibit. Just like the movie, this was an opportunity to show younger people how the war really was. I thought it was amazing to hear stories from actual veterans which gives us all a lesson in the times of these men as well as the culture and the difficulties which were apparent in their world.
Following the veterans’ stories, I headed to the Pacific theatre which, of course, consisted of information about the war against the Japanese in the Pacific. The beginning of the exhibit held many pictures and information about Pearl Harbor and how the U.S. first became involved in the war. It then takes the guests throughout major naval battles along the Pacific Ocean as well as air raids of Japan and battles within Asia. There is one section which includes World War II comics in both Europe, America, and Japan during the war. These cartoons were used as war propaganda and were used to make fun of the enemy all the while boosting the morale of its own people. I thought this was rather interesting and most of the cartoons were quite funny. The entire exhibit of the Pacific ends with pictures of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb as well as the pictures of the wasteland afterwards. The pictures of the area after the bomb was dropped were completely breath taking and are forever imprinted in my mind. After once again visiting the D-Day museum, I am already looking forward to my next visit so I can see the new 4-D.

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