A visit to the National World War II Museum is both sad and uplifting

Some of you may have noticed my absence over the past week. That is because I made my first visit to New Orleans. The city is beautiful, although a bit overwhelming, because it hits every one of your senses. However, what I want to write about here is not New Orleans generally, but, more specifically, a visit to the National World War II Museum.

When it comes to the museum itself, it’s a well-designed, thoughtful museum. A friend of mine who is an avid historian usually fulminates against what the government does to American history. His oft-repeated line is “The National Park Service is where history goes to die.” However, although he had a few quibbles with the museum, especially the minimal focus on General Patton, he also thought it was excellent.

The museum’s exhibits are broken down into three sections. In the older building, through which one enters, there are movies, a gift store, and an entire exhibit dedicated to D-Day. In the larger, newer building, the exhibits are broken into the European theater and the Pacific theater. There is also a moving exhibit of the merchant Marines, who turned out to have one of the most dangerous jobs in World War II as they fought to keep the military supplied with food and equipment.

In each section, the museum designers tried to create a feeling of “you are there.” For Europe, the rooms felt like burned-out towns or, for the Battle of the Bulge, a forest in Belgium. In the exhibit on the Pacific, you felt as if you were entering a ship, and then you found yourself in tropical jungles. Of course, nothing could create the feel of actually being there, in the freezing cold of Europe or the tropical heat of the Pacific, all the while see-sawing between fear, boredom, and exhaustion. Still, it raised the museum above being sterile.

Image: National World War Two Museum, New Orleans in 2016, by Tony Webster. CC BY-SA 2.0.

The exhibits were also very well laid out, with easy-to-read placards for those wanting a general picture of things, and increasingly more detailed placards for those who wished for those details. There were short, clear videos explaining how battles played out. Most movingly, scattered through every room, there were placards speaking about a specific man or, occasionally, a woman (e.g., a nurse), who had made a tremendous sacrifice in World War II. Many of them had been awarded the Medal of Honor, with many honors accorded posthumously.

A guard said that the museum occupies six acres of floor space, adding that it would take two full days for the average person to go through the museum and view each exhibit. What I found most fascinating, though, was the museum’s visitors.

Although we visited on a Tuesday, the museum was packed. Despite efficient ticket sellers, we waited 20 minutes to get our tickets.

There were college students using time on their spring break to visit the museum, families with young children, groups like ours with young and middle-aged adults, and school groups. While one might have expected the museum to appeal mostly to men, there were women in equal numbers.

Moreover, those who were there were really paying attention. Even the middle school groups coming through, rather than being bored and disaffected, were mesmerized by the exhibit. In other words, this was a museum that resonated with people. No wonder the museum identifies itself as the #1 attraction in New Orleans.

Maybe I’m reading too much into things but, for me, the takeaway was clear: When you get away from the screeching woke voices in the media and on such social media outlets as Twitter and TikTok, Americans are hungry for the true story of our nation and for tales of ordinary Americans showing tenacity, dignity, and remarkable courage in extraordinary situations. This was not a politically correct museum; It was an honest museum, and the American people love it.

There is no doubt that America is in dire straits right now. However, I continue to believe that her salvation lies in the American people, the ones who can ignore the nonstop leftist attacks on American history and culture. These are the people who understand that, while our country is imperfect, it is still extraordinary. It does not deserve to be consigned to leftist hell.

If there is any possibility that the upcoming 2024 election can have an honest outcome, the American people will work to save their country.

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