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Home Front Friday: All Hallow’s Eve

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Halloween has evolved over the decades.  During World War II, sugar was rationed, so treats were different than one might find in their pumpkin today.  Community organizations threw parties for kids – and at those events kids showed off their creativity by coming up with costumes using what materials they could come up with at their home or by scouring the neighborhood to come up with costumes.  Today, why not honor that creative crafty DIY spirit and make your own costume?

Some of our Museum staff make great Rosie the Riveters! And some of our visitors do too!

Museum staff Rosies

Our Victory Belle Dody recently shared how to make your own Rosie the Riveter costume.

All you need is:

1. A red and white bandanna

2. An over-sized denim button-down shirt

3. Blue jeans

4. 1940’s hairstyle: curl your hair (Belles use Caruso steam curlers for the authentic 40’s style curl). Part your hair on the side and take small sections of hair on either side of the part around the temples. Roll those sections with your fingers and sit them close to the hairline. Pin them so they feel secure. Now you have Victory Rolls and luscious curls!

5. 1940’s makeup: emphasize eyebrows using pencil or powder. Add some false lashes for the Hollywood glamour look. Keep cheeks simple with soft pink tones, and top those lips with really red lipstick! Paint nails red to complete the look!

Happy Halloween!

Posted by Lauren Handley, Education Programs Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.


A Good Run through The National WWII Museum

Steve Good during his stop at the Museum posed with his grandfather's picture and a thank you to his parents for their support.

Steve Good during his stop at the Museum posed with his grandfather’s picture and a thank you to his parents for their support.

As it honors the service and sacrifices of the Greatest Generation, The National WWII Museum strives to pass on the war generation’s values, celebrating young people whose actions and goals reflect our country’s highest ideals.

In that spirit, we were thrilled to have a young gentleman by the name of Steve Good put the Museum on his Iron Phi journey. Started by Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity the Iron Phi athletic program seeks to strengthen and support the organization’s brotherhood and to raise money to support The ALS Association’s research to find a cure against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease. What started as a young man’s solution to a mid-life crisis at 30 years old in 2012, Good developed an Iron Phi challenge for himself where he traveled to eight states in eight days riding a Megabus and running over 60 miles throughout his journey’s pit stops raising money for his fraternity and ALS. Now Good is 32 years old and has been doing these runs every year.

Can you see the family resemblance? Here, Good's grandfather Tech. Sgt. Floyd Harmon stands with a newly received war dog donated to Dogs for Defense. Image courtesy of Linda (Lindy) Harmon Good, in memory of Floyd Eugene Harmon, K-9 Corps, Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

Can you see the family resemblance? Here, Good’s grandfather Tech. Sgt. Floyd Harmon stands with a newly received war dog donated to Dogs for Defense. Image courtesy of Linda (Lindy) Harmon Good, in memory of Floyd Eugene Harmon, K-9 Corps, Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

On this year’s run, Good has been running and busing throughout the South gathering his friends for a good run and stopping at meaningful landmarks along the way. What sparked his stop at the Museum during his run through New Orleans on October 22, 2014 was because his grandfather, Tech Sergeant Floyd Eugene Harmon, was previously featured in one of our special exhibits and books Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II.

During World War II, Good’s grandfather Harmon stayed on the Home Front training dogs for service in the Dogs for Defense program at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Throughout the war years over 10,000 dogs were trained for war and nearly 3,000 of them were sent overseas. Harmon’s duties included receiving dogs donated by civilians and training them to be used in the war effort. The dogs trained were used for various types of work, from sled and pack, to sentry and roving patrol, messenger, scout, and mine detection work.

When Good ran through the Museum to take his obligatory snap of a landmark and to present a thank you to that leg’s supporter, he described this stop as the highlight of his trip. We presented him with the book Loyal Forces opened to the images of his grandfather training dogs during WWII for his picture. He quickly got his shot and ran off to his next stop in town at Tulane University. Later on his blog, he wrote about his quick stop at the Museum being so meaningful to him that “luckily the sweat running down my face hid the tears.”

To support and learn more about Steve Good’s Iron Phi, follow him here: http://agoodrun.com/

Discover more about the animals that served in World War II here.

To purchase the Museum’s book Loyal Forces: The American Animals of World War II written by the Museum’s own Collections staff members, Toni M. Kiser and Lindsey F. Barnes, click here.


Post by Katie Odell, Social Media Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

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Into The German Homeland - Final Assault Rendering

Into The German Homeland – Final Assault Rendering

As we continue our adventure through the Road to Berlin, we stop next at the riveting Breaking the Siegfried Line exhibit, which tells the gripping history of the offensive strategy conducted by the Allies in February 1945 and the counteroffensive at Alsace in attempts to break through Germany’s line of defense.

The Siegfried Line fortified Germany’s western border with France. It consisted of interlocking bunkers systems and hedge-hog teeth tank defenses that stretched for over 300 miles. In August of 1944 Hitler reinforced the Siegfried Line to halt the American forces advancing upon Germany from the Normandy landings. The defensive line proved to be a formidable obstacle, but the Allied forces attacking along the line in the Hurtgen Forest campaign and Battle of the Bulge ultimately broke through Siegfried defenses at great cost in lives. Breaching the line left the Allies positioned for the final drive deep into the German homeland.


Donor Spotlight: Lt. Col. Robert Kelso and Mrs. Betty Kelso

The Breaking the Siegfried Line exhibit inside the Into the German Homeland gallery has been made possible through a generous gift from Lt. Col. Robert Kelso and his wife, Betty. Lieutenant Colonel Kelso is a veteran of two wars and currently lives in San Antonio.

Infantrymen of the 255th Infantry Regiment move down a street in Waldenburg to hunt out the Hun after a recent raid by 63rd Division. Image courtesy of National Archives.

Infantrymen of the 255th Infantry Regiment move down a street in Waldenburg to hunt out the Hun after a recent raid by 63rd Division. Image courtesy of National Archives.

Kelso served in the Army during World War II and is believed to be the youngest known soldier injured during the conflict. With his recruiter unaware of his real age, Kelso entered service at age 13 and was wounded by a German bayonet at 14. He received the Purple Heart as a result of the war injury.

During World War II, Kelso was assigned to the 342nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion and fought throughout Europe as a private. After World War II, Kelso served in the US Army Reserve, but in 1963, after the onset of the Vietnam War, he returned to active duty at the rank of captain. He completed two tours in Vietnam, first as an advisor with the 22nd ARVN Division, then with the famed 25th Infantry Division “Tropic Lightning.” His awards include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and French Legion of Honor.

Robert and Betty Kelso first became involved with the Museum when a civic leader of San Antonio sponsored a traveling event to San Antonio for veterans and supporters. After his initial visit to the Museum, Kelso felt compelled to make a gift. He felt that naming the Breaking the Siegfried Line was the most appropriate fit. Kelso states that he vividly remembers “crossing the line in Germany” and it is something he will never forget.

The Kelsos are proud supporters of other institutions that serve the military community. They have supported the National Army Museum since 2008, and graciously offered their home and ranch to 21 service members recuperating at Brooke Army Medical Center, so that they could take a day trip and escape the rigors of hospital rehabilitation life.

The Museum is grateful for the generosity of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kelso and his wife, Betty, as they help to advance the capital expansion.

Worker Wednesday: Anthony Sconza

Gift in Memory of Arnold Schaefer,  2012.359.001

Gift in Memory of Arnold Schaefer, 2012.359.001

In addition to stories about production and factory life, The Higgins Worker also profiled and memorialized former Higgins workers killed in action. The issue from 20 October 1944, reported on the death of Anthony Sconza, who, prior to entering the service, had been a shipfitter at Higgins’ Industrial Canal plant.

Sconza’s service and sacrifice are featured in our upcoming exhibit in Campaigns of Courage: Road to Berlin. Sconza’s family donated the casket name plate from his casket, when his remains were returned home to New Orleans.

Post by Curator Kimberly Guise.


Looking Back on Victory in Europe: Normandy Tour September 2014

This past the September, The National WWII Museum hosted a travel tour rediscovering the continent where the Allies saved the world. Hear from Museum’s Assistant Director of Collections & Exhibits Toni Kiser about her experience on the trip below.

Learn more about the Museum’s travel programs on our website, www.ww2museumtours.org.

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I have recently returned from a great tour of London, Southern England, and Normandy as the museum representative on our recent Victory in Europe Normandy Tour! Part of what made this trip so special was that best-selling author Alex Kershaw (The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Liberator) came along as the tour historian.

Our trip started with us gathering in London and setting off for a full day of touring on September 9th. Our first stop was Grosvenor Square to visit the Roosevelt and Eisenhower statues. Ike’s headquarters during World War II on this square and it was then nicknamed “Eisenhower Platz.”

flight jacket

A WWII Flight Jacket on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

The best part of the day though had to be our stop at the newly renovated and recently reopened Imperial War Museum. They were closed for several months to renovate their galleries in anticipation of the centenary of the World War I. The museum was an amazing experience; the new World War I gallery was packed with artifacts, digital interactives, and the personal stories of World War I soldiers. The World War II section featured some great items as well. I particularly like this flight jacket they had on exhibit.

We ended the day with a trip to the Churchill War Rooms where we were given a special behind the scenes look and presentation by Phil Reed who was instrumental in the opening of the War Rooms to the public. We continued our look into Sir Winston Churchill on September 10th with a trip to his home, Chartwell. Although, its three ponds made it too easy of a target for the Luftwaffe during the war Churchill still considered this his home. He said of his home, “A day away from Chartwell, is a day wasted.” I was struck with be the beauty of the English countryside and imagine that he must have felt very peaceful there. I loved this chair situated next to a pond of goldfish where Churchill was said to often sit.

Our last day in England then, became all about Dwight D. Eisenhower. We started our day with a drive to Southwick House where the original map coordinating the D-Day landings is still located today. This is where Ike gave his iconic, “Okay, let’s go” command. Then we popped over the Portsmouth D-Day Museum to view the Normandy Tapestry and learn about how the town of Portsmouth helped to prepare for the D-Day invasion.


View of the Solent Straight from Portsmouth, England.

Then our group boarded the Brittany Ferry to take us from Portsmouth, England to Caen, France. So just like those soldiers and sailors of D-Day, we too made a Channel crossing. However, in much calmer seas and more creature comforts along the way!

September 13th began our tour of Normandy with a stop at Pegasus Bridge. As luck would have it on this Saturday morning the bridge was raised while we were there to allow a few pleasure craft to pass through. It was so exciting to see it in action!

We continued that day with stops at the Ouistreham Bunker (of which the museum has a replica in our galleries) and Hillman Battlefield. Then we went to the seaside town of Arromanches to see the remnants of a Mulberry Harbor “B” and tour the Musee du Debarquement.

Ms. Valluzo German Bunker

Tourgoer Ms. Valluzo in a German Bunker in Normandy.

Our day ended with a visit to the Ryes British War Cemetery. Here, tour historian, Alex Kershaw gave us the story of the Casson brothers buried next to one another. The museum laid flowers at their grave and took time for our group to pay respects to the soldiers and sailors buried there.

After a tour of the British exploits at Normandy it was time to turn to the Americans. Our first stop on September 14th was Chateau de Bernaville where we learned the story of the first German General killed in the Normandy invasion. General Wilhelm Falley was killed in the wee hours of the D-Day invasion by paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. He had set up his headquarters at the Chateau in early 1944 and was in his staff car returning to the Chateau when the paratroopers encountered the car and were able to barrage the car with gunfire and ultimately kill Falley.

The battle for the bridge at La Fiere is just minutes away from the Chateau and we stopped there on our way to Ste-Mere-Eglise to visit Iron Mike and understand the importance of the bridge.

We then toured the Airborne Museum in Ste-Mere-Eglise as well as the church, learning the story of paratrooper John Steele of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. Then we drove on the Brecourt Manor to hear the story of Dick Winters and the destruction of a German artillery battery located on the property. Then we were off to visit Utah Beach and the Utah Beach Museum. We ended the day with a quick stop at the church in the little village of Angoville-au-Plain, learning of the efforts of the story of the medics of the 101st Airborne and the soldiers they treated.

Hoc Bunker

Tourgoers exploring the German fortifications at Point-du-Hoc.

September 15th brought clouds, but lucky for us, no rain. We trekked the cratered landscape of Point-du-Hoc, and explored one of the German fortifications still there.

We continued with a visit to Omaha Beach, where Alex walked us through the last steps of many of the young men from Bedford, Virginia who made up the 116th Infantry Division landing on bloody Omaha.

We then went to the Normandy American Cemetery where many of those 116th Infantry Division soldiers are buried. At this cemetery over 9,000 American service men and women are laid to rest for the sacrifices they made not just on D-Day, but as part of the many operations to liberate Europe from the Third Reich.

Our final day together started at the Memorial de Caen, and then took us on a drive through the French countryside to Montormel to see the valley where, with the help of Polish troops we were able to close the Falaise Gap. Although, not a completely successful venture (it’s estimated that 50,000 German were able to escape the pocket, leaving us to fight them again later) the closing of the gap meant the end of the battle for Normandy. And then, like many American soldiers we finished our Normandy journey with a night in Paris.

SciTech Tuesday: 21 Nobel Prize winners

In the past two weeks the news has been full of announcements of the 2014 Nobel Prizes. The efforts of the Allies to develop a nuclear bomb in the Tube Alloys and Manhattan Projects involved 21 Nobel Prize winners.

James Chadwick, a British scientist who spent World War I in an internment camp in Germany, led the Tube Alloys project, and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935 for his discovery of the neutron. Chadwick was born 20th of October in 1891.

Alfred Nobel was born 21st of October 1833. His parents were very poor, and of their 8 children only Alfred and three others survived to adulthood. Immanuel Nobel, Alfred’s father was an engineer in Stockholm, and the son learned a great deal about engineering and especially explosives from the father. The family owned a factory that produced armaments for the Crimean War, but which struggled to make money when the war ended. Alfred and one of his brothers took over the factory operations and made it profitable. Alfred Nobel invented the blasting cap in 1865, dynamite in 1867, and ballistitite (a forerunner of cordite) in 1887. The growth of family factories using their patents for explosives made Alfred and his family very rich.

In 1896, without his family’s knowledge, Alfred Nobel made a will assigning 94% of his assets (about 1.7 million pounds at the time) to a trust to give annual prizes in 5 areas. Three prizes were for science (Physical Science, Chemistry, and Medicine or Physiology), one for literature, and one that is now called the ‘Peace Prize.’ In his will Nobel said the prize ‘is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses.’

Alfred Nobel’s intentions in establishing these awards has been a topic of speculation in the decades since his death in 1896. It might be that he felt guilty for the damage to individuals and societies caused by his inventions. A premature obituary read ‘Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.’ It might be that his only concern was his reputation, and the reputation of his family.

Join us this coming weekend, October 23-26, 2014, at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans for some science about flight at the WWII Air Power Expo, presented in partnership with the CAF.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Musuem

All images from Wikimedia Commons.

5,000 New Photographs Added to The Digital Collections of The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum is pleased to announce the release of 5,000 new photographs to our Digital Collections website at ww2online.org. This new content provides access to the best photograph collections both held by and entering the Museum on a daily basis.

The photographs just released on the website support many upcoming initiatives at the Museum and fills an aspiration to release material unseen by the majority of the general public. Although most of the first release of images in January 2014  contained Signal Corps and other official branch images – in the future, we will release many personal images created by those who were living the war, capturing how they experienced it personally. Major photographic content areas in this release span the globe from Ghana to Guam and support activities from ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremonies, to color images of B-29s on Saipan, to Home Front ship building. Just to highlight a few unique collections released are Higgins Industry images, images from Africa and the Middle East, German photographs, and Tulane University doctors in North Africa and Italy.

All efforts are being made to include content from all service branches including women’s auxiliary units and encompassing all world theaters. Ideally, our online collections would be representative of all major events and battles in World War II, but as we are a collection of unsolicited donations, we unfortunately do not have representative collections for every event. Providing access to materials surrounding each event is a priority for the digitization project here at the Museum as much as providing access to materials from all theaters of war, service branches and civilian experiences and minorities.

If you possess any authentic photographs from World War II, we invite you to consider donating them to the Museum where they can tell the story of the war for future generations. You may learn more about what we seek and how to donate here.



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Teacher Appreciation Night Highlights

Many thanks to all of the local teachers who joined us for the Museum’s first Teacher Appreciation Happy Hour in the Stage Door Canteen on Wednesday! Approximately 100 teachers enjoyed refreshments and conversation while meeting Museum staff and learning about new educational resources for themselves and students. Highlights included a special teachers-only preview of the upcoming Road to Berlin galleries (opening December 2014), as well as a chance to dress up like Rosie the Riveter and a soldier for propaganda poster selfies. There was also a raffle, with lucky teachers winning prizes like a free Red Ball Express Mobile Outreach program for their class, books and historic propaganda posters for the classroom, and tickets to see the Museum’s Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine Experience. Overall, it was a fun evening for all involved, and we look forward to next year’s Appreciation event where teachers will have the chance to experience the new Road to Tokyo galleries with us!

Even though Teacher Appreciation Night is over, there’s still a chance to win prizes for your classroom by taking our Fall 2014 Teacher Survey here: http://bit.ly/W6ACdV. We’d love to hear your feedback! Prizes will be announced on November 17, 2014.

Post by Megan Byrnes, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator, The National WWII Museum

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NICK PREFERRED_1.9 Into the German HomelandAs we continue our journey through the Road to Berlin, we make our way into the final gallery, Into the German Homeland.

This gallery will tell the story of the major events following the Battle of the Bulge as the Allies pushed into Germany.  The Allies captured the last remaining bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen in March 1945 and invaded the German heartland.   Political controversy erupted as the three Allied powers closed in on the German Capital of Berlin, with the Soviet Army occupying the city in horrible street to street fighting.

As the city was razed around him, Hitler committed suicide and Germany finally surrendered on May 8, 1945 amidst total ruin.  V-E Day finally arrived and Americans celebrated – even as they braced for continued bloodshed in the Pacific. Into the German Homeland and each of its components – Breaking the Siegfried Line, Desperate Resistance, and Final Assault – will reveal the devastation of German cities through exhibits built to mimic blown-out buildings, with projections of fires and photographs scattered throughout the space.


Donor Spotlight- The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation

Into the German Homeland gallery has been made possible through a generous gift from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation. The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation was established in 1958 with a mission of alleviating human suffering. The Foundation’s efforts primarily target south Louisiana, including the New Orleans area, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Joe W. Brown and Dorothy Dorsett Brown moved to New Orleans in the mid-1920s, and their successes in real estate and the oil industry allowed them to pursue philanthropic endeavors. Mrs. Brown led the Foundation until she passed away in 1989, and the Foundation is now led by the Board President, D. Paul Spencer, along with the Board of Trustees. A friend of Spencer’s from their service in the Army introduced him to the Browns after he completed college, and Spencer remained their dear friend and employee for decades afterwards, up until their deaths.

Two anti-tank Infantrymen of the 101st Infantry Regiment, dash past a blazing German gasoline trailer in square of Kronach, Germany. Courtesy of National Archives.

Two anti-tank Infantrymen of the 101st Infantry Regiment, dash past a blazing German gasoline trailer in square of Kronach, Germany. Courtesy of National Archives.

Spencer is a WWII veteran of the European Theater, where he served as a platoon commander in the 90th Infantry Division of the US Army. His platoon was part of a battle in Hof during the latter part of the war, where he recalls “all kinds of hell broke loose.” He remembers a German truck crashing into the side of the road and roughly a dozen German soldiers came toward him. Spencer realized after the crash that his carbine was jammed, and the German soldiers begged him not to shoot. “Thank goodness they were not firing at me. My guys were just behind me a little bit and I was all alone. I put my hand over the cover that was exposed so they wouldn’t see that I couldn’t fire at them.”

Paul Spencer and the men of the 90th Infantry Division engaged in several battles as they made their way through Germany near the end of the war. Spencer and his fellow soldiers liberated the Merkers Salt Mine, where Nazis were hiding gold hoard, silver, and stolen art.

The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation’s loyal support of The National WWII Museum predates the Museum’s opening in 2000. The Foundation has provided significant funding for the Museum’s capital expansion since its earliest phases. The expansion has provided exhibit spaces that have been crucial in the fulfillment of our mission. In addition to generously naming the Into the German Homeland gallery, the Foundation has also sponsored The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation Special Exhibits Gallery, the Saluting the Services: Service Branch Cases within the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, and a gallery in the future Liberation Pavilion.

We are privileged to be able to honor D. Paul Spencer’s service in Into the German Homeland. The Museum and the diverse audiences it serves benefit in many ways from The Joe W. and Dorothy Dorsett Brown Foundation’s remarkable support.


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Airborne School Family Workshop Ready for Take-Off

Airborne SchoolLocal families looking forward to attending the upcoming WWII AirPower Expo 2014 can get a head-start in learning all about the important role played by the American air forces in WWII with the “Airborne School Family Workshop” this Saturday, October 18.  A part of its monthly series of family programs, each Family Workshop offers fun, hands-on educational activities led by Museum staff and based around a central theme, with “Airborne School” being all about air power.

Participants in “Airborne School” will learn about the principles of flight through the handling of a real WWII reserve parachute before dropping their own smaller, action-figure-sized chutes over the Museum’s third-floor guard-rail in an attempt to hit a drop zone.  “Airborne School” attendees will also work on balsa wood gliders to learn just how difficult it is to predict their movements once aloft.

Cost to attend the “Airborne School Family Workshop” is $9 per child and free for Museum members. Regular Museum admission applies for families who wish to spend the day at the Museum.  Discount for attendees also available onsite.  Family Workshops begin at 10am and conclude at 11:30 am.

Register for the October 18 Airborne School Family Workshop.

Family Workshops occur on a monthly basis and are open to families with children ages of 8 – 12.  Next month’s Family Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, November 22 and will focus on the Navy as participants learn about the science of staying afloat as they begin their journey from ‘Pollywog’ to ‘Shellback.’


This post by Collin Makamson, Family Programs & Outreach Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum

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