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Explore Latino Experiences in World War II

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, this month’s Calling All Teachers e-newsletter highlights resources for you and your students to explore Latinos’ varied World War II experiences.

You can introduce your students to Latinos’ WWII experiences through our Fact Sheet, then dig deeper into the stories of Latino war heroes and average soldiers as well as issues of ethnicity and acculturation on the Home Front with our Los Veteranos Virtual Field Trip.

Students can also listen to Latino veterans William Douglas Lansford and Rosemary Fagot recount their wartime experiences through the Museum’s Digital Collections. Lansford, a Marine who served in the Pacific Theater of Operations, and Fagot, a member of the Navy W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), were among the more than 500,000 Latinos who served in World War II.

The current Calling All Teachers also previews WWII AirPower Expo 2015, which takes place at New Orleans Lakefront Airport and is free for student groups on Friday, October 23. To RSVP for your desired time slot, email Shelbie Johnson.

If you are not able to visit the Expo’s restored planes and science and history activities, your class can explore WWII air power through Museum artifacts, oral histories, and images.

The October Calling All Teachers also includes information our popular STEM Field Trip and the limited number of trips available at no cost to Title 1 schools thanks to funding from Capitol One. Contact Meghan Sens by phone at 504-528-1944 ext 222 or by email to book your STEM trip.

Finally, this month’s Calling All Teachers provides you with one last chance to register for our free student webinar scheduled for 12:00-1:00 p.m. CT Thursday, October 8. This program will offer an inside look at the boats and ships of World War II, including the Museum’s current efforts to restore US Navy torpedo boat PT-305 to her wartime condition. Register today!

Learn more about our distance learning programs, and get more classroom resources and ideas by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter Calling All Teachers and following us on Twitter @wwiieducation.

Post by Dr. Walter Stern, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at The National WWII Museum. 


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SciTech Tuesday: The 2015 Nobel Prize for Medicine

Yesterday the winners of the Nobel Prize for Medicine or physiology were announced. Sharing the prize were Drs William Campbell and Satoshi Omura, who together found drugs to treat parasitic diseases like river blindness, and Dr Youyou Tu who discovered a drug that fights malaria.

The earliest drug research teams, formed by German chemical companies in the late 1800s and early 1900s set up systems to screen chemicals for disease treatment with animal tests. They found some success with this model, discovering new forms of quinine (to treat malaria), sulfanomide (an antibacterial that saved many lives in WWII), and mepacrine (also used to treat malaria, under the trade name Atebrine in the US) and some other drugs as well. In England, researchers worked more on a model of learning about the biology of diseases, and then finding ways to stop important disease processes. In this way they discovered penicillin, which they took the US in 1942 to find a way to mass produce it for pharmaceutical use.

The Campbell-Omura team worked much like the German pharmacologists. Dr Omura isolated samples of bacteria from soils and looked for strains that grew well in the lab. He isolated chemicals they produced and shared them with Dr Campell. In his lab Cambell tested the chemicals on farm animals with parasitic infections. One chemical, Avermictin, was very effective at killing off the parasites. With some chemical modifications the drug was made more effective and renamed Ivermectin. It was eventually deemed so important that it is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It is widely effective against parasitic roundworms and lice.

Dr Tu began the work for which she was awarded in the 1960s. Quinine and its derivatives were losing their effectiveness against the malaria parasite (a single-celled microorganism called Plasmodium falciparum) as the microbe evolved resistance to the drugs. Looking to traditional Chinese medicine, Tu and her colleagues began to look for chemicals in the plants and fungi used to treat diseases for centuries past.

Tea of sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua, a relative of the plant from which absinthe is extracted) was prescribed by traditional herbalists for treating malaria. Tu extracted many chemicals from many herbs, but an chemical she named Artemisinin was found very effective at killing the malarial parasite and clearing it from patients’ bodies. Unfortunately, the plasmodium has continued to evolve, and Artemisinin is now only an effective treatment when used with other drugs.

It is interesting that in over 100 years of research, the basic model for drug discovery has changed little. The three scientists who have won this year’s prize all lived through WWII, having all been born in 1930 or 1936. It is also disturbing that today we are struggling to find effective treatments for the diseases were worried would take the lives of soldiers 75 years ago, and that kill millions still today.

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

Sweet wormwood being grown on a farm. Pharmaceutical companies are still looking for new uses of the plant, including chemotherapy.

Sweet wormwood being grown on a farm. Pharmaceutical companies are still looking for new uses of the plant, including chemotherapy.

Home Front Friday: Burn Baby Burn

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!

This week was Banned Books Week! Every year, for a week, the freedom from literary censorship is celebrated across the United States. This celebration dates back to World War II when Hitler instated his book burning campaign during the 1930s. The American response to the German Book Burning was overwhelming, both by citizens and by the press.

Authors banned under the Third Reich:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Friedrich Engels
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Helen Keller
  • Jack London
  • Thomas Mann
  • Karl Marx
  • Upton Sinclair
  • H. G. Wells

The official title for the Nazi book burning campaign, which started a full 5 years before the War, was an “Action Against the Un-German Spirit.” The most successful and most famous exhibition of the book burning was carried out by German university students on May 10, 1933. A lot of the books that were burned during this exhibition, as well as the books that were banned from the Third Reich throughout the war were books that promoted socialism, books that were either written about or by Jews, and books that the government simply found to be “un-German.”

Germans Giving the Nazi Salute as Banned Books Burn. 1933. Retrieved From: The National Archives Catalog.

Germans Giving the Nazi Salute as Banned Books Burn. 1933. Retrieved From: The National Archives Catalog.

As WWII progressed, President FDR would use the book burnings as an important tool to display the vast differences between the American beacon of democracy and the German totalitarian, terrorist Nazi state. The press slashed the book burning and even Eleanor Roosevelt condemned them in her popular daily newspaper column. On the Home Front specifically, the American Jewish Congress organized street demonstrations in more than a dozen U.S. cities, e.g.  New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cleveland. The focus of their protests was generally on the Nazi persecution of Jews, but they used the May 10th book burnings to broaden the coalition of anti-Nazi groups.

So, if you want to celebrate banned books week and express your educational and informational freedom, go out and read some of the most influential American literature that was banned under the Third Reich. I would personally recommend Jack London’s The Call of the Wild.

A couple of years ago the Museum had an installation that featured the Nazi book burning campaign. Read more about it here!

Posted by Catherine Perrone, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.


Philippines Rendering

Philippines Rendering

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, and through the Philippines gallery, our final stop is the Battle of Manila exhibit, which will detail one the bloodiest urban fighting scenes in the Pacific Theater.

Aided by Filipino guerrillas, the Allied Forces savagely fought the Japanese for control of the capitol. Rather than engage in house-to-house combat, the Allies relied on heavy artillery barrages to defeat the Japanese. This led to the complete destruction of Manila, once called the Pearl of the Orient, and resulted in the loss of more than 100,000 Filipino civilians. The fierce struggle to wrest the city from the Japanese ended with the Allies securing Manila in March 1945.

The defeat in Manila, though catastrophic, brought the Allies one step closer to liberating the Philippines from Japan’s barbarous control. By projecting their power and escalating the level of violence, the Allies were able to push through the islands and continue on their way toward the Japanese mainland.

The Battle of Manila exhibit has been made possible through a generous gift by Madlyn and Paul Hilliard.


Donor Spotlight: Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

Madlyn and Paul Hilliard

For more than a decade, Museum trustee and WWII veteran Paul Hilliard and his wife, Madlyn, have been two of the Museum’s most active advocates and supporters.  They have provided transformative support for several Museum initiatives, including the capital expansion, acquisition and restoration of artifacts, collection of oral histories, and education programs.

Paul is a Marine Corps veteran who served as a radioman/gunner in SBD “Dauntless” dive bombers in the Pacific. He turned 17 in June of 1942 and pleaded with his mother to authorize his enlistment in the Marines, finally, in February of 1943, she relented and Paul was shipped to boot camp in San Diego.  After more than a year of training in aviation radio, radar and gunnery, he was sent to the Solomons for assignment to an SBD dive bomber squadron.

In the Philippines the SBDs served as “airborne artillery” for General Krueger’s Sixth Army, assigned to dive bomb and strafe targets assigned by the army units attacking the Japanese on the ground. He flew many “Columbus missions,” named this because “we were unaware where we were going when we took off, we didn’t where we were when arrived at the target and when we returned to base we didn’t know where we had been. We did it all at the government’s expense.”

Paul said that when overseas, he knew little about events in the overall war beyond the view from their tent, their short mission briefings, or the unrecognizable sights from the rear seat of a dive bomber. Aside from that, brief summaries were fed to him about once a week in a crudely mimeographed news letter. He states, “we were mostly teenagers and much of our leisure was spent thinking about food, talking about food or complaining about food. The occasional cans of warm beer were a much-appreciated supplement.”

After being discharged, Paul states that he did not discuss the war for 40 years.  He states “to those of us who wore a uniform between 1940 and 1946, it seemed as if nearly every man in America had served and so it was so normal, so commonplace, that the subject seldom surfaced.” He stated that with almost 50% of able-bodied men in the United States in uniform, each played an important role in securing freedom. Paul states that he credits “Stephen Ambrose with reviving the discussion and the interest as his books shed light on specific anecdotes, on small-unit-actions, and on the long-lasting impact the War had and was going to have on world history.  Once I began to realize that I had been privileged to play a minor role in an enormous event, I became and still am, an assiduous student of WWII. The National WWII Museum has been and is an incredible opportunity to further my interest and to help tell the story of “the war that changed the world.”

The continuous support of Paul and Madlyn attests to their interest in and commitment to telling the story.  Madlyn says, “what is so rewarding about [the Museum], is its growth and the enthusiasm of the young visitors, their amazing knowledge of events in the War and their enjoyment of their visit. It’s contagious!!”

Paul says the Museum “tells the story of America at its best and of not only what Americans did during that War to ensure the freedom of millions around the world but to assure later generations that when fascism tackles freedom, freedom is going to come out on top. And whatever we have done or are doing to assist in spreading and trumpeting that message, is done from a sense of gratitude rather than generosity.”




Philippines Campaign, 1944-1945

Philippines Campaign, 1944-1945

As we continue down the Road to Tokyo, and through the Philippines gallery, we stop next at the From Leyte to Luzon exhibit, which will detail the invasion of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf, an intense battle with many American casualties.

The US Navy prevented Japanese reinforcement in Ormoc Bay at Leyte, and inflicted severe losses on the Japanese forces. The Japanese retaliated with deadly Kamikaze attacks, which then became a frequent threat to US amphibious operations. Adding to the sense of crisis, Americans began to receive field reports that the Japanese were executing Allied prisoners behind enemy lines. The exhibit will discuss some of the successful military operations used to rescue American prisoners being held at Cabanatuan by the US Rangers with the help of Filipino forces.

From Leyte to Luzon will examine the American re-capture of the Philippines in 1944. Allied forces here would endure some of the toughest fighting of the war, and lost close to 14,000 in the the Philippines campaign. Many more would be lost due to tropical diseases.

The Philippines also saw one of the few successful airborne raids in the Pacific when the 11th Airborne dropped in to help liberate over 2,000 civilian and military personnel from the Los Banos prison camp. The Philippines would be officially secured in January 1945.

From Leyte to Luzon has been made possible through a generous gift in honor of Lt. George R. Cannon and his shipmates aboard the USS DuPage.

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SciTech Tuesday: Howard Florey, developer of penicillin, was born September 24

Howard Florey, who developed penicillin, was born in Australia on September 24 1896.

Florey came to England to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and received his BA and MA from Magdalen College before earning his PhD at Cambridge University. Later Florey was appointed a professorship in Pathology at Lincoln College, Oxford University, where he led a research team. In 1938, having read Alexander’s Fleming’s papers on the effects of Penicillium mold on bacterial growth, he decided to try to find extracts of the mold that might be used to treat infection. His team began experiments in mice with some success.

In 1941 his team used extracts of the fungus to treat a hospital patient’s severe infection caused by Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. The treatment proved effective–until they ran out of extract and the patient worsened and died. They continued their work but were still having trouble producing large quantities of the active chemical. With German bombing campaigns wreaking havoc on British infrastructure and economics, Florey and a colleague set off for the US. There they hoped to convince pharmaceutical companies to help them develop a process for producing large quantities of the chemical.

The development of penicillin was still slowed by technical problems. However, the War Production Board decided penicillin would be an important resource in the war effort, and in 1942 moved to get the USDA labs involved in production. The USDA scientists and engineers identified a potent strain of Penicillin, and chemical engineer Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau developed a large-scale process to grow the fungus and isolate the penicillin from the culture. In spring of 1944, just in time for the final planning of the Allied invasion of France, penicillin was available for treatment of soldiers.

Sulfa antibiotics were still the first line of defense against wound infections in WWII. Soldiers were all given a bandage kit with a packet of sulfa powder in it. Together, sulfa and penicillin saved millions of lives, as the mortality of the wounded was much lower in WWII than in WWI.

The American public had access to penicillin after the war, and this first fungal-based drug revolutionized medicine.

Howard Florey shared the 1945 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Ernst Chain and Alexander Fleming. Chain was a Jewish German refugee who was the biochemist on Florey’s pathology team.

In 1945 Dorothy Hodgkin, a pioneer in the use of X-ray crystallography to identify the structure of biological molecules, described the structure of penicillin. This allowed later chemical synthesis of the molecule, and further development of antibiotics. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 for her work in X-ray crystallography. In addition to penicillin, she described the structure of pepsin, vitamin B12, and insulin. She taught chemistry for many years–her most famous student was Margaret Thatcher.

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

All images from Wikimedia Commons.

Home Front Friday: Cuba Libre

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!

Within the last few months, the United States and Cuba began talks after years of relative silence between the two countries. Before Fidel Castro’s coup in 1959, however, the United States and Cuba were close allies, dating back to the Spanish-American War. During World War II, Cuba was one of the United States’ most dedicated allies as well. Cuba was the first Caribbean nation to declare war on the Axis powers, in December 1941.

While Cubans had America’s back during the War, Cuban-Americans and other Latino Americans helped tremendously abroad and on the Home Front as well. Approximately 500,000 Latinos, including 350,000 Mexican Americans and 53,000 Puerto Ricans, served in the American military during WWII. Latinos were never segregated into separate units, so exact numbers are more difficult to estimate than African-American involvement numbers.

In the Pacific, the 158th Regimental Combat Team, of which many men were Latino and Native American, fought in the Philippines. General MacArthur was so impressed with their performance that he called them “the greatest fighting combat team ever deployed in battle.” Latino soldiers were of particular aid in the defense of the Philippines because of their fluency in Spanish—American Latinos were able to understand and translate for the army in the Spanish speaking parts of the Philippines.

On the Home Front specifically, Latino men and women alike had extremely important roles for the Home Front. American Latinas served their country regardless of any cultural barriers that existed during the time. Bilingual Latinas often became linguists, nurses and Red Cross aids, and some even worked in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve. Further, Latino men and women on the Home Front also worked on railroads, in mines, in shipyards, in airplane factories, and as agricultural laborers. By instating the Bracero Program, the US government granted work visas to 50,000 Mexican agricultural workers and 75,000 railroad workers during the war because of the labor shortage. These workers were necessary to the wartime driven economy, and the US likely would have had a much harder time without the Latino effort.

Propaganda Poster Encouraging Latino-Americans to Help Out with the War Effort.

Propaganda Poster Encouraging Latino-Americans to Help Out with the War Effort.

The Andrews Sisters were a popular group who frequently American entertained troops with their delightful voices. After their song “Rum and Coca-Cola,” the Cuba Libre, a drink originating in early 20th Century Cuba, grew in popularity in the United States.

To make a Cuba Libre, you’ll need:

  • 4oz Cola
  • 1/3oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 2/3oz white rum

Pour all of the ingredients into a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Posted by Catherine Perrone, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum. 

Teacher Event Showcases Classroom Resources

More than 120 teachers representing six parishes and 40 public, private, and parochial schools joined Museum educators on September 16 for our fall Teacher Appreciation Happy Hour.

The event showcased the Museum’s newest special exhibit, Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in WWII, and highlighted the many ways educators and students can connect to the Museum.

Teachers learned about the Museum’s Operation Footlocker program, which permits teachers anywhere in the United States to borrow a trunk filled with real artifacts from World War II for use in their classroom. They also viewed our Fighting for the Right to Fight Classroom Guides, which are accessible online and provide primary source-based lesson plans for middle and high school students that are aligned with Common Core standards.

Other booths provided teachers with information about the Museum’s field trips (including free ones for Louisiana Title I schools), distance learning opportunities, STEM resources, travel programs, and our one-of-a-kind collection of digitized high school yearbooks from World War II. Teachers also discovered how their students can experience history firsthand through National History Day and the Red Ball Express, the Museum’s mobile outreach program.

Thank you to all the teachers who attended and to the many businesses, educational organizations, and school districts that helped to make the event a huge success!

We will host our next Teacher Appreciation Happy Hour in January. Receive updates about that event, and learn more about our educational resources and programming by signing up for our free monthly e-newsletter Calling All Teachers and following us on Twitter @wwiieducation.

Post by Dr. Walter Stern, K-12 Curriculum Coordinator at The National WWII Museum. 

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As we continue down the Road to Tokyo and through the Philippines gallery, we stop next at the exhibit Destroying the Japanese Navy, which will discuss the invasion of Leyte, one of the key turning points in the Pacific war.

Rendering of the Philippines gallery

Rendering of the Philippines gallery


General Douglas MacArthur returned in a joint military landing with Filipino forces, landing on Leyte in one of the largest amphibious operations in the Pacific. The Destroying the Japanese Navy exhibit will describe the beginning stages of the American campaign, the major battles that took place, and how the Allies were able to retake the Philippine Islands.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf proved to be a resounding victory for American forces. The battles of Sibuyan Sea, the Surigao Straight, Cape Engano, and Samar proved to be excellent opportunities for the Americans to strike at the Japanese Navy. After the battle at Samar, the capital ships that had escaped the carnage would never leave their ports for the rest of the war, and the Japanese Navy would never again field a comparable fleet. This was also the first time that the Japanese used kamikaze pilots, a terrifying new tactic which indicated a fanatical Japanese will to resist that would increase the costs of victory and lengthen the war. The invasion of Leyte gave the Americans the presence and force they needed to advance through the Philippines, while simultaneously crippling the Japanese Navy once and for all.

The Destroying of the Japanese Navy exhibit has been made possible through a generous gift by Thomas C. Terrell III In Honor of Lt. Col. Thomas C. Terrell WWII AC B-24.


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Remembering Louisiana’s Last Tuskegee Airman, Calvin Moret

66229Over the weekend, we were saddened to hear that Calvin Moret, the last surviving Tuskegee Airman pilot in Louisiana, passed away. Just one month ago on August 15, 2015, he celebrated the End of WWII with us at the Museum on his 90th birthday, singing with his barbershop quartet, the Mardi Gras Chorus.

Moret joined the war effort during a time when African Americans had two wars to fight: the war against tyranny abroad and the war for civil rights at home. In 1943, he joined the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first African American military airmen, where he completed his advanced training in P-51 Mustangs and was preparing to ship overseas to the 332nd Fighter Group when Germany surrendered in May 1945.

Calvin has had a strong presence with our institution since before we opened in 2000. He was a regular speaker and veteran representative at lectures, panels and commemorations.

Most recently, we’ve been humbled to have had his involvement in our current special exhibit Fighting for the Right to Fight: African American Experiences in World War II, which highlights the contributions and obstacles of African Americans like Moret during the war-era. This past July, he provided remarks at the exhibit’s opening where he shared a remarkable recollection on the recognition of African American servicemembers throughout our nation’s history. His Aviator Bag used to carry his parachute from the equipment issue room to his aircraft while training at Tuskegee, Alabama is on view in this exhibit until May 31, 2016.

Calvin served his country, and our Museum, honorably. We are deeply saddened by his passing, but so grateful to have known him.

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