When tourists visit New Orleans, the time they spend at The National WWII Museum tends to be a high point of their trip. The Museum is also a jewel among New Orleans residents. Many locals love The National WWII Museum so much that they choose to spend their free time volunteering here. And it’s a good thing they do. Without the nearly 350 volunteers at the Museum, it simply would not be able to function as well as it does. The Museum itself certainly benefits from its volunteers, but what do the volunteers themselves get out of the experience?
Well, some volunteers offer their time because of their love of history in general, and others feel drawn to military history in particular. More than that, many are looking for social connections, a structured outlet for their free time and a way to contribute to the community.
For Charlie Monnot, a recent retiree who’s been with the Museum two months, volunteering gives him something meaningful to do with his time. As an Army veteran from the Vietnam era, the Museum also has special meaning to him. He enjoys the opportunity to serve as a guide and educate others about the country’s military past while he enriches his own knowledge.
Meanwhile, Fritz Heintz, a WWII veteran, feels privileged to have taken part in such an important historical event, and volunteering at the museum allows him to make experience accessible to the public. Heintz worked his way up through the ranks to serve as an executive officer in the U.S. Navy Amphibious Forces at Okinawa. The vessel he served on helped equip the soldiers on the front line with tanks, trucks, and other vehicles. It also evacuated many soldiers and Marines.
Volunteering is not just for retirees, however. For example, Kelly Smith, a student currently working on a Masters in Historic Preservation, chooses to volunteer because it complements her field of interest. She donates her time to the task of restoring a PT boat at the John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion where she also gives tours. In addition, her father is a volunteer, and working on a team that rebuilds old engines gives them an interesting way to spend time together.
The National WWII Museum welcomes volunteers from ages 16 on up. A variety of opportunities are available, and scheduling is flexible. Email us for more information.
Posted by Katie Alpert, Volunteer Coordinator for The National WWII Museum.