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A Special Meeting in Shreveport, LA

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Luke Jackson and Lewis "Dale" Whipple

Luke Jackson from Milford, Vermont won the right to represent his state at the Grand Opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center with an essay on Vermont’s contribution to World War II. It was after Luke won this honor that we became aware of a close connection he had with the aftermath of WWII.

Luke advanced to the National History Day Contest in 2012 with a web site he created on the Berlin Airlift. During the research process, Luke reached out to veterans of the Airlift to find out their first-hand accounts of the action. He made contact with Lewis “Dale” Whipple, a veteran of the Berlin Airlift living in Benton, LA, a town just north of Shreveport. Mr. Whipple proved invaluable to Luke’s research and the two formed a close bond as Luke advanced through the rounds of the Vermont History Day competition and on to the National Competition.

At the National History Day Awards Ceremony last June 14, Luke found out that he won a trip to New Orleans for the Grand Opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. After finding out about the award and the trip, Mr. Whipple began making plans to meet Luke in New Orleans during the events. It is just over 350 miles from Benton to New Orleans, making Grand Opening weekend the opportune time for a face to face meeting.

As the opening grew near, Mr. Whipple’s health did not allow him to travel. His doctors informed him that he needed to stay close to Shreveport and would not be able to travel to New Orleans to meet Luke. With little hesitation, Luke and his mother changed their travel plans to instead fly in closer to Shreveport to meet Mr. Whipple and his family. From Shreveport, Luke would travel to New Orleans to arrive in time for his role at the dedication ceremony for the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The event was covered by Shreveport news station KTBS.

It was a privilege for The National WWII Museum to hear about this story and to play a small role in helping arrange this meeting. Students like Luke Jackson from Milford, VT show the dedication and passion for history that is apparent in students who participate in National History Day. In getting to know Luke, it was evident that his respect for those who made history and fought for freedom will play a role in the bright future that is ahead for him. Luke reflected on the experience in his own blog.

UPDATE: Lewis “Dale” Whipple passed away on January 28, 2013 in the company of his family.
Luke contributed a speech that was read aloud at the funeral on January 31, 2013. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/shreveporttimes/obituary.aspx?pid=162732039


The National WWII Museum is the Louisiana sponsor for National History Day and encourages students across the state to participate in this program that not only inspires students but is also shown to increase academic achievement across a range of subjects. The Museum thanks CenturyLink for their generous support of the students who traveled to New Orleans for the opening of the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

This post by Louisiana History Day Coordinator Nathan Huegen

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