They are the living connection to the war experience. For the National WWII Museum and its visitors, the WWII veterans who volunteer their time, sharing memories and insights, are golden.
But those who can still donate their time are dwindling in number as their celebrated generation gradually fades from the scene. Only one of every 16 Americans who served is still living.
“These people bring it to life,” said William Detweiler, the Museum’s consultant for military affairs. “They don’t brag about what they did. They’re the connection – their stories.”
The Museum still has 31 WWII veteran volunteers on its rolls, down from a high of roughly 100 soon after the institution opened in 2000. A good representation – 16 from the beloved 31 – came to the American Sector on Wednesday, December 4, to enjoy a tribute lunch with President & CEO Nick Mueller and others. (Two of our most well known veteran volunteers, Bert Stolier and Tom Blakey, were away at a Rotary Club speaking engagement.)
The luncheon crowd had a rousing good time. Then the elderly volunteers proudly lined up for a picture – and nearly brought the restaurant to a standstill, as onlookers grabbed cameras. One of them so moved, American Sector bartender Billy Vincent, said later, “The time to honor them is short.”
Standing in front of a George Rodrigue painting of two World War II icons, Dwight D. Eisenhower and New Orleans boat-builder Andrew Higgins, were, back row, left to right: Andrew Konnerth, Jimmy Dubuisson, Dutch Prager, Gene Geisert, Ross Gamble, Bob Wolf, Tommy Godchaux, Dan Cantor and Jimmy Fried. Those seated, left to right, were: C. Johnny Difatta, Lloyd Campo, Bill Cassady, John Rogers, Bowdre Mc Dowell, John Capretto and Jerry Gervais.
The Museum salutes these special volunteers and all they represent!
During the summer of 2014 college and high school students can experience New Orleans and become immersed in the Collections of The National WWII Museum as they study the leadership lessons of World War II. The 2014 Summer Residential Program will bring together 30 students from across the country for a week of tours, debates, field trips and leadership lessons. In partnership with Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, both high school and college students can earn three hours of college credit.
At the Museum, students will be immersed in the decision-making process of Dwight D. Eisenhower as he must compile and analyze information about supplies, logistics, weather, military-readiness and intelligence reports to plan the largest amphibious invasion in history. When will the landing craft be ready? Should the invasion happen at low tide or high tide? What are the Germans expecting?
Students will also examine the Home Front and America’s racial issues. Students will probe the issues surrounding A. Phillip Randolph and his proposed March on Washington to protest racial discrimination in defense industries. Would students issue the call when it seemed like the nation’s attention was turned elsewhere? Would they call for the march when faced with warnings from the White House of a potential backlash toward the cause of equality while the nation is sending young men to fight? How far would they push the issue? Could they organize enough followers through on the call? How would they determine success?
These are just two of the scenarios students will investigate. To form their arguments, they will dive deep into the Collections of The National WWII Museum. They will hear the oral histories from those who were there such as Mr. Daniel Inouye, a Medal of Honor recipient and captain with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Following the War, Inouye was a leader in obtaining statehood for Hawaii and served in the US Senate from 1963 to 2012.
To drive home the experience of the men on the front lines, students will take the place of crewman inside an actual Sherman Tank within the Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. The cramped conditions will aid students in understanding the perspectives of the men they read and hear about throughout the program.
Outside of the Museum, students will study how leaders adapted to changing times and technology at the Chalmette Battlefield, the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. They will embark on a swamp tour to view the terrain that gave rise to the LCVP, commonly known as the Higgins Boats that delivered our troops to shore during WWII. Finally, they will visit the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility that sits on the site of an assembly plant for Higgins Industries. Lessons on evolving technology and pushing boundaries will be readily apparent during the visit.
Registration for the 2014 Summer Residential Program is now open. Students will arrive in New Orleans on July 13, 2014 and depart for home on July 19, 2014. The program is open to students in grades 10-12 and to college students. A transcript from Nicholls State University will be provided at the conclusion of the Fall Semester.
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.
Members of Wild River Academy’s Paddle Forward Expedition with the cast of “A Swingin’ Christmas.”
In that spirit, just before the opening of a new Victory Belles holiday show in the Stage Door Canteen, the Museum today honored a rare achievement by 11 young adults participating in a bold educational venture of the Minneapolis-based Wild River Academy. Over the course of 70 days, these adventuresome women and men canoed virtually the entire length of the Mississippi River – roughly 2,000 miles – as they gathered video and information for a documentary about the relationship between the legendary river and watershed communities. The trip ended safely in New Orleans just in time for Thanksgiving.
In a proclamation delivered with fanfare by Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell, the New Orleans City Council also hailed the achievement and offered a hearty welcome.
Drawn from communities around the country, the Wild River Academy participants recorded many thousands of paddle strokes each day. Others attending the midday “A Swingin’ Christmas” show at the Museum were stunned at the feat.
“How did you do it?” one asked group member Anna Johnson.
“We just got up early each day and paddled until it was night,” she said.
As they canoed down the Mississippi, dodging hazards and interacting with all sorts of people, the Paddle Forward expedition members were tracked online by roughly 40 classrooms around the country. Some of the young adults plan to visit and collect more information – this time from dry land – in riverside communities as they drive back toward Minneapolis. More information on their journey and education project can be found on http://paddle4ward.com/.
Image courtesy of Wild River Academy: Paddle Forward.
Paddle Forward participants:
Martha Brummitt, 24, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Erika Gotcher, 23, Madison, Wisconsin
John Hartzheim, 24, Greenbrier, Tennessee
Eric Immler, 23, Woodruff, Wisconsin
Anna Johnson, 24, Evanston, Illinois
Elizabeth Just, 23, Middleton, Wisconsin
Nicholas Ryan, 24, Naperville, Illinois
Sarah Schaefer, 24, Mount Desert Island, Maine
Lee Vue, 24, Fresno, California
Natalie Warren, 25, Miami, Florida
Sami Pfeffer, 25, Concord, North Carolina
For the National WWII Museum, the end of year holiday season is a critical point as we want to finish 2013 strong and build momentum to carry us into 2014. This year for the first time ever, we are taking part in #GivingTuesdayon December 3 and are excited to announce that all donations will be matched dollar for dollarup to $10,000.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are days devoted to holiday shopping, #GivingTuesday is a national day of giving to celebrate and encourage charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations during the holiday season. In addition to our match, there are also many other ways you can optimize your gift to support the Museum as we continue to preserve the story of WWII.
Many employers offer matching programs that will again double your gift to the Museum on #GivingTuesday. Learn to see if your employer participates in Double the Donation here:http://doublethedonation.com/giving-tuesday/
So mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday this December 3, and join us in our effort to preserve the memories of WWII. It is with your help that we can continue to collect and maintain the stories of WWII to educate future generations.
President & CEO of The National WWII Museum, Dr. Gordon “Nick” Mueller
Too often do we commemorate our heroes rather than celebrate them. With more than 21.2 million living veterans in our country today, Veterans Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the courageous people who defend the freedoms that we enjoy. Every day here at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, we pay tribute to the service and sacrifices of our WWII veterans. As the number of our living WWII veterans dwindles, Veterans Day allows us to extend our tribute to newer generations of our country’s brave defenders.
On this Veterans Day, we show our gratitude to the courageous men and women who have defended our freedom by offering them free admission to our growing Museum campus in New Orleans. We hope that visits by younger citizens – and their exposure to stories of hardship, courage and ultimate victory – will engender strong connections between veterans of the present and the past.
The long-ago choice of the date for Veterans Day – November 11, Armistice Day at the end of World War I – holds great meaning. The war to end all wars did not bring the enduring peace that so many sought. As other conflicts unfolded around the world, our nation’s leaders saw a need to connect the generations, honoring all who served in defense of America’s ideals and freedoms.
Veterans Day helps to create a bond between these individuals. It is the day when we pause to celebrate and express deep appreciation. Please join us today in this important patriotic exercise.
On View November 27, 2013 Through February 16, 2014
“We Can Do It,” “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” and “I Want You” (accompanied by a pointing Uncle Sam) are sayings that have become ingrained on the American consciousness. These and others were part of propaganda campaigns used during WWII to unite the American people towards a common cause.
The National WWII Museum is currently exhibiting some of the most famous propaganda posters from the era along with more obscure works, Home Front Artifacts, newsreels and more as part of the special exhibit We Can. . .We Will. . .We Must! Allied Propaganda of WWII. The exhibit not only highlights the physical works of propaganda during wartime, it also explores how these slogans and images were created and how specific tools and devices were utilized to elicit a response.
President & CEO of The National WWII Museum, Dr. Gordon "Nick" Mueller
The shutdown of many federally supported museums and parks prompted the release of a statement by our Museum that, as an independent nonprofit, we are not subject to the federal government’s shutdown process and that our doors remain open to visitors.
Today I am moved to express deep concern as a result of news that dozens of Mississippi veterans traveling to Washington, D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial were allowed access to this wonderful site only as a result of extraordinary steps by a few federal officials – and that other veteran groups traveling to visit the Memorial in coming days now see their plans in jeopardy. In addition, as a statement from the American Battle Monuments Commission makes clear, ABMC cemeteries around the world, where thousands of Americans who died defending our freedoms are buried, will be temporarily closed due to the government shutdown. As a result, many Americans who long ago made costly arrangements to visit these sites and other memorials managed by the ABMC may now see these plans dashed.
I find this circumstance simply unacceptable, an unnecessary and terrible disruption for citizens who have every right to visit the Memorial and other sites that honor more than 16 million Americans who served in uniform in this war that changed the world, including more than 400,000 who perished in this historic struggle.
Our institution would like to extend a cordial invitation to anyone denied access to the Memorial in Washington or to other commemorative sites to travel to New Orleans and take advantage of our exhibits and programs, if a change in plans proves feasible. A special invitation is extended to any individuals associated with the Honor Flight Network who now fear they will not be allowed access to the Memorial in Washington. We offer free admission to all WWII veterans and commit ourselves every day to exploring the American experience in World War II. A visit to our institution can serve as a meaningful alternative.
I also believe the current political impasse in Washington presents an opportunity to reflect on the values and actions of the WWII generation. These great Americans faced unprecedented challenges at a time of sharp political conflict. But they worked through partisan differences in the spirit of “we’re all in this together,” and went on to achieve great things. We can again today. I hope that our nation’s leaders will be able to find common ground and resolution quickly, and that all sites commemorating our nation’s history and aspirations can resume normal operations.
The National WWII Museum’s annual International Conference on WWII is just around the corner. Conference hotel rooms are nearly gone and the All-Access passes are selling fast. Anyone who has ever attended the Museum’s Conference can attest that this is an experience not to be missed. But just in case you might still be on the fence. We’d like to introduce you to some of our esteemed speakers in a series of upcoming blog posts. Today’s featured speaker is Col. Roger Cirillo.
Col. Roger Cirillo
Roger Cirillo served in the US Army from 1971 – 1995, retiring with the rank of Lt. Col. He served in armored cavalry units in the United States, Korea and West Germany, and on the staff and faculty of the Air Defense and Armor Schools. We was a War Plans Officer at Central Army Group NATO and served in the office of the CINC, USAREUR. He taught military history at US Army Command and General Staff College and holds a Ph.D. in military history from Cranfield University at the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham, UK.
He is the author of the Ardennes-Alsace Campaign and other publications and aided in the publication of more than 30 military history books for the Association of the US Army. He is the editor of the “American Warrior” series and “Battles and Campaigns” series for the University Press of Kentucky.
He is a regular presenter at The National WWII Museum. View his April 14, 2011. Mason Lecture, Agony, Misery and Heartbreak: The Ground War in Italy, January – June 1944, where he describes the particularly challenging mountain warfare fought in Italy in World War II.
The National WWII Museum’s annual International Conference on WWII is just around the corner. Conference hotel rooms are nearly gone and the All-Access passes are selling fast. Anyone who has ever attended the Museum’s Conference can attest that this is an experience not to be missed. But just in case you might still be on the fence. We’d like to introduce you to some of our esteemed speakers in a series of upcoming blog posts. Today’s featured speakers are Dr. Donald L. Miller and Dr. Allan Millet.
Dr. Donald L. Miller
Donald L. Miller is the John Henry MacCracken Professor of History at Lafayette College. He has appeared in numerous PBS and the History Channel programs, including A Biography of America on PBS. He is the author of eight books, including the prize-winning City of the Century: The Epic of Chicago and The Making of America, The Story of World War II and D-Days in the Pacific. Miller’s book Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany was recently selected to serve as the primary source for HBO’s newest World War II miniseries. He currently sits on the Museum’s “Presidential Counselors” advisory board.
Dr. Allan Millett
Col. Allan R. Millett, USMCR (Ret.), is the director of the University of New Orleans Eisenhower Center for American Studies and the Ambrose professor of American history. His books include Their War for Korea: American, Asian, and European Combatants and Civilians, 1945—1953 (Brassey’s, Inc., 2002). The recipient of the 2008 Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement, Colonel Millett lives in New Orleans.
Miller and Millett presented “Guadalcanal: The First Offensive” with James Hornfischer at the 2011 International Conference on WWII.
Last week, the Education Department debuted its newest distance learning program: Skype Lesson Connections! The Museum is now a part of Skype in the classroom, a free community of teachers connecting with fellow educators, schools and institutions across the globe to create inspiring lessons.
Connecting for a Skype program with teachers from the York County District in Virginia
In our inaugural session, I connected with a group of teachers from York County Schools in Virginia to discuss and analyze the political cartoons of Dr. Seuss during World War II. Working with teachers across all subjects and grade levels, they were charged with interpreting the message of select Dr. Seuss cartoons. We then explored some of the hidden World War II themes in some of Dr. Seuss’ most popular children’s books, including Horton Hears a Who!, Yertle the Turtle and The Sneetches.
In the Lesson Connection programs, teachers choose and present a cross-curricular Museum lesson plan and then connect for a free Skype follow-up session with a Museum educator. Using mobile technology, students view and explore different areas of the Museum that relate to the lesson plan they just completed in their classroom.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.