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Help Judge National History Day

National History Day JudgingThe National WWII Museum is looking for teachers and professors, historians, undergraduates and graduate students, museum professionals or anyone with a love of history and community to help judge this year’s National History Day contests!

National History Day is a year-long historical research contest for middle and high school students. Each year, students from across Louisiana create documentaries, research papers, performances, websites or exhibits based upon the annual contest theme. A major benefit to students participating in National History Day besides the fun and excitement of creating an original work is the outside review of that work by volunteer judges, who donate their time to review students’ projects, make suggestions for improvement and determine the entries that will advance to the next round of competition.

Judging is an integral part of the National History Day process. The feedback that students receive is critical to their growth as young researchers. Most of the students will not pursue history as their college major or career choice, however, the skills that the students hone in creating their National History Day projects will apply to any college or career path that they choose. The National WWII Museum is always looking for volunteers who possess both foundational knowledge of history and great communication skills to serve as judges. No prior experience is necessary besides an enthusiasm and interest in encouraging middle and high school students in their research and work!

Judges are needed for Regional Contests in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Shreveport and Monroe as well as the State Contest in New Orleans which determines which students go on to represent Louisiana at the national competition in Washington D.C.. The dates for all Regional as well as the State Contest can be found below along with the sign-up form to serve as a National History Day judge.

2017 Louisiana History Day Contest Dates:

Baton Rouge: March 25, 2017

Lafayette: March 11, 2017

Monroe: March 11, 2017

New Orleans: March 25, 2017

Shreveport: March 11, 2017

Louisiana State History Day: April 8, 2017

The National History Day program is exciting and fun, however, the benefits for participation for students working with primary sources and performing original research are very real and can earn them rewards both inside and outside the classroom such as scholarship moneys, special prizes and even paid educational travel.  That said, none of this would be possible without the generous help and support of our volunteer contest judges.

Sign up now to judge National History Day!

Find out more about Louisiana’s National History Day program.


For other questions on how to get involved with National History Day, contact the Museum’s Student Program’ Coordinator, Collin Makamson @ 504-528-1944 ext. 304 or historyday@nationalww2museum.org.

SciTech Tuesday: The 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Los Angeles

The night of February 24, 1942, and the hours before dawn of the 25th, the sky over Los Angeles was lit by search lights, the city was under a blackout, and more than 1.400 shells were shot from .50 caliber guns into the air. When the all-clear was sounded at 7:21 AM on the 25th, the only casualties were buildings and cars hit by shell fragments, and 3 civilians killed in car accidents.

The immediate cause of the false alarm was a rogue weather balloon. When spotted from the ground by nervous watchers, lit from underneath by search lights, it was identified as an enemy aircraft.

The real cause was nervousness and a heightened watchfulness that resulted from events on the previous day, a short ways up the California coast.

On the evening of February 23, President Roosevelt delivered a fireside chat radio broadcast. Less than three months since the attack on Pearl Harbor, the nation was anxious, and in the midst of preparations for war. In the speech, Roosevelt said “…the broad oceans which have been heralded in the past as our protection from attack have become endless battlefields on which we are constantly being challenged by our enemies.’’ In the weeks since Pearl Harbor the United States had heard more bad news of advancing Japanese forces across the Pacific Ocean and Asia, and U-boat attacks from the German Navy in the Atlantic.

Perhaps as a means to undermine Roosevelt’s confident speech, a Japanese submarine patrolling the West Coast surfaced offshore north of Santa Barbara, and launched 13 shells towards oil wells and equipment in Ellwood, CA. It completely missed the gasoline plant there, caused minor damage to the piers and wells, and stayed 2,500 yards offshore, but the submarine’s impact on popular anxiety was great. The night of the shelling the Army Air Force sent a handful of pursuit planes and bombers to find the submarine, but was loath to commit more forces.

Intelligence supplied by loyal Japanese Americans had suggested that there might be some action to disturb the President’s speech. It also suggested that Los Angeles might be attacked the next night. The state of readiness itself led to the false alarm.

Confused reports from the night of the event, secrecy after it, and anxiety led to many conspiracy theories. This might even be counted as one of the first major events in the history of UFO conspiracies. Radar sightings of the objects triggering the artillery fire suggested they were moving far too slowly to have been planes. The use of radar for these purposes was new, and inexperienced operators may have been part of the problem. Visual sighting under night conditions is unreliable. Without context objects like weather balloons in the sky, especially with uncertain lighting, are difficult to scale.

The event led to better coordination of civilian and military defenses on the West Coast, and to more surveillance of activities and objects around plants and other installations near the shore. It might also have contributed to popular sentiment in support of Japanese Internment. Roosevelt had authorized Executive Order 9066 just days before.

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

A Farewell and Final Thank You to Edward Tipper, ‘Easy Company’ D-Day Survivor and Museum Friend

Edward Tipper, 'Easy Company' D-Day survivor, and Museum friend.

Edward Tipper, ‘Easy Company’ D-Day survivor and Museum friend.

Edward Tipper, an American hero and extraordinary friend to The National WWII Museum, has died at age 95.

Tipper jumped into Normandy with “Easy Company” on D-Day—a mission immortalized in Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose’s book Band of Brothers and in the later HBO miniseries of the same title—and volunteered his time on numerous occasions to share his WWII experiences and advocate for the significance of the Museum’s mission.

We grieve his loss and for his family, but celebrate his long, full life and courageous service to the forces of freedom. We are proud to count an oral history recorded by Tipper among the Museum’s collection of more than 9,000 first-person accounts of World War II.

“He was one of the great ones of Easy Company—tough, humble, generous, honest, never exaggerated his role in training or in combat,” said Museum founding president & CEO Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD.

Tipper and Dr. Mueller appeared together at Museum events in California, New Orleans, and North Carolina, at which they discussed Tipper’s training with Easy Company in Georgia and England, his D-Day experience, and the harrowing days that followed. Tipper’s interviews were always unique and hugely popular with audiences.

Born in 1921 and raised in a working-class area of Detroit, Tipper first tried to enlist in the Marine Corps following the attack at Pearl Harbor. When he was refused induction due to an improper overbite, “I felt like punching someone,” he once told a reporter.

Instead, Tipper volunteered for the paratroopers and joined Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, at Camp Toccoa in Georgia.

When Tipper was asked in interviews if there was one good thing he could say about Captain Herbert Sobel, the controversial early commanding officer of Easy Company, Tipper credited the tyrannical officer’s physical training demands, saying they ultimately helped to save his life.

“All (Sobel) could do better than anyone in the company was run, and we hated Sobel so much, we kept on running just to spite him,” Tipper said. “When I was blown up by a shell, I know I would have died before I got to the medics on a ship if it hadn’t been for my physical condition and training.”

Tipper was wounded on June 12, 1944, when he and Easy Company were engaged with the enemy at the town of Carentan. As he finished clearing out a house, a mortar shell exploded near Tipper, destroying his right eye. He also suffered breaks in both legs. Fellow Easy Company members Joseph Liebgott and Harry Welsh were the first to reach Tipper and carried him to a nearby aid station. Tipper was sent to a hospital in England, and later to the United States, where he spent a year in army hospitals before returning to civilian life.

Tipper earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for service, among other honors. In 2011, he received the French Legion of Honor Medal, the highest honor awarded by the French government.

Bart Ruspoli, who portrayed Tipper in Band of Brothers, spoke with Tipper on the phone several times during production, and met him at the 2001 world premiere of the miniseries, staged in Normandy.

“One of the greatest professional honors a person in my line of work can have, whether it be in front of the camera or behind, is to tell the story of someone who made a difference,” said Ruspoli, now a writer, director, and producer for London-based Next Level Films. “Not to just their friends and family, but to everyone, everywhere. Something few people can truly say they have done. Ed Tipper and the men of Easy Company did, and they will not be forgotten.”

After the war, Tipper attended the University of Michigan and received a masters degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He was a high school teacher in Iowa and Colorado for nearly three decades, and received a John Hay Fellowship in 1960 to study English at the University of California, Berkeley. He also traveled widely with his family, which he started late in life. Tipper married for the first time at age 61, and is survived by his beloved wife, Rosie, and daughter, Kerry.

“We didn’t talk about the war,” wrote Kerry Tipper in a Facebook post about her last conversation with her father. “His greatest sense of pride and accomplishment came from being a loving son to his mother. It came from his near 30 years of teaching. From his years traveling the world. And finally from the 34 years he gave to his small but adoring family.

“My dad was generous in every sense of the word. He was open-minded and surprisingly progressive. Never took things at face value. Challenged every assumption, every foregone conclusion. This to me remains one of the most incredible things about him. He was defiant. He refused to accept limitations set by others. And that he did—he spent his life proving others wrong; defying all the odds.”

Edward Tipper and his wife, Rosie, attend the Road to Berlin grand opening in December 2014.

Edward Tipper and his wife, Rosie, attended the Road to Berlin grand opening in December 2014.


SciTech Tuesday: Radio and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Today, TV screens are everywhere. There are several in most American homes, most restaurants and bars have them, they dominate the electronics sections of stores.

During WWII, radio filled that niche in electronics and mass communication. During national elections and other big events or disasters today, we gather around televisions to find out what is happening. During World War II, families gathered around radios. They had their days to hear their favorite programs, as I remember Sunday nights watching nature programs on TV with my family.

The technology underlying the radio and the television are basically the same. Manipulation of an electromagnetic field creates waves in a part of the electromagnetic spectrum at the transmitter. At some distance these waves are turned into an electrical current again by a receiver. In radios the receiver’s current makes a magnet attached to a paper or fabric cone move and generate sound waves. In the original televisions, the current was used in a cathode-ray tube (CRT) to make patterns on a phosphorescent screen. Today’s televisions put a current through a matrix of materials that responds to current by making different colors.

The original radio waves transmitted by Marconi in the 1890s could only travel a couple of miles. Since then, engineers have developed ways to make all sorts of different electromagnetic waves. These made radio better, but also made RADAR possible, and microwaves, and x-ray machines (the first x-rays were made with radioactive material but now they use electronically generated energy).

We are constantly in fields of anthropogenic electromagnetic waves. They come unintentionally from the electricity in the buildings we live in. The come intentionally from all sorts of devices. The many remote controls in a home, the cell phones, wireless phones, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices—all of these use electromagnetic waves to communicate at a distance. (As an aside, land-line phones and cable signals come into your home as electrical currents, but satellite services uses waves).

Much of the consumer technology of the last century has been about finding better and better ways to harness electromagnetic waves. Amplitude modulation (AM) of waves was replaced by Frequency Modulation (FM)—although AM is still used and has its uses. Broadcasters have recently been adding HD signals, which can contain more information in waves. That’s why multiple broadcast “stations” can be received at a single frequency of waves.

World War II was a huge time for the expansion of this engineering. Necessity then for portable radios drove miniaturization and vacuum-tube technology. RADAR development created shorter wavelength generation. Cleaning up radio reception led to the discovery of cosmic background radiation and also led to radio astronomy.

Compared to 75 years ago, the technology we use today to communicate and entertain may seem completely different. But in essence it is still the manipulation of electricity to make electromagnetic waves to be received at a distance.

You can find archived radio news broadcasts from WWII here.

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

Home Front Friday: A Wartime Inauguration Sparks Inspiration

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!

On January 20, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn in for a fourth term, which was cut short on April 12 of the same year due to his decline in health and passing. No president in the history of presidents had been sworn in for a fourth term, or even a third for that matter. It had always been two terms, but in the case of President Roosevelt, the American public did not want to defer from their familiar and trusted leader during a tense time of economic struggles and outbreak of war. Today, January 20, 2017, we are swearing in a new American who will begin their first term as President of the United States. Inauguration ceremonies began with George Washington, and since then have served as the day that an elected official is customarily sworn in and then addresses the American public with a speech laying out their goals and plans for the next four years. If you’re looking to learn more about the history of the induction on this January 20, 2017 inauguration of yet another President, follow this link.

In 1941, President Roosevelt was inaugurated for his third term as President. This was essentially about a whole year before Pearl Harbor was attacked and the formation of a direct U.S. relationship with the war. Floods of people gathered in front of the Capitol ready to listen to how Roosevelt will make his historic third term a four years of working to, “save the Nation and its institutions from disruption from without.” America was a nation of people made up of soon to be enlisted or drafted men and working civilians who banded together in the fight to preserve democracy and end the war on Nazi domination and Japanese expansion in the name of liberty.

FDR delivering his inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

FDR delivering his inaugural address on January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

January 20, 1941. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

The years that followed this 1941 Inauguration Ceremony changed the United States from a neutral nation determined to stay out of the conflict to a united front, apart of a group of Allies, fighting in battle, losing lives, and persevering both on the battlefront and Home Front. Therefore, the somber, very low key and laid-back atmosphere of President Roosevelt’s Inauguration on January 20, 1945 was not a surprise. His heal was declining, and WWII was reaching a close. The Allies were going to emerge victorious, but no attention could be deferred from the war until their boys were home and safe from the constant threat of danger in Europe and the Pacific.

At the Inauguration in 1945, there was a short parade and a cold brunch. President Roosevelt did not host a long parade that traveled through the whole of Washington, D.C. to the White House due to the rationing of gasoline and the Home Front’s dedication to the only purposeful use of the valuable gallons of gasoline. In his 1945 address, Roosevelt stated:

“We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community.

We have learned the simple truth, as Emerson said, that, ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one.'”

Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

FDR delivering his speech on January 20, 1945. Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

These are some pretty iconic words, and definitely a phrase that we can hold us accountable today. It  never hurts to receive a nice reminder or wake up call from either a person of the past, like Roosevelt, or from your own friends that you see every day. Sometimes we need a little reminder that we are in this life together and taking it day by day as one nation, under God. Everyday is different and never easy, but as Roosevelt said, we are members of a human community and its up to us to treat one another with the respect each person deserves. Roosevelt captured the embodiment of the Home Front spirit with that quote; the “we can do it” attitude and unification of so many people for a common cause during WWII. For his full speech, follow this link.

In honor of Roosevelt’s speech, here are 7 ways you can be an even better citizen of the world and be a kind friend to those around you:

1. Hold the door for those behind you. That extra five seconds in  your life you use to wait for someone behind you could make all the positive difference in someone else’s day.

2. Write down three good things that happened to you during the day.

3. Definitely say “please” and “thank you.” Manners go a long way.

4. SMILE! (at everyone, even throw a stranger a soft smile. It may just brighten their day.)

5. Call a friend or family member and tell them that you appreciate them.

6. Learn something new. Whether its a language, recipe, or craft. Go ahead and try it out and see how much you’re capable of. It’ll bring you some joy and could inspire someone else to try something they’ve been wanting to do.

7. Pay it forward. However you may like. Pay a visit to the Pay It Forward site and learn more.

There are so many more than 7 ways to practice gratitude and appreciation for one another, so if you’re looking for other ways, follow this link to a Huffington Post article that’ll have you feeing inspired. 

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

SciTech Tuesday: Sikorsky and the helicopter.

On 14 January 1942 Sikorsky Aircraft successfully flew for the first time the contraption later called the YR-4 (or the Hoverfly in England). This rotary winged craft became the first mass-produced helicopter.

In a test flight it went from the company’s Connecticut headquarters to Wright Air Field in Ohio (over 700 miles) with a ceiling of 12,000 feet and a top speed of 90 mph. Within a year the US Army Air Force and the Royal Navy were testing prototypes. After the engine capacity was increased (to 165 hp) and stability improved by increasing the rotor length and displacement of the tail rotor, the helicopter went to training and field testing.

The first mission in which the YR-4 was used was a combat rescue mission in the China=Burma theater in April of 1943. Throughout the war it was used primarily for rescue missions.

Igor Sikorsky, who designed this craft, was a Russian immigrant born in Ukraine in 1889. His story is one that reflects many from the time, and resonates today. He studied engineering in Paris and Kiev, and established a successful company building aircraft, including bombers for Russian forces in WWI. He briefly worked for the French forces in Russia as an engineer, but believing the October Revolution to threaten both his career and life, he emigrated to the US in 1919. He worked as a school teacher in NY  until he obtained a position on the engineering faculty at the University of Rhode Island in 1933. In 1923, with backing from Russian expats like Rachmaninov, he formed the Sikorsky Manufacturing Company and built the one of the first dual-engined planes in the US. This plane, the S-29, carried 14 passengers and could fly at 115mph. His company was acquired by United Aircraft and Transport Company (today’s United Technologies Corporation) in 1929, and he helped them make the boat-planes that Pan-Am used for its cross-Atlantic routes.

He married in 1924 and became a naturalized citizen in 1928. He lived until 1972. Always a devout Russian Orthodox Christian, he authored 3 books, one about his helicopters, and two about theology.


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

all images from Wikimedia Commons

January Classroom of the Month— Get in the Scrap!

Each month the Museum will feature a standout classroom participating in Get in the Scrap! Get in the Scrap! is a national service learning project about recycling and energy conservation, inspired by the scrapping efforts of students during World War II.  Each class featured has done stellar work to make a difference in their school, home, community and even the planet!

This month, we’re featuring students at Southern Magnolia Montessori School in Abita Springs, Louisiana.  The students and their teacher sat down to answer a few questions for us about their work with Get in the Scrap!

Southern Magnolia Montessori students with their haul from the Get in the Scrap! penny wars activity.  Students raised about $175 and donated to a variety of causes.

Southern Magnolia Montessori students with their haul from the Get in the Scrap! penny wars activity. Students raised about $175 and donated to a variety of causes.

GITS logo finalTeam Name: The We Can Do Its!

Number of Get in the Scrap! points thus far: 25

How has Get in the Scrap! been a good fit for your curriculum? Please explain: 

Get in the Scrap! perfectly echoes our school policies and lessons on caring for the environment. Plus, the students are extremely interested World War II— we have visited the Museum, attended the Air Power Expo, and scheduled two Red Ball Express visits in years past.

What has been your favorite activity? Why?

Penny Wars! They enjoyed the positive, healthy competition for a good cause. They donated to a local orphanage, to a classmate, and to their free enterprise project, Montessori Market. [Blogger’s note: At the school’s Montessori Market, students create and sell handmade goods and learn to budget.]

This is just one of the many amazing classrooms participating in the Get in the Scrap! national service learning project. You can learn more and sign up your classroom today at getinthescrap.org!

Post by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator

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Nominate a Student for the 2017 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award


Know a student doing great things in their school or community? Nominate them for the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award!

Each year as part of its American Spirit Awards, The National WWII Museum honors great Americans across multiple generations for their dedication to education, service and leadership.  This year The National WWII Museum is pleased to announce an important addition to the American Spirit Awards – the inaugural Billy Michal Student Leadership Award – to be given annually to one 8th – 12th grade student from each state and the District of Columbia who demonstrates the American Spirit in his or her community.

The values of leadership, teamwork, tolerance, creativity, and perseverance can and should be learned and lived by all Americans regardless of age. During World War II, when six-year-old Billy Michal from Zimmerman, Louisiana, helped his one-room school win a statewide scrap-metal collection contest, he understood that every citizen—no matter their age—could contribute to our victory in the War.

Billy Michal, 1943

Billy Michal, 1943

Billy’s example, and the actions of millions of other students on the Home Front, reminds us that service to country and community helps create active, engaged citizens. Through the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award, the Museum promotes these values to students nationwide and honors those who exemplify them, giving them an opportunity to be mentored by recipients of the American Spirit Awards, so that they may learn lessons of leadership and success.

The 51 selected student leaders will be flown to New Orleans along with a parent or chaperone, all expenses paid, to attend the 2017 American Spirit Awards event from June 8 – 10, 2017, where they will represent their state at the prestigious American Spirit Awards. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in leadership activities including a Q&A session with the American Spirit Awards recipients, explore New Orleans and the Museum, through spectacular behind-the-scenes experiences.

Applications for student nominees for the inaugural Billy Michal Student Leadership Award are now open.  Nominees should have a strong record of volunteerism, school and/or community activism, or implementing creative solutions to recognized problems. Nominations can be submitted by teachers, coaches, clergy, or other community leaders.  Nominations must be received no later than March 3, 2017. * Deadline extended


Help us select the recipients of the 2017 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award!  Nominate a Student!


This post by Collin Makamson, Student Programs Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum

Home Front Friday: For Auld Lang Syne

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!

A few days ago we watched the infamous NYC ball drop in honor of welcoming 2017. Masses of people have been gathering in Times Square to celebrate the New Year since 1904, but it was not until 1907 that the first New Year’s Eve Ball descended the pole. Flash forward 35 years to December 31, 1942, and the U.S. was in a state very different from 1907. We were finishing up a full year of involvement with WWII, and still in the process of sending more troops to Europe and the vast Pacific. The celebration of New Years varied on the Home Front depending on the year and morale of people. Here’s how our fellow Americans gathered in Times Square to ring in a fresh start for the years of 1942, 1943, and 1944.

New Year’s Eve on  December 31, 1941 was celebrated like there was no WWII in honor of welcoming 1942. 

New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square on December 31, 1941. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square on December 31, 1941. Photo courtesy of the New York Times.

The New Year’s Eve Ball dropped, and people cheered grander and happier than ever before. Masses of people celebrated as if Pearl Harbor had not been attacked and as if the U.S. was not in a state of war. The partying in Times Square was energetic and a complete escape from the unfortunate reality that awaited so many of the men in uniform: they were headed overseas. The signs of a wartime America were evident in Times Square because of the thousands of police officers and fire trucks lined up and stood by in case of an emergency, but the spirits of the American Home Front honored 1941 and welcomed 1942 with bright lights, noise makers, and a unified singing of the Star Spangled Banner once the NYE Ball reached the end of the pole. U.S. involvement with WWII had just begun, but the Home Front already stood strong with their troops.

Write-up in the New York Times of the NYE celebration to greet 1942.

Write-up in the New York Times of the NYE celebration that greeted 1942.

Photo courtesy of LIFE magazine.

Celebrating 1942. Photo courtesy of LIFE magazine.

New Year’s Eve on December 31, 1942 gave a more somber welcome to 1943.

An article in the New York Times published on January 1, 1943. Courtesy of the New York Times.

An article in the New York Times published on January 1, 1943. Courtesy of the New York Times.

Jump ahead one year, and the times had significantly changed. The U.S. had been involved with the battles of WWII for a full year now, and the sentiment of loss and longing for loved ones was felt in the atmosphere of all who gathered in Times Square on December 31, 1942. Every year since 1907, the New Year’s Eve Ball dropped, but on the eve of 1943, there would be no Ball to descend the infamous pole that sits on top of the Times Square buildings. The efforts on the Home Front of the past year were focused on how to save and reuse. As a way to conserve energy and fuel, as well as practice for a possible, and terrifying, attack by the German Luftwaffe, black out drills were held, especially along the East Coast because not only was an air raid imaginable, but also the bright lights from cities created silhouettes of ships in the water which made them easy targets for the lurking German U-Boats. It was because of these black out drills that New Year’s Eve in Times Square 1942 neither had the Ball drop nor the infamous billboard lights because they wanted to cut back on energy costs as well as stay under the radar from the evident possibility of an attack.

New Year’s Eve on December 31, 1943 experienced a happier celebration in honor of 1944 despite wartime limitations. 

A photo of the crowds in Times Square on December 31, 1943 published in the New York Times.

A photo of the crowds in Times Square on December 31, 1943 published in the New York Times.

A gathering to welcome 1944 then came along another year later and thousands celebrated with a more joyous spirit. People had a greater faith that the end to WWII was somewhat slowly getting closer, but they still had many tough fights ahead. Times Square was packed, and Churches filled up throughout the night and into the next day in honor of President Roosevelt’s declaration that January 1, 1944 was a day of prayer. Reflections of civilians who lived on the Home Front may not have been the happiest because of their strong desire to have family and friends back home, but at least they were a unified mass of people, working together and thankful that they were alive to put in another productive year. Although this was another year where the NYE Ball did not drop, men in uniform, women in their finest dresses, and anyone in between still gathered in New York City to celebrate with one another. The lyrics of Auld Lang Syne reminded people that it may have been long since they had seen family and friends, but that they could raise their cups or glasses in their honor and dedicate their toast to health and safety of those loved ones far away. The same rings true for today as people raise their “cups o’ kindness” in honor of those stationed around the world. In place of the Ball drop, a moment of silence was held when the clock struck twelve and chimes were played from sound trucks parked around Times Square.

A snippet from New York Times article published on January 1, 1944.

A snippet from New York Times article published on January 1, 1944.

There was no NYE Ball drop on December 31, 1943 to welcome 1944.

There was no NYE Ball drop on December 31, 1943 to welcome 1944.












All of these celebrations from eve of 1942 to the eve of 1944 are prime examples of the Home Front spirit during WWII. They may not have had lights or fireworks, and many probably were missing family members and close friends, but despite all of these setbacks, Americans found a way to cherish the clean slate of a new year, and continued to hope that that would be the year the war ended. During the parties and celebrations to welcome the New Year, many people had noise makers and party horns of some sort. Many of us still use these toys today to make as much noise as possible and cheer in a new 365 days. Although the day of celebration has passed, it’s always interesting, fun, sometimes successful other times a struggle, to make your own party supplies. The following instructions will teach you how to make your own party horns. The best part is you can use paper scraps to create the tube of the horn. This will get you in the spirit of scrapping, just as our friends on the Home Front.


  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Straw
  • Tape
  • Colored Pencils, Crayons, or any sort of decoration


Step 1: Cut your paper into a strip that is 2×9 and then color it with a design of your choice.


Step 2: Fold the sides of the paper so that they meet in the middle and tape the strip of paper closed.


Step 3: Fold one of the ends of the tube of paper closed and tape it shut.


Step 4: Roll the paper from the end taped closed until it meets the other end.


Step 5: Place a rubber band around it while you move onto preparing the straw.

Step 6: Take out your straw and place a piece of double sided tape around the end that you will put into the open end of the tube of paper.

Step 7: Insert the taped end of the straw into the tube.

Step 8: Fold sides of the tube over the straw and tape them shut so that no air can exit the tube.


Step 9: Celebrate!


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

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Brings “First Lady Of Song” to Museum

The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation visited the Museum for a tour on Wednesday and graciously donated priceless artifacts from Ella’s archives to our collection— items including sheet music, concert programs, and music albums. For example, pictured below is a piece of sheet music from Ella’s collection for the popular wartime song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” (an audience favorite for the Victory Belles in their recent “Songs that Won the War” revue). The Foundation made an additional contribution that will help fund school Title 1 field trips to the Museum.

Ella Fitzgerald performance program in WWII

WWII-era sheet music donated in memory of Miss Ella Fitzgerald from the Estate of Ella Fitzgerald.

While on campus, the group visited an item related to Fitzgerald, “First Lady of Song,” displayed in BB’s Stage Door Canteen, the Museum’s tribute to wartime USO entertainment venues. Pictured at the M-1 helmet liner, worn by Fitzgerald at a USO camp show, are (left to right), Richard Rosman, Fran Morris Rosman, Randal Rosman, and Irene Romero.

Ella Fitzgeral M-1 helmet worn at WWII USO camp show on display at National WWII Museum

Pictured at the M-1 helmet liner, worn by Fitzgerald at a USO camp show, are (left to right), Richard Rosman, Fran Morris Rosman, Randal Rosman, and Irene Romero.


Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is featured prominently on the 1940s musical soundtrack heard throughout the Museum, as befits one of the superstars of the era and an all-time music great. As Bing Crosby— a pretty good singer himself— once said: “Man, woman or child, Ella is the greatest of them all.”

M1 helmet worn in WWII by Ella Fitzgerald

M-1helmet worn by Ella Fitzgerald on display in BB’s Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum.

Founded by the singer in 1993, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation is dedicated “to use the fruits of her success to help people of all races, cultures and beliefs,” according to the foundation’s website. “Ella hoped to make their lives more rewarding, and she wanted to foster a love of reading, as well as a love of music. In addition, she hoped to provide assistance to the at-risk and disadvantaged members of our communities—assistance that would enable them to achieve a better quality of life.”

Ella Fitzgerald portrait

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