For the past two weeks, the junior classes have been learning about World War II in American History. Last Tuesday, they took a field trip to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to experience up close what they had been learning in class.
Established in 2000, the National World War II Museum was recognized as “America’s Official National World War II Museum” in 2003 by the U.S. Congress. New Orleans was chosen as the site for the museum due to its vital role in the invasion of Normandy. The Higgins boat was created and produced in New Orleans, and these boats brought the soldiers ashore to invade the beach at Normandy. The second reason is that leading World War II historian Stephen Ambrose, living in New Orleans at the time, was the one who began work on a National World War II museum and thought it should be constructed in the Big Easy.
Though it initially was called the National D-Day Museum, dedicated mostly to the invasion of Normandy and the Pacific Theater of World War II, the museum was later expanded to cover the entirety of the war and was renamed the National World War II Museum. Exhibits showcase personal accounts of the war, items donated from soldiers to the museum, videos and propaganda from both sides of the fight, and general information and facts. The newly-constructed Freedom Pavilion contains a B-17E Flying Fortress bomber, B-25J Mitchell bomber, SBD-3 Dauntless, TBF Avenger, P-51D Mustang, Corsair F4U-4, and an interactive submarine experience based on the final mission of the USS Tang.
One of the most interesting exhibits is a 4-D film called “Beyond All Boundaries.” Narrated by Tom Hanks, the film melds a traditional movie playing on the screen with objects that move around the stage to add a cool visual effect to the production. The movie offers a blend of factual information and emotional recounts from the perspectives of soldiers. The footage is mostly recreated rather than archival, and it immerses the audience with effects like smoke, flakes of snow, and even a pop-up guard tower during the concentration camp segment.
Junior Kenny Ross said, “The ‘Beyond All Boundaries’ film was probably my favorite part of the trip. It really made me proud of our country and also showed how hard it was to be a man in that time. The film is a great complement to everything at the museum, so visitors should certainly make time to watch it during their visit.”
Overall, the class felt the trip was a great opportunity to accent upon what they had been learning regarding the heroics, tragedies, and the lives of those who lived through World War II.