Exploring NOLA: Honor America’s heroes at the National WWII Museum

Make the most of your McKesson ideaShare experience by setting a plan to discover what makes New Orleans such a unique, vibrant city. This is the third part of a series on iconic New Orleans landmarks that we consider must-visit locations.

Ranked as the top tourist destination in the city and the second-best in the entire United States, the National WWII Museum offers a truly immersive experience that takes visitors on a journey through the events of World War II. From the industrial efforts on the home front to the combat experiences of American servicemembers abroad, the museum provides a compelling blend of sweeping narratives and poignant personal details that bring the war to life.

The museum is divided into several pavilions, each offering a unique perspective on the war. The Campaigns of Courage exhibits focus on the European and Pacific theaters, taking visitors along the ‘Road to Berlin’ and the ‘Road to Tokyo.’ In the Road to Berlin exhibit, you can explore a recreation of the Tunisian desert, complete with sand, gravel, and an actual 1943 jeep. The wintry Ardennes forest sets the stage for the Battle of the Bulge, followed by exhibits showcasing the bombed-out cityscapes of Cologne and Hamburg during the final push into Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, the Road to Tokyo exhibit features a shark-faced P-40 Warhawk aircraft, a recreated bridge of the USS Enterprise, and a jungle setting that evokes the battlefields of Guadalcanal.

The Arsenal of Democracy section of the museum explores the war beyond the battlefields. ‘Gathering Storm’ delves into the geopolitical tensions that preceded the war, while ‘A House Divided’ explores the deep domestic divisions that split Americans between isolationists and interventionists. Exhibits also highlight the massive mobilization of resources required to fight a war on two fronts and the racial tensions on the American homefront. The museum sheds light on the segregation within the American military and the internment of Japanese American civilians during this time.

Originally known as the National D-Day Museum, the National WWII Museum pays homage to the historic D-Day landings that marked the beginning of the liberation of France. Visitors can explore artifacts from the Nazi ‘Atlantic Wall’, touch sand from the landing beaches, and discover smaller artifacts sourced from Normandy and its surroundings. The museum’s origins are closely tied to New Orleans native Andrew Jackson Higgins, a boatbuilder who played a crucial role in designing and producing the iconic Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCPV) used during the D-Day landings.

Visitors to the National WWII Museum often begin their experience by watching the 45-minute movie, Beyond All Boundaries. Narrated by Tom Hanks, this immersive film takes you on a sensory-rich journey through the war, complete with falling snow and seats that shudder under explosions. Another interactive exhibit, Final Mission, recreates the final mission of the USS Tang submarine, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the intense world of underwater warfare.

The museum is not just a collection of artifacts and exhibits; it offers unique opportunities to engage with history. Visitors can take a tour and ride on an authentically restored PT-boat, go behind the scenes to handle artifacts alongside museum curators, and explore an impressive collection of restored and working macro-artifacts.

As independent pharmacists attending McKesson ideaShare, take the time to visit the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. It offers a profound and educational experience that will deepen your understanding of World War II and its impact on the world. From the major campaigns to the stories of individuals who lived through the war, the museum provides an opportunity to connect with history and honor the sacrifices made during this pivotal time in human history.

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