A world-class museum focused on the stories and heroics of a bitter global war
We are approaching a time when only a few people who served in World War II and even those who were children at the time are elderly. So, with this generation leaving us what is the context of a museum dedicated to this war. Well, as with all history there are hopefully lessons we can learn from past mistakes and successes. Sadly, looking at what is happening in the world today humanity seems to forget all too easy its part errors.
Anyway, what took me to the World-War II museum is my love of history. When I was at school in the UK I spent many months studying the wars of the 20th Century – particularly World War I and II. So, I was curious as to how this museum would deal with this subject – would it be just a celebration of the contribution of the United States?
Once you have bought your entry ticket you are given a dog tag and boarded upon a train carriage. The carriage doesn’t move, just made to feel too, and there is a short movie that runs on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you that introduces you to the museum. Here you are introduced to the person whose journey you follow throughout the museum using the dog tag (there are several stations to explore his or her story en route).
The museum is made up of a complex of buildings. The first building is dedicated to the build-up to the war, the mobilization inside the US and the D-Day landings.
There was one display that really caught my eye it covered the role of minorities who bravely fought in the US forces, despite being treated as second class citizens at home and the shocking internment of Japanese Americans in concentration camps.
To access the rest of the halls you have to cross the street via a sky bridge. There are two major exhibitions covering the war in the Pacific and the war in Europe. These galleries are extremely well done with a focus on multimedia displays and tableaux of scenes from each theatre of war. I loved it. I especially loved the journey through the war in the Pacific. When I studied World-War II in school, in the UK, it obviously had a strong focus on Europe so I hadn’t learned a lot about Pacific theatre – I have read books and seen films but this exhibition really helped me understand how the war developed in this region leading the devastating nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Well, that was all very intense. Moving on from these two major exhibits I went to check out the gallery sponsored by Boeing, which is of course focused primarily on aircraft (there is oddly a submarine exhibit here too). This galley is used for functions, indeed it was being set up for one when I toured, so most of the exhibits are suspended in the air above. Quite fitting for a display of aircraft! Anyway, you are not restricted to viewing these classic flying machines looking towards the sky – there are two levels of walkways (those suffering from vertigo beware) that take you in and above the planes.
Planning your visit to the World War II Museum
Getting around New Orleans
The best ways to get around New Orleans are on foot and by public transportation. The city’s neighbourhoods are very compact, making them perfect for strolling sightseers. If you don’t feel like walking, hop on one of the famous streetcars. Another option is cycling. Since New Orleans is flat, it’s easy to get around by bike. You can rent a bike from several companies. To get into the city from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) – located about 15 miles west of downtown New Orleans – you can take the Airport Shuttle for $24 per person one-way or $44 per person round-trip. The shuttle services the downtown and uptown districts as well as the French Quarter. Taxis are also available, but you can expect to pay $36 to get from the airport into the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Uber and Lyft are also widely available.
Streetcars, run by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, have been a staple attraction ever since Tennessee Williams’ play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and they are a fun way to navigate the city. While many of them were replaced by less romantic buses, they have since made a comeback and are once again running in central New Orleans. The bus – although less charming than the streetcar – features more extensive routes. Operating hours for both streetcars and the buses vary by line. Consult the RTA website for more information. Nearly all of the city’s top attractions, such as the Garden District, City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art, can be reached via streetcar or bus.
For more information about the public transport options check out the Regional Transport Authority website: https://www.norta.com/
Best time to visit New Orleans
The best time to visit New Orleans is from February to May when the weather is comfortably cool and the celebrations are in full swing. If you’re not interested in Mardi Gras mania, plan to visit in December or January, when the city is calm and you don’t have to worry about making hotel reservations a year in advance.
Vegan dining in New Orleans
1. SWEET SOULFOOD
Sweet Soulfood, has a modest storefront, so you could easily miss it. Like the exterior, the inside is modestly decorated, definitely more cafeteria than home comfort, with plain wooden tables and not too comfortable chairs. I went there at the end of the day, so it was very quiet, but I understand it is often packed with people.
The food is buffet style, with a dozen or so options from entrees to veggie sides. The good thing is that this place is 100% vegan so you don’t have to think a lot about what you choose. You pay by the number of dishes you choose to have on your plate – I was definitely feeling peckish so I ended up with four different selections including an eggplant lasagne, a curry and a couple of veggie sides – including some delicious portabello mushrooms in gravy. The menu changes daily.
3. VEGAN WIT’ A TWIST
Three barbers decided to try their hands at running a vegan restaurant and the result was Vegan Wit’ A Twist.
This is fast food. Vegan With a Twist takes your favorite comfort foods and transforms them into delicious vegan dishes. Cauliflower tacos and wings, “hot sausage” burgers, wraps and more can be found at Vegan With a Twist. Just along St. Bernard Avenue, this is the perfect pre or post Jazz Fest spot to indulge in without the added guilt.
Where to stay in New Orleans
1. INN AT THE OLD JAIL
Lock yourself up at the Inn at the Old Jail for a unique vacation getaway. Originally built as a New Orleans police jail and patrol station in 1902, the striking Queen Anne-style Inn combines historic preservation with modern amenities.
Wanting to pay homage to the NOPD, the innkeepers restored the rooms and public spaces to salute the city’s brave men and women in blue. Its nine bedrooms are rich with architectural details and antiques, including original police memorabilia. Even the Inn’s Yvonne Bechet Library is named after the highest-ranking female officer in NOPD history, who served at the Old Jail stationhouse for 22 years.
If you’re curious about history, it’s the perfect place for you, but don’t forget to also enjoy the wonderful city of New Orleans. Stop by the Uptown New Orleans Historic District, drink your way through Bourbon Street or visit the infamous French Quarter.
2. OLIVER HOUSE HOTEL
3. LA BELLE ESPLANADE
The most interesting place to stay in America’s most interesting city. Visit New Orleans like you belong here. Located in a picturesque neighborhood that is close to everything but off the usual tourist radar, La Belle Esplanade will surprise and delight with it’s quirky authentic details, locally sourced breakfasts, and lively intelligent conversation. You have at least two friends in New Orleans.