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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?

A powerful bronze statue outside the National WWII Museum
The main entry hall

The Museum

The Exhibits

A Dakota hanging from the ceiling in the main entry hall

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. 

World War II armaments
The Nation goes to War
The US forces were greatly outnumbered
Uniforms of German and US soldiers
A display of German uniforms and weapons

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.

African Americans signed up to fight despite the way they were treated at home

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.

Scene from The War in Europe display
The War in Asia display
Scenes from the War in Asia displays

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.

Mustang PII - The Boeing Gallery
Vought F4U Corsair
SBD-3 Dauntless Dive Bomber
Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress
North American B-25 Mitchell

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