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National WWII Museum Commemorates ‘Beginning Of The End’ Of Costliest War



The National WWII Museum

World War II cost $4 trillion in today’s adjusted dollars; defense spending made up about 40 percent of the US GDP in 1945; and more than 418,500 American military and civilian lives were lost.

But on June 6, 1944, 156,000 allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, with 6,000 ships and landing craft, 50,000 vehicles and 11,500 planes. This D-Day invasion marked the beginning of the end of the costliest war in global history.

The National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine St., voted the third best museum in the US and the eighth best in the world by TripAdvisor, will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day from Monday, June 3, through Saturday, June 8.

Originally dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum, The National WWII Museum, with its six-acre footprint and five soaring pavilions, continues to celebrate the American spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front in WWII including the men and women of Higgins Industries in New Orleans.

The Museum’s D-Day 75th anniversary events include:

  

• “Everything We Have: D-Day 6.6.44”

The National WWII Museum’s founding president and CEO Emeritus Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller wrote this commemorative book for the 75th anniversary of D-Day and released it in March. It tells the American story of the Normandy landings through personal accounts, images and artifacts from the collections of The National WWII Museum and features excerpts of more than three dozen Museum oral histories from American servicemembers, including Leonard Lomell, who was among the first to scale the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc with the 2nd Ranger Battalion, and Richard Winters, who dropped into the invasion zone with Easy Company.

“The book is a perfect complement to a stunning cluster of Museum galleries paying tribute to the military genius and personal sacrifices of those who prevailed in World War II,” wrote news veteran and “The Greatest Generation” author Tom Brokaw in his forward. “Every soldier, sailor, civilian – whatever their rank or job – experienced the horrors, the heroics, the sacrifices of D-Day. A thousand years from now, historians will look back in wonder on what was accomplished by ordinary citizens.”


“Everything We Have: D-Day 6.6.44” offers rare insight into the experiences of the soldiers, airmen and sailors who overwhelmed Hitler’s forces on D-Day and beyond. CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

• In Memory Of What I Cannot Say: The Art Of Guy De Montlaur  

This special exhibit that opened in March is dedicated to the life and work of French Commando and fine-art painter Guy de Montlaur (portrayed in “The Longest Day,” a screening of which will cap the Museum’s on-site D-Day commemoration activities), who fought Nazis on several battlegrounds, surviving hand-to-hand combat as a member of the French army at the onset of World War II and then the perils of Sword Beach with the Free French Commandos on June 6, 1944.

“The Museum is proud to present this special exhibit, which examines Guy de Montlaur’s journey into and beyond the war,” said curator Larry Decuers. “We’re telling his epic story through interpretive text panels, profiles of men who served with him, archival photography, artifacts from his time in the service and, of course, more than two dozen of his vivid abstract paintings and sketches.”

The exhibit is on display through Sunday, Oct. 20, in The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery, on the second level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion.


Guy De Montlaur – “Self-Portrait With No Indulgence”  CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

• World Premiere of “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière” 

This new documentary film, produced by The National WWII Museum and Louisiana Public Broadcasting, is about the battle for the bridge at La Fière and draws on historic and contemporary images and footage of the battle scene, as well as eyewitness accounts by WWII veterans including John Marr, who fought there with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Mark Harmon (“NCIS,” “The West Wing,” “Chicago Hope”) serves as narrator.

The mortal ferocity of this four-day battle for control of this small stone bridge over the Merderet River at La Fière in Normandy is testament to the bridge’s strategic importance in the D-Day invasion. Without control of the bridge and its vital causeway, American forces coming from Utah Beach would not have been able to force their way inland.

Fought largely by paratroopers and glidermen from the 82nd Airborne Division, the battle to secure the bridge at La Fière is described as “probably the bloodiest small unit struggle in the experience of American arms.” Victory at La Fière cost more than 250 American lives, and yet the fateful engagement’s story is largely untold.

“Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière” will make its worldwide premiere in the Solomon Victory Theater.

A filmmaker Q&A will follow the screening.


CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

• Turner Classic Movies Partnership

Through a partnership with Turner Classic Movies, a prime time series dedicated to WWII films will feature National WWII Museum historians filmed on The National WWII Museum campus.

The series will air throughout May and June.

 

• D-Day Electronic Field Trip

Presented by The Cain Foundation in honor of the men of the 30th Infantry Division and all WWII veterans, this national Electronic Field Trip takes students on a live interactive journey into the Normandy invasion (which begins its transatlantic adventure at the Higgins Industries LCVP landing craft in the Museum’s Louisiana Memorial Pavilion).

Guided by student reporters from the US, England, Canada and France, this journey will provide insights into the greatest amphibious invasion in history in only one hour. 

Students will discover the lessons and legacies of Operation Overlord as they explore the coast of southern England, the iconic invasion sites in Normandy, France, and participate in a special remembrance at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.

The Electronic Field Trip will be screened on Ovee and moderated by Museum educators, historians and the student reporters featured in the Electronic Field Trip. 

The screening will feature an interactive chat with subject-matter experts and polling.

 

• “D-Day: The Allied Invasion Of Normandy” and “Stories Of The Pacific” Online Courses With Arizona State University

“D-Day: The Allied Invasion of Normandy” is a four-week online course and an in-depth exploration of D-Day near its 75th anniversary. 

Facilitated by the Museum’s Distance Learning Manager Chrissy Gregg, participants will examine important artifacts, oral histories and archival footage from the largest amphibious invasion in history. The course will feature interviews and commentary from Museum historians, curators, and educators, Arizona State University faculty and a few special guests including notable authors and fellow museum officials.

Weekly discussion topics will include: 

Week 1 – Planning and preparation in England

Week 2 – The Atlantic Wall and the decision to go

Week 3 – Airborne, amphibious and ground operations on June 6, 1944

Week 4 – The Normandy campaign and memory and remembrance 75 years later

The course started on Monday, May 13.

“Stories of the Pacific” is a four-week online course that explores the Allied campaign across the Pacific during World War II using oral histories and the Museum’s extensive collection of artifacts. Participants will learn how the war in the Pacific began, how it was fought and won, and how the combatants and civilians of Japan, the United States and other combatant nations understood the war at the time. 

Co-taught by the museum’s Senior Historian Robert Citino, PhD, and Senior Director of Research and History Keith Huxen, PhD, and featuring guest lectures from ASU faculty, each week will touch on a new aspect of the conflict.

Weekly discussion topics will include:

Week 1 – Japanese expansion and the start of the war in the Pacific

Week 2 – Battle of Midway

Week 3 – Guadalcanal campaign

Week 4 – Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the downfall of the Japanese empire

The start date will be Wednesday, August 7.

While no reading is required, course participants will also receive exclusive access to a curated list of relevant books and articles as well as an online discussion board where they can interact with the instructors and fellow enrollees.

 

• “Bayou to Battlefield: Higgins Industries During World War II”

This new permanent exhibit celebrates Higgins Industries and its charismatic leader, Andrew Jackson Higgins, who created the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) that was essential to the success of the Normandy invasion on D-Day as well as all other major amphibious landings of the war.

Higgins, a Louisiana-based lumber importer and exporter, established a small boatbuilding business in the early 1930s called Higgins Industries. His goal was to design a boat for use in the oil and timber business that could carry heavy loads in the shallow, obstacle-ridden swamps of coastal Louisiana. His first boat, dubbed the Eureka, made Higgins a successful businessman and set the stage for him to take on the US Navy and large East Coast shipbuilders, and change history.

Adapting the Eureka into the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), Higgins changed how amphibious warfare was fought by enabling the landing of troops and supplies over an open beach. Higgins and his loyal workforce expand his operation from 75 workers and one factory to more than 20,000 workers and seven factories in a few short years. 

Wartime production by Higgins Industries numbered tens of thousands of combat watercraft, including PT boats, supply ships and lifeboats, as well as radios, aircraft wing panels and precision parts for the Manhattan Project. Higgins Industries products and production levels were a key component to Allied victory in World War II.

On display in The National WWII Museum’s Louisiana Memorial Pavilion next to its own LCVP, or “Higgins boat,” the exhibit is made possible due to a gift by Beverly and Lester Wainer in honor of Lester Wainer’s WWII service in the US Navy, Pacific theater, aboard the USS Clay (APA-39).


CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

• Educational Travel Programs

Aboard the Seabourn “Ovation,” from Wednesday, May 29 – Friday, June 7, or aboard the Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ “Seven Seas Navigator,” from Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 8, nearly 1,000 guests will embark on an “Iconic Journey of Remembrance,” following the path of Germany’s conquest of western Europe and the Allied efforts to wrest control back from the Nazis in a path of liberation. 

The tour culminates with the successful landings at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the campaign that followed.

 

COMMEMORATION EVENTS AT THE MUSEUM

Unless noted, events are free and open to the public. 

  

Monday, June 3

• The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit Guided Tours

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit

The National D-Day Museum’s original exhibit, located on the third level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, details the comprehensive preparations that preceded the June 6, 1944, invasion and the challenges the Allies faced on the Normandy beaches and beyond. 

Docent-led tours will take place throughout the day.

 

Tuesday, June 4 

• The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit Guided Tours

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit  

The National D-Day Museum’s original exhibit, located on the third level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, details the comprehensive preparations that preceded the June 6, 1944, invasion and the challenges the Allies faced on the Normandy beaches and beyond. 

Docent-led tours will take place throughout the day.

 

• Sneak Peek Screening of “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day”

5:00 p.m. Happy Hour | 6:00 p.m. Screening | 7:00 p.m. Filmmaker Q&A

Solomon Victory Theater

The documentary “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day,” by filmmaker Charlotte Juergens, follows a group of WWII veterans returning to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The men were members of the 29th Infantry Division and served with Juergens’s late great-grandfather, Sergeant Parker Davie Hanna, Jr. 

A personal “exploration of memory, trauma and the human impulse to commemorate,” according to the film’s website, “Sunken Roads” aims to examine “the meaning of D-Day as both an historic event and a personal nightmare, and to contemplate its significance 75 years later.” 

Juergens will attend the screening and participate in a Q&A at its conclusion.

 

Wednesday, June 5

• The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit Guided Tours

9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit

The National D-Day Museum’s original exhibit, located on the third level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, details the comprehensive preparations that preceded the June 6, 1944, invasion and the challenges the Allies faced on the Normandy beaches and beyond. 

Docent-led tours will take place throughout the day.

 

• World Premiere of “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière”

6:00 p.m. Reception | 7:00 p.m. Screening | 8:00 p.m. Panel Presentation

Solomon Victory Theater

(By invitation only)

  

Thursday, June 6

• H-Hour Ceremony

6:30 a.m. – 7:15 a.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

At this ceremony to commemorate D-Day at the time the invasion began in 1944, a presentation will include a reading of General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Order of the Day message to troops, delivered on the eve of the invasion; and a D-Day overview by Keith Huxen, senior director of Research and History for the Museum’s Institute for the Study of War and Democracy. 

The presentation will be followed by a moment of silence, a prayer and the screening of a video montage.

 

• H-Hour Ceremony Continental Breakfast

7:15 a.m. – 7:45 a.m.

BB’s Stage Door Canteen

Complimentary refreshments for H-Hour Ceremony participants.

 

• Film Screenings: “Beyond All Boundaries”

8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.

Solomon Victory Theater

To accommodate early morning Museum visitors, there will be two additional screenings of the Museum’s 4D experience “Beyond All Boundaries” on June 6. (Tickets are $7 with Museum Campus Pass.)

 

• Lecture: Kevin Farrell presents “D-Day’s Leadership Lessons”

8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Colonel Kevin W. Farrell, PhD, spent more than 30 years in uniform and commanded at the platoon, company and battalion levels. A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point—and former tenured professor and chief of military history at the institution—Colonel Farrell is a recognized authority on military history and leadership.

 

• US Marine Corps Forces Reserve Band Performance

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center 

A concert of patriotic anthems.

 

• Meet the Author: Linda Hervieux

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion 

Author Linda Hervieux will speak about her book “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and at War.”

A book signing in the Museum Store will immediately follow the presentation.

 

• Dr. Hal Baumgarten D-Day Commemoration Ceremony

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Presented in memory of D-Day veteran and Museum friend Dr. Harold “Hal” Baumgarten, who fought ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day with the 29th Infantry Division, this commemoration ceremony will mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with a solemn remembrance of the events of June 6, 1944, and all the servicemembers and Home Front workers who sacrificed for our freedom. 

The ceremony will conclude with a moment of silence. 

The Dr. Hal Baumgarten D-Day Commemoration Endowment, made possible by the gift of Karen and Leopold Sher, ensures that Dr. Baumgarten’s legacy will live on in perpetuity and help the Museum fulfill its mission to educate future generations about the events of World War II and its lasting impact.

 

• Museum Birthday Celebration

11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Patriotic-themed cupcakes will be served in celebration of the Museum’s 19th birthday.

 

• Heroes Welcome for WWII Veterans

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center and BB’s Stage Door Canteen

Museum staff, volunteers and guests will welcome the arrival of WWII veterans attending the day’s commemoration ceremonies.

 

• The 75th anniversary of D-Day Electronic Field Trip

11:30 a.m. (repeats at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.)

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

There will be a replay of the museum’s “The 75th anniversary of D-Day Electronic Field Trip.” 

 

• Panel Discussion: D-Day Veterans

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

D-Day veterans discuss their memories of June 6, 1944, in conversation with Museum oral historians.

 

• The Victory Belles

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

The museum’s vocal trio performs a concert of patriotic songs.

 

• Gallery Talk: Larry Decuers presents “Guy de Montlaur’s D-Day”

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery 

Larry Decuers, Curator of the special exhibit “In Memory of What I Cannot Say: The Art of Guy de Montlaur,” will speak about the D-Day actions of French Commando and fine-art painter Guy de Montlaur. Montlaur, who suffered multiple wounds in combat that he carried for the rest of his life, channeled his wartime experiences into art, creating vivid abstract paintings until his death at age 58 in 1977. 

 

• Panel Discussion: Depictions of D-Day

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

A panel of WWII veteran family members and scholars will discuss the many experiences of those who fought on D-Day, and how memories of that day affected them in later life.

 

• The Victory Swing Orchestra

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

BB’s Stage Door Canteen

The Museum’s big band will perform a concert of WWII-era favorites. 

This concert is free and open to the public, but attendees must register to attend.

 

• Film Screening: “The Longest Day”

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

There will be a free screening of the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” which explores the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. 

Georges Rivière portrays Guy de Montlaur—the subject of the Museum’s current special exhibit—in this Hollywood epic, based on Cornelius Ryan’s book of the same title. 

The screening will cap the Museum’s 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorative events. 

This screening is free and open to the public, but attendees must register to attend.

 

ALL-DAY ACTIVITIES  

• Living History Corps

Founders Plaza

WWII reenactors will interact with Museum visitors throughout the day.

 

• Hands-on History

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Explore the uniforms and equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day. Visitors can try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs and other personal equipment.

 

• Higgins Boat Tours

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Board the Higgins Boat with USS Alabama living history reenactors to learn about the New Orleans-built craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.

 

• “What Does D-Day Mean to You?”

L.W. “Pete” Kent Train Car Experience

Record and share your thoughts about the 75th anniversary of D-Day—the bravery of the troops, the awesome challenges they faced and the legacy of that day all these years later. 

Select comments will be shared with the Museum’s online followers.

 

• Oral History Showcase

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Museum oral histories of D-Day veterans will air continuously throughout the day.

 

Friday, June 7

• Film Screening: “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière”

5:00 p.m. Happy Hour at The American Sector Restaurant & Bar | 6:00 p.m. Screening

Solomon Victory Theater

This screening is free and open to the public, but attendees must register to attend.

 

ALL-DAY ACTIVITIES  

• The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit Guided Tours

The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit

The National D-Day Museum’s original exhibit, located on the third level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, details the comprehensive preparations that preceded the June 6, 1944, invasion and the challenges the Allies faced on the Normandy beaches and beyond. 

Docent-led tours will take place throughout the day.

 

• Living History Corps

Founders Plaza

WWII reenactors will interact with Museum visitors throughout the day. 

 

• Hands-on History

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Explore the uniforms and equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day. 

Visitors can try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs, and other personal equipment.

 

• Higgins Boat Tours

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion and John E. Kushner Restoration Pavilion

Board the Higgins Boat with USS Alabama living history reenactors to learn about the New Orleans-built craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.

 

• “What Does D-Day Mean to You?”

L.W. “Pete” Kent Train Car Experience

Record and share your thoughts about the 75th anniversary of D-Day—the bravery of the troops, the awesome challenges they faced and the legacy of that day all these years later. 

Select comments will be shared with the Museum’s online followers.

 

Saturday, June 8 

• Knit Your Bit Knit-In

12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center

Bring your knitting needles and celebrate World Wide Knit in Public Day with a knit-in at the Museum.

Free scarves will be distributed to active-duty servicemembers and veterans, while supplies last.

 

ALL-DAY ACTIVITIES

• The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit Guided Tours

The D-Day Invasion of Normandy Exhibit

The National D-Day Museum’s original exhibit, located on the third level of Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, details the comprehensive preparations that preceded the June 6, 1944, invasion and the challenges the Allies faced on the Normandy beaches and beyond. 

Docent-led tours will take place throughout the day.

 

• Living History Corps

Founders Plaza

WWII reenactors will interact with Museum visitors throughout the day.

 

• Hands-on History

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Explore the uniforms and equipment used by American, British and German soldiers on D-Day. Visitors can try on original and reproduction helmets, uniforms, boots, packs and other personal equipment.

 

• Higgins Boat Tours

Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Board the Higgins Boat with USS Alabama living history reenactors to learn about the New Orleans-built craft’s role in the D-Day invasion.

 

• “What Does D-Day Mean to You?”

L.W. “Pete” Kent Train Car Experience

Record and share your thoughts about the 75th anniversary of D-Day—the bravery of the troops, the awesome challenges they faced and the legacy of that day all these years later. 

Select comments will be shared with the Museum’s online followers.

 

 

Starting Saturday, May 18, those currently serving in the US military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, as well as members of the Reserves, National Guard, US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps and up to five family members – will receive free admission to the museum as part of The National WWII Museum’s partnership with the Blue Star Museums Network.

All summer, through Labor Day, the nation’s active-duty military personnel can show a Geneva Conventions common access card (CAC), DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card to Visitor Services staff for complimentary entrance to the Museum for the military ID holder and up to five family members.

The active-duty member does not have to be present for family members to use the program.

Blue Star Museums Network admission also includes Museum entry to the “Beyond All Boundaries” 4D experience, “Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine Experience” and other daily public programming.


CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

The American Spirit Awards takes place on Thursday, May 23, at the Museum, and this year’s American Spirit Awards Luncheon and Leadership Forum will honor Marthe Cohn, Colonel Charles E. McGee, USAF (Ret.), and Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, USAF (Ret.) as the Museum’s 2019 Silver Service Medallion recipients.

The Silver Service Medallions are awarded to veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example.

Proceeds from The American Spirit Awards support educational programming at the Museum, including development of classroom materials for students, professional-development opportunities for teachers and online experiences that bring the Museum and its resources to learners around the world.


CREDIT: The National WWII Museum

 

Check out today’s Daily Biz Minute to see how the New Orleans School of Glassworks and Printmaking Studio is commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day with a year-long exhibition honoring the role of carrier pigeons credited for flying strategic messages between the Allies during WWII.

 

 

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Leslie T. Snadowsky contributes to Biz New Orleans as a video blogcaster and Biz liaison for WWL/WUPL-TV. She’s contributed to Bloomberg NewsReutersThe Times-PicayuneThe New York Post and The Dallas Morning News, and appeared on CNN’s “Nancy Grace,” and “Jane Velez Mitchell,” and Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” She earned her BA from Newcomb College at Tulane University and her MS in Journalism from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As an exhibited and published rock photographer, Leslie enjoys live music and the eclectic culture of New Orleans. 

You can reach Leslie T. Snadowsky directly at Leslie@BizNewOrleans.com.

 

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