I previously authored a couple pieces describing the various Campaigns of Courage exhibit spaces at the National World War II Museum. However, I primarily restricted myself to the European side of the campaign. Well, I am back to rectify that with these next couple of pieces that center on, as you could have probably guessed from the title, the road to Tokyo. While the Pacific campaign of the war does not often receive the same publicity afforded to the more western campaign, that is not to discredit it in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the “Road to Tokyo” was responsible for a monumental event in history, the dropping of the atomic bomb. While I will make my way in due time to Truman’s landmark decision, I would like to proceed through the associated exhibits and stages of the campaign in the same order as the museum itself.
The Road to Tokyo: Facing the Rising Sun
Find yourself whisked away into history the moment you step foot into the first Pacific exhibit of the National World War II Museum. With a meticulous attention to detail, this exhibit space articulates with provocative detail the events surrounding that fateful day of December 7th, Pearl Harbor. Soon after the Japanese attack on our own soil, Germany and Italy declared war on us as well. Facing the rising sun of war, visitors find themselves immersed in a mentality characterized by the pervasive events of the 1940’s and World War II.
Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught
Following your experience in the initial exhibit space, you will venture into the “Briefing Room: Japanese Onslaught.” The display does a fantastic job of emulating the very same atmosphere enveloping American military leaders at the time of Pearl Harbor. Three large windows showcase remarkable fighter planes igniting their engines over enemy waters in anticipation of battle. Besides the windows lie photographs of eighteen distinguished military leaders. These former leaders of the free world would then go on to develop the two-pronged Pacific invasion strategy that is also displayed to museum-goers in the very same space.
The New Naval Warfare: First Blood
After absorbing all the “Briefing Room” has to offer, set sail to “the New Naval Warfare: First Blood.” While the attack on Pearl Harbor was certainly devastating to American battleships, it did not hold the same effect on the Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines. Fortunately, these vessels were already at sea during the attack and facilitated rapid deployment following the December 7th tragedy. This Pacific display illustrates the amazing day-to-day activities of officers and cadets onboard those deployed battleships, as well as depicts a flight deck that offers details surrounding Doolittle Raid, Coral Sea, and Midway.
Guadalcanal: Green Hell
Immerse yourself in Guadalcanal to truly appreciate all those who gave everything sacrificed for us. It was here that WWII’s first major amphibious landing took place. This immaculate gallery presents an emotionally resounding depiction of the invasion. Fantastic colors swirl and coagulate to present a nearly transcendental experience that pits every museum visitor in the center of it all.
Pacific Theater Challenges: Fighting in the Tropics
Modeling a traditional Japanese rice hut, this exhibit effectively communicates the daily challenges soldiers encountered while residing on the Pacific islands. Encountering a nearly non-existent infrastructure and an enemy capable of atrocity, soldiers were perpetually exposed to the horrific sights and sounds of widespread murderous conflict. Even when sleeping, the Allied forces were bravely staring death in the face, standing up for freedom, and securing our liberties.