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Tag: WWII Museum

Road to Tokyo: Part Two

In the prior post, I claimed I would provide a written walkthrough of the various Pacific campaign exhibits housed in the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. Well, in this post I will continue to do so:

Island Hopping: Footholds Across the Pacific

As is mostly disseminated through tales of D-Day, storming beaches during World War Two was a phenomenally dangerous form of engagement. Soldiers were forced to prance through minefields while explosions clawed the sky. Bullets tore through the air to penetrate human bodies and deal out demise. Anguished screams filled ears as torment strangled soldiers across both sides. This same tale, time and time again, characterizes seemingly endless stories of “tactical” island hopping. In “Island Hopping: Footholds Across the Pacific,” museum-goers encounter a realistic beachscape littered with obstacles, carnage, and hostility. Immerse yourself in the experience as soldiers ultimately attempt to bring B-29 bombers within range of the enemy homeland.

China-Burma-India: The Pacific War’s Second Front

Detailing a facet of the war that largely goes unmentioned, this vital exhibit sheds light on some of the darkest corners of World War Two. Step into the space to witness a restored P-40 Warhawk fighter jet suspended in front of an immense three-panel video screen. The screens alternate between displaying an animated map of wartime supply routes to China and an environmental video of the Himalayas. Immediately impressing upon the museum-goer the nature of the enormous obstacles that Allied soldiers were forced to deal with, this room imparts upon visitors a much greater appreciation for the plight these soldiers were not only forced to endure, but forced to overcome.

Philippines: Returning to the Philippines

As the name may imply, this exhibit space primarily concerns itself with happenings in the Philippines. At the time, these prized islands were American territory under enemy control. They were stolen resources, a stain on the American reputation, a wrong which must be righted. The United States had promised to embrace its little brown brother with arms of protection, and yet the Japanese managed to pry those arms apart, dealing the Americans a blow in not only pride but in strategy as well. Regarding tactical value, the Philippines were a stronghold of geographical necessity. They were perfectly placed to dictate shipping lanes, the flow of oil and other innumerable supplies to Japan. This exhibit details the complexities and nuances involved in rescuing the Philippines back from their Japanese captor, and does so with a remarkable affinity for storytelling and attention to detail.

Death at Japan’s Doorstep: First Assault Onto Japanese Soil

The Pacific Theater hosted many performances of pervasive bloodshed, but few matched the extent of the Okinawa and Iwo Jima invasions. As Allied forces progressed closer and closer to the Japanese homeland, the Axis powers grew bolder and more aggressive. With the Japanese government pledging resistance to the last man, no matter if “one hundred million will die together,” an implacable fervor enveloped both sides. The extent of such passion often is difficult to communicate through mere words, however. Thus, “Death at Japan’s Doorstep: First Assault Onto Japanese Soil” is here to remedy the potential discrepancy by illustrating a tremendously accurate representation and depiction of the underground defensive network of caves and tunnels that the Japanese used in their attempts to dissuade and repel Allied forces.

Downfall: Endgame Against Japan

There are few times we can identify a course-altering moment in history. Usually, these decisions are the culmination of conversations held behind doors, out of sight yet not exactly out of mind. Before Truman gave the final decision that bellowed a conclusive end to the second war to end all wars, there was a path of immense destruction winding its way into the Japanese homeland. Firestorms enveloped Oriental cities and innocents, melting away culture and obliterating integral artifacts of Japanese tradition. The Allied intent to pursue victory was a decision not to be changed, an ironclad commitment not to be swayed, a passionate devotion not to be eradicated no matter the cost. The future of the world was at stake, and present momentary decisions paled in regards to eternity. In an effort to preserve American life, Truman made a decision that would devastate one culture to preserve another. He made the decision to drop not one, but two atomic bombs. Frankly, it is impossible to fully capture the weight of his decision no matter the medium. Yet, “Downfall” comes close in illustrating the extent of his decision. Truman was forced to weigh the significance of life itself, the prioritization of one people against another, the future of one culture at the expense of another.


Road to Tokyo: Part One

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.