Daily Travel Tips
Weekly Column
Eileens Blog
Travel Diary
In the Media

Daily Tips

In season's spirit, Homeaway.com gifting six vacation rentals

Dec 7, 2016
In the spirit of the season, HomeAway.com, the world’s leading online vacation rental marketplace, is gifting six lucky winners with an incredible vacation rental package.

Eileen's Favorites



Learning the consequences of war at five great war museums


 

Liberty Memorial World War I Museum in Kansas City

Liberty Memorial and the National World War I Museum in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri at dusk

By Eileen Ogintz

Tribune Content Agency

So many sacrifices!

So many young lives ended too soon, or changed irrevocably. “Some things in history should not happen again,” says Steven Fletcher, a New Orleans high school junior and Victory Corps. volunteer at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Fletcher participated in the museum’s Normandy Academy travel program for high school students last summer.

In just 15 years, the National WWII Museum (a privately run, nonprofit institution) has grown from a single exhibit hall to a multi-pavilion institution that is one of the city’s top tourist attractions, with more than 100,000 artifacts, and one of the world’s largest collections of WWII oral histories (more than 8,500 personal accounts). The museum’s newest exhibit “The Road to Tokyo” retraces the soldiers’ journey from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, by way of New Guinea, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Burma, Pacific Islands, China, India and Alaska. There is also “The Road to Berlin.” Both exhibits use technology and interactives to tell the story of the American experience in World War II on the battlefield and at home.

If you think kids wouldn’t be interested, think again. WWII Museum Student Ambassador Madeline Bookout, a high school senior from Gulf Breeze, Fla., says she has been interested in World War II history since she was in grade school and read “Meet Molly: The American Girl,” which told the story of a young girl growing up in the Midwest during World War II. In her role as a student ambassador, Madeline has met and interviewed four Pearl Harbor survivors. “These interviews taught me the importance of being prepared and the danger of adopting an isolationist view of the world,” she said in an email. “I also learned about unselfish patriotism.”

Kids, museum officials say, are fascinated by handwritten letters as no one writes many letters anymore. Kids don’t even learn cursive. There are diaries, photos, uniforms, medals and even the diary that Fred Oberman wrote on scraps of paper hidden in a tobacco canister that documents the hellish treatment POWs faced at the hands of the Japanese.

Stand on the “bridge” of the USS Enterprise, the aircraft carrier that was so critical to the Allied efforts in the Pacific. Walk through “Green Hell” in Guadalcanal, complete with a towering palm jungle. The final gallery shows scenes of the aftermath of the atomic bomb — and pilot Paul Tibbets’ flight log aboard the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima.

Think about the lessons visits to such museums can teach kids, considering that in many cases soldiers in WWII weren’t much more than kids themselves. The website www.military.com has a state-by-state listing of museums, historical sites, forts and more. This spring break, according to Switchfly.com, most of us will be traveling domestically. Why not include a museum or exhibits you might not have thought to visit:

The National World War I Museum and memorial in Kansas City has everything from, interactive tables (make your own patriotic poster!), a walk-through crater showing what happened to a French farmhouse hit by a howitzer shell, and walk-through trenches that include recorded statements from those who were there. Cross a glass bridge suspended over a symbolic Western Front “poppy field” with 9,000 poppies signifying the 9 million who perished. Go to the top of the memorial for a great city view.

The Home Front. The first stop for GIs on the road to war was basic training. This would be the first time that many of these young men ever left their hometowns

The Home Front. The first stop for GIs on the road to war was basic training. This would be the first time that many of these young men ever left their hometowns

Pearl Harbor Historic Sites get everyone off the beach and warrant a stop, even if you are spending vacation on another island besides Oahu. The USS Arizona Memorial — built over the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941 — is the top visitor destination in Hawaii and a stark reminder of the cost of war. The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center has recently been renovated and there is also the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and the Pacific Aviation Museum. Come early for walk-up tickets!

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History exhibit “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War” examines how wars have shaped the nation’s history and transformed American Society from the Revolutionary War until today. On the website you can solve a Civil War mystery and download a self-guide or a teacher’s manual that will help you make the most of your visit. This is a great bet before you visit the war memorials on the National Mall or Arlington National Cemetery.

If you are heading to London, The Imperial War Museum was a high point of one visit we made to London, shortly after the museum unveiled a major expansion. The exhibits encourage visitors to learn the story of World War I, in part through the eyes of those at home. For example, you will see the sacrifices made in Britain during World War II through the story of one working-class London family.

The task of explaining war is made a lot easier at war museums today. At the National WWII Museum, for example, visitors begin their journey on a replica Union Pacific train — one new WWII recruits would have taken to boot camp. They can choose a soldier’s story to follow at computer kiosks — an African-American soldier who survived Pearl Harbor and experienced discrimination throughout the war, for example. (There is an exhibit that will soon travel around the country about the African-American experience called “Fighting for the Right to Fight.”) With the tap of the digital dog tag, visitors learn more of the individual’s war story, as they make their way through the galleries.

“They were average Joes, not a lot older than the school kids who visit, faced with extraordinary circumstances,” explained Collin Makamson, the World War II Museum’s student programs coordinator. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Perhaps, that’s the most important lesson to be learned.

World War II Veteran Joseph Heintz, now 92 and a retired French teacher, was doing a volunteer stint at the museum answering questions when I visited. “Kids are amazed I’m still here,” he jokes, adding they have lots more questions than the adults. “That’s a good thing.”

Absolutely!

© 2016 EILEEN OGINTZ
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.


Backyard Vacations, Destinations, Families & Groups, Weekly Column | , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Learning the consequences of war at five great war museums

  1. admin says:

    AT AGE 92 I’M NOT CONVERSANT WITH “TWITTER” OR THE OTHER MEANS TO COMMUNICATE WITH EILEEN AND HER ARTICLE ABOUT THE WAR MUSEUMS. SO, I HOPE THAT THE EDITOR OF “VOICE” WILL SEE FIT TO FORWARD THIS TO EILEEN? THAT, AFTER ALL, IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS “LETTER”.

    HISTORY IS A DIFFICULT SUBJECT FOR FIRST HAND ANALYSIS AS IT IS THE PERCEPTION OF THE VIEWER WHO WAS THERE. I HOPE THAT EILEEN WILL EXCUSE THE WRITER AS HE’S NOT TRYING TO “CORRECT” BUT, MERELY, TO ADD TO HER HISTORY.

    AT WAR’S END IN MAY OF ’45 I WAS IN THE SIGNAL CORPS AND IN BREMEN, GERMANY. WE WERE SENT TO A CAMP “TWENTY GRAND” IN FRANCE TO BE PART OF THE INVASION OF JAPAN IN NOVEMBER, 1945. THIS IN JUNE, 1945. THERE WERE SIX OF THESE, SO-CALLED, CIGARETTE CAMPS IN FRANCE: TWENTY GRAND; OLD GOLD; LUCKY STRIKE, ETC. EACH CAMP HOLDING AROUND 80,000 AMERICAN TROOPS. WE RECEIVED REPLACEMENT UNIFORMS AND/OR WEAPONS IN PREPARATION FOR OUR PARTICIPATION IN THE INVASION OF JAPAN. SO, ON AUGUST 6TH WE KNEW NOTHING OF THE A-BOMB DROP ON HIROSHIMA. NOR DID WE LEARN OF THE NAGASAKI RAID ON THE 9TH. BUT, ON AUGUST 12TH, AROUND 7 PM IN THE EVENING, GUNSHOTS BROKE OUT IN OUR CAMP WHEN WE LEARNED OF THE SURRENDER OF JAPAN. DESPITE THE EFFORTS OF THE OFFICERS TO HALT THE FIRING OF GUNS IN THE AIR, IT RAINED LEAD. I PRESUME THAT THE CELEBRATION SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

    ANOTHER ADDITION TO EILEEN’S HISTORY OF THAT WAR. ONE OF MY WWII FRIENDS IN WINTER HAVEN WAS AN INDIVIDUAL EVEN OLDER THAN ME, ED LEWIS, WHO LIVED ON CRUMP ROAD, NEAR ME. ED WAS CAREER NAVY AND GUNNERY OFFICER ON THE CRUISER, SALT LAKE CITY. THAT SHIP BEING THE LARGEST IN THE FLOTILLA GOING OFF-SHORE OF JAPAN IN 1942, GUARDING THE CARRIERS THAT WOULD LAUNCH JIMMY DOLITTLE’S RAID ON JAPAN. ED TOLD ME FIRST HAND ABOUT THAT RAID AND THAT THEY RAN INTO THREE SMALL JAPANESE FISHING BOATS 600 MILES OFF-SHORE. ASSUMING THAT THESE JAPANESE FISHING BOATS HAD WARNED JAPAN, THEY SANK THE BOATS AND THEN LAUNCHED FROM THAT SPOT RATHER THAN THE DESIGNED SPOT 300 MILES CLOSER TO MAINLAND, JAPAN. ED’S DESCRIPTION OF THE RAID INCLUDED THE ACTIONS OF COL. DOLITTLE IN ACKNOWLEDGING THE AVIATORS WHO HAD FLOWN WITH HIM ON THAT RAID. I ADMIRED THE COLONEL FOR RECOGNIZING HIS FELLOW AVIATORS.

    NOW, FOR THE A-BOMB EPISODE. A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO, A FRIEND ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO MEET ONE OF THE AVIATORS WHO HAD DROPPED THE A-BOMBS ON JAPAN. I WENT WITH HER TO A HOME NEAR ORLANDO TO MEET THIS PILOT, DON ALBURY. DON AND I TALKED FOR NEARLY TWO HOURS AND I LEARNED THAT HE, COL. TIBBETS, AND FRED BOCK HAD ALL BEEN TEST PILOTS ON THE B-29 AND, AS SUCH, HAD MANY HOURS FLYING THESE NEW AIRCRAFT. THEY HAD BEEN INCORPORATED IN THE 509TH COMPOSITE GROUP AND SENT TO WENDOVER, UTAH FOR TRAINING AND SUBSEQUENT DROPPING OF THE FIRST A-BOMBS. IN DISTINCTION TO JIMMY DOLITTLE, TIBBETS SPOKE OF HIS DROP OF THE A-BOMB ON HIROSHIMA BUT DIDN’T MENTION THAT TWO OTHER B-29’S ACCOMPANIED HIM ON THAT RAID BY PROVIDING TELEMETERING AND PHOTO ASSISTANCE. DON ALBURY BEING ONE OF THOSE PILOTS. THEN, THREE DAYS LATER, DON FLEW A SINGLE B-29 TO BOMB KEOKURA, JAPAN AND ABORTED THAT TARGET IN FAVOR OF NAGASAKI BECAUSE OF CLOUD COVER. I ADMIRED DOLITTLE FOR HIS INCLUSIVE HISTORY OF HIS EVENT RATHER THAN THE EXCLUSIVE HISTORY OF TIBBETS. MY PERSONAL BIAS, IF YOU WILL.

    SO, THANK YOU “LETTERS” EDITOR IF YOU FORWARDED THIS TO EILEEN, OR EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T.

    REGARDS TO THE STAFF OF THE LEDGER, AS ALWAYS,

    E. NAGEL, M.D. (RETIRED)
    WWII, 1942-6, EUROPE
    WINTER HAVEN, FL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






Connect

Facebook Twitter YouTube Follow us with RSS