The National WWII Museum in New Orleans
If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are. ~
During my last visit to New Orleans during Mardi Gras I found time to get up to the World War II museum. The war has always held a fascination for me for a couple of reasons, both of my grandfathers fought in the war. My maternal grandfather was in the very first battle against the Germans in Tunisa at a place called Kasserine Pass.
A little bit of it’s a small world after all, (you’re welcome for the ear worm), happened last week. I have a colleague from Tunisia and after talking to him about the museum I told him where in Tunisia my grandfather had fought and was injured and it turns out the town my colleague grew up in was Kasserine. In that first battle where the US Army was overrun by General Rommel’s forces my grandfather was on a mortar crew. They were pumping mortars so quickly that the barrel overheated and a mortar exploded in the tube. My grandfather took shrapnel to the face and was evacuated, the injury probably saved his life. A total of 10,000 allied troops, including 6,500 Americans were killed in the battle.
My paternal grandfather had somehow eluded the draft the first time around. However as the war proceeded the US Army caught up to him and so he was drafted, even with a wife and four kids at home. He was then sent to basic training, then to Ranger School, then to England to prep for D-Day. He landed on Omaha Beach, climbed cliffs, lobbed grenades, somehow survived essentially the opening seen of Saving Private Ryan. Then a few weeks later fighting across France he was hit by shrapnel in the knee during a firefight and captured by the Germans. He would spend the rest of the war in a POW camp, escaping once but being recaptured.
I had two other relatives who fought in the war, my great Uncle Tony who was killed in the Pacific theater, I believe at Wake Island. And my great Uncle Joy who served in the Pacific and was one of the earliest units to land in Japan. Growing up I’d met a lot of veterans of the war and have read more books than I can remember about it, seen all of the WWII movies. I find it an utterly horrible and fascinating time in history. The museum in New Orleans is really fantastic and if you’re in town you should check it out. ~ Rev Kane