WWII Museum: Pacific Front Exhibit
945 Magazine, New Orleans LA
Adult Admission $14
Student Admission $8
Though I have been to the WWII Museum numerous times, I never visited the Pacific Front Exhibit. There is so much to read and hear that it takes hours to get through the first half of the museum. I just never had the time! This visit I made sure to explore this exhibit and was not disappointed. When entering the hall you are humbled by the enlarged photos of soldiers, leading you to a large map. Labeled the Pacific War 1941-1945 a 6-minute overview, the map lights up and takes you through the entire Pacific Front. Visually stunning, the multimedia presentation guides the viewer through this very confusing conflict utilizing news and radio clips. In that six minutes I learned more about the Pacific Front in WWII than I had in all of my past history classes. My grandfather fought in the Coast Guard and my father owns a map marking all the battles he attended in the Pacific. The presentation at the Museum helped me to understand where my grandfather had been and why he fought there. Before they were lines on a map, but now I can see the struggle behind the lines. The exhibit gave me an opportunity to understand my grandfather’s life, even though he just recently passed away.
The Pacific Front is exceptional because it brings a very confusing set of events to life. As in the European Front, there is great collection of oral histories. From an African American female nurse to Japanese Americans, the oral histories express the full experience of the war, home and abroad. I was unaware of the massive segregation in WWII, for even blood was labeled by race. The exhibit also illustrates the fervent racism against the Japanese. One stretch of wall is covered in propaganda posters from both Japan and America. Both sides used stereotypes to transmit the message that the other side were monsters, ready to destroy the values of their society. It is ironic that both sides utilized the same type of propaganda campaign. It is too easy during war to see the enemy as less than human, a lesson still not learned today. Large graphics and charts help the visitor to personalize the events. Each important battle is documented, so you better have a few hours to truly experience and learn from the exhibit. The exhibit ends with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A short film replays the horror of those events. The exhibit treats the bombings with reverence. Instead of quickly over viewing these events, the museum pays its respects to those who suffered and died in America’s march to victory. The Pacific Front is a humbling experience. It serves as a reminder to younger generations that freedom is not free and war is not to be glorified, but understood and respected.