Events Planned to Honor the ‘Greatest Generation,’ Mark Museum’s 10th Anniversary
NEW ORLEANS (May 20, 2010) – Beginning with Memorial Day on May 31, a series of major events, ceremonies, special exhibits and lectures will be taking place at The National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The commemorative period will culminate with a weekend of special events June 5-6 to honor the 66th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and to celebrate the Museum’s 10th anniversary.
“Memorial Day is the perfect time for Americans to stop, reflect and remember the veterans who sacrificed so much so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy today,” said Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, President and CEO of The National World War II Museum. “We’re encouraging all join us as we celebrate Memorial Day and move toward the anniversary of D-Day, commemorating the date with some of the last surviving veterans from the war that changed the world. We also want everyone to thank a veteran for their service on this day and every day.”
The highlight of the weekend will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 5: A Gathering of the Greatest Generation, a special “roll-call” ceremony when veterans from each of the 50 states will stand together to be honored by the Museum and as a tribute to those who are no longer with us. The commemoration also will serve as a poignant reminder of how few of these eyewitnesses to history are still with us as a representative from each state will recite the number of veterans who served from their state and how many remain today. Family members of deceased veterans can also attend in their honor. Registration is online at www.nationalww2museum.org.
Thomas Blakey, a volunteer at the Museum who parachuted into Normandy with the 101st Airborne on D-Day is just one of the veterans who will be in attendance. “It’s important to me that future generations know and understand what we went through in the war. Events like this are an opportunity for us to share our stories with people of all ages.”
Visitors can also experience the recently opened Solomon Victory Theater, featuring Beyond All Boundaries, a 4-D cinematic experience executive produced by Tom Hanks; the Stage Door Canteen, a recreation of a wartime entertainment venue; and the American Sector – a Chef John Besh restaurant. The 66th Anniversary weekend is sponsored by Chevron. For a complete schedule of the weekend’s events, visit www.nationalww2museum.org.
D-Day was a coded designation used for the day of any important invasion or military operation. The “D” stands for “day” since the final invasion date was secret and also weather-dependent.
June 6, 1944, marked the invasion of Normandy and the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. It began shortly after midnight with the landing of 24,000 Allied airborne troops. Amphibious landings began around 6:30 am on June 6, 1944, when 156,000 servicemen from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other Allied countries disembarked from more than 5,000 ships and Higgins landing into a wall of gunfire from German defenders. The operation cost U.S. forces 2,499 dead that day alone, with total Allied deaths reaching 4,414. By June 11, with the beachheads firmly secured, more than 326,000 troops had crossed with more than 100,000 tons of military equipment. Paris was liberated on August 25. Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945.
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.