Press Release

The National WWII Museum to Unveil The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II

New special exhibit will explore Louisiana’s contributions to the war effort

NEW ORLEANS (July 19, 2017) – On July 21, 2017, The National WWII Museum will unveil a new special exhibit called The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II. Presented by The Alta and John Franks Foundation, the exhibit will feature artifacts, photographs, oral histories and associated educational programming to highlight Louisiana’s extraordinary contributions toward America achieving victory in World War II. 

On December 8, 1941, just one day after the Pearl Harbor attacks, the United States officially entered World War II – Louisiana, however, was already front and center in the country’s defense preparations. From 1940 to 1945, the state hosted the largest maneuvers in US military history, witnessed massive changes to its industrial base, and saw its citizens become enthusiastic contributors to what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt deemed “The Arsenal of Democracy.” 

“World War II provided new, previously unimaginable opportunities to Louisiana’s residents,”  said the exhibit’s curator, James Linn. “This exhibit will highlight the heroic stories of people like Claire Chennault, who created an early warning system to help protect China’s air force against Japanese attacks; and Richard English, who served in the African American 761st Tank Battalion and later became an advocate for Civil Rights. These unique wartime experiences, which were born in Louisiana, also helped lay the groundwork for sweeping economic changes in the postwar world.”

Many citizens of Louisiana contributed to victory in World War II on the battlefield, with nearly 280,000 individuals from the state serving in the armed forces during the war. The Pelican State Goes to War will share the courageous stories of Louisiana’s six Medal of Honor recipients, which represent sacrifice and devotion. The exhibit will also explore tales of the Louisiana Home Front, from the great mobilization efforts of Higgins Industries, to first grader Billy Michal’s scrap collection for school. 

The Pelican State Goes to War will be on display through April 29, 2018, in The Joe W. and Dorothy D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery. The Museum will host a series of public programming events throughout the exhibit’s run, including lunchtime lectures, panel discussions, professional development opportunities and an official grand opening event on July 27. After its run on the Museum’s campus, the exhibit will travel to approximately 10 locations across the state of Louisiana over the course of three years, with the first opening on September 1, 2018 at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport.

The National WWII 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 – so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit