The Big One

We visited the WWI Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and it was better than we ever could have expected. I learned so much and it was one of the best museums we’ve visited. But, the “War to End All Wars” was nearly 100 years ago, and understandably it was not the best-covered topic in my public school history class. But WWII certainly was, so I was slightly more aware and hoped the WWII Museum in New Orleans would be even more enlightening than the WWI Museum.

We had only a couple hours and once we were at the ticket counter, we had to make a decision. We could pay the full entrance fee which included the “4D” movie “Beyond All Boundaries” or we could save $5 and see the main museum only. We disagreed, and we didn’t have a coin to flip so Kimmer asked our cashier to pick a number 1 through 10. Strategically, I picked number 5. Kimmer, thought hard, and just like David Blaine picked the exact right number – 8. I could’ve chalked this up to Kimmer’s ESP, but more likely the cashier’s just a real good salesperson.

After paying full price, we rushed over for the 3 p.m. movie showing. Beyond All Boundaries was produced and narrated by Tom Hanks exclusively for the WWII museum, and can be seen nowhere else. The premise of the movie is sacrifice and the willingness of the ordinary men who volunteered to do extraordinary things to selflessly help their country, their families and ultimately us.

The movie was literally breathtaking. You could feel the tanks pouring down the street, you were there as the bombs fell in Western Europe, and you feel the harsh darkness and silence following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You cannot miss this exhibit!

After the movie, we hurriedly made our way through the museum, designed in the two key fronts of the war. Of course there was the European Theater where Allies faced the punishing mechanical weapons of Hitler’s storm troopers and his blitzkrieg tactics; and the Pacific Theater where the mighty Kamakazi pilots rained down in honor of their God-king emperor.  There were moments on each where the Allies, outgunned and overpowered, were close to defeat; but each time it seemed a brilliant military tactic, or luck helped them prevail.

WWII is the last major global conflict, with more than 2.5% of the world’s population were killed in the fighting, many of them civilian. It was also the only time a nuclear device has ever been deployed in war. Hopefully, a century from now, we can look back and also count them as the last time as well.

As it is often said -“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”