The National WWII Museum’s Liberation Pavilion :: Worth The Visit And Then Some
This past weekend, my family and I were fortunate enough to visit the new Liberation Pavilion at the National World War II Museum. While there, I learned that the pavilion was the last phase of a nearly 30 year vision to honor and educate the world about arguably the greatest generation of our time. The Liberation Pavilion does that and so much more.
As I made my way through the first floor of the three story exhibit, I found myself silently sobbing. Tears streamed down my face as I viewed oral histories from U.S. Servicemen and Holocaust survivors alike. Testimonies from men who were no more than 17 at the time of the War, sobbing as they recounted the conditions they witnessed at concentration camps like Dachau and Auschwitz.
Other testimonies came from Jewish Holocaust survivors who recounted the mix of exhilaration and agony as they discovered they were liberated, but had to face the devastating reality that their families were not there to experience it. One testimony in particular was from a man who stayed in the camp until the day after they were liberated because it was Shabbat, and it was the first time since his imprisonment that he was able to freely observe Shabbat. Needless to say, the exhibit right here in downtown New Orleans is a powerful, heart wrenching, and emotional reminder that freedom is never free but ALWAYS worth fighting for.
Peace In The Pain
And the museum recognizes the gravity of that. They are aware of just how emotionally charged the exhibit is. So, they have built a peaceful, non-denominational chapel situated just at the exit of the heaviest part of the exhibit. In the chapel are blank index cards to help each visitor write and reflect on what the exhibit means to them. I found this part especially cathartic and thought provoking, especially given the current crisis in Israel and Gaza. (It should be mentioned here that the Liberation Pavilion is appropriate for children, but the Holocaust section may be too graphic and emotionally heavy for young children. Please use parental discretion.)
The Importance of History
While I have always considered myself a patriot, lover of history, and staunch supporter of Service men and women, I have to admit that the Liberation Pavilion impacted me in a way that I’ve never felt before. Maybe it’s because now I am a mom. Maybe it’s because we are currently watching similar travesties against Jews unfold in real time. Maybe it’s because there are media outlets claiming that World War III is imminent. Maybe it’s because I am a military wife, and I know how it feels to have a loved one deployed overseas without any guarantee they will return home. Most likely it is a combination of all those things. But whatever the reason, I am glad it impacted me so.
I am grateful it reminded me of the cost of freedom. Grateful to witness proof of how powerful the willingness to fight for freedom can be. A reminder that good can triumph over evil. A reminder that even when the odds are completely against you, perseverance and the desire to help others can overcome. I am also grateful my kids got the opportunity to experience it. Grateful my 9 year old asked questions about the Holocaust so that I could tell her that while yes, learning about it is disturbing, uncomfortable, and devastating, it is also crucial. It is absolutely important we learn about events like the Holocaust, so we can do our part to ensure it never happens again. I am glad it gave me the opportunity to help her understand that when her daddy leaves for a “long work trip” it is insanely hard, but what he is fighting for is so incredibly important. And finally, I am grateful this wonderful museum is right here in my home town.
Blessed To Have It In NOLA
I guess there are times where I take having a museum like this in my city for granted. To put it into perspective, the National WWII museum is WORLD renowned. It is up there on the same caliber as the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Smithsonian. So, to have something so incredible right here in our backyard really is amazing. Especially since it takes multiple visits to truly appreciate all the museum has to offer. Whether you are a local New Orleanian, or just coming for a visit, I HIGHLY recommend you take a tour.
While the Liberation Pavilion is what this particular post highlights, the museum has eight other permanent exhibits, as well as several specialty exhibits, and traveling exhibits, too. And each exhibit tells an important piece of the story of the most devastating war of our time. It truly is an incredible experience.
How To Experience The National WWII Museum
If you’d like to visit the National WWII museum, you can find information about each exhibit, how to purchase tickets, special events, and hours of operation here. Go ahead and check it out; we promise you won’t regret it! This is a treasure available to us right here in downtown New Orleans and it is truly a “must do” for families in New Orleans.