VETS ARE TREASURED LIVING HISTORY
The National WWII Museum has volunteers who served in that war
Take a tour of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Covering every aspect of the war that changed the world, the museum presents the opportunity for Americans to not only learn about the war, but to understand the real price of freedom.
What began in a rented warehouse in the industrial zone of New Orleans 20 years ago is now a $300 million campus that spreads over more than two city blocks.
THE BACKBONE OF THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM, LOCATED ON SIX ACRES IN DOWNTOWN NEW ORLEANS, IS IT S CORPS OF VOLUNTEERS, who daily provide visitors from around the world with a unique experience. More than 400 volunteers—14 of whom are World War II veterans—devote thousands of hours each year to welcome and assist museum guests. After being dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum, it was designated by Congress in 2004 as “America’s National WWII Museum.” Its mission is to “tell 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 all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.” And the 14 WWII veterans offer visitors the experience of hearing firsthand accounts of the war. These volunteers are “treasured living history,” captivating audiences with stories not found in books—at a museum “celebrating the American spirit, teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and w omen who fought on the battlefront and served on the home front.” WWII veterans Forrest Villarrubia and Ben Martinez are stationed at the front entrance a few days a week and greet visitors—who are of all ages—as they walk through the doors. Villarrubia, a retired combat Marine, served in the Pacific Islands. Martinez, a retired combat Army medic, served in the Italian Campaign. Both spend their volunteer days sharing stories, showing old photographs of their service and proudly displaying the medals they earned during the war. “There’s not many of us left,” notes Villarrubia. “I just love being here and talking to the museum’s visitors. Most of the time, they ask me where I was during the war and what I did. They seem to enjoy hearing my stories and I really look forward to coming to the museum.” Elaborating on the museum’s mission is Sanibel Island resident and former U.S. Rep. James A. Courter (R-NJ), who served as the museum’s board chairman from 2016 to 2018: “I was on the Armed Services Committee during my entire 12 years in the United States Congress, resulting in my deep appreciation for the service and sacrifices made by our men
Clockwise from top: US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center; Ralph E. Crump, LTJG, USNR US Merchant Marine Gallery; The Duchossois Family Roadto Berlin:EuropeanTheaterGalleries
WWII veterans Ben Martinez and Forrest Villarrubia greet visitors at the museum entrance. Below: The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion.