Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Orleans - Day Six!

I was really excited about our plans today.  We awoke to a boisterous thunderstorm and were glad we had scheduled a day indoors at the National WW II Museum.
Several weeks ago I was browsing the internet for things to see and do in New Orleans and discovered that this museum was here.  The sign inside the museum explains why this national museum is not in Washington, DC - fascinating!
Upon entering the museum you see several actual WW II aircraft suspended from the ceiling.  Most of the volunteer guides (docents) are WW II vets and we followed some of them as they explained artifacts to school groups. This is a dive bomber.  One of the larger planes was actually purchased on Ebay by a private citizen and donated in honor of his wife.
A special exhibit was "Loyal Forces: Animals of WW II."
This exhibit highlighted animals that actually served a role as messengers, performed other specific duties, or were pets or mascots of the soldiers.In the new section of the museum that opened a year ago, Chef John Besh opened a restaurant called "The American Sector," with imaginative interpretations of classic American foods. Kids' lunches are served in vintage metal lunch boxes!  Based on our waitress's suggestion, we ordered the tomato soup and half ham and cheese sandwich with  fries. Look at the creative presentation!  The soup was fantastic!  Definitely nor Campbell's - no offense Campbell's!
We spent the next four hours viewing "Beyond All Boundaries, a 4-D film featuring Tom Hanks as the narrator and several floors of exhibits and short films.   This flag actually flew on one of our ships on D-Day.
I learned several weeks ago that today was a special day at the museum. Dr. Sharon Taylor's father, 1Lt. Shannon Estill, age 22, was the last man killed in his squadron at the end of WW II.  He was a fighter pilot on a mission over Elsnig, Germany, when his plane was shot down.  His daughter, Sharon, was only 3 weeks old.  Listed as MIA, no one ever knew his fate until his daughter started searching with the help of German aircraft researcher, Hans Guenther Ploes. German author and director of Spiegel TV documentaries, Kay Siering, wrote and directed the documentary, "The Last Flight of Lt. Estill."  The American premiere was held tonight at the museum.  We started with a reception catered by John Besh's restaurant. I met a wonderful museum volunteer and spent some time talking with Dr. Taylor and Mr. Siering.
The documentary was beautifully done and so touching.  This woman finally discovered her father's crash site and gives accolades to the Germans who helped her discover the site and some of her father's remains, which are now buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  The film is a loving tribute to a father she knew only from photographs and the more than 400 letters he wrote to her mother.


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