A couple of years ago, I got involved with the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. Like any endeavor someone chooses to make time for, I did it for a variety of reasons. As I have waded deeper into the museum, I learn more and more. Whether you like it or not, World War Two has cast an indelible shadow onto your life. The war ended in 1945. But the effects of the war are still with us.
The generation that fought the war is leaving us through attrition. They are all in their eighties and nineties and will die soon. We are in a very unique position in history. We have all kinds of technological tools to capture and record their stories so eons from now, historians can research and retell the lessons we learned back then. Can you imagine if we would have had video oral histories of the battle at Sparta?
When you are in high school English class and have to read novels, you learn about themes. “Man’s inhumanity to man”, “Man versus himself”. World War Two captures all those themes. But instead of fictional characters in a book, it’s real people doing real things for real results.
War is not easily summarized, and virtually no war is like another. They are all unique. World War Two was fought on every continent. 65 million people died. Family’s histories were altered. Macro politics changed. Borders were redrawn. There was amazing technological innovation. Discrimination was practiced at the same time that walls were being torn down and people were dying to try and free other people they didn’t know. All of the struggles of being a human are right there laid bare in the history of World War Two.
Whether you are left wing or right wing, black or white, yellow or brown, female or male, the war affects you to this day. Sometimes you don’t even know it because its a little thing, like SPAM or powdered eggs. Sometimes it’s a big thing like radar. And sometimes it’s just being able to wake up and be free to do whatever the heck you want on a Saturday morning because some guy in some remote part of the world cared enough about you to make sure you had the chance to do that.
My hope is not only that you will support the museum with your dollars. My hope really is that you will come on down to the museum with your family and visit. There are amazing lessons to be learned here. You will be a better person for being exposed to them.