Former Governor Pete Wilson Talks About WWII Museum

Grester Celis-Acosta

Former California Governor Pete Wilson spoke at the Rotary Club of Long Beach about The National World War II Museum located in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Nov. 8.

Wilson focused on the recent pavilion that opened up earlier this year on June 10. The new pavilion known as “The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George Brown salute to the Home Front” focuses on how the United States went from a depressed country that did not want to meddle in global conflicts to a world power that helped the allied forces defeat the axis powers.

According to Wilson, this is just one of two pavilions, with the next pavilion to finish construction in 2019. That pavilion will be called the “Liberation Pavilion.”

The purpose of the “Liberation Pavilion” is to tell the story of the changes that commenced to happen in the world after the war.

Wilson, who is one of 52 Trustee members for the museum, has been involved with the WWII museum since 2002 and later became the Board’s Chairman from 2006 to 2009. Now the former governor is the Capitol Campaign Chairman and even has an 80-foot tall flagstaff named after him.

“My wife steered me to [the museum], she said you got a birthday coming up. Let’s go to New Orleans and see this museum that you’re so eager to see,” Wilson said. “We did and I will spare you the details, but I was easily hooked to become a member of the board and I’ve been on it ever since.”

The National World War II Museum first opened back in June 6, 2000, but was referred to as the D-Day museum because the exhibitions focused specifically on that aspect of the war.

In 2003, however, with the help of two US senators, Theodore Stevens (Republican) and Daniel Inouye (Democrat), the museum was able to expand and become the official WWII museum of the United States as designated by congress.

Since then the museum has flourished, expanded and showcased the men and women who lost their lives fighting in WWII.

According the Wilson, the website Trip Advisor has the museum at number two in both visitation and popularity among all museums in the US and in the World, despite being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The former governor feels that the museum is important to teach the next generation about the war and all the people that lost their lives.

“It is to tell the world, but particularly future generations of young Americans,” Wilson said. “How the war was fought, why it was fought and how it is relevant to today.”

According to Wilson, the museum as it stands right now with the recent pavilion, can take the average visitor about three hours to complete. He does recommend visitors to first attend the showing of the film Beyond All Boundaries before heading off to witness the exhibitions. He says that the film hits him emotionally every time he sees it, which according to Wilson has been a total of eight times. 

The National World War II Museum opens every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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