National World War II Museum Honors 'Greatest Generation' Veterans

Story Number: NNS091106-22Release Date: 11/6/2009 8:48:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Shawn D. Graham, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The city of New Orleans and the National World War II Museum celebrated New Orleans Navy Week 2009 with the grand opening of spectacular new attractions Nov. 6.

The most notable is the Solomon Victory Theater, a cinematic attraction that uses 3-D technology, environmental effects and multi-layered environments to create a '4-D' effect.

Solomon Victory Theater will be the first theater to present the long awaited movie, "Beyond All Boundaries," produced by Tom Hanks.

Hundreds of World War II veterans traveled across the country to witness the celebration. Many of them escorted down a red carpet by current service members.

Some of the veterans had never visited the museum.

"This museum is breathtaking," said retired Army Staff Sgt. Virgil Johnson. "They created a museum for the country. They created so that the world could remember how we fought, how we lived and how we wanted a better world - a peaceful world."

The ceremony also included many celebrities and elected officials from throughout the country. Most notably were the two masters of ceremony, Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks.

Brokaw is best known as the former anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

Brokaw said that it was privilege to acknowledge the veterans of World War II and that their generation helped define and shape the course of human history.

"Talking to the veterans allows us to hear about their day-to-day struggles firsthand," said Brokaw. "Their individual stories of heroism and daring are awe-inspiring. This is the greatest generation America has ever produced."

Brokaw also said that generations to come will learn about World War II and the extraordinary story of how brave Americans saved the world.

"Military personnel from that era embraced sacrifice and provided excellent values for my generation," said Brokaw. "The people from that era were people that helped raise me. They were the people who owned the corner stores and farms. They truly enriched my life."

Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (AW/SW) James Edmonds, who is assigned to the USS New Orleans (LPD-18), said events like this help to strengthen the bonds between World War II veterans and those currently serving.

"I have many relatives that served in the military," said Edmonds. "My family has always looked up to them. When I saw how everyone admired them, it motivated me to enlist in the Navy. Past generations really do influence newer ones. I'm proof of that."

The ceremony also recognized the contributions of the legendary actor and comedian, the late Bob Hope, with a look-alike comedian.

Hope was a staunch supporter of the United Service Organizations and military, headlining approximately 60 tours overseas. His tours boosted the morale of countless service members serving abroad.

Hanks said that Hope's contributions were immeasurable and without him, morale would have suffered.

"He played such a vital role," said Hanks, whose father served in the Navy as a machinist during World War II. "In those days it was easy to get down in the dumps, but Bob would be there to cheer them up."

Hanks also said that men and women from his father's generation volunteered to perform their duties as Americans.

"We are a wiser country now," said Hanks. "This museum teaches us how to replace the hopelessness with hope. We have the opportunity to tell the world about the grand history of our country and enlighten the human condition."

"This is not a commemoration but a celebration," said Hanks. "Those too young to remember the war will now have a way to understand, as never before, the price of our precious freedom."

"I'm honored to be here, and I commend the United States military for their service to this country," said Hanks.

The event was a part of ongoing New Orleans Navy Week 2009 activities scheduled from Nov. 2-7.

New Orleans Navy Week is one of 21 New Weeks coordinated by Navy Office of Community Outreach for 2009.

For more information on New Orleans Navy Week 2009, visit

For more news from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, visit

Pete Wilson, right; Tom Brokaw, Dr. Gordon
091106-N-9712C-003 NEW ORLEANS (Nov. 6, 2009) Pete Wilson, right; Tom Brokaw, Dr. Gordon "Nick" Mueller, president and CEO of the National World War II Museum; and Tom Hanks cut the ribbon during the dedication of a new building and three new attractions at the museum. The event was part of New Orleans Navy Week, one of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2009. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class John P. Curtis/Released)
November 6, 2009
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