The Year in Photos: 2014 _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Army veterans Roland Chaisson of Metairie, left, Lamore Carter of Grambling, Horace Calhoun of Monroe and Winnie Ancar of Port Sulphur, chat during ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day Friday, June 6, 2014, at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The four were among 17 veterans who were presented with the French Legion of Honor for helping liberate France from Nazi rule. The daylong event featured special exhibits, films, speakers, music and the chance for WWII veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, a change to get together.

Featuring often starkly personal accounts, the National WWII Museum gave the nation a new perspective on those who served in the war.

Created in 2000 as the D-Day Museum in New Orleans’ warehouse district, the museum has more than quadrupled in size and is the nation’s official WWII museum.

The museum was the brainchild of Nick Mueller and Stephen Ambrose, both historians at the University of New Orleans. Ambrose had collected hundreds of personal stories and artifacts from soldiers who participated in D-Day. The two conceived of a “small museum,” to feature those stories. Ambrose thought the museum should be located in New Orleans because it was here where Andrew Higgins designed and produced the critical landing craft that was used on D-Day. The museum got an infusion of cash from Congress when it expanded its focus, changed its name and was designated the nation’s official World War II museum in 2004.

Today the museum features major exhibits including its newest permanent exhibit The Arsenal of Democracy, as well as offering rides and tours aboard a fully restored PT-305. But visitors are most likely to be impacted by the small artifacts and recollections of individuals who were involved in battles or in home front war efforts. Mueller retired in 2017. Ambrose died in 2002.