Update: 10/23 3:40 To clarify, the title of this post was in no way suggesting the National World War II Museum intended to change the name of the museum to the Museum of Social Change. The title reflects the teachings and mission statement to the docents as referenced in the letter below.
Update: 5:30 PM I do not hold in my current possession any documentation to back these claims up. I listened to a conversation last night between another docent student and Henry and they were in agreement on this. If I get any documentation or the follow up letter, I will share.
The current mission statement on the website is:
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn
First off, I LOVE the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and will be attending the grand opening of the new theater with Sir JJ (can’t wait). Last night, I was at dinner with Sir JJ and COL Henry Cook (& his lovely wife) for the Military Order of the World Wars meeting. Henry is currently going through training to be a docent in the museum. Another docent trainee came up to him and they were talking about how disappointed they were with the training. This is not the first time Henry has expressed this. Well, Henry has a history of telling it like it is and gave me permission to post this letter he sent to the museum leadership today as he wants his message out there for people to know. I report…you decide. Talk amongst yourselves…
I have received the below request for volunteers and I must tell you that I am pondering whether or not to return to the museum. On Tuesday of this week I attended my 3rd day of docent training and I left the training with great distaste regarding the messages being conveyed to future docents.
In the first instance, I was appalled at the idea that the museum is no longer the “National WWII Museum,” but now is to be referred to as a “museum of social change.” It was set forth that this museum is not about WWII, but rather about the years in which WWII occurred. It is about “change.”
Secondly, the idea that the home front was all about civil rights, women in the work place, and rationing in order to conserve rubber and gasoline is just more academia hogwash. Also the presentation of a particular paragraph from the Honolulu newspaper artifact stating that a minor child was killed by puncture wounds was presented the same as if the child had died in a hurricane or some type of accident. No mention that she was murdered, along with other civilians by the Japs who attacked our nation on that day of infamy. And need I mention the word, “Japs?” We were cautioned about that “racial slur.” Without indulging in “point and counterpoint” throughout this response, I offer this: World War II was the last time our great nation decisively won a war because that is the last time it was OK to hate our enemies and the U.S. military was allowed to kill so many of them that they had enough and surrendered.
Thirdly, I am tired of hearing from apologists about our role in WWII. I am tired of hearing how America should share the blame for the attack on Pearl Harbor. This is just more blarney from academics who are determined to rewrite the history of WWII. This begs a question. Do those who run the museum ever listen to the voices of the oral history projects in which the veterans (those who fought, not the academics who told of it later) tell us about the real war, what really happened?
The entire approach of the current training program seems to be one that mirrors what is happening as a part of the dumbing down of our education system. The policies of zero tolerance for those who would believe that some things are worth fighting for, the idea that combat could be compared to a playground fight, that a child who uses the correct formula but arrives at the wrong answer should get credit. (Would that theory apply to the navigator on your next airline flight?) By the way, war is NOT a video game.
The idea that we should strive to insure that children do not become judgmental about what happened in WWII or who was right or wrong in the war is also not palatable to me.
My father was a WWII veteran who served in the Pacific theater, and who, at age 31 with two small children, and was working in the defense industry and was exempt from the draft. He was building PBY’s in New Orleans. However he set it all aside because he thought his country was threatened and volunteered. I believe that if he and others like him could have seen into the future and what is happening to this country today and especially the way history in now being twisted, they may have decided not to get on those boats.
I also have a problem with the lack of the voices of combat veterans in the management of the museum and the disdain and even disrespect that I have witnessed towards WWII veteran volunteers by members of the management team as they pass through the entrance of the museum.
I have a lot to think about before I decide whether or not to return and I wanted to share these thoughts. I hope you will understand.
I would appreciate any responses to this letter.
Docent in training