Berry Tramel

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Travelblog New Orleans: A visit to the World War II Museum

by Berry Tramel Published: January 3, 2014
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It took until Game Day, but I finally had a few free hours in New Orleans. And so we went to the World War II Museum.

Wow. It was tremendous. I spent 21/2 hours and needed to spend four. TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, ranked the museum No. 1 out of 150 New Orleans attractions, the No. 7 museum in America and No. 14 in the world.

I haven’t been to enough world-class museums to know if it warrants that high of a ranking, but it was great. I can tell you that.

And a little personal, too. Several years ago, I became friends with the Rev. Melvin and Kate Grant. He was a retired Church of God minister. We called them Brother and Sister Grant. They had us over for dinner a couple of times, where Sister Grant cooked us quail and rabbit. It was fabulous.

Anyway, the Grants always were interested in World War II. Brother Grant fought at Iwo Jima. So did his brother, who didn’t make it home. Sister Grant went to work in the war industry; she was a Rosie the Riveter. Several years ago, they began telling me about the museum and a film project, “Beyond All Boundaries,” by director David Briggs. That film is now a 40-minute staple of the World War II Museum, a 4D experience that covers the highlights of both the Europe and Pacific theaters, plus the homefront.

The film, hosted by Tom Hanks on screen, includes voiceovers by a variety of stars. Brad Pitt, Kevin Bacon, Elijah Wood, Blythe Danner, James Cromwell, John Goodman, Neil Patrick Harris, Toby Maguire and Gary Sinense among them.

And halfway through the film, on screen appears a quote from Kate Grant. Made my day.

Anyway, the film is not all encompassing. It glosses over the atomic bomb drops. The words Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not spoken. And because of time constraints, we didn’t even make it up to the Pacific exhibits.

But the European exhibits were fantastic. A series of oral histories, by ordinary Americans, civilians and soldiers, is throughout the museum. And there’s a video, probably eight minutes along, about Eisenhower’s decision on when to launch the invasion of Normandy. Enthralling. I learned much about D-Day.

Anyway, there’s tons more, and I recommend it for everyone. The only downer was that the place was really crowded. Sugar Bowl gameday meant hundreds of OU and Bama fans were touring the museum, too. I’ll go back sometime when it’s a little more leisurely. Admission is $22, plus $5 for the Tom Hanks film and $5 for a submarine simulation, which we did not do, mainly because of time.

And oh yes, there was a ballgame Thursday. I’ve written a ton about OU-Bama and I’ll wrote more, but I’ll limit this to the Superdome.

It’s still an adequate football coliseum, but it’s now almost 39 years old, has survived the ravages of Katrina and some renovations. The video boards are obsolete.

The Alabama fans outnumbered OU’s 2-1, at least, but the Sooner fans were loud and proud, and they were given plenty of reason to crow Thursday night.

A bummer for me was that since the last time OU was in the Sugar Bowl, the Superdome pressbox has been moved. All the way to the top of the dome. So not as good a view. And an open-air pressbox. For those of us with a fear of falling, that’s not good. Worse yet, the televisions and stat monitors that dot every pressbox were affixed to a bar probably 12 feet above us. I was OK looking down on the field. But everytime I looked up, my legs turned to jelly. I was legitimately worried.

Then the game started, it got so good so quick, I never thought about it again. Watched the TVs all day for replays and stats.

A world-class museum and a Sugar Bowl to remember? Not a bad day in New Orleans.

 


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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