President Lynn Walton presided over today’s meeting. Gene Owens provided the opening prayer. Brandon Hodges led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Lynn led us in the Four Way Test. The meeting was held at the Holiday Inn North and on Zoom.
Bill MacLauchlan thanked those who helped with today’s meeting and noted that we have no guests. He circulated two get-well cards for members to sign. They are going to Bill Hughes and Larry LeBlanc. Both are under the weather.
Lynn reminded members that our club will not meet next week. Our September 7 meeting will be an evening social. There will be no lunch meeting that day. We’ll meet at the Holiday Inn beginning at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to bring a potential member to the meeting. Lynn will need a headcount by the week’s end of those who will be attending. She will send out an email request.
Lynn read a thank you letter to the club for the $240 we contributed to a local student whose mother recently died. He did not have uniforms for school. Now he has enough to last a full week.
Stew Deen was introduced and asked to provide a brief classification talk. He is in the insurance business. He is married. His wife is a first-grade teacher. They have one daughter. He enjoys USM sports and going to the beach.
Mark Killingsworth then introduced today’s guest speaker, Colonel Pete Crean. He is the Vice President of Education and Access at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. He is responsible for the content aspects of the Museum’s mission.
The Museum opened on June 6, 2000. The facility was begun by two professors in the New Orleans area. The first space for the facility was provided by the University of New Orleans. Since the Museum’s creation, almost one-half billion dollars have been spent on the facility and its displays. The Museum’s mission is to tell the WWII story including why it was fought, how it was fought and what the war means to the world today. Its purpose is to honor the WWII veterans. It received Congressional Authorization in 2004.
The landing crafts that were used in the war were developed by a New Orleans area builder. He needed a way to get logs out of the Louisiana swamps. During the war, he had seven factories building the crafts.
Hurricane Katrina had a very adverse effect on the Museum, causing it to close its doors. The board of directors decided to reopen the Museum despite the damage and the fact that no tourists were coming to New Orleans. They reopened in 2006 and began the long journey back.
The Museum had 800,000 visitors between 2004 and up until 2019. That’s when the Covid pandemic hit, again giving the Museum a new set of difficulties to work through, which it did. The board decided to take their educational program online after the pandemic.
According to Trip Advisor, the facility is ranked as the number one museum in New Orleans, the third museum in the United States, and the 8th in the world. It features world-class exhibits related to the War, telling in-depth stories about the events that happened during the war. Recently they built and opened the Higgins Hotel near the Museum. It has more than 200 rooms and features 20,000 square feet of meeting space. It plays a major role in the year-round educational programs offered by the Museum. They offer virtual and electronic field trips for students, a light and laser show, and lifelong learning opportunities. 
Col. Crean says World War II changed everything. New technologies were introduced, and the map of the world was changed. He says the Museum has become the most accessible and trusted resource about the war, honoring those who fought. The Museum was recently nominated for a Grammy Award and has more than $2B of direct and indirect economic impact on the area.
Lynn thanked Bob for his remarks. There being no further business to come before the club, she adjourned the meeting with our motto: “Service Above Self.”