You might wonder why the National Museum of the Pacific War (NMPW) is located in a small, land-locked town in Central Texas. The answer is simple: Fredericksburg is the hometown of WWII hero Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. A world-class museum and now a Smithsonian Affiliate, NMPW is a six-acre complex housing 55,000 square feet of exhibits, a Memorial Courtyard filled with thousands of tributes to WWII veterans, a Japanese Garden of Peace and more. The Pacific Combat Zone is home to a battlefield emulating Pacific Islands and where Living History reenactments demonstrate weaponry, battle tactics and other resources used by both the U.S. and Japanese forces.
The Admiral Nimitz Gallery provides intimate glimpses into the life of Fredericksburg’s hometown hero. Almost 100 personal and family artifacts are displayed, dotting the rich biography of Nimitz from childhood through his retirement at the highest rank in the U.S. Navy. The Gallery boasts state-of-the-art interactives that engage and educate the entire family.
The George H.W. Bush Gallery chronicles the Pacific war, beginning with the “backstory” of the geopolitics that led Japan to attack the U.S. Exhibits answer questions such as, “Who was Ensign Sakamaki, the first POW of WWII?” Sakamaki’s story, along with the Japanese midget submarine he piloted during the attack on Pearl Harbor are displayed at the Museum. Ever wondered what an atomic bomb looks like? You can walk right up to a bomb casing identical to the casing on the Fat Man bomb that destroyed Nagasaki and which many say prompted the war’s end.
The artifacts themselves are impressive, but it is the stories of ordinary Americans who did the extraordinary that are inspiring. One of the staff’s favorite displays is a flag made by American POWs who for three years hid the stars from a flag they had to destroy to avoid its capture. When their liberation was imminent, they sewed a new flag with parachute material and the stars saved from their old flag. With over 5,000 oral histories housed in the Oral History Collection, visitors can listen to the voices of men and women who served on ships and planes, on the front lines, the home front, in hospitals and more.
NMPW welcomes visitors from all over the world. Fredericksburg is a picturesque town with German heritage, good food and plenty to do. Located in the heart of Texas Hill Country, it is slightly cooler and drier than its closest cities San Antonio and Austin. Visit their website which hosts many videos about the Museum and WWII history. Sign up for their email updates to be informed about webinars, onsite and virtual events, and Museum news.
NMPW’s mission is to “educate and inspire present and future generations about World War II in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and the continuing global relevance of its lessons.” They reach students with school visits, hosts many field trips and has a robust Distance Learning program that hosted 9,000 students in the past year – including some as far away as Ghana!
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