WHAT TO SEE: The National World War II Museum.
The National World War II Museum seeks to preserve American memories of the “war that changed the world” by focusing on the experiences of everyday American soldiers in World War II. You may be turned off by the Manifest Destiny tone of some of the exhibits, such as “The Arsenal of Democracy,” or “Manufacturing Victory,” and those names are pretty vital clues to the tone of what’s inside. This is, after all, a government museum with the mission of spreading a very—surprise, surprise—favorable narrative for the American government. And with its glorification of the American military’s actions abroad, it’s not shocking that oil and mining companies with significant international interests such as Shell Oil and Freeport-McMoran are some of its main investors.
Can we really recommend that you spend the US$27 entrance fee to come here? Well, it is America’s official World War II museum, so it’s worth seeing what that’s all about. It’s extraordinarily well-funded, meaning that its extensive and manicured exhibits, films, and artifact collections draw thousands of visitors each day. And many of its volunteers are veterans who are personally vested in passing their memories of the war on to future generations. Talking to them and learning about their stories may be the most meaningful experience you have here. Just don’t forget to put on your critical thinking cap before you dive in.