The National Museum of the Pacific War is located in the little town of Fredericksburg, Texas. We had been talking about going since we moved here and finally made it a couple weeks ago. We hear so much about WWII, but it’s all about the European front and not so much about the Pacific side. We are a Marine Corps family and we’ve lived in Okinawa, so it’s a given that we would be interested in the events of the Pacific. Fredericksburg is the birthplace of Admiral Chester Nimitz. Nimitz was the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Command during WWII, which explains the location.
The museum is actually 3 separate areas, covering 6 acres in downtown Fredericksburg. The entire complex consists of the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the George H.W. Bush Gallery, the Pacific Combat Zone, the Plaza of the Presidents, the Memorial Courtyard, and the Japanese Garden of Peace. There is so much to see that tickets are good for 48 hours.
The Admiral Nimitz Museum is housed in the old Nimitz Hotel. The hotel was opened by the grandfather of Nimitz in 1852. IN 1971, the Admiral Nimitz Foundation was started to provide funding for the museum and the hotel was restored. The museum now walks you through a brief of history of Fredericksburg, Nimitz’s family as the immigrated and settled, and then his life from birth, his marriage, and through the ranks in the Navy.
When you leave the Admiral Nimitz Museum, you walk towards the Memorial Courtyard. The walls of the courtyard are lined with memorials to those who served in the Pacific during WWII. The Japanese Garden is off the courtyard, but it was closed and being renovated, which I was extremely sad about. I love a good Japanese garden! On the other side of the courtyard is the Plaza of the Presidents. The plaza is a tribute to the 10 U.S. Presidents that served during WWII: Franklin D. Roosevelt (Commander in Chief), Harry S Truman (Commander in Chief), General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy (Navy), Lyndon B. Johnson (Navy), Richard Nixon (Navy), Gerald Ford (Navy), Jimmy Carter (Navy), Ronald Reagan (Army) and George H. W. Bush (Navy).
The George H.W. Bush Gallery is where the actual WWII part of the museum is. There are audio tours if you like or you can just walk through and read everything. The museum is very indepth. There are lots of displays and short videos. It’s set up in chronological order and let’s you know what year you are in, as well as the location. The war hopped around various islands, so this was nice to have it so nicely organized. There was one part that might bother some vets. A brief history of the 50 years or so before WWII and our relationship with Japan and China was shown, along with the events leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. You are then showed in to another room (I thought it was going to be a film) with displays and a huge submarine. The lights go down and the attack on Pearl Harbor started. I could see it being a bit unsettling for some. It did bring up lots of good questions from the kids, which I gladly answered. It’s not easy to explain war and it’s effects, like PTSD and why their dad is the way he is, so I take any opportunity I can to explain. The museum was well put together though. It was long and I could see it taking forever to get through, which explains the tickets being good for 2 days.
We didn’t make it to the Pacific Combat Zone. It was guided tours only and we just ran out of time. We’ll be back though! There’s a Bob Hope exhibit this summer. My son kinda has a thing about him since he went to Bob Hope Primary School in Okinawa.