Summer is here and thoughts turn to beaches and sunshine. Closer to home, why not spend a day at one of the world's finest museums and learn about America's history in the process.
The National World War II Museum in New Orleans commemorates the anniversary of D-Day, when on June 6, 1944, American and British forces landed on the beaches in Normandy, France, and turned the tide of the war to the Allied’s favor. This year features Maxine Giannini, whose late husband, Ugo, was a combat artist and later author of “Drawing D-Day: An Artist’s Journey Through War.” She will recount her husband’s experiences landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day as one of a platoon of military police assigned to the 29th Division, the drawings he made that day and the impact it had on his life. Joe Balkoski, author and 29th Division historian, will also reflect on the history and strategy of June 6, 1944. Additionally, the museum will offer visitors the chance to climb aboard a Higgins boat, landing craft created in New Orleans for the D-Day invasion.
The museum opened on the anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2000, and was originally dedicated to the story of D-Day in Normandy. Museum founder and author Stephen E. Ambrose dedicated the museum in the city where Andrew Higgins created the amphibious Higgins Boats that Eisenhower described as "the man who won the war for us."
Check out the full day of events at the World War II Museum for the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.
On June 21, author Stephen Harding presents “The Castaway's War: One Man's Battle against Imperial Japan” beginning at 5 p.m. There will be a reception at 5 p.m., a presentation at 6 p.m. and a book signing at 7 p.m., all in the museum’s U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
In the early hours of July 5, 1943, the destroyer USS Strong was hit by a Japanese torpedo, breaking the destroyer's back, flooding her engine room and killing dozens of sailors. While accompanying ships were able to rescue most of Strong's surviving crewmen, scores were submerged in the ocean as the shattered warship sank beneath the waves—and a young officer's harrowing story of survival began. Based on official American and Japanese histories, personal memoirs and the author's interviews with key participants, "The Castaway's War" tells the personal tale of Navy Lt. Hugh Barr Miller's fight for survival against both a hostile environment and an implacable human enemy.
Harding is the author of eight previous books, including The New York Times best seller “The Last Battle” and “Last to Die.” He is a longtime journalist specializing in military affairs. For nearly two decades, he was on the staff of Soldiers, the official magazine of the US Army, reporting from Northern Ireland, Israel, Egypt, New Zealand, Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq. Currently he is editor-in-chief of Military History magazine.
The author program is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Ensure your spot by RSVPing online or by phone at 504-528-1944 x 412.
Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of several Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire. She is also the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at email@example.com.