playing tourist: National Museum of the Pacific War

Last time, I showed y’all some of the sights we enjoyed during our short stay in Fredericksburg. As I mentioned, the one thing we really wanted to see this time around which we hadn’t seen before was the National Museum of the Pacific War. In retrospect, we probably should’ve seen this on one of our visits before having a baby because it was hard to keep a 15 month old toddler entertained. Imagine that! We will definitely have to go back when he’s older because there was so much we didn’t get to see.

The museum is actually comprised of several different buildings. The first building, where the main entrance is located, is housed in what used to be the old Nimitz Hotel. There are artifacts from the childhood of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and as you walk through the displays, it goes in chronological order starting with his grandfather building the hotel in 1852.

I took a few photos with my phone but they were too dark to show anything well. Just imagine artifacts such as an old trundle bed, a baby crib, baby’s first communion gown, a giant ship steering wheel, dresses from that time period, war medals, and so forth. It was so amazing to see all that history preserved! For history lovers like us, it was disappointing (but expected, after all) to have to rush through because we definitely felt like we missed out on some great stuff.

Just outside the first building where the original Nimitz Hotel was at, there is a large outdoor courtyard area. One portion of this area is the ‘Veterans Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall’, which has bricks and wall plaques commemmorating individuals, ships and units from any United States and Allied branch of service that served in the Pacific during WWII.

I couldn’t walk through this section (or really, any of the museum) without getting emotional about the impact that WWII had on millions of people, all across the globe. Sometimes, it just seems so unreal and far removed, but when I see visual reminders like this I can’t help but feel suddenly transported back in time.

Once you walk through the ‘Veterans Walk of Honor and Memorial Wall’, you come across the ‘Plaza of the Presidents’ which gives tribute to the ten U.S. Presidents who served during WWII. The plaza was dedicated on September 2, 1995 which marked the 50th anniversary since Fleet Admiral Charles Nimitz accepted the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri. In case you don’t know, that surrender marked the end of World War II. Pretty amazing stuff.

^^I spy a toddler.

After seeing everything in the courtyard area, the next stop was the actual museum of the Pacific War. It was surprisingly much bigger inside than the outside let on, and we could have spent hours wandering around had it not been for a certain little boy. The museum is dedicated exclusive to showcasing the Pacific Theater battles of World War II, such as the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Guadalcanal among countless others.

Logically, the exhibits started with the events at the beginning of World War II.

One of my favorite exhibits was this short film, which depicted the events leading up to the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Also, it was the only 5 minutes where our toddler was quiet and seemed to enjoy the dark room, movement and loud noise.

We were able to spend probably another hour, walking around all the different exhibits. The way the museum was laid out made it easy for you to start at the beginning and follow a specific route, which would allow you to see everything in chronological order.

Even though we didn’t have much time at the museum it was obvious that it is well planned and the exhibits are all top notch. Luckily, I was able to retain all the information you’ve read here in this post even though we were rushing through. I can’t wait to go back again someday and spend more time at this museum but I’m glad that we were able to at least get a bird’s eye view.

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