NEW ORLEANS – Gerard Cook-Moulin, a 9th grade student from Pearl River, Louisiana, today was named one of The National WWII Museum’s “Salute to Freedom” award winners and will be one of 51 students nationwide to travel to New Orleans to participate in the Grand Opening of the Museum’s new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, in January 2013.
The contest, made possible by the Museum’s unique partnership with the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest, called on qualifying students to submit an application and respond to two essay questions. Winners were chosen based on their knowledge of the past and its connection to the future as well as their knowledge of their state’s role in World War II. Winners were announced during the National History Day awards ceremony, held June 14 in College Park, Maryland.
Gerard advanced to the National History Day Contest with a web site on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Gerard says that this research project altered his view that “America’s success in WWII was a foregone conclusion and deepened [his] appreciation for the America [he] inherited.” Gerard is aware of one of Louisiana’s most important contributions to the War: the development and production of the Higgins Boat. Gerard’s own grandfather was a carpenter at Higgins Industries, a connection that Gerard has recently examined more deeply.
“Gerard Cook-Moulin is a great example of just one standout student who recognizes the important lessons of WWII, why it was fought, how it was won and how it continues to have an impact today,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of The National WWII Museum. “We hope that when he returns, he will share his experience with other students and help advance our goal of educating younger generations about the war that changed the world. It is particularly important for Louisiana’s younger citizens to learn the stories of WWII now as there are currently only 15,336 WWII veterans left in the state and by 2020 there will be 3,227.”
In advance of his or her journey to The National WWII Museum, each of the winners will select and write captions for five images that represent their state’s contributions during WWII. These images, along with a short essay linking the images and emphasizing the state’s role in the war effort, will become part of a special exhibition at the Grand Opening celebration.
Winners and their chaperones will arrive in New Orleans prior to the festivities in January, spend two nights in downtown New Orleans and participate in the Grand Opening celebration. Travel costs, the hotel stay and meals for each student and chaperone will be covered by The National WWII Museum. The students and their chaperones will be among the first visitors to enter the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.
The Museum’s new pavilion will pay tribute to all branches of the US Armed Forces who were active in the war. The pavilion will contain a spectacular collection of macro artifacts including a restored B-17 Flying Fortress and an interactive submarine experience based on the final mission of the USS Tang. A special section will feature a wall displaying images of all 464 WWII Medal of Honor recipients and interactive kiosks which allow visitors to access the military and personal history of each recipient.
Visitors to The National WWII Museum can also take advantage of a new History & Heritage travel package, which offers the rare opportunity to experience an inside look at the Museum’s historical treasures as well as the rich culture and history of New Orleans.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook page.