Stephen Ambrose proposed the idea of a D-Day museum to his close friend Nick Mueller in the year 1990. The two historians at the University of New Orleans first discussed creating the museum over glasses of sherry in the back yard of Ambrose's home.As a result of Ambrose's research for a book on the epic Allied landings in German-occupied Normandy on June 6, 1944, he had accumulated over 600 oral histories from World War Il veterans along with donated artifacts related to their stories. These prized materials needed a permanent home. Ambrose wanted to build a museum to honor the courage of Americans who gave their lives to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny. He also wanted to tell the story of entrepreneur Andrew Higgins, whose New Orleans factories built the innovative landing craft that made it possible to deliver vast numbers of Allied troops to hostile shores.The professor asked his friend if he would help develop a D-Day museum. Mueller agreed without hesitation, telling Ambrose it was the best idea he ever had.As years passed, Ambrose and Mueller were relentless in pursuit of their goal. The project attracted support from veterans and inspired donors as well as the United States Congress and the State of Louisiana. Originally envisioned as a modest D-Day museum at the university, on Lake Pontchartrain's
shore, The National D-Day Museum opened to national acclaim on this site, beside Andrew Higgins Drive, on June 6, 2000.From the opening day, Congressional leaders along with veterans and their champions urged the Museum to expand its scope. Although Stephen Ambrose passed away in 2002, Mueller sustained momentum for the bigger vision. An act of Congress in 2004 designated the institution as The National World War Il Museum with the new mission to portray the full American experience in the war, including its ongoing meaning for global freedom. With this mandate and growing donor support, the Museum pursued the goal of preserving and telling the story of the war that changed the world.
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World War II Served as a Crucible
"All of the human spiritual and material resources of our nation were mobilized to defeat authoritarian and racist regimes and to defend freedom. It was a fight to the finish for civilization itself. The American spirit prevailed."
Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, PhD Founding President & CEO
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"At the Core, the American Soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong. And they didn't want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought and won, and we, all of us living and yet to be born, must be forever profoundly grateful."
Stephen E. Ambrose, PhD Museum Founder & Author