Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Shot Down the Rising Sun

In a piece in today's WSJ, Mark Yost recounts his visit to a museum dedicated to America's battles in the Pacific in World War II. Where else would you expect to find such a museum but Fredericksburg, Texas:

If "The Pacific," the 10-part miniseries that just concluded on HBO, has piqued your interest in the war against Japan, then I'd suggest you make your way to this little town about 90 miles west of Austin. It's home to the National Museum of the Pacific War, which tells the story of Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima in exquisite and engaging detail. Having been to all the major war museums in Europe and the U.S., I left here thinking this is perhaps the most comprehensive, well-organized and informative military museum I've ever seen.

When visitors enter the newly remodeled George H.W. Bush Gallery, their tickets are given a 48-hour time stamp. Many will use all 48 hours. The museum is organized into small galleries that proceed chronologically from the opening of Japan and China by the Western powers in the 19th century to the war-crimes trials that followed the Japanese surrender that ended World War II. Each gallery provides an overview of the topic--a particular island campaign, U.S. treatment of the Nisei, flying "the Hump" in India--and then breaks it down with informative plaques, interactive kiosks and relics that keep visitors engaged without overwhelming them with too much information. I particularly liked the panels posted periodically that told visitors what was going on in the European theater at the same time.

Unlike the more privileged members of society, I do not have access to HBO and the wonders of "The Pacific" series. John Edwards was right about there being two Americas after all. When is someone going to do something about the "premium channel" divide that separates our country and denies hard-working Americans their fundamental right to high quality cable content?

Don't know when--if ever--I'll be anywhere near Fredericksburg, Texas, but if I am I definitely will plan on hitting the National Museum of the Pacific War, however inelegantly it may be named.