New Orleans Day 2

Well, it’s really day three, but it rained all day yesterday, so we had no interest in getting out in the rain.

The weather cleared up with the arrival of a cool weather front. It was mostly clear and definitely cool. We took the streetcar down to the Quarter and walked the few blocks to Brennan’s.

No dining al fresco today, but they do have a pretty patio.

Today we went to brunch at a New Orleans tradition, Brennan’s. On Royal St in the heart of the Quarter, it’s a restaurant we’ve enjoyed from the first visit here together, almost four decades ago. It’s hard to go wrong with Eggs Sardous or Eggs Hussard , turtle soup and Caribbean milk punch. As delicious as those dishes were, we had to follow that with another tradition, bananas Foster (video), All of this does come at a not immodest price and we definitely didn’t spend as much as we could have. But $130 is on the high side for lunch for us.

We had already planned to go to the World War II Museum, and by the time we finished lunch, it would be open.

I had no idea that the building I once saw near Lee Circle while riding the streetcar was, or has grown into, such a huge complex. There are several buildings covering entire city blocks with exhibits about the European and Pacific theatres of battle. We spent four hours there and weren’t able to adequately see all of it.

One other observation- Lee Circle isn’t Lee Circle without the statue of Robert E Lee on top. Another casualty of the wave of anti-Confederacy that swept the nation over the last few years. At a personal level, I never viewed these statues and memorials as a celebration or condoning slavery. My 2nd great grandfather and his brother fought on the Confederate side of the Civil War. Neither had slaves; they fought to defend their way of life, which (for them) didn’t include slavery, but a defense of their homeland. Not being black, I had an entirely different worldview. Reading about the atrocities of slavery then, and those that still exist 150+ years later around racism (still surprisingly strong) helps you appreciate that these symbols were not just statues to warriors, but ever present reminders of a past that is still present in so many ways.

There’s a narrative going on with regard to these monuments that has not been as well phrased as this one by the mayor of New Orleans. Definitely worth the time to read and thought provoking. The unfortunate fact is that racism and ethnic bigotry are being promulgated by Donald Trump, supported by a sizable portion of the population that would like to see Make America Great Again by returning to that period where skin color determines humanity and rights. Living in the past and not coming together as a nation.

The WWII museum reminds me that neing of a different generation than that of my father’s , we lose touch with the scope, the hardship, the horrors of a global war that ended 74 years ago. The exhibits span two enormous buildings (another being constructed), each of which are three stories tall. The exhibits combine quipment from the wars, film, personal narratives of the men and women who fought and died in this war. Revisiting major combat initiatives like D-Day in the European, Guadalcanal and the many other campaigns large and small, significant and forgotten by most was really an experience. The personal stories from the perspective of the individuals involved are very powerful. The scope of loss of life, both military and civilian are hard to grasp. China, which had been invaded by Japan, lost 20,000,000 people, Russia (what strange bedfellows we had) lost 11,000,000 soldiers and as many as 20,000,000 civilians. The US lost 400,000 soldiers. Multiple generations were lost.

There were exhibits dedicated to Bob Hope, who entertained countless soldiers across all of the campaigns, and continued do so post war, for fifty years. The contribution and heavy losses of the Merchant Marine forces were also highlighted.

I wished we’d had a couple more hours to devote to the Road to Berlin (European campaigns), but we had to hurry through the last part due to the museum’s closing.

While we took the city bus to get here, we missed one that would have taken us back. Rather than wait twenty minutes in the cold, we walked. It was a long, long ways back!

We regret not being able to go back to Cafe du Monde, but just too tired at the end of our walk and it was already 6pm. Have to come back!

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