National WWII Museum Marks Memorial Day with Special Commemoration Honoring Fallen Service Members

NEW ORLEANS, May 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- To commemorate the brave men and women who lost their lives ensuring our nation's freedom, and stress to all Americans the importance of remembering these heroes, The National WWII Museum has planned a day of special events and ceremonies for Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.

The commemorative events will kick off at 10 a.m. with a patriotic band performance followed by a Memorial Day ceremony. The ceremony will include special tributes by relatives of service members who lost their lives during World War II.

Among the speakers will be Harold Hutchins, brother of Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins, who was killed in action in the Pacific at the age of 21 and posthumously presented the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor. Hutchins' Medal of Honor was donated to the Museum by his family and is currently on display as part of the D-Days in the Pacific exhibit. Also speaking will be Lorraine Taix McCaslin, sister of fallen Merchant Marine Louis Taix, who was lost at sea when the SS Nicaro was sunk by a German U-751 on the night of May 15, 1942 in the Bahamas. Rounding out the panel of speakers will be Wayne Johnston, son of 1st Lt. Gerald W. Johnston. The younger Johnston was just 16 months old when his father's B-17 aircraft was shot down by German fighters. The speakers will talk about their family member's ultimate sacrifice and why it is important to remember these heroes as well as teach younger generations about the war that changed the world.

"It means the world to me to share my brother's story. Knowing that his legacy will live on at this Museum and that future generations will learn of his sacrifice brings me great pride," said Lorraine Taix McCaslin, a longtime Museum volunteer.

In addition, student Kalie Indest, from New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School, will be in attendance at the Museum's Memorial Day ceremony. She is one of 15 students nationwide who were selected to travel to Normandy to read a personally written eulogy at the grave of an American service member who died during the Allied invasion of Normandy. She will pay tribute to Sergeant John P. Ray, whose life and military service she is researching. The trip to France is sponsored by National History Day and the Normandy Scholars Institute.

"It is particularly important on Memorial Day to honor and remember the service members from all of our nations' wars who gave the ultimate sacrifice – their lives – in the name of freedom," said Dr. Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, The National WWII Museum's president and CEO. "We are so grateful to the family members of the fallen heroes who will share their memories of their loved ones as part of our Memorial Day ceremony."

Other scheduled events for the day include a performance by the Museum's Victory Belles at 2:15 p.m., followed by the traditional observance of a moment of silence at 3 p.m. CDT.

For those unable to attend the ceremony in person, www.mymemorialday.org, a website created by the Museum, tells the stories of service men and women who died in defense of our nation's freedom. The site features images and artifacts from the Museum's collection and offers readers a number of ways they can honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The Museum's new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, scheduled to open in January of 2013, will pay tribute to all of the branches of the US Armed Forces who were active in the war, including the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines. The pavilion will contain a spectacular collection of macro artifacts including a restored B-17 G Flying Fortress, as well as an interactive submarine experience based on the final mission of the USS Tang, and an exhibit featuring a wall of images of all 464 WWII Medal of Honor recipients with interactive kiosks detailing the military and personal history of each.

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.

SOURCE The National WWII Museum



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