Our Views: Big year for museum

The year 2014 promises to be a big one for the National World War II Museum, a star attraction ever since it opened in New Orleans on June 6, 2000.

The museum will honor the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion this June, and the institution’s newest pavilion, “Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters,” is slated to open in November.

We’re glad to know museum officials expect some 460,000 visitors this year, a nice jump from the 322,020 patrons who came to the museum during its first 12 months of operation nearly a decade and a half ago.

Like every other institution in New Orleans, the museum faced big challenges after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005. Attendance plummeted, with only 67,603 visitors the following year.

The museum’s comeback is a testament to its stewards, to the city it calls home and to the friends and donors across the world who support the National World War II Museum’s mission.

The generation this museum was built to honor is slowly fading away. Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only a little more than a million are left. An estimated 555 World War II veterans die each day.

This summer, as part of the museum’s observance of the D-Day anniversary on June 6, visitors will be asked through museum exhibits and social media to answer the question, “What does D-Day mean to you?”

We shudder to think of the many people who might answer that question with one of their own: “What is D-Day?”

The sacrifices and valor of millions during World War II helped secure the blessings of liberty we enjoy today. We forget that history at our peril.

In keeping that history alive, The National World War II Museum is serving not only New Orleans and Louisiana but the world.