The National Museum of the Pacific War

7th November 2006, 14:10
I had the opportunity to visit this museum in Fredericksburg Texas at the weekend and thought that members outside the US would like to hear about it. Maybe US members would be interested in the observations of a foreign visitor as well. I will also be posting a number of photographs in the next couple of days and you will be able to check these out in my Gallery.

The museum is a quiet thoughtful place. I met and spoke with a number of visitors who were also quiet and thoughtful - not a quality usually associated with Americans it has to be said. But you would have to have a heart of stone to be unmoved by this museum. It is situated far from the Pacific Theater of War in the middle of Texas near the place of birth of Chester William Nimitz. In December 1941 Nimitz was designated as Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, where he served throughout WW2. On 19 December 1944, he was advanced to the newly created rank of Fleet Admiral, and on 2 September 1945, was the United States signatory to the surrender terms aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Entering the museum from the road, the first thing you see is the Memorial Courtyard. Along the walls of the courtyard are plaques dedicated to the ships that took part and their crews. I can tell you that it is a long wall and there are a large number of plaques. There is also an area dedicated to the service of a surprising number of US Presidents who served in the navy during the war. The plaques continue around an outside grassed area alongside which is the Veterans Walk of Honour. This is a path made of bricks inscribed with the name of a veteran inscribed on it. Visitors can support the museum by sponsoring a brick; there are a lot of bricks.

The George Bush Gallery provides a chronological explanation of the background to the war and the bloody story of how it proceeded. It features many exhibits from the period and a number of presentations. It does a good job of telling the story of the war and is very comprehensive. I was pleased to find that the museum had not succumbed to the recent trend of "dumbing down" that I have seen in museums elsewhere - and I am sorry to say I would include here the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich as a victim of this trend. This museum gives you an account of events and lets you think for yourself.

Outside the museum are a number of relics of the war including some ships' guns and the topmost section of a ship - I will post photos of these exhibits. There is a Japanese Garden of Peace. This was gift from the military leaders of Japan to the people of the United States, in honor of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. A traditional Japanese garden, three basic elements are represented: stone, plants and water. As you enter the garden you are transported to a replica of Admiral Togo's garden in Japan. It is indeed a peaceful place.

Other exhibits I didn't manage to see were the Admiral Nimitz Museum housed in the old family hotel but closed for repair, and the Pacific Combat Zone - a formal presentation with many further exhibits which I would very much have liked to have seen but sadly was too late for the last tour.

I commend the museum to anyone who happens to be in the area. The Americans deserve credit for the honour shown to their navy. Further information is available from the museum's website at

I hope I have done the museum the justice it deserves.



william dillon
7th November 2006, 21:45

I have been to a few U.S. museums & monuments, they certainly know how to honour their servicemen and women, we could do far worse than follow their example in the U.K.