Sept. 11 on minds of World War II vets

Dec. 7, 2001 at 2:07 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Sept. 11 was on the minds of many World War II veterans who paraded Friday on the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack to mark the official opening of the Pacific Theater wing of the National D-Day Museum.

Hundreds of veterans rode through the streets of the central business district in 5-ton Army trucks, Humvees and vintage World War II military vehicles. A squad of modern and historic aircraft, including a F-17 Flying Fortress, flew through the skies above the procession.

In a ceremony at the museum, former President George Bush, a decorated World War II pilot, was the most prominent veteran to link Sept. 11 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

"On Sept. 11 our nation suffered another surprise attack and today we are in a different war, but I think that duty, honor, country still prevails," he said, drawing applause. "Today we say remember Pearl Harbor, but I think we as a nation all say remember Sept. 11.

"We have a good, strong commander in chief."

Bush thanked historian and museum founder Stephen Ambrose for his vision in creating the World War II museum and actor Tom Hanks for his work in the motion picture "Saving Private Ryan," which some say rekindled interest in the war. Hanks also raised funds for the project.

In his remarks, Hanks said many comparisons are being made between the latest attack on the United States and attack 60 years ago but the nation's commitment is the same.

"Analogies between the events of Dec. 7, 1941, and Sept. 11, 2001, are many, the parallels poignant, the resolve in our souls the same," he said.

The Victory Parade was the first major event in a weekend of events celebrating the opening of the Pacific Theater Wing at the museum. Exhibits describe the attack on Pearl Harbor, the naval battles of Midway and Leyte Gulf, and fights for Guadacanal, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The 70,500-square-foot museum, which opened last year on the 56th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in France, was created in a renovated, four-story warehouse in the growing arts and warehouse district of downtown New Orleans.

Exhibits include a reproduction of the Higgins landing craft, a 110-seat theater where the film "D-Day Remembered" is shown seven times daily, interactive galleries describing the U.S. role in the war, oral history stations in which veterans tell their own stories, and scores of artifacts including aircraft, vehicles, weapons and uniforms.

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