The National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg is currently observing the 75th anniversary of V-J Day – the day, Aug. 14, 1945, when allied forces ended fighting with Japan, and World War II came to an end. (The formal proclamation ending the war wasn’t made until Sept. 2.) The museum, and the town, have a special connection to this year’s anniversary: Fredericksburg native, Adm. Chester Nimitz, commanded the U.S. Pacific Fleet during the war.
Rorie Cartier is director of the museum. He told Texas Standard that his museum’s seven-story building houses many artifacts from WWII, and boasts an interactive experience for visitors. The museum was formerly housed in a hotel owned by Nimitz’s grandfather.
“The citizens of Fredericksburg really wanted to open up a museum honoring Adm. Nimitz,” Cartier said. “Eventually, he gave his permission to do a museum here, as long as it focused on the men and women who served under his command in the Pacific.”
The museum traces the roots of conflict between Japan and China, and the beginnings of the world war. Among the museum’s larger artifacts is a TBM Avenger, the same type of aircraft president George H. W. Bush flew during WWII.
Before the pandemic forced the museum to change how it functions, it had an interactive exhibit for children demonstrating the weight of a soldier’s pack, and what went into it.
“They can feel every ounce of weight that these men and women had to carry with them as they went through the war,” Cartier said. “And that gives them that connection that otherwise they can’t make.”
Many veterans visit the museum, Cartier said.
“Back in the day, they were the high school seniors,” he said. “They were the young kids, going out there and doing this stuff. And that’s still how they see themselves. Very few will take credit for anything they did during the war.”
The National Museum of the Pacific War will host a series of virtual events starting Sept. 2. Events are free and open to the public.