Fredericksburg, Texas is the home to the National Museum of the Pacific War. I visited there over Labor Day with my Marine friend and architect and was amazed with the history lesson presented in the exhibits and relics from the Pacific Theater of World War II. Much of the lessons presented there have been lost in the rhetoric of politics in the country and around the world, but the role of the construction industry and factory workers who supplied the armies, navies and air forces of that war are almost unbelievable. There are examples like the Japanese minisub that was retrieved from Pearl Harbor, tanks, and artillery that were built by the thousands and shipped around the world. There are planes like the B-25 that were created and built by welders, sheet metal workers, and electricians in a time frame that would make most of us shake our heads.
Not only did the construction workers build them, they maintained them and salvaged the parts to keep them moving and flying. They built landing strips in remote places in the Pacific and all across Europe and North Africa.
I looked at the pictures thinking that I might see one of my uncles who fought in the Pacific. We saw several old men with badges on their shirts telling the rest of us that they were special visitors who had served in that war some 70 years ago. One of them had a tear in his eye, surely for those of his friends and fellow soldiers who fought with him.
The men and women in the construction industry build all kinds of structures, vehicles and planes for peacetime and for war without parades or kudos, and they deserve all the respect we can give them for what they did to ensure our freedom in that horrible war and in the wars underway in the world today.
The locals in Fredericksburg do re-enactments of the battles on a site nearby to show a little of what it was like. The deaths and injuries on all sides of the armies from the battles were extreme.
The museum includes a Plaza of Presidents which pays tribute to the American presidents who served in the armed forces during World War II. These men were the 32nd through the 41st presidents of the United States – that’s 10 elected presidents in a row who served!
A visit there is truly worth your time. You will come away with a better appreciation of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives so that we could be free and for those brave soldiers who continue to do that in remote places like Afghanistan and Iraq today.