Military History Museums in Georgia and Louisiana


By Kathleen Walls


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Kathleen Walls discusses three military history museums. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.


WWII Home Front Museum on St. Simons Island gives a different view of the war. Most WWII museums deal with the war in Europe; D- Day on Normandy Beach or battles in far-away Belgium. We all know the war impacted this country, but this museum shows how very close it came to our own shores. It’s the only museum in the country telling the home front story. The museum has many artifacts related to the war events on Georgia’s coast. Like ration books, the bell and life ring from the S.S. Esso Baton Rouge, one of two merchant ships that were sunk just about 13 miles off St. Simons coast on April 8, 1942, by a German U-boat. Twenty-two sailors were killed in that attack. Others were rescued by Coast Guard crews stationed in the building that now houses the museum. There are personal stories you can push a button to hear or actual duty books like the one kept by First Chief Boatswain Elisha Tillett. The museum is very interactive.

National World War II in New Orleans is huge. The exhibits are real and extensive. And it’s still growing. You will often find WWII veterans volunteering at the museum to tell their own stories. The personal artifacts are fantastic, but two exhibits really captured my interest. Both reflect on a little-known portion of the war that was pivotal.

Enigma Machine was an early precursor to a computer. The Germans developed Enigma after WW1 and improved it before WWII. They believed it uncrackable. Ironically, Alan Turing, the English scientist who was able to crack the Enigma code, was a gay man who was driven to suicide due to government prosecution for homosexuality. He is considered the founder of computer science. Had the Allies not been able to crack these codes, the war could have gone differently.

Another of those lesser-known exhibits was the contribution of a canny Irishman with a shipyard located in New Orleans Andrew Jackson Higgins. Hitler called him “The new Noah.” General Dwight Eisenhower stated, “Andrew Higgins … is the man who won the war for us. … If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.”

  • Enigma Machine at the National World War II Museum
    Enigma Machine at the National World War II Museum


Heritage Park Veterans Museum in Henry County, Georgia is a small museum with a big story. Instead of telling about each battle and war, it tells about individuals who fought and, in many cases died, for our country. There are exhibits about many local veterans whose families’ donated uniforms or memorabilia. My favorite is a motorcycle that was used in WWII. A local soldier serving in Czechoslovakia found it being used as a water pump on a farm. He bought it for $100 and donated it to the museum. There is the first maternity uniform for pregnant military nurses. The donor lives in the area and served when she was pregnant. She visits with her grandchildren now. One room is set as a memorial to those veterans who have passed on. It has the feel of a chapel.

The 75 feet long Wall of Honor is located on a two-and-a-half-acre hilltop. The flags of all 50 states fly in front. The wall features battle scenes and quotes by important figures including the Gettysburg Address and Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. Under the medals of honor, you see President Kennedy’s statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you –ask what you can do for your country.”

Kathleen Walls, a former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, GA, is publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. She currently resides in Middleburg, FL, and has lived in Florida most of her life but travels extensively, mainly in the Southeast. Kathleen was born in New Orleans and returns often to visit relatives in Louisiana. She has lived in Mississippi and Georgia as well. She is the author of travel books, Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts, Wild About Florida series, and several novels.  Her photographer appears in her travel ezine and in her Wild About Florida series as well as many other publications.  Publications she writes for include Travel the South, Roadtrippers, Travel Awaits, World Footprints, Snowbirds and RV Travelers, Family RVing, Deep South, Florida Country, and more. She’s a proud member of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers (IFWTA), the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).


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