National Museum of the Pacific War
340 E. Main Street, Fredericksburg, Texas (830) 997-4379 www.nimitz-museum.org
Nine days after the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order to the secretary of the Navy: “Tell Nimitz to get the hell out to Pearl and stay there till the war is won.” Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz returned home victorious just under four years later. To honor Nimitz’ accomplishments, a nonprofit group from his hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas, opened the Admiral Nimitz Museum in 1967.
Today the 6-acre museum complex, since expanded and renamed the National Museum of the Pacific War, centers on the steamboat-shaped building once run as a hotel by Nimitz’ grandfather. The main galleries comprise 34,000 square feet of exhibition space, including the refurbished hotel and the newer George H.W. Bush Gallery, built by local architect John Klein, which depicts the entire Pacific War and includes a walk-through diorama of Guadalcanal.
Between the two galleries, the Veterans’ Walk of Honor and Wall Memorial and the Japanese Garden of Peace (a gift from Japanese officers), venerate Pacific War veterans. The memorial fountain is capped by the screw propeller of a wartime Essex class aircraft carrier. The Plaza of the Presidents commemorates the U.S. presidents who served in the military during the war. Two blocks away is the Pacific Combat Zone, which features an Avenger dive-bomber, the restored PT-309, a recreated beachhead, a medical Quonset hut and the actual casing of an atomic bomb slated to have been dropped on Japan.
The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The National Museum of the Pacific War fulfills its motto magnificently: “We inspire our youth by honoring our heroes.”
Originally published in the October 2008 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.