A new addition to WWII Museum
About 900 World War II veterans die on average every day, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But Blakey, Hoffman, Staler and other veterans who are still kicking and able to travel will be standing on the red carpet at Friday's dedication of a $60 million addition to the World War II museum, which was established in 2000 to tell the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world.
The addition contains three new attractions: the Victory Theater, which will show a 35-minute immersive and literally seat-shaking 4-D film of the epic battles of the war; the Stage Door Canteen, which will re-create the entertainment that took place in famous wartime venues; and the American Sector restaurant, which will serve 1940s-inspired food by John Besh, one of New Orleans's top chefs (and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War).
The three days of opening festivities that begin Friday have been dubbed "Experience the Victory," a reference to not just the war but also the comeback of New Orleans's cultural institutions and tourism since Hurricane Katrina. According to the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, the number of visitors has not yet reached pre-Katrina levels, but it's increasing every year. The city now has more restaurants -- at least 1,000 -- than ever and more weekend festivals than you can shake an alligator sausage at. Nearly every month, it seems, some Katrina-closed institution reopens.
The new building, one of four slated to be added to the museum by 2015 at a total cost of $300 million, is the largest addition to the city's cultural landscape since the 2005 hurricane.
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