Finest Hour 176, Spring 2017
By Jeremy Collins, Director of Conference & Travel Program Development
The National WWII Museum
As history tells it, dissuading Winston Churchill from participating in the D-Day landings required the efforts of several generals and King George VI himself. But nothing could stop the formidable leader from paying a personal visit to the Normandy beachhead just six days later, on June 12, 1944. The world was changing after all; Churchill needed to be there to see it for himself. Today, it is the children and grandchildren of the brave souls that fought World War II who visit these places. They go to remember, explore, engage, and reflect on the lessons learned, and to fulfill a duty to pass those insights along to future generations. While many organizations offer brief visits to sites where the war was fought and won, none provide such comprehensive, informed, and poignant journeys as The National WWII Museum.
Thanks to the efforts of Museum leaders, travelers with an interest in World War II have the opportunity to embark on thoughtfully planned Signature Journeys designed and led by esteemed WWII historians, best-selling authors, and curators of The National WWII Museum collection. Each journey explores a theme— such as war correspondents or the secret lives of spies—and features exclusive access to related behind-the-scenes settings and authentic local experiences.
By day, guests travel in the company of renowned historians and authors, talented tour managers, and local guides who bring the stories of each site to life in vivid detail. With exclusive access to archival materials from the Museum’s collection— including digital recordings of intimate interviews with veterans— travelers are able to relive the pivotal moments on the beaches and bridges and in the cities and villages where crucial battles took place, and where history-making decisions were made. Highlights of the journeys include special access to rarely seen sites, participation in VIP events, and opportunities to interact with people who were eyewitnesses to history.
Travelers who embark on the Museum’s Signature Journeys also enjoy effortless transportation via private, air-conditioned motor coach, delicious meals in venues where the likes of Hemingway once dined, and five-star service every step of the way. Nighttime accommodations add to the enrichment with stays in luxurious and historic hotels such as Château de Sully or Hotel Villa Lara in Bayeux, Westin Paris Vendôme, and Maison des Armateurs in Saint-Malo, France. Travelers return home with once-ina-lifetime memories, autographed mementos, and keepsake travel guides with maps, photographs, and historical information plucked from the Museum’s collection.
The War’s Most Illustrious Voices
Departing in late September of 2017, the nine-day Writing the War journey retraces the footsteps of the WWII era’s most celebrated war correspondents. During this enlightening adventure, guests will travel in the company of best-selling author and historian Donald L. Miller, PhD.
This star-studded itinerary draws upon the Museum’s extensive collection of stories and recollections, bringing into sharp focus the courageous, professional correspondents who often slogged through the same mud as the infantry, jotting down notes in their foxholes and taking cover during bombardments. These were the legendary chroniclers who brought the war to life through their writings and images.
Each day, travelers awaken to share the adventures of Ernest Hemingway, Ernie Pyle, Martha Gellhorn, and “Beachhead Don” Whitehead as they recorded the events of the war. High- lights include Ernie Pyle’s “Long Thin Line of Personal Anguish” on Omaha Beach and other sites of war-torn Europe. In the beautiful walled city of Saint-Malo, the tour follows the footsteps of Lee Miller, the fashion model-turned-photojournalist. At the Ritz in Paris, guests raise a toast to the bar that was “liberated” by Heming- way before he drove deep into the Huertgen Forest for his final battle experience.
Evening meals are equally historic, as guests have the opportunity to relive such events as the meeting of Hem- ingway and fellow journalist Robert Capa, who dined together at Hotel La Mère Poulard at Mont Saint-Michel in July 1944. Nighttime accommodations include a stay in the historic Normandy château that served as a German headquarters between Bayeux and Port-en-Bessin, as well as overnights within the walled city of Saint-Malo, and steps from the Cathedral of Aixla-Chapelle in Aachen.
Sacrifice and Espionage
Avid readers of Alex Kershaw’s books, as well as those not yet familiar with his works, will appreciate The National World War II Museum’s Soldiers & Spies seven-day journey through France, which focuses on the author’s New York Times best-selling books The Bedford Boys and Avenue of Spies.
Departing in mid-October 2017, this suspense-filled adventure begins by following the first wave of Amer- icans to land in Normandy, with the author himself serving as the featured historian. Guests traverse Omaha Beach of Normandy with Kershaw as he relates stories of sacrifice about the “Bedford Boys,” who came ashore with Company A, 116th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division during the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day.
Tour members also roam the breath- taking streets of Paris with Kershaw, who provides depth and context to the espionage that occurred there more than 70 years ago. Avenue Foch, one of the most upscale and elite streets in Paris, was home to Avenue of Spies protagonist Dr. Sumner Jackson and his family. Their address at Number 11 was both a meeting place for the French Resistance and a drop site for crucial information. High-ranking Nazis took up residence nearby, putting the Jack- sons in constant danger. Kershaw’s stories will bring to life the Jackson family’s courage at a time when “Never had so many psychopaths and sadists been based on one street in Paris.”
In keeping with the drama and intrigue of a story about espionage, guests on this magnificent journey enjoy stays in grand hotels, experi- ence French hospitality at its most authentic and charming, and share marvelous wine and cuisine as they savor stories of heroism and sacrifice that will remain in their memories long after their last glass of cham- pagne. This journey features special VIP events offering opportunities to meet people who were eyewitnesses to the history of WWII-era France, including the D-Day invasions, life in occupied Paris, and the daring efforts of the Allied forces.
An Iconic Journey of Remembrance
Departing from Amsterdam on May 30, 2019, this iconic D-Day 75th Anniversary voyage promises to be one of life’s greatest adventures for those with a keen interest in the events of World War II.
Sailing in the comfort of a six-star luxury cruise ship, guests will enjoy the company of renowned WWII historians and authors, special on- board events, and exceptional private tours and visits ashore. The thought- fully designed itinerary offers a truly exclusive, memorable, and personalized travel experience that culminates in a special remembrance ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2019.
Over this 10-day voyage, guests will sail aboard one of the world’s most acclaimed luxury cruise ships, the Regent Seven Seas Navigator. Fresh from a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, this six-star luxury coastal ship features just 249 beautifully appointed staterooms and an unmatched crew-to-passenger ratio, ensuring complete comfort and attentive service for every one of her privileged guests. Onboard amenities include four gourmet dining venues and the world-famous Canyon Ranch Spa. On board, guests will sail with many of The National WWII Museum’s closest friends and supporters— including D-Day veterans—and enjoy many opportunities for informal discussions, formal talks, group activities, and enlightening lectures by many of the world’s most renowned WWII scholars. Included shore excursions feature visits to hallmark sites such as Point-du-Hoc, Omaha Beach, and Ste-Mère-Église.
Also included are a series of exclusive and immersive battlefield excursions to places not typically found on other D-Day itineraries. In addition to the military touring, more cultural shore experiences are offered than ever before, such as Belgian chocolate demonstrations and tastings, private art gallery openings, and an optional once-in-a-lifetime flyover of the Normandy Beaches and full-day in Paris by private helicopter. The pinnacle of all shore experiences will culminate at the 75th Anniversary of D-Day ceremony.
Reserve a Place in History
The National WWII Museum Signature Journeys extend the Museum’s tradition of inspiration, excellence, and thoughtful inquiry to important WWII sites around the world. With VIP access to the most intriguing destinations, rich historical context from travel experts, primary- source materials from the Museum’s digital collections, and custom experiences found nowhere else, The National WWII Museum has become the leader in WWII travel, providing unforgettable journeys into history.
Beyond the galleries, the Museum offers unique access to experiential history, including the opportunity to tour the deck or ride on an authentically restored PT-boat, tours behind the scenes to handle artifacts alongside Museum curators, and an impressive collection of restored and working macro-artifacts to discover, offering new ways to honor the generation that sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.
To access discounts for early booking, view detailed itineraries, and learn more about departures and availability visit the travel program website at www.ww2museumtours.org or call 1-877-813-3329 x 257.