Jun 6, 2023 - Things to Do

D-Day anniversary remains a very big deal in New Orleans

The National WWII Museum on October 15, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

New Orleans marks the anniversary today of D-Day, the pivotal World War II operation 79 years ago on the beaches in Normandy in which in the city played a crucial role.

Why it matters: New Orleans is the birthplace of the famous Higgins boat, which carried troops onshore. The city now is home to the National WWII Museum, which originally opened 23 years ago as the National D-Day Museum.

  • The museum says there is great urgency in collecting the oral history of veterans, with about 350 WWII vets dying daily.

Flashback: Andrew Higgins designed and built the amphibious Higgins boat in New Orleans, using an integrated workforce of more than 25,000 people.

  • The boat could hold 36 combat-equipped troops or a Jeep and 12 troops.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower called Higgins "the man who won the war for us" thanks to his namesake landing craft.
  • It was used in every major amphibious assault of WWII. Less than 10 original boats remain in existence.
  • Higgins' company was also involved in the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb.

What's happening: The museum, at 945 Magazine Street, will host several events today in person and streaming online:

  • 10:15am: Performance by St. Augustine Marching 100.
  • 11am: Hal Baumgarten D-Day Commemoration.
    • Announcement about upcoming Liberation Pavilion.
    • Dedication of the Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground.
    • Guest speaker is Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia.
  • 5pm: Museum and WYES reception and presentation of a new documentary about the creation of the museum.

Of note: Admission is free for current service members and their families through Labor Day.

What's next: The St. Aug Marching 100 is partnering with the museum to perform next year in Normandy as part of the 80th anniversary events. Fundraising efforts are ongoing.


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