Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS-- Veterans from across the generations gathered among the crowd of several hundred people, as the newest addition to the National World War II Museum opened on Saturday.
"As a whole, I think it's very good," said Andrew Konnerth, a 90-year-old World War II veteran. "I really am impressed with what they are getting across to the public."
The new U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center is a $35 million structure, showcasing the military weaponry and industrial requirements undertaken during the second World War.
"I'm just astonished, amazed. I feel blessed that we're this far along," said Nick Mueller, president of the National World War II Museum. "And every building, every phase that we've gone through seems even more extraordinary than anybody ever imagined and certainly I imagined so many years ago when we all started this."
The new Freedom Pavilion is immense: more than 26,000 square feet. Its was designed in order to accommodate six airplanes used in World War II.
"I'm particularly glad to see the Red Tail P-51 hanging from the ceiling of the pavilion, because it is the plane that I flew in World War II on 68 combat missions over Germany and enemy territory in 1945," said Dr. Roscoe Brown, a WWII Veteran and Tuskegee Airman.
Beyond the machinery of battle, though, is the story of the people behind it, as personal war stories are also highlighted within the pavilion.
"One of the things I like to think about is how average citizens-- 15 million of them-- made a contribution to their country to defend freedom and justice, even though the country may not have been absolutely perfect," Dr. Brown said, "but we went to war to support our country."
Konnerth, who served from October 1942 until the end of the war, said the war effort required everyone to pitch in.
"I think when there's a cause or a real need, the people will come together," Konnerth said.
The museum's Campaigns of Courage Pavilion, for the European and Pacific Theaters, will be built next. It is scheduled to open in a year and a half.