NEW ORLEANS — A new exhibit opens Friday in the National World War II Museum in New Orleans sharing how The Walt Disney Studios served as a morale booster for the troops.
"We knew they were very supportive and we appreciated that," said WWII Veteran Paul Hilliard.
Hilliard, 97, is the former WWII Museum Board Chairman and got one of the first looks inside the newly installed exhibition in the National World War II Museum. It's called 'The Walt Disney Studios and WWII.'
Hilliard remembers watching cartoon training sessions created by Disney.
"People would pay attention to the cartoons when they wouldn't pay attention to anything else," he said.
Curator Kent Ramsey has been working on the project for 20 years.
"I have two passions in my life — one is Disney and one is World War II history," Ramsey said. "Some things in here, it took me 15 years to find them."
There are 550 rare historical objects including mini videos that showcase how Disney supported troops.
"Most people don't realize Disney Studios devoted 90 percent of their production to the war effort. They did entertainment, education, propaganda films, training," Ramsey said.
Ramsey said Walt Disney Studios designed more than 1,200 insignia designs to unite squadrons with a patch and artwork on the nose of airplanes.
"They did all the work for free," he said.
Ramsey's uncle was part of a group with an insignia designed by Disney.
"He was shot down one month before the war ended," Ramsey said.
The temporary exhibit was displayed in San Francisco and Seattle. New Orleans is its final stop.
"When I was putting this together I had this museum in mind," Ramsey said.
The Walt Disney Studios and World War II will be on display to the public in the Museum's Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall from March 17, 2023, through September 24, 2023.
► Get breaking news from your neighborhood delivered directly to you by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.