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No visit to Fredericksburg would be complete without taking the time to tour the Nimitz Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War. If planning a sightseeing trip to this area of the Lone Star State to see some Texas sites, be sure to schedule enough time to appreciate this particular historical place fully.
In April of 2001, my husband and I spent about a half-day seeing this impressive museum with the indoor and outdoor exhibits. When one purchases a ticket, one is free to enter, exit, and reenter the museum. We spent several hours and then took a break for lunch and went back to view and learn about this part of our country's history concerning the war in the Pacific.
There is so much to look at, including airplanes, tanks, artillery, photos, clothing, diaries, and other artifacts. There is even a Japanese midget submarine housed there captured at Pearl Harbor. The museum houses hundreds of photos and about 900 objects. It takes time to get a sense of all that is there and what the cost of freedom often entails.
A ship is always referred to as 'she' because it costs so much to keep one in paint and powder.
— Chester W. Nimitz
Hotel and Stagecoach Stop Becomes Museum
This imposing structure in Fredericksburg, built to resemble the bow of a ship, was originally a hotel built in 1852 by the grandfather of Chester W. Nimitz. He just happened to be a merchant marine in Germany. For years up until 1926, it was a thriving business, and dignitaries as well as other people stayed and were entertained there.
As an only child, Chester W. Nimitz was influenced by his grandfather. His father died before he was born. Whether or not this inspired his naval career, the facts are that after graduating from the United States Naval Academy, Chester W. Nimitz began his career, ultimately ascending to Commander's rank in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II.
The Nimitz Hotel and Stagecoach Stop became the Admiral Nimitz Museum and honors this celebrated Fleet Admiral's career. In the year 2000, the complex was renamed the National Museum of the Pacific War.
Airplane Nose Art
The picture below shows an example of what is known as nose art. Many World War II airplanes were painted with everything from cartoons to pinup girls to names or other scenes depicting patriotism or attitudes such as hatred of the enemy. The artistry varied with the painter's talents, and numerous pieces of nose art are on view in this museum.
Outdoor Museum Exhibits
When walking outside of the museum, there is also much to see.
There is the Plaza of the Presidents dedicated in September 1995 with monuments honoring the World War 2 service of the ten men who, at some point, became not only a military serviceman but President of the United States and Commander in Chief. These monuments are in a courtyard with an American flag flying high in the center.
The Presidents honored include the following:
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Harry S. Truman
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- John F. Kennedy
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald Ford
- Jimmy Carter
- Ronald Reagan
- and George H. W. Bush.
Presidents of the United States are honored at this National Museum of the Pacific War (Nimitz Museum), and hundreds of plaques honoring people who served in our armed forces are also on an outside wall. Families or even associations can sponsor them, and some also bear images.
The Memorial Wall was dedicated on December 7th, 1977, and a dedication plaque bears Admiral Nimitz's words on the very day he signed the surrender document from the Japanese.
"They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation - the obligation to insure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live."
— Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Japanese Garden of Peace
On May 8, 1976, the Japanese government made a gift of The Garden of Peace and had it situated at the Nimitz Museum. Written in English, and also with Japanese symbols, this beautiful garden provides a place for quiet reflection with its sand and stone garden as well as tranquil water features.
An inscription reads as follows:
"The Garden of Peace is a gift to the people of the United States from the people of Japan with prayers for everlasting world peace through the goodwill of our two nations, symbolized by the friendship and respect that existed between Admiral Togo and Admiral Nimitz."
George H. W. Bush Gallery
In 1991 a new gallery opened up, showcasing even more artifacts from the War in the Pacific bearing this President's name. It was once again expanded in 2009, and George and Barbara Bush were present along with some Pearl Harbor survivors who were in attendance.
This extensive National Museum of the Pacific War now provides enactments of fighting. It has gone well beyond merely memorializing Admiral Nimitz's life and naval career to include much of what occurred during the times when fighting the Pacific war during World War II.
It is an educational experience and sobering at the same time. War is never pretty!
If you are a history buff or wish to learn more about this critical time when War in the Pacific occurred, be sure and include sightseeing trips to Fredericksburg, Texas, to visit the Nimitz Museum now called the National Museum of the Pacific War.
My husband and I felt awed and somewhat overwhelmed with emotions after seeing all of this vast repository of World War II history.
It is a Texas destination that you will not soon forget, and one of Texas sites well worth visiting! The address is 340 E Main St, Fredericksburg, TX 78624.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Peggy Woods