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Bill’s Blog: Giving Back and Remembering

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Bill’s Blog: Giving Back and Remembering

Other Bill’s Bowl Blogs: Day One || Day Three

NEW ORLEANS — This is John Capretto, World War II veteran. He is one of many volunteers at the National World War II Museum located near the Louisiana Superdome. He stands today by one of New Orleans’ great acheivements — a military landing craft that you quickly learn is a Higgins Boat.

It was New Orleans’ Andrew Higgins who essentially invented the concept, making the Allied landings at Normanday and other beaches possible. Dwight Eisenhower told a young historian by the name of Stephen Ambrose that without Higgins and his boats, the war would not have been won. Ambrose wrote Band of Brothers, and several other books about the Greatest Generation. The former University of New Orleans professor was driving force in creating the museum that started as the National D-Day Museum, and has since grown into a salute to the entirity of the war.

Thus the involvement of Tom Hanks as the narrator for the new multimedia presentation at the museum, and the backing of media moguls like Steven Spielburg.

To give us a place to listen to John Capretto. He told us his story of enlistment, nagging his parents at 17 to sign his papers so he could choose his service and not be drafted at 18. The U.S. Navy was where he longed to serve. He was trained to drive the landing craft in San Diego, and after basic was shipped out to first Coronado across the bay then out into the Pacific. "They called us instructors, can you imagine that," he said. "All of 18 and now I’m an instructor."

One of the blessings provided to us today by John Capretto and his friends is that six days from now in the huge golden building just down the street, the 18 to 22 year olds representing the University of Arkansas and Ohio State do battle in a game over artificial turf; they are not face down in a foxhole or hurtling through the air above shards of metal and flak.

For that, we are all eternally grateful.

This afternoon, Coach Bobby Petrino takes a group of Razorback football players to Children’s Hospital. The visit is a part of the plans of most teams at almost every bowl in America. Coach Petrino will have along with him some of the key players for the Razorbacks, a commitment to giving back to young people that he and the Arkansas Athletic Department take very seriously. The trip is not unlike last year at St. Jude’s in Memphis.

Later this evening, we will have more details on the visit.

After a day of practice and volunteering, it was on to some pure team fun with the Rock and Bowl event for the Razorbacks. Check out the photo album from today’s events to see some of the fun from tonight’s team trip to the lanes.

NOTABLES FOR RAZORBACK VISITORS:

Obviously, the National WW II Museum on Magazine Street is a high-visibility stop for those traveling in. The exhibits are extremely detailed, and focus on the D-Day invasion at Normandy, then on the conflict as a whole. If you have visited in the past, the museum layout has changed considerably with the addition of the "4D" theater next door for Beyond all Boundries. The extra dimension comes from wind gusts, faux snow, shaking seating as the Hanks narration brings the story of the conflict to life. If you are a history buff (or teacher), it is great. But do not stay away if you think history is boring — the production value is extremely high, the visual effects outstanding and, well, entertaining.

History lives in and around Jackson Square in the heart of the French Quarter, particularly with the Cabildo. The National Historic Register building dating from Louisiana’s colonial past is the flagship building of the Louisiana State Museum.

If living history is more your interest, the namesake of John James Audubon, the French-American naturalist whose artwork graced Birds of America in the early 1800s and was a New Orleans resident, provides Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Audubon Park. The park and zoo are located near Tulane University, while the aquarium is located near the teams and media hotels at the end of Canal Street.



Sports Category : Football