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The Boeing Center at the World War II Museum

Dignitaries cut the ceremonial ribbon

Eric Shindelbower/Boeing

Dignitaries cut the ceremonial ribbon signifying the opening of the latest addition to the National WWII Museum -- the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

The latest addition to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans takes visitors back in time to get an appreciation for the weapons that helped win the war, the people who built them, and those who put their lives on the line, as they used those weapons in the name of freedom.

The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center is a towering 95-foot pavilion in the heart of downtown New Orleans which pays homage to the Greatest Generation. A ribbon cutting ceremony recently marked the opening of the facility, bringing in dignitaries and veterans alike to witness the special tribute firsthand.

“I think it’s important for future generations to remember what happened here and see that model of service to the country,” Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said with regard to Boeing’s significant investment in the Pavilion. “It is a reminder of everything that happened during this time period, and how it helped shape the technology that we are privileged to enjoy today. The jet age, the space age, the technology leverage and leading edge we are on today started during that time frame, so it’s good to remember our history.”

Visitors at the ribbon cutting ceremony

Eric Shindelbower/Boeing

Visitors at the ribbon cutting ceremony had a great view of the Boeing Center.

In addition to the iconic B-17, there are a number of airplanes on display inside, including the P-51 Mustang -- all of which have been restored for visitors to observe.

News anchor Tom Brokaw also took part in the ribbon cutting. He shared his enthusiasm for the Greatest Generation, and the skilled engineers at Boeing and its partner companies who built more than 98,000 aircraft during World War II.

“What really grabbed my attention was you look at those aircraft and they are highly aeronautical, but they were flown by people. There were no automatic systems -- they had their hands on the controls,” Brokaw said. “If you look at the bombers - they were so vulnerable‚Ķ and they would be over the Pacific and they wouldn’t have the navigation systems we have now. They would have to fly by the seat of their pants so they were great aviators, but they had wonderful machines to fly.”

For more on this story and to hear from veterans of World War II, watch the video. Next week in part two, we will highlight the stories of high school students who won a contest to attend the ribbon cutting, after showcasing how World War II impacted their hometowns.