NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - What began as a small idea 25 years ago has grown into the National World War II Museum. Soon, the salute to the men and women of the "greatest generation" will be seen from across the city with the Canopy of Peace.
Donald "Boysie" Bollinger, a longtime supporter of the museum, made it possible. He donated $20 million Tuesday, the largest individual gift in the history of the museum.
A portion of the gift will be used to build a 150-foot-tall canopy over the museum complex, something Bollinger believes will be an icon of the New Orleans skyline.
"I think as the blimps fly over and they show the Superdome, they will show the World War II Museum," Bollinger said. "I think that national and international exposure will do wonderful things for our attendance and our mission."
For Bollinger's wife, Joy, the museum is a love song to her father, a navigator in the Army Air Corps during the war. He flew bombing missions over Germany.
"We had books, we had pictures, we had his diaries, but he never spoke about it until he was older, and then it became a big focus in his life," she said. "The museum has actually interviewed him, and he is on record detailing his experiences in the war."
Museum President Nick Mueller said there's a sense of urgency to complete the museum, which honors all of those who served the United States in World War II.
"This was a time when America was unified in a common purpose as never before in its history and perhaps never since," Mueller said.