NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - More than 2,000 people visited the World War II museum this Fourth of July to learn firsthand the price of freedom.
For many young people, it was a lesson their parents were eager to have them learn.
"I landed, went through the Kamikaze attacks," said Thom Kolesa, now 93, passing on to future generations the lessons of freedom he learned the hard way with the flag he carried through Okinawa at his side. "Kamikaze bombings, truckloads of dead Marines, there's no way I would forget the sacrifices these guys made."
Price Keller said as a young person, the lessons of sacrifice for freedom were lost on him.
"It was a party, a celebration and sparklers and things like that," he said.
But since then, Keller, said he's gained a whole new appreciation for what the Fourth of July is all about.
"Maybe I got more mature, but it became a celebration of the freedom and the Constitution," said Keller.
While learning the lessons of the true cost of freedom comes late in life for some, others are determined to make sure the younger generation gets the message.
"Today, July 4th, it made sense to bring the boys here to see what independence is all about," said Melanie Waxler.
Among the parents bringing kids was historian Douglas Brinkley, a former associate of museum founder Stephen Ambrose.
"I could think of no better place to spend the Fourth of July than the museum," Brinkley said. "We really want to teach young people on the valor of our predecessors," said Brinkley.
Brinkley says the lessons of World War II apply today.
"You realize the need for preparedness, and have our country ready, because we can't allow North Korea to have a nuclear device," said Brinkley.
The kids seem to get it.
"It really brings it home, because you can see the sacrifices that give us the life we have today," said Melanie's son, Aaron Waxler.
"Definitely I want to thank all the veterans who helped give us that freedom," said John Brinkley, Doug Brinkley's son.
"I say thanks that I came back okay...I saw it all," said Kolesa.
And the former Marine is determined to make sure future generations appreciate the cost of freedom.