Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

World War II Sites, Memorials & Museums in USA

At the start of the second World War the United States of America remained neural. President Roosevelt effectively declared war on Germany with his ‘shoot on sight’ order in early September 1941, following the ‘Greer Incident’. It was not until the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour, 7 December 1941, and Hitler’s declaring war on the US a few days later that the USA became fully involved in the war against the Axis Powers. Besides many memorials to the Americans who served in Europe, there are are sites associated with the war on US soil, including the Japanese internment camps.  

Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial

On March 30 1942, with only six day notice, the entire Japanese community on Bainbridge Island was taken by ferry and interned in camps at Manzanar in California and Minidoka in Idaho. The memorial, construction work on which began in 2008, is located near Eagle Harbour. the ferry port from which the 276 Japanese residents were forced to leave the island. The outdoor exhibition lists the names of all Bainbridge Island internees. Guided tours of the memorial site can be arranged, but are not essential.

Battleship North Carolina

The USS North Carolina was one of the first modern battleships to enter service of the US Navy, officially commissioned in April of 1941. After Americans joined World War II, the ‘Showboat’ would go on to participate in every major offensive in the Pacific theatre – earning 15 battle stars, more than any other US battleship achieved during WWII. After being rescued in 1962 by the citizens of North Carolina from being sold for scrap, the battleship was turned into a museum and memorial to North Carolinians who served and died in WWII.

Cincinnati History Museum

At Cincinnati History Museum, visitors can explore the heritage of this famous city. Located in the Cincinnati Museum Centre, an impressive art-deco structure and former rail terminal. A number of reconstructions present urban scenes as they might have appeared in the 19th and 20th centuries, allowing visitors an immersive experience in the past. One of these is Cincinnati’s historic Public Landing from the age of the steamboats. An exhibit also covers the city’s role in WWII. Other museums in the complex include the Museum of Natural History and Science, the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center and the Duke Energy Children’s Museum.

Manzanar National Historic Site

Although the area has a long history dating back some 10,000 years, the Manzanar War Relocation Center is where Japanese immigrants and Japanese American citizens were incarcerated when in 1942 the US government ordered their detention. The park is set up to be self guided. A short film and extensive museum displays in the visitors centre allow people to learn about the history of this area and the political background to it becoming an interment camp. Various parts of the historic camp can be visited, including the Mess Hall, the Cemetery Monument, the Japanese gardens and barracks.

Minidoka National Historic Site

During the Second World War, in which the U.S. battled against Japan, the government interned Japanese Americans, fearing that they may be enemy agents. The Minidoka National Historic Site preserves one such internment camp, where 90,00 people were imprisoned on the basis of their ethnicity between 1942 and 1945. In 2001, the site was declared a national monument by President Bill Clinton, after which efforts were made to return it to its 1940s appearance.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

In December 1941, the Japanese military attacked the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the U.S. into the Second World War. Several distinct memorials, collectively known as the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, help to commemorate this momentous and tragic event in U.S. history. It includes memorials to the USS Arizona, USS Utah, and USS Oklahoma, all ships lost in the attack. Also part of the park is the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.

World War II Memorial

Located in the National Mall, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial was inaugurated on 29 May in 2004. The monument honours all American citizens, civilian and military, who were involved in the Second World War, including the 405,399 Americans who lost their lives. Make sure to find the two hidden ‘Kilroy was here’ engravings. Near this impressive monument is the World War II Memorial information centre.