On Thursday, the National World War Two Museum dedicated a P-51 Mustang. It’s been restored to resemble the Tuskegee Airman fighters that escorted bombers into enemy territory.
Here is the video of the entire dedication. It’s full of plenty of moments that will bring a tear to your eye-and plenty that will make your chest swell and feel proud.
Nothing makes your heart pound like hearing a P-51 Merlin engine crank up.
I’d like to add a little backstory about how this whole thing came about. I have been on the Board of Trustees for the Museum for 6 years now. My term ends in June and it’s been entirely rewarding. I have been extremely lucky to have been a part of it.
The museum is a very special place. Do not miss going in person. It’s not just the story of the war, it’s really the story of America. I am consistently amazed what happens when families who had someone serve in WW2 visit the museum. They walk away changed.
At a board meeting, we were debating how high to build the roof on the US Freedom Pavilion. If we spent some extra money, we could build it taller-and accommodate bombers. While we were talking about it, my friend Todd Ricketts asked, “How come there isn’t a P-51 in the plans? We could not have won the war without the P-51.”
The museum’s president, Nick Mueller instantly responded, “P-51’s are very expensive. We would like to get one, and if we ever do, we are going to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airman because that story is so important for WW2, and for our country.”
As the discussion proceeded, Todd whipped out his phone and showed me a photo of a P-51 that was for sale. He said, “We could buy one of these and tell that story.” I said, “You could buy one.”
Todd and his family did. It’s a really amazing selfless act. It was important to them that this story be told.
But, getting a P-51 isn’t like going to the drug store and buying a toy! It’s not about simply writing a check. It took a lot of time and energy. Parts had to be found. Parts had to be refurbished. People had to research it so it was historically correct. There was a fair amount of frustration and ebbs and flows with the restoration. Todd made sure it was done.
Generations from now, people will be able to see, hear, and learn about the Airman and their double victory thanks to Todd and his family. You could do it too.