National WWII Museum welcomes 4 millionth visitor

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The National WWII Museum has capped a record-breaking fiscal year with another milestone: welcoming its four-millionth visitor since its founding in 2000.

Officials say visitation for fiscal year 2014 had exceeded 483,000, beating its previous best attendance year, fiscal year 2013, by more than 85,000 visitors.

Museum President and CEO Gordon Mueller says the highlight comes on the heels of major events in New Orleans and France commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy. He says those activities generated worldwide exposure for the museum.

Mueller, who helped found the museum with historian and author Stephen Ambrose, said he never imagined their dream of a museum celebrating the significance of World War II would grow into the destination attraction and educational outreach center that it has become.

New highway signs to greet travelers with

‘Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama’

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Tourists traveling into Alabama on interstate highways will soon be greeted by signs strengthening the state’s official connection to the Lynyrd Skynyrd song title “Sweet Home Alabama.”

“Alabama The Beautiful” signs that have stood at the state line since 2003 will be replaced with green and white signs saying “Welcome to Sweet Home Alabama.” The new signs will be erected during the next few months, with the first of the 15-feet-by-18-feet signs likely on Interstate 85 at Lanett in east Alabama, state Transportation Director John Cooper said at a news conference Friday.

Smaller 3-feet-by-4-feet versions of the signs will be on the grounds of the eight state welcome centers to serve as backdrops for travelers’ photos, state Tourism Director Lee Sentell said. The total cost for the new signs is $61,000, he said.

Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded several songs in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but “Sweet Home Alabama” was recorded in Doraville, Georgia, in 1973. Band members wrote the song as a response to two Neil Young songs that were critical of the South, “Southern Man” in 1970 and “Alabama” in 1972.

Legal marijuana milestone

heads for Seattle museum

SEATTLE (AP) – The first recreational marijuana sold legally in Seattle is headed to the Museum of History and Industry.

The woman who waited all night to be first in line at the Cannabis City store, 65-year-old Deb Greene, plans to donate her pot last Tuesday to the Seattle museum on South Lake Union.

Cannabis City says it also will donate items from the opening day of the store.

Alabama State picked

for historic march exhibit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – With the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march coming up next year, the National Park Service has chosen Alabama State University as one of the locations for exhibits honoring the historic 1965 march and its impact on American government.

The park service and university President Gwendolyn Boyd signed a memorandum of understanding last Monday for the construction of an interpretive center on a grassy lawn next to the university’s new football stadium.

“The purpose of this edifice is to tell the Montgomery story of the historic march and, indeed, of the noble and peaceful quest and campaign for voting rights and equal justice under the law,” Boyd said.

On March 7, 1965, marchers set out from Selma to seek voting rights for disenfranchised blacks. The marchers were beaten by law enforcement on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The beatings outraged the nation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil leaders went to Selma and began the march again, this time with federal protection. About 25,000 marchers arrived at the state Capitol in downtown Montgomery on March 25, 1965. The march led Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which opened Southern polling places to blacks and ultimately ended all-white governments in the South.

In 1996, Congress approved the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail and authorized three interpretive centers.

Centers are already open in Selma, where the march began, and in White Hall, the halfway point of the 54-mile trail. The White Hall center gets about 10,000 visitors annually and the Selma center about 6,000, park service officials said.