CenturyLink is the sponsor of this weekend’s grand opening of a $35 million expansion of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The Monroe, La., telecommunications firm with operations in Omaha is sponsoring the event, called “A Salute to Freedom.” Contest-winning high school history students are coming from each state to New Orleans to participate.

Vanessa Taylor of Ainsworth (Neb.) Community Schools and Gretchen Mohr of North Scott High School in Eldridge, Iowa, were among the winners. The students wrote about the war’s impact on their home state.

The U.S. Freedom Pavilion expansion, funded by Boeing and a U.S. Department of Defense grant, is a glass and steel exhibit space holding “macro artifacts,” including a B-17 Flying Fortress and several other aircraft. Also new is an interactive submarine exhibit.

“The essence of the National World War II Museum’s mission is to convey the hope and courage of the American spirit,” said Glen Post, chief executive officer and president of CenturyLink.

The museum opened in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum. Founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose, it tells the story of the American experience in the war.

CenturyLink employs more than 1,000 people in Nebraska, and more than 830 are in Omaha.

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