Who knew the Brazilians had an impact on WWII?
By TIM HORAN
One of the must significant days in history will be remembered with both a festival and a massive exhibit.
In honor of D-Day when General Dwight Eisenhower and his troops landed at Normandy, a new three-year everchanging exhibit will be opened followed by the Symphony at Sunset.
The event will take place at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Saturday. Admission to the concert is free.
“It’s going to be a festive day at the Presidential Library,” said Director Karl Weissenbach. “We have homegrown talent as well.”
Food and beverage booths open at 4 p.m. The stage for Dickinson County entertainers livens up at 6 p.m. and the Salina Symphony is set to perform at 8 p.m.
Saturday is also the opening of the “World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes” exhibit in the museum.
Artifacts from around the world will be on display during the next 3-1/2 years as the everchanging exhibit celebrates the 70th anniversary of World War II: D-Day, VE-Day and VJ-Day.
“All of these anniversaries are coming up in the next three to four years and that’s why, rather than just doing one massive exhibit, we decided to commemorate all of them,” Weissenbach added. “Essentially, we are moving down that time-line marking all of those anniversaries.
“By the year 2016, we will have done all of the 70th anniversaries,” he said. “We felt that this would be the best approach. We wanted to make sure this institution is doing what it has to do, and that’s to honor our veterans.”
Some of the artifacts in the first of the series include an anti-tank gun, a 1st Infantry Division jacket and an American-made Russian uniform.
The Russians solders liked the American-made uniforms because the buttons were plastic and didn’t have to be polished, said curator William Snyder.
“We are looking at South America. We're looking at Poland, looking at France, Germany and the U.K. as well to acquire some of their World War II artifacts,” Weissenbach said.
“The three-year project will give a world perspective of World War II,” he added. “The uniqueness of this exhibit is the fact that we are reaching out to really produce a unique and memorable exhibit here at the Presidential Library.
“We want to use the exhibit and corresponding program to honor the vets, but also acknowledge the importance of our Allies,” Weissenbach said.
“Sometimes we overlook the contributions of our Allies. For example, the Brazilians,” he said. “Who knew they played an important role in the Italian campaign? This is an ongoing exhibit and we will constantly change the exhibit every six to nine months as we follow the war from 1939 to 1945. At the conclusion, we’ll have post-war, the aftermath in both the Pacific and the Atlantic theaters of the Second World War.”
“If you want to be educated on World War II and the aftermath, somewhat of a complete history if you will, this is the place to go,” he said.
Snyder said that designing the exhibits was a “team effort.”
The team looked at what could be done to celebrate the 70th anniversary of World War II.
“We’ll also be getting to the European reconstruction and things like that,” he said. “World War II is the pivotal event of the 20th century and we continue to feel its impact today. There was so much done during the war that just kept going.”
He cited the Rosy the Riveter concept and the impact of women in the work force which led to the feminist movement.
“Whenever possible, we are going to try to highlight the hero of the war period and tell the story in the first person, from their point of view,” Snyder said.
He said one artifact donation was a letter scratched on the underside of the lid to a small footlocker from a soldier who sent it back to his wife.
“I think he was from Kansas,” Snyder said. “When we can, too, we’ll localize stories. It’s not just the soldiers, the heroes that were on the front line, but the heroes that were here on the home front, as many of those personal stories tell.
“World War II is a huge subject, covering several continents, operations, battles and many personal stories. We begin to absorb the scope of this great historic event when we learn about it one year at a time,” he said.
Some of the most significant major anniversaries of WWII will be commemorated individually with special supplements as follows:
Summer 2013 – Spring 2014:
• Operation Torch (North Africa)
• Operation Avalanche (Italy)
• Operation Citadel (Western Russia)
Summer 2014 – Fall 2014:
• Operation Overlord (D-Day/Normandy)
• Operation Bagration (Eastern Europe)
• Operation Ichi-Go (China)
• Operation Forager (Mariana Islands)
Winter 2014 - Summer 2015
• The Rhineland Campaign
• The Berlin Strategic Offensive
• Operation Detachment (Iwo Jima)
• Operation Iceberg (Okinawa)
Fall 2015 – Fall/Winter 2016:
• Nuremberg Trials and Tokyo War Crimes Trials