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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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War, as seen through the letters of veterans and their families, is the subject of an exhibit at the Main Library, 325 Michigan St., Toledo.

“War Comes Home: The Legacy” features the personal correspondence from most major conflicts in U.S. history – from the Civil War through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – displayed on 13 interpretive panels.

 The exhibit will be at the library through Nov. 20.  Special programs and workshops are scheduled while the exhibit is at the library:

• A workshop for researching military ancestors will be held Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McMaster Center in the library for those with veterans in their family tree. The workshop will be conducted in four sessions and there will be a break for lunch.

• A workshop to preserve personal stories will be held Nov. 5 from noon to 4 p.m. in the Huntington room. Library staff will help those attending digitize up to 10 pages or photos.

• “Salute our Veterans: The Paws Forces” will be held Nov. 5 from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Wintergarden.  The Paws Forces is a new program of the Maumee-based organization, “The Arms Forces.” The program helps veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and brain injuries receive services they need.

A card-making station will be available to create greeting cards and thank you cards for veterans. The cards will be presented at the Veterans Day Breakfast at the University of Toledo.

 Gene Shurtz, a Vietnam era Army veteran, said he was impressed by the scope of the exhibit.

“It gives people the flavor of letters sent from a combat zone going back to the Civil War. It’s very difficult to write something back home. You want to be upbeat but people want to know what’s going in the war and you can’t really tell them for security purposes.  During World War I and II they had censors that redacted stuff from letters,” he said.

Shurtz, of Oregon, is also the chaplain of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 35.  Many of the letters by combatants share a common theme, he noticed.

 “They try to mix the events happening to them with the hopes and dreams they have for making it out of there and back to their loved ones, and hoping their loved ones aren’t going through any bad times,” Shurtz said. “It all comes down to those themes.”

 A letter from a soldier in the Civil War captures the impact of a major battle. He writes of musket balls that he could pick up in the dirt and reasons it was a matter of fate of who was hit and who wasn’t.

 Jim Funk, Manager, Institutional and Community Initiatives of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, said Library Director Clyde Scoles saw the exhibit last year while at a meeting of the National Library Association in San Francisco and was impressed.

 “He felt it would contribute to an interesting and important conversation about the contributions and sacrifices made by veterans and their families,” Funk said.

 The exhibition is based on a collection at the Center for American War Letters and is curated by Andrew Carroll, CAWL director, and John Benitz, a professor at Chapman University.  The project is a partnership between California Humanities, the California State Library and Exhibit Envoy. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the BayTree Fund, The Whitman Fund, and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

 

 

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