Museum brings WWII stories to life

 

Even with the rattling of artillery fire and the thundering of explosions nearby, the women kept coming, carrying flasks of warm broth to the tired, hungry men scattered throughout the foxholes along the battle’s front. They slipped quietly into one foxhole, passed around the broth, and then climbed out, making their way to the next group of weary soldiers huddled along the battlefront in Europe during World War II.

“There are so many fantastic stories, there really are,” says Ann Evans, curator for the Williamson County Museum and the museum’s newest exhibit, World War II Comes to Williamson County, opening on May 25.

Ann was told the story about the broth by “a veteran who served as a glider pilot during the war.” She remembers he told her that “women near the front brought broth for them to drink, trying to get to all the soldiers. That really stood out to him; that act of kindness among something so horrible stood out to him the most.”

On the home front, Williamson County residents did their part in the war, too. Boy Scouts collected scrap metal, a local oil company improved a technique for ammunition powder, and the Taylor Bedding Company made cots. Families lived with rationing, buying less sugar and meat, driving fewer miles, and contributing scrap rubber for recycling. “We all know the general history of the war, but it is the collective individual experiences that make it real,” Ann says. “We want people to come away with a better understanding of how Williamson County residents contributed to the war effort, whether that is a mother on the home front worried about her son or that seventeen- or eighteen-year-old son who was sent across the ocean. It was very much so a world war; you could not escape it. It was everyone’s war.”

Well-preserved Army, Navy, and Air Corps/Army Air Forces uniforms and equipment, as well as photographs capturing marriages, funerals, and everything in between will be just a few of the artifacts on display during the exhibit. Center stage, though, will be the personal histories that Ann and a large cadre of volunteers have been collecting and will continue to collect from Williamson County residents who fought on the frontlines or worked on the home front.

“We’re at a rare moment where we can still collect these firsthand accounts,” Ann explains, “and we’re losing that opportunity every day. If you study history, firsthand accounts can really tell you what a culture and a time was like, and that we have these personal stories is really amazing. We want to collect these stories while we can and to share as many of these stories as possible.”


World War II Comes to Williamson County
Exhibit opens May 25, 2013

Williamson County Museum
716 S. Austin Ave.
512-943-1670
http://williamsonmuseum.org/

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