WWII exhibit celebrates 70th Anniversary of war’s end
Veterans of VFW Post 1575 proudly post the colors at the opening of the Clayton Historical Society’s special exhibit to mark the end of WWII. The exhibit will remain on display through Veterans Day. (Photo by Pete Barra)
May 8, 1945 was a day for celebrating the end of World War II in Europe, called V-E Day ever since. The joy was short-lived when Americans quickly remembered that there was still a brutal war going on in the Pacific Theater. Fortunately, less than four months later, V-J Day (Victory in Japan) was declared and the world rejoiced.
Seventy years to the day, on May 8, 2015, the Clayton Historical Society Museum hosted a celebration of its own as they honored and remembered the veterans of WWII with the grand opening of the newest special exhibit, WWII. Local veterans attended the opening, which was held from 7 until 9 p.m. on V-E Day. A color guard kicked off the evening and the “Star Spangled Banner” was performed by Clayton soprano, Mechele Fong.
The guests of honor were the first to see the exhibit, which is made up of mementoes from the war and the home front and all attendees were able to enjoy the refreshments set up by the Clayton Historical Society.
The exhibit coordinator, Mary Spryer, learned a lot about the war while selecting items to put in the exhibit. She knew that whether they fought in the military, bought War Bonds, recycled valuable resources, volunteered with the Red Cross or used ration coupon when buying food, everyone in America participated in the war effort.
Spryer had heard about rationing in the 1940s from her parents, who were teenagers from 1941-1945 and from having mounted a similar exhibit 10 years ago. But when she began the research for this exhibit she realized for the first time that metal toys, typewriters, and sewing machines were not manufactured at all during many of the war years.
Moreover, there was a request for all privately owned, non-essential typewriters to be donated to the armed forces for their use.
Spryer said that another difference between the 70th and 60th Anniversaries is that many items in this year’s exhibit were loaned by the descendants of the veterans rather than the veterans themselves. Even though the veterans are aging (an 18-year-old recruit in 1941 would be 92 in 2015), what has not changed is the importance with which both the veterans and their descendants place on the part their family played in the war. Scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, pictures, and other mementos were kept safe and intact for the past 70 years and were proudly loaned to the museum for this special exhibit.
U.S. Army gear, medals, pictures, vintage newspaper front pages, in addition to items used by families at home, will be on display until Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2015. The museum is open on Sundays and Wednesdays from 2 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.
The Clayton Historical Society Museum is located at 6101 Main St. in Clayton, Contact it at 925-672-0240 or www.claytonhistory.org.