- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
Photographic exhibit honors Missourians who died in military service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
War heroes from World Wars I and II and Missourians who have died in military service in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 are being honored through Nov. 11 at the Ozark County Historium on the square in Gainesville.
“Hats Off: Salute to Veterans” includes displays of Ozark Countians’ articles of war and the photos and stories of those who carried, used, wore and earned them, in World Wars I and II, as well as one-week displays of two different Missouri traveling exhibits.
The first traveling exhibit, “Remembering Our Fallen,” is a photographic traveling exhibit to be displayed at the Historium Oct. 31-Nov. 7. It honors the more than 130 Missourians who have died since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan, including nearly 20 military service personnel from south-central Missouri, named below. The poignant 60-foot-long photographic exhibit was introduced July 31 in the rotunda of the Missouri capitol.
“Remembering Our Fallen,” was created by Bill and Evonne Williams of Patriotic Productions, Omaha, and is sponsored by Bellevue University, a private, nonprofit institution in Nebraska. The American Legion of Missouri and the VFW of Missouri have endorsed the project, “realizing the importance of remembering those who are willing to sacrifice all,” Bill Williams said.
The second Missouri traveling exhibit, the Survivor Families Quilt, is a 20-foot-long, 72-block quilt honoring selected Missourians who have served in the military; it will be exhibited at the Historium Nov. 7-11.
The quilt, a project of Fort Leonard Wood-based Survivor Outreach Services, is hand-pieced from fabrics donated by the service members’ families, some of which belonged to the service member. One is corduroy from a pair of the service person’s trousers; another is from a favorite sports banner, and still another is from the service person’s duffel bag.
Each block is personalized to commemorate the military hero’s life. SOS spokesperson Jody Carmack said, “There are many tears forever soaked into the fabric of these blocks from the Families and the volunteers who worked on this quilt. It is not just pieces of sewn fabric, it is a testament to the love of Families and the support of communities and strangers.”
The salute to veterans will also include a “brown-bag lunch” round-table discussion from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. All World War II veterans are invited to come to share memories and stories of their wartime experiences and their memories of Ozark County during the war. Listeners are invited to bring their own “brown-bag” lunch to hear the participants’ comments.
Local articles on display related to World Wars I and II have been loaned by Ozark County residents or those with Ozark County connections. Among the items are World War I helmets, World War II uniforms, letters, photos, documents and even weapons. Most poignant are the brief stories accompanying the items that tell of the heroes’ efforts in the war and the families and sweethearts left behind, of heartbreaking telegrams received and joyful homecomings celebrated.
Pamela Hengen, mother of Ozark County’s fallen soldier Matthew England, has loaned the “honor quilt” sent to her in July by the Marines Comfort Quilt Group, an organization that collects personalized quilt blocks made by volunteers from all over the U.S. and assembles them into quilts for the families of fallen military men and women.
Among the more than 130 fallen heroes from south-central Missouri honored in the “Remembering Our Fallen” photographic exhibit are Sgt. T. J. Sutton, Fordland; Pfc. Matthew England, Gainesville; SSgt. Lawrence Parrish and Spc. James Finley, Lebanon; Spc. Justin Carter, Mansfield; Spc. Christopher Stark, Monett; Cpl. Dallas Kerns, Mountain Grove; Sfc. Robert Pharris, Seymour; SSgt. Ronald Blystone, Pfc. Jesse Givens, Spc. Jessy Pollard, Spc. Dylan Reid, Sfc. Randall Lamberson, all from Springfield;. Spc. Kenneth Melton, Thayer; and Maj. Sid Brookshire, Willard.
The Historium, in the former A. D. McDonald store building on the west side of the Gainesville square, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday through Nov. 11. The exhibit is free and open to everyone.
Veterans of other wars will be honored in upcoming exhibits, said Historium president Janet Taber.
For more information about the exhibit, contact Taber at 417-265-3372, firstname.lastname@example.org or Susan Ault at 417-679-4253, papajohn@ ozbb.net, or call the Historium during business hours, 417-679-2400.