World War II Veterans of the Barrens
Live portrayals of Veteran stories planned for Saturday
Jobe Publishing, Inc.
On Saturday, May 20, the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center Museum of the Barren will honor the memory of seven veterans with volunteer re-en actors who will tell the live stories of days gone by and Sherry Wesley, Executive Director of the Cultural Center, explains how the event came to fruition.
The event will allow patrons to listen to locals as they highlight veterans’ or their families’ experiences from Pearl Harbor, the Pacific Theater, Merrill’s Marauders, and more.
Additionally, a WWII exhibit will be available for additional veterans’ stories in the museum’s Snavely Gallery as well as other activities including refreshments made from recipes of the WWII Ration Era. Weather permitting, also available for display will be a WWII Jeep and a 1930s-era car.
Last November, the museum saw the completion and official opening of the WWII Aviation Mural, which sparked the idea for Saturday’s event.
“The idea for the mural started several years ago when Kenneth Robertson donated the model WWII planes that have hung in the stairway since 2015 or 2016,” Wesley said. SCKCC applied for funding for the aviation project through the Kentucky Humanities Council which ultimately helped Robertson’s dream of a WWII Aviation Battle scene on the stairway walls to compliment the model planes.
The aviation mural, created by Artist Jessie Sims of Horse Cave, was intended to share local history as well as encourage visitors to return following the Covid-related closures. Below the mural are paintings of WWII planes done by Calvin Childress of Bonnieville.
Wesley, who has spearheaded Saturday’s Veterans of the Barrens portrayal, said the idea for general remembrance and honoring of WWII veterans and families of that era grew from the research on the mural.
The mural would add more compelling interest and be more meaningful for the community to expand recognition to more than pilots. “Therefore, research for the WWII Aviation binder that accompanies the mural reflects all five counties of the region (Allen, Barren, Hart, Metcalfe, and Monroe) and include WWII veterans who served in the air, from the air, and in support of the air,” Wesley explained.
Ultimately, through research, many other compelling stories were discovered. “Thus, was born the idea for a remembrance and honoring of all WWII veterans and families of the time.”
Early on in the WWII research, Wesley said it was discovered that there is no complete listing of WWII Veterans in Kentucky.
“Binders have been compiled of each of the five counties listing WWII Veterans that we have gathered from various internet sources, the historical societies, and local museums of the five-county area, the state bonus application listings in Frankfort, families, The Barren County Victory Handbook, the Monroe County Press books, cemetery books, local newspapers, and more,” Wesley shared.
SCKCC’s research is a work in progress and names continue to be added as well as WWII veterans’ stories as they receive them.
One interesting feature on Saturday is an area for patrons to share memories and can even do so through a video-recording booth.
“The research has been fascinating,” Wesley said, “One aspect of the time, leading us to so many others. Learning what they did for us with the meager resources they had at their disposal.”
The observation includes the veterans and the families of WWII and the sacrifices they made for the general good of all.
Wesley admits a powerful motivating factor for many who have contributed to the project from throughout the region is that we grew up surrounded by adults of “The Greatest Generation”.
“They were our parents, grandparents, our teachers, ball coaches, aunts and uncles…as children, we probably took them for granted but as we have become older adults, we realize there are so many questions we should have asked them,” Wesley shared, adding that sadly, this generation will soon be gone.
Volunteers of the local museum have a natural interest and curiosity as they research the past and the numerous hours spent to research our invaluable history are evident.
“It is our hope that we can pass on what we have learned to the community as well as celebrate and honor veterans and their families with this event,” Wesley said.
If you’ve never visited SCKCC, you won’t be disappointed. The events are strategically designed to allow patrons to feel as if they’ve truly time-traveled back in time.
SCKCC is located at 200 West Water Street in Glasgow. For more information, call SCKCC at (270) 651-9792.