The Durham Museum and NET want to collect and record American war veterans' personal accounts of their experiences serving our country.
If you are a war veteran who would like to share and preserve memories from your service, call the museum's education department at 402-444-5027 to reserve a time to record your story.
Recording times and dates will be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays, noon to 3 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 17.
Transcripts of the recordings will be preserved by Durham's curatorial team and may be used by NET for radio and TV programming.
FOCUS ON WWII:
Dan Sullivan, World-Herald book editor, will speak on “Answering the Call” at an Oct. 30 lecture coordinated to “The American Soldier” exhibit.
Sullivan will explore the roles Nebraskans and western Iowans played in World War II, including aircraft and munitions manufacturing, pilot training and housing of enemy prisoners.
In addition, the Omaha World-Herald initiated a scrap metal drive that was used as the model nationwide.
Sullivan's talk will begin at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a 5 p.m. reception. Both events will be at the Durham Museum.
Reservations are required by emailing reservations@DurhamMuseum.org or calling 402-444-5071. Cost of admission applies to the lecture; members get in free.
The boy studied the Civil War photograph long after his classmates moved on. It shows a family, including a dog, that had accompanied the soldier to camp.
A docent and Cyma Rubin, who curated the exhibit, watched the boy. Finally, the docent approached him. He wanted to know what happened to the dog. It went home with the family after the war, she said.
The boy replied: “I know how that little boy feels because my daddy is in Iraq.”
The photo spoke to the boy: “I'm not alone” was its message.
That emotional identification is the whole point of “The American Soldier,” said Rubin. The photo exhibit of soldiers from the Civil War to the Iraq war will open Saturday at the Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., and remain there through Jan. 6, 2013.
“The photos are very large and floating on these black panels,” she said. “I wanted people to step into it emotionally.” Kenneth Foy, who usually works on Broadway, designed the exhibit.
Rubin, CEO of Business of Entertainment in New York City, created “The American Soldier: From Civil War to the War in Iraq.” The photos also appear in a book of the same title that serves as a catalog for the exhibit. The Durham will sell the book for $35 plus tax.
The idea for “The American Soldier” dates to 1995, Rubin said, when she was working on “The Pulitzer Prize,” another of her photo exhibits that showed at the Durham. While working on “Pulitzer,” she came across a photo from World War II that ran in the New York Times: A soldier with a cigarette butt in his mouth sat on a pile of blankets. It was winter and he had been sent to distribute the blankets among the soldiers.
Rubin said the look on his face said, “Why am I here?”
That photo was still nagging at her in 2003.
“I don't work on anything unless I have a concept,” she said, otherwise it's like building a house without a foundation. Rubin wanted to show who the soldiers are and were. She was struck more by their sameness than their differences: They shared humor, family, camaraderie and heroism.
“The American Soldier” exhibit opened in 2007 and has been traveling since.
The photos “are from all over,” Rubin said. “I curated 4,000 pictures before I chose 116. I tried to find photographs that weren't totally available,” she said, but sometimes the most famous photo was the best.
“From the time I started, it took about three years,” she said.
With assistants, she dug in the archives of historical societies, private collections, universities, The Associated Press, Magnum Photos, Getty Images, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and more.
Rubin said she doesn't know if any Nebraska or western Iowa soldiers are pictured, but at least one photographer with Midlands ties has a photo in the exhibit.
John J. Gaps III, a former World-Herald photographer and now senior staff photographer at the Des Moines Register, worked for AP in 1991. That's when he snapped Marines on patrol near Kuwait City.
Rubin said she deliberately kept the text of the book apolitical: “I wrote the chapters as if a soldier is telling the story of war.” The quotes used are authentic, she said.
No matter what year, soldiers and war remain the same, only weaponry changes, she said. And soldiers going off to war always kiss their loved ones goodbye.
“I wanted to bring a sense of time and place,” Rubin said, with the 1917 photo of a National Guardsman kissing his sweetheart goodbye.
“The American Soldier” exhibit will be available to Durham visitors with regular museum admission — $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for children and free for museum members and ages 2 and younger.
One-hour guided tours of “The American Soldier” and another exhibit, “Worn With Pride: Americans in Uniform,” will be offered at 2 p.m. Sept. 30, Oct. 28, Nov. 25 and Dec. 30.
The museum's former executive director, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Leo W. Smith II, will lead the tours. They are limited to 25 participants and reservations are required. Email reservations@DurhamMuseum.org or call 402-444-5071.
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