WARSAW — June 6 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Kosciusko County Jail Museum is celebrating with an incredible display. Curator Sally Hogan started putting the exhibit together in January and it was ready to open in April.
Hogan became curator last June and was starting to go through the Jail Museum’s collection to take inventory. She was surprised at how many artifacts the museum had relating to World War II. “It (the exhibit) progressed as I saw what we had,” she said. “It was a lot of work, but so worth it. It’s been a labor of love.”
The exhibit features correspondence local men sent home, the names of those in bold representing men who died serving. Many of the letters back to the local paper or to family and friends detail some of what they saw while serving overseas.
Hogan said it was sad to see some of the men’s correspondence, “to see that soldier had a child they never met, and then later their death notice,” she said. “I was impacted on the loss of life and what they missed out on.”
The museum has approximately 45 uniforms, Hogan put as many as she could on display, but noted many had all their patches and insignias removed. One problem Hogan encountered was the uniforms wouldn’t fit the mannequins the museum has. She had to order teenage mannequins. “They’re tiny,” she said of the uniforms. “Most (service men) were 17- 18-years old when they enlisted,” she explained.
Hogan met one lady visiting the exhibit who told how her father lied about his age and enlisted when he was just 15. He was found out and sent home, when during his birthday party he admitted to his commanding officer his real age. He just turned 17.
“The willingness of kids that age, being willing to serve their country. Those young guys had no idea,” Hogan said.
Among the uniforms on display are examples of the Eisenhower jacket and the navy pea coat. Hogan said her husband, a Marine, was a big help in making sure the uniforms were displayed correctly.
The exhibit, laid out all on the first floor of the museum, features items such as ration cards and bonds. There is an area highlighting the efforts of the Red Cross and the Civil Air Patrol, which kept an eye over the Atlantic for submarines. In the kitchen are photos of men working in mess halls.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, so Hogan made sure to have a section honoring the organization. It includes a photo of Kosciusko County’s last Civil War veteran standing in front of the tanks that were in front of the courthouse, until they were removed and melted for scrap iron.
Hogan said she learned a lot putting the exhibit together. For example, she learned about the Seabees, men who built roads and installed communication lines. Men could be as old as 50 and enlist in the Seabees because they needed skilled workers.
The museum will be doing an outdoor exhibit to honor the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It will also be participating in Warsaw’s First Fridays event June 7 by being open.
Hogan is also planning on having a kids activity day to teach children about World War II later this summer. She is also meeting with the American Legion to discuss the possibility of a World War II reenactment on the courthouse lawn sometime in the future.