November 20, 2016
In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, it's even more appropriate to thank those who serve or have served in our military for their unselfishness and willingness to put themselves in harm's way to protect us – and not just on Veterans Day.
To that end, "WCU Serves: Honoring 100 Years of our Service Men and Women," a display and exhibit on the second floor of Francis Harvey Green Library, spotlights West Chester's veterans. Since West Chester only became an official institution in 1871, researchers chose World War I through today as the time frame to cover.
"This exhibit seeks to complicate the ideas people hold regarding military veterans," explains Robert Kodosky, WCU History professor. "Veterans are teachers and students, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, spouses, parents and friends. … Soldiers, sailors and aviators once, military veterans now join the rest of us, seeking to find their own places, simply as fellow citizens. … We can recognize this clearly, by considering one veteran at a time."
Cases in the exhibit each feature one WCU veteran photographed by Andy Marchese, whose studio is in Downingtown. History students Melanie Pezdirtz assisted in research and installation of the exhibit and Katherine Cromleigh wrote brief biographies of the seven veterans who are featured: Kelly Fisher, Management professor; Greg Turner, Biology professor; and students Dustin Renninger; Heather Williams; Kelby Hershey; Nicholas Herschel; and Adam Pezdirtz.
Some individuals loaned such items as uniforms, awards and other personal effects. Each veteran also participated in an oral history interview conducted in conjunction with the Soldiers to Scholars project and the American Veterans Project. Marchese launched the latter in 2013 after nearly two years of interviewing and photographing veterans with the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. The project preserves the experiences and emotions of U.S. military veterans through photographed portraits and audio or video interviews.
"There is no better way to learn the history of the United States than through first-hand accounts of the men and women who served the country in times of conflict and peace," he says.
Additional exhibits showcase library resources for and about veterans as well as materials housed in the library's Special Collections, including several questionnaires from World War II sent out to West Chester students and alumni serving in various military branches. Another case highlights the work of Stanley Weintraub '49, who served in the Army during the Korean War and went on to write more than 50 books, most about military encounters and campaigns, that are housed in the library's Special Collections.