Lexington History Museum exhibit to show life after Pearl Harbor

jwarren@herald-leader.comDecember 5, 2011 

Curator Debra Watkins prepared A Salute to Lexington's Greatest Generation at the Lexington History Museum. "We hope to show how this event really defined a generation, how people coped and how their outlook changed," Watkins said.


  • Wednesday events

    11:30 a.m.: Free showing of Twelve O'clock High, Kentucky Theater

    Noon: Luncheon honoring Pearl Harbor survivors, Oleika Shrine Temple, Southland Drive

    6-8 p.m.: Reception for World War II exhibit at the Lexington History Museum.

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    Readers remember: Letters and email messages sent to the Herald-Leader recall the events 70 years ago this week.

    Coming up

    Tuesday and Wednesday: Interviews with survivors and others touched by the attack on Pearl Harbor.

An exhibit at the Lexington History Museum, a showing of a classic World War II movie and a luncheon honoring Pearl Harbor survivors will highlight Lexington's observance Wednesday of the 70th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.

The history museum's exhibit, A Salute to Lexington's Greatest Generation, will describe the events that local residents faced as Pearl Harbor plunged the nation into war. It opens with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the museum, in the old Fayette County Courthouse, 215 West Main Street.

The exhibit will examine both the home front and the war front, with examples of weapons that soldiers used, a mockup of a military camp, old uniforms and photographs, newspaper clippings and music from the period, plus personal accounts from Lexingtonians who served.

Wednesday's reception will include some swing dancing from the war period, the kickoff of a "scrap drive" in the Fayette Schools, "ration-style" refreshments, a raffle and other attractions.

"We hope to show how this event really defined a generation, how people coped and how their outlook changed, all coming out of this period of war," said Debra Watkins, who is curating the exhibit. "The whole country was at war. You were doing scrap drives; you were buying war bonds; you were donating to the Red Cross. Every single American was involved."

For information about the exhibit, call (859) 254-0530.

The annual luncheon of the Pearl Harbor Commemorative Association begins at noon Wednesday at the Oleika Shrine Temple, 326 Southland Drive. Some of the area's remaining survivors are to be on hand, and luncheon tickets are $10. For reservations, call (859) 536-6925.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky Theater, 214 East Main Street, will mark the anniversary with a free screening of Twelve O'Clock High, the Academy Award-winning 1949 movie about the U.S. 8th Air Force fliers who bombed Germany in 1942-45.

It will begin at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday with the introduction of several 8th Air Force veterans. The movie, which will follow, was arranged by Lexington's Frank Cassidy, 88, who flew 35 missions as an 8th Air Force tail gunner.

Cassidy said he hopes the Twelve O'Clock High screening will help today's Lexingtonians understand what World War II fliers went through.

"This date, Dec. 7, 1941, changed the lives of many young men, me included," he said. "I was still in high school when Pearl Harbor happened, and the next thing I knew, I was headed into the Air Force. Everything was different after that."

Unlike many war films, Twelve O'Clock High explores not just the heroism of the fliers, but the psychological scars that many suffered in facing death day after day.

The 8th Air Force veterans will meet the public and answer questions after the movie.

Reach Jim Warren at (859) 231-3255 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3255.

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