Veterans Celebration and Preview of New Exhibition at National Churchill Museum 

A special celebration and preview of an exciting new exhibition will take place in honor of America’s veterans from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11, on Veterans Day at the National Churchill Museum on the campus of Westminster College. 


Presentations and special music will be presented in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, followed by refreshments provided by the Friends of the Museum organization. 


Veterans and their families will receive free admission to the Museum on Veterans Day. 


Local author Marsha Norris Knudsen will speak about her new book, Sailor’s Mail, and offer a book signing at the reception. The book is comprised of letters her father wrote to her mother during his service in World War II, and her mother and grandmother’s letters and diary entries. 


“My parents weren’t famous,” Knudsen said in a newspaper interview. “My dad didn’t become a general…He wasn’t gravely injured. So there’s not the drama of that, but they are still everyday heroes because they did the right thing.  They did what they were supposed to do.” 


The program will also include “A Salute to the Eagle Squadrons on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Eighth Air Force” by Timothy Riley, Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator for the National Churchill Museum. The Eagle Squadrons were a band of American Flyers who volunteered with Britain’s Royal Air Force to fight the invading Nazis in the air during the Battle of Britain. One of the pilots, Lt. John Lutz, was from Fulton, Missouri and is featured in one of the Museum exhibits. The Eagles Squadrons designated the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury as their official chapel in 1992. 


Music for the celebration will be provided by the Echoes of Love Singers, which includes Marty Martin-Forman, Cindy Metcalf, and Cathy Woodson, as well as a performance by Tom Clapp, ’79 and Marlene Railton. 


“We are very grateful to the Mid-Missouri Friends of the National Churchill Museum and the many volunteers and veterans from in and around Fulton who have come together to help honor the many brave men and women who have served our nation,” says Riley. 


Attendees of the celebration will also get a special preview of the Museum’s new exhibition, “From Swords to Plowshares: Trench Art from the Great War.” 


The exhibition features over 110 objects crafted by soldiers and artists from artillery shells, bullets, shrapnel, aircraft parts, currency and other miscellaneous metal scrap. Called metal trench art, the objects have been transformed into vases, elaborate lamps, cigarette lighters and ashtrays as well as other artistic works. Folk art designs with elaborate engraving and repousse work have been incorporated into the pieces. 


“This exhibition shows how dreadful and dangerous tools of war can be transformed into objects of great beauty,” says Riley. “The many skilled soldiers and civilians who created these splendid objects during World War I have left us with shining works of art that have endured long after the smoke of war has lifted.”     


A combination of circumstances during wartime led to the production of this art form. Soldiers had long periods of idle time and many of them came from metalworking occupations, so with the abundance of workable material littering the landscape, the work was a natural fit.  


However, soldiers behind the front lines were not the only group that created these souvenirs. Prisoners of war and convalescent soldiers also made trench art. Indigenous artisans created pieces to be sold as souvenirs to soldiers during the war or their grieving widows and family members visiting post-war battlefields. 


Trench art from the United States, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia are all a part of the exhibition on loan from Hollingsworth Fine Arts Traveling Exhibitions. 


The exhibition will be on display at the Museum until the end of January.   


This year is the 100th anniversary of America entering World War I. On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. The United States later declared war on German ally Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917.     


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