It was a time of continuous change where over 4,000 souls never found their way back home.
Archivist Lisa Keith-Lucas speaks passionately about the artifacts and stories at the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, but her words hold a different weight in today’s history-in-the-making as the worldwide pandemic rages on and the Black Lives Matter movement seeks justice for the countless Black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police brutality.
“The excitement of that time was tempered by the fear and sadness that went along with it,” says Keith-Lucas. “There are parallels of WWII to our time now where there are truly dramatic events and none of us know how this is all going to end up. Whether you’re talking about Black Lives Matter, Impeachment or the pandemic. In WWII, men and women suddenly had their world upended, and you can understand why people were living in the moment and didn’t think so much about the future.”
The Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum features a new exhibit each month to highlight the different ways the war impacted daily life. In December there was a display on Pearl Harbor and Christmastime during the war. January featured the Nuremberg trials that brought Nazi war criminals to justice.
This month highlights the contributions of African American Service Members that trained at the camp and served in segregated units, including the 71st, 471st, 473rd, 476th, 490th, 816th, 817th, 828th, 494th, 496th Amphibious Truck companies, the 713th Medical Sanitary company and the 337th Regimental Band.
Keith-Lucas says the exhibit covers stories from all five branches of the military including those from well-known veterans like author Alex Haley who served in the U.S. Coast Guard and Officer Benjamin Davis of the Tuskegee Airmen.
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