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Experiencing Europe – Tourism and the American Soldier During WWII

April 29 – September 1, 2021


The soldiers of World War II brought with them the exuberance of youth and the knowledge of the past generations to a European continent that was completely tainted by war. These soldiers participated in a tourist experience that would be different than any other. It was an experience that involved all the terrible aspects of war while still providing some small space for wonder. It was a trip that many never wanted to take and one that would live with them forever.


Through artifacts, memorabilia, souvenirs, postcards and letters, this one-of-a-kind exhibit will put you in the mindset of these extraordinary soldiers and help you understand the sacrifices of these young men and women as they liberated Europe.


Experiencing Europe – Tourism and the American Soldier During WWII delves into what it was really like to be an American soldier in Europe during World War II. It explores how the total war that Europe experienced, dominated everyday life for combat troops. Whether they were in a foxhole in France or on leave in Paris – their experiences were shaped by war.




“This exhibit has really given us the chance to bring out many collection pieces that are brand new or have never been on view before. I tried to explore the soldier’s stories through objects – and these objects serve as a testament to the experiences of so many,” related Curator Molly Randolph.



The exhibit also explores Medal of Honor recipient Charles Coolidge’s time abroad. He was on the front lines for 132 consecutive days and experienced the extreme hardship that so many of these soldiers did. While you are going through the exhibit you can imagine yourself in the deserts of Africa camping with Coolidge before the invasion of Italy, or in a foxhole with him eating K-Rations. It is easy to put yourself in the day-to-day mindset of the American GI as you see the objects they kept and read about their everyday lives.