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Museum L-A, Franco Collection present exhibits featuring local veterans

This photograph of the funeral of Edmond Leblond, said to be the first local man to die in World War I, taken at Auburn’s St. Louis Church in October of 1918, is among those now on display at the Franco-American Collection.

This photograph of the funeral of Edmond Leblond, said to be the first local man to die in World War I, taken at Auburn’s St. Louis Church in October of 1918, is among those now on display at the Franco-American Collection.

Museum L-A and the Franco-American Collection at Lewiston-Auburn College are collaborating to present two exhibitions honoring local veterans and the contributions of Twin City residents to the country’s wartime efforts.

This photograph of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, taken by Army photographer William J. Burns of Lewiston, is among those now on display at Museum L-A.

This photograph of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, taken by Army photographer William J. Burns of Lewiston, is among those now on display at Museum L-A.

The Franco-American Collection’s exhibit, called “Sous les Drapeaux: Under the Colors,” features the stories of local Franco-American veterans who served in conflicts from World War One to Korea. Exploring themes of identity and patriotism within the Franco-American community, the exhibit was curated by Atrium Art Gallery Coordinator Robyn Holman and Franco-American Collection Coordinator James Myall.

Museum L-A’s exhibition, “Courage, Grit and Pride,” features Twin City connections to World Wars I and II, with most of the emphasis on the latter conflict. Excerpts of references to these wars by local soldiers from the Museum’s collection of oral histories are included throughout.

A key part of the Museum L-A exhibit, called “They Know Their Jobs Are Vital,” explores the significant role area businesses and residents played in manufacturing wartime goods for military use.

“It was staggering for us doing the research to discover the scope of the role played by Lewiston-Auburn-area workers in the war effort through the manufacturing of goods for the military,” noted Museum L-A Executive Director Rachel Desgrosseilliers.

Current Twin City residents might be surprised to learn that, not only did their local forebears play a key role in outfitting the Army and Navy, but they also made special fabrics used to manufacture parachutes, airplanes, and to protect soldiers and sailors deployed in tropical areas from malaria-carrying mosquitos.

Another section of the exhibit presents vivid, never-before-seen photographs of life in wartime Japan by Army photographer William J. Burns of Lewiston, who otherwise worked in the Bates Mill personnel department. Burns’ images depict the wartime denizens of Japan, the mass devastation created there by the war, and the everyday life of various military personnel, including such luminaries as Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

A third section spotlights “Iwo Jima in 1945” through the words of Henry Gilbert, a Marine Corp veteran who, in his later memoir, recounted surviving one of the bloodiest conflicts in our nation’s history to stand at the base of “Iwo” and witness an event that became one of the war’s enduring images – the raising there of the American flag.

“We have been exploring ways to partner with USM-LAC and the Franco-American Collection, and these exhibits were a perfect opportunity to do so,” said Desgrosseilliers.

The USM exhibit will be on display at the Franco-American Collection through December 30. Admission is free. Open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Collection is located at Lewiston-Auburn College, 51 Westminster Street in Lewiston. For more information, contact James Myall at franco@usm.maine.edu or 753-6545.

The Museum L-A exhibit will be on display through February 28. Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors and students. Located at 25 Canal Street in the Bates Mill Complex in Lewiston, Museum L-A is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 333-3881 or email info@museumla.org.

 

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