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Sen. John Heinz History Center’s We Can Do It! WWII traveling exhibit explores Western Pennsylvania’s incredible impact on the home, industrial, and battle fronts during World War II.

A World War II memorial will be on display at the Hampton Township Community Center beginning next month.

The traveling exhibit named “We Can Do It! WWII” is from the Smithsonian-affiliated Sen. John Heinz History Center, and started its three-year tour in April 2017, according to Kim Roberts, communication coordinator for the history center.

The 500-square-foot exhibit explores Western Pennsylvania’s incredible impact on the home, industrial, and battle fronts during World War II. It will be on display in Hampton from Oct. 11 to Nov. 27, Roberts said.

“Visitors to the exhibit will learn about the development of the jeep, a uniquely American invention produced by the American Bantam Car Company in Butler, Pa., and hear the stories behind Rosie the Riveter and the local Tuskegee Airmen whose contributions helped to turn the tide of the war,” she said.

Roberts said the exhibit showcases four lifelike museum figures of local WWII heroes, including Gen. George C. Marshall, Tuskegee Airman Lt. Carl J. Woods, Iwo Jima hero Sgt. Michael Strank, and The Westinghouse Company-inspired Rosie the Riveter

Christopher Lochner, Hampton manager, said the township will be inviting local World War II veterans to bring any memorabilia to the display that they may want to share. And it is also fortunate to have the exhibit during Veterans Day.

The traveling exhibit is visiting 18 cultural institutions throughout Western Pennsylvania during its three-year tour, Roberts said.

“When discussions started about the large WWII exhibit that
appeared at the Heinz History Center in 2015 to 2016, there was an awareness that the topic would also be very meaningful for smaller area historical societies,” said Leslie Przybylek, senior curator at the Heinz History Center.

The history center had a traveling Civil War exhibit that received a lot of positive feedback, so officials decided that certain parts of the large WWII exhibit that appeared at the History Center a few years ago would then be included in a smaller traveling project, according to Przybylek.

The exhibit is provided free of charge to members of the History Center Affiliates Program, a collection of more than 125 historical organizations throughout the region.

“We were also fortunate to receive a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences to help make the project a reality. It’s such a rich topic that no one exhibit at any one venue can capture it all,” Przybylek said.

Hampton will have the exhibit for approximately six weeks before it travels to another host site, according to Roberts.

Lochner said this is a great opportunity to help “educate the younger generation of what veterans went through.” Last year, the township hosted an outdoor traveling Vietnam Wall memorial that was well-received by the community, including many veterans and even educational institutions. He knows there are some WWII veterans still in the township area, including one 91-year-old that was frequently present at the Vietnam Wall exhibit.

The We Can Do It! WWII exhibition is sponsored by Erie Insurance, The Eberly Foundation, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to Roberts.

Natalie Beneviat is a
Tribune-Review contributor.

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