By Katelyn Marshall
The Rochelle Center in Thigpen Library at Volunteer State Community College will have 26 tables displaying a collection of World War II military souvenirs that include American, German and Japanese uniforms and field gear, according to Vol State’s event website.
The World War II display, which is called the Salute to the Greatest Generation, will be Monday, Oct. 28., from 9 a.m. – 2:15 p.m. and will be hosted by Vol State adjunct history instructor Peter Johnson. The display also includes home front items from the World War II period.
“I’ve been bringing my World War II items into my classes and setting them up for display probably for the last ten years,” said Johnson, who has been teaching at Vol State for 14 years. At the moment, he is teaching adjunct this semester after retiring in Dec. 2018.
“I’ve been collecting since I was just a boy, probably eight to ten years old.”
According to Johnson, his World War II display benefits students because they get the hands-on experience of seeing actual military artifacts from World War II.
“It is something that they’ll probably never experience in a class again. Some of the items are quite rare and they get to see them first-hand.”
Johnson explained that he hoped students will learn that war is not to be glorified, although sometimes war is necessary.
“Such was the case with World War II,” Johnson said. “It was necessary that we had rid the world of fascism, totalitarianism, and the genocide of Jewish people, and others.”
Johnson’s platform quote to the world pertaining to World War II is, “The men and women of the WWII generation answered the nation’s call to defend freedom abroad and here at home. When victory was achieved, they changed the world. Now before they are all gone from us, we need to express our gratitude towards them. That’s what this display is all about.”
Johnson explained the historical context of World War II, saying that it went back to the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Great Britain and France then declared war on Germany later that same month. The United States entered the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which occurred Dec.7, 1941.
Johnson explained that the economy of Germany was terrible with inflation and the government that was established was weak.
The display is open to everyone, according to Johnson, including students, faculty, and visitors. “There are some very unique items and it includes U.S., German and Japanese military artifacts.”