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Danville: Traveling exhibit highlights veterans' private correspondence

'War Comes Home: The Legacy' open at downtown museum through April 9

The Museum of the San Ramon Valley this week began hosting a new exhibit featuring private correspondence from military members from almost every major conflict in American history.

"War Comes Home: The Legacy" is a traveling exhibition with historic and contemporary letters that offer an intimate perspective into the thoughts and emotions of servicemen and servicewomen and their families upon their homecoming, museum officials said.

Spanning conflicts from the Civil War through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and displayed on 13 interpretive panels, the exhibit "explores the shared themes of wartime separation, the adjustment to life back at home, and the costs of war," officials added.

As Staff Sgt. Parker Gyokeres wrote, "Those of us coming back ... are not looking for sympathy. We might be reluctant at first to talk about what we've been through ...(but) your support has made this journey an incredible one ... Thanks, above all, for listening."

The exhibit, which opened at the downtown Danville museum this week, runs through April 9. It is part of Cal Humanities' current War Comes Home initiative, a thematic program designed to promote greater understanding of veterans and explore how war shapes a community.

"War Comes Home: The Legacy" is based on the work of the Center for American War Letters and is presented by Exhibit Envoy. It is co-curated by Andrew Carroll, the center's director and an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author, and John Benitz, associate professor in the theater department at Chapman University.

The exhibition also offers a series of special events while in Danville, as described by museum officials.

World War l: Two Perspectives

Feb. 9, 7 p.m. Veterans Memorial Building

Two historians will discuss the First World War from the European and American viewpoints. What events and decisions led into the war and how did it become a global conflict? Why did the United States become involved? What was the ordinary person's view of the war? How did it change society? What were the results of 4 years of conflict? Hear these and other viewpoints and have the opportunity to ask our experts as we remember the 100th anniversary of The Great War.

Sweetheart Jewelry, Love Tokens and Mementos

Feb. 11, 10:30 a.m. Museum of the San Ramon Valley

Marcia Harmon owner of "Cottage Jewel" and fashion and jewelry historian will present a hands on lecture on jewelry, tokens and remembrances from war time in American history from the 19th century to today.

War Letters

Feb. 23, 7 p.m. Veterans Memorial Building

The award-winning PBS program "War Letters" will be shown followed by a discussion of how letters convey the thoughts and emotions of war from the battlefield to the home front and back.

"How I wish that we could be together..."

March 1, 7 p.m. Veterans Memorial Building

A panel of veterans and their families will talk about their experience of war, family separation, concern and worry, coming home and adjusting to peacetime. From World War II until today, we will hear these experiences first hand and be able to share in the thoughts.

An Ordinary Year, An Extraordinary Time

March 16, 7 p.m. Veterans Memorial Building

Author, photographer and Vietnam veteran Steve Burchik will share his photographs and memories of being a forward observer with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam from June 1968 to June 1969. This talk accompanies an exhibition of his photographs at The Museum of the San Ramon Valley and the Veterans' Memorial Building in Danville. Book-signing will follow the talk.

"Think of Me Often"

April 7, 7 p.m. Danville Library

"War Comes Home" will have a final send-off with an evening of poetry, readings and music at the Danville Library. "Clarinet Fusion" with entertain and bring back memories with music from the Civil War until today.

For more information, visit the museum at 205 Railroad Ave. in downtown Danville, check out its website or call 837-3750.

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