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Getting Real with Veterans of WW II

  • Lafayette College History Professor and WWII scholar Donald Miller leads off the "Real War" series of special ev...
    Lafayette College History Professor and WWII scholar Donald Miller leads off the "Real War" series of special events on October 1.
    Photo courtesy of Zovko Photographic LLC
  • StoryQuest students with veteran Salvatore Orsini.
    StoryQuest students with veteran Salvatore Orsini.
October 01, 2014
Students in the Starr Center’s StoryQuest program have worked with area veterans and their families to bring World War II experiences to life. Those stories and more will be told through images, recordings, movies, and music in a series of events running Oct. 1 through Nov. 11.

CHESTERTOWN, MD, MD – Members of the 1940s “greatest generation” and the 2010s “millennial generation” have teamed up to create an innovative new series of programs that will bring to life the American experience in World War II. “The Real War: World War II Veterans Remember” debuts on October 1, with a talk by a best-selling historian and an exhibition opening, and runs through Veterans Day, November 11. 

Sponsored by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the “Real War” series is based on more than 40 interviews that students in the Center’s StoryQuest oral history project conducted over the past year. Events will include an onstage multimedia production and a film series. 

In their interviews, the college students captured vivid first-person stories of remarkable men and women, including an eyewitness to the Pearl Harbor attack, a B-24 gunner shot down over the Adriatic Sea, and one of the first female officers in the U.S. Marine Corps. Many interviews recorded the memories of those who did not serve at the front lines but participated as fully in the wartime experience as the combatants themselves. The series title refers to a famous remark by Walt Whitman about the Civil War: “The real war will never get in the books.” The multimedia programs aim to convey as richly as possible the kinds of individual experiences often left out of traditional histories.

Details of the six-week series follow. With the exception of the Oct. 26 trip to D.C., which is open only to Washington College students, all events are free and open to the public.


Wednesday, October 1 

Talk/screening: Donald L. Miller, “They Have Seen War: Stories from World War II”

4:30 p.m., Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall

Donald Miller, professor of history at Lafayette College, is one of the nation’s leading historians of World War II. A New York Times bestselling author of nine books, he is a frequent consultant and adviser on historical productions for PBS and HBO, including the series The Pacific, and serves on the advisory board to the CEO of the National World War II Museum.  He will share stories of the wartime experiences that tested and transformed an entire generation of Americans, along with clips of interviews with veterans from a new documentary that Miller co-produced with Tom Hanks.


Exhibition opening: “The Real War: World War II Veterans Speak”

6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (immediately following Miller talk),

RiverArts Studio Gallery, 315 High Street

Curated by Washington College students and RiverArts, this exhibition will use images, words, audio, and video to share the stories of local eyewitnesses to World War II. The exhibition will run through November 1. Find gallery hours at chestertownriverarts.com or call (410) 778-6300.


Sunday, October 5

Film screening: “Saving Private Ryan”(1998)

7:00 p.m., Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall

The first event in a World War II film series features Steven Spielberg’s dramatic tale of rescue and sacrifice in the Normandy invasion, starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon.


Sunday, October 19

Film screening: “Flags of Our Fathers”(2006)

7:00 p.m., Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall

The film series continues with Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed rendering of the war in the Pacific, starring Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford.


Sunday, October 26

Starr Center Road Trip: World War II in Washington, D.C.

This daylong travel program, led by Professor of History Richard Striner and Starr Center Director Adam Goodheart, is open only to Washington College students. Participants will explore World War II sites in the nation’s capital. Interested students should email starr_center@washcoll.edu about this free trip.


Sunday, November 9

Film screening: “Sahara”(1943)

7:00 p.m., Norman James Theatre, William Smith Hall

The film series concludes with a movie produced during the conflict itself: Zoltán Korda’s vivid portrayal of the tank war in North Africa, featuring Humphrey Bogart.


Tuesday, November 11

“The Real War: World War II Veterans Remember”

A multimedia performance and exhibition

7:30 p.m., Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts

This Veterans Day event caps off the six-week program. An innovative performance piece, produced by Washington College students working with World War II veterans and the musical ensemble Trio Galilei, will dramatize the veterans’ stories onstage through live performance, music, and images. A free dinner for all veterans (of any era) and exhibition will precede the main event. 

For more information about these programs, visit www.starrcenter.washcoll.edu.


Last modified on Sep. 23rd, 2014 at 9:47am by .