Veterans Day at Watkins Museum


  • Categories: Museums | Event
  • Event posted: Nov. 7, 2012
  • Last updated: Sept. 16, 2014

Event details

Celebrate Veterans Day at the Watkins Museum with a special program exploring a fascinating aspect of World War II history in Kansas. The museum will be open 1-4PM and will host Matthew Thompson of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. Admission for both the program and the exhibit is free.

At 2:00 PM, Mr. Thompson will present “From Fatherland to Farmland: German POWs in the Great Plains,” a talk offered courtesy of the Kansas Humanities Council “The Way We Worked” Speaker’s Bureau. Thousands of German soldiers captured by Allies during WWII were sent to the United States to work as agricultural laborers. Many were house in POW camps in rural Kansas. In this 1-hour presentation, Mr. Thompson will discuss how prisoners and townspeople in rural Kansas communities realized they had more in common than they might have imagined.

A new museum acquisition highlights the military service of a local veteran and provides an insight into the relationship between U.S. servicemen and the native population of the countries where they were stationed. While serving in the South Pacific during WWII, Lieutenant Commander Richard Treece and the crew of the U.S. Navy destroyer escort ship YP-419 received a number of gifts from the Ambrym Islanders during the Christmas of 1944. In addition to food, the gifts included a grass skirt, headdress, baskets, bracelets and other items that reflect native culture. Preserved by the Treece Family in Lawrence for 68 years, these artifacts, along with photographs and Treece’s uniform, were recently given to the museum by his wife. They are now featured in a display on the museum’s third floor.


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