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South Hadley World War II veterans to be honored

SOUTH HADLEY World War II veterans from South Hadley will be honored at a reception on November 12 at the Old Firehouse Museum in South Hadley. The museum holds the 2005 exhibit of the South Hadley Historical Society, "South Hadley's Veterans 60 years ago."

The reception with refreshments will be from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the museum at 4 North Main Street in South Hadley. The veterans and their families have been invited, along with those who have donated war memorabilia to the exhibit, including photos, letters, uniforms, medals, newspaper stories, and flags. Although South Hadley's population in 1940 was less than 7,000, more than 950 residents served in World War II.

According to Robert Judge, Historical Society President, "This reception will allow us thank those veterans and their families whose loans to the exhibit have made it so successful." Judge said that the public is invited, and that invitations have been sent to the town's veteran agent, the VFW, the American Legion, the Board of Selectmen, State Rep. John Scibak, State Sen. Stan Rosenberg, Gov. Romney, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Kerry, and the 112 Society members. The formal program will begin at 1:30 p.m., during which Rep. Scibak will make a presentation from the Massachusetts legislature.

A highlight of the exhibit has been a video display of oral histories of the veterans, conducted through interviews by South Hadley High School students. According to Society member Ted Belsky, "These oral histories allow us all to hear these veterans describe their experiences in their own words." The oral history videos will also be shown at South Hadley High School on Thursday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.

Brian Duncan, a Society Director, said, "We have had many successful exhibits over the years, but this one seems to have touched people deeply with the emotions it recalls from those war years. The exhibit has rekindled the deserved pride we have in these veterans."

The exhibit opened in May. Since then, according to Society Curator Jo Wojnarowski, it has had the most visitors of any exhibit in the Society's history. Besides Nov. 12, the displays will be open each Sunday through Nov. 6 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The Society produces a new exhibit each year, highlighting a different aspect of South Hadley's history. This exhibit was timed for the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the war. Photos of the displays can be seen at

Judge said based upon RSVPs to date, the Society is now preparing for a large crowd on November 12, and he encouraged anyone with an interest in South Hadley's wartime history to attend. For more information, please call the Society as 413, 536-4970 or Judge at 413-532-5792, or send email to