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July 01, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, July 01, 2005

'Those Who Wait' honors military families 'Those Who Wait' honors military families (July 01, 2005)

Museum hosts preview party tomorrow for unique exhibit

by Jeb Bing

The Museum On Main Street will open a two-month exhibit tomorrow showing the photos, uniforms and more from local individuals who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as well as the country's current conflict in Iraq.

The "Those Who Wait also Serve" exhibit focuses on the emotional side of war from the perspective of those who saw active duty and the families they leave behind.

"My two sons - Randy and John - were in the Marines at Camp Pendleton when the Twin Towers in New York were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001," recalled Terry Berry, the museum's director. "It was a very traumatic experience because I knew that we would be going to war and that my sons would be involved."

Berry said that, as she talked to others whose loved ones had been involved in wars, she found they shared experiences that brought tears to their eyes, even 60 years later. Berry decided to bring an exhibit to the museum to reflect how wars impact loved ones who wait anxiously at home.

Berry said this may be the only exhibit of its kind and, for some, will bring back memories of difficult times when loved ones were separated. For those serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan, the emotional stress of wartime separation is present-day, she added. What you'll see

Around the room, displays show specific items from each of the four wars. The communications exhibit is especially striking. It shows the major technical changes that have occurred through the years to help bring families closer together despite their physical separation from the war zones. Letters from the battlefields of WWII took days, sometimes weeks to reach loved ones. Now e-mails, cell-phone calls and digital photo transmissions keep everyone in touch almost daily.

"The mechanisms for staying in touch have changed dramatically," Berry said, "but emotionally it's still the same. You can't (physically) touch each other and you still can't take your loved one out of harm's way."

Walking into the museum, the first displays are photos along the gallery walls, including of WWII-era photos of Barbara Wolfenberger, a museum volunteer, and her husband Joe, who is pictured in his WWII Naval uniform. Next to them is Danny Soria, a WWII veteran, past commander of the local VFW and still a part of its color guard.

Now 77, Soria was the fourth of the brothers to go to war and is shown with the others in a pre-war photo. Other photos include Bill Green and his wife Peggy, with the Army chaplain who married them in Hawaii before Green headed out to fight in the Pacific.

Beyond the gallery is a large exhibit room showing uniforms worn by Soria and by Marine Col. Chris Buescher, who recently returned from duty in Iraq to rejoin his family in Pleasanton. The collection includes the Special Services uniform worn by Kathy Cordova, a well-known Pleasanton author who hosts "In a Word" on TV30 community television and is a free-lancer for the Pleasanton Weekly.

Famous professional and many amateur photos of can be seen above the Exhibit Room displays, many showing families waving goodbye or reuniting.

Cathy Thompson, hired by the Museum board to assemble the "Those Who Wait" exhibition, said this was one of the most involved and emotional exhibits she has developed.

Berry said that wartime emotions for those who wait start from the time there's a sense of danger for a loved one until it's all over. For her it was 9/11, but most remember "The Call," a term used by one of her favorite Marines' family support groups called Marines Mom Online.

"That's when your loved one calls and says 'We are going to be shipping out,'" she said. "That's when emotional stress really starts for a family and what this exhibit is all about."

The public is invited to a preview reception free of charge tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. The exhibit opens on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., is closed July 4, and then is open again during regular museum hours through Sept. 4.

Hours for the Museum On Main, located at 603 Main St., are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays. The museum also will be open during the First Wednesday street party from 6 to 9 p.m. next week. A $2 donation is suggested to tour the exhibit.

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