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'War Comes Home: The Legacy' now at Museum on Main

Private correspondence details views from major U.S. conflicts

The new traveling exhibit at Museum on Main, "War Comes Home: The Legacy," highlights private correspondence from almost every major conflict in U.S. history.

Rich with historic and contemporary letters, the exhibit, which opened earlier this month, explores the joys and hardships that returning soldiers and their families face, as expressed through private letters and email correspondence.

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

Related artifacts have been donated or lent by veterans and their families living in the Pleasanton area, dating from the Civil War to the present. These include uniforms, equipment, keepsakes and souvenirs, and correspondence from soldiers and sailors serving under the flag of the United States.

"War Comes Home: The Legacy" is part of Cal Humanities' current War Comes Home initiative, a program to promote an understanding of veterans and explore how war shapes a community. The exhibition is based on the work of the Center for American War Letters and is presented by Exhibit Envoy.

Concurrently, Museum on Main is hosting "An Ordinary Year, an Extraordinary Time: Photographs from a Tour in Vietnam," featuring the photography of Steven Burchik, who served as a forward observer with the Army's First Infantry Division from the summer of 1968 into the summer of 1969.

During his tour, Burchik took thousands of photographs with a personal camera that he carried on and off duty. A selection of these photos illustrated Burchik's award-winning 2014 memoir, "Compass and a Camera: A Year in Vietnam," and 65 images chosen by Burchik comprise the exhibit.

Burchik will be speaking at 7 p.m. tonight at the museum, telling about his tour in Vietnam where he was stationed in the rice paddies near Saigon. He will also be offering his book, which pulls not only from his memories but from the daily letters he wrote to his fiancee and photographs from the more than 4,000 he took while serving overseas. His talk is free but preregistration is required; call 462-2766.

"War Comes Home" runs through April 24; "An Ordinary Year" through May 29. The Museum on Main is located at 603 Main St. Visit www.museumonmain.org for more information.

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