A collection of military memorabilia is on display now at the Great Bend Public Library, 1409 Williams St. The Salute to Veterans exhibit will be at the library until the end of November. There will be a reception with refreshments at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9, said Karen Shaner, who worked with the Great Bend American Legion and others to create this tribute.
The exhibit also features poppies painted by members of the Artists at Large group. The paintings are for sale and the proceeds will go toward Kansas Honor Flights, Shaner said.
“I just want to show respect for veterans,” Shaner said, explaining the purpose of this exhibit.
Included in the exhibit are several flags and uniforms from different eras and branches of the service, including Shaner’s grandfather’s Army uniform.
“My grandfather (Harvey Schloemer) was a bugler in World War I,” she said. “My great-grandfather was in the Union Army in the Civil War and fought in the Battle of Vicksburg.”
Shaner’s father, Donald Schloemer (1927-2009), served four years in the U.S. Navy as Yeoman Third Class, and he collected newspaper articles about major events for much of his life, some of which are included in the exhibit. The front page of the Aug. 16, 1945, Rush County News carries the headline, “WAR IS OVER.” There are also two “Reporter of the Air Victory Cook Books” published by the Great Bend Tribune in the 1940s.
There are letters from World War II, dog tags from World War I and a fork and spoon from a mess kit from 1917 or 1918.
Shaner and Sally Rychlec spent hours setting up the display on Friday, and several veterans stopped by to visit with them. Some even returned with more items for the display case, Shaner said.
As the display was going up last Friday, U.S. Navy veteran David Whitlock stopped to ask a question about the Navy uniform hanging in the display. That uniform, on loan from the American Legion, was worn by 2nd class Petty Officer Jack Durbin in World War II.
Whitlock, who came to Great Bend from Alabama but is finishing a class at the Central Kansas Dream Center, explained that the bell-bottom trousers sailors have worn since the 1800s serve a purpose beyond fashion. They can also double as a life preserver by tying the pant legs.
Whitlock was happy to see the Salute to Veterans exhibit going up before Veterans Day.
“We all have rights now that were given to us because of someone else’s sacrifices,” he said.
Two programs Saturday
Great Bend Public Library Marketing Manager Michael Adamyk said he hopes people will attend Saturday’s reception at 1:30 for the Salute to Veterans exhibit and noted that the public is also invited to stick around for another library program at 2 p.m. That’s when Park Ranger Celeste Dixon from the Fort Larned National Historic Site will present “Guardians of the Santa Fe Trail.” Dixon will share some military history from the fort, including telling how the soldiers protected the Santa Fe Trail and the U.S. mail from Plains Indians and outlaws during the late 1800s. The program should last about an hour, with time afterward for questions, Adamyk said.