Home is a place of comfort, welcoming and rest. For the brave soldiers who served in the U.S. Military, but sometimes the definition of home loses its meaning. Not all stories of returning home end in suffering or confusion: in fact, the Fullerton community was enlightened and inspired by some of the stories from those who’ve served their country.
To add more to their exhibit, Memories of World War II: Photographs from the Archives of the Associated Press, the Fullerton Museum began the first event of their speaker series, “Coming Home.”
The event featured a panel of eight veterans, ranging from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which they discussed their time in military service and the transition from military life to civilian.
“In order to make this more than a museum exhibit and make this a community building event, we brought together this distinguished panel of speakers to enlighten us on veteran’s issues,” said Aimee Aul, education coordinator of the museum.
Each of the veterans that spoke told their story with passion, confidence and a sense of pride to have served the country they love. Each story was admirable in its own right and all could be considered tales of bravery, whether the veteran was in combat or not.
There was a sense of life and encouragement from the veterans as each of them had the crowd laughing and intrigued when they told their stories.
Neil Reich, who served as a U.S. Marine during the Korean and Vietnam wars, added to the positive atmosphere and had the crowd laughing hysterically with his story.
“I signed up in WWII and I don’t know how Japan found out I enlisted in the Marines but they surrendered,” Reich said.
There were moments of reflection and sharing of what might have been tough for some to swallow, but overall the event was informative to the community.
Joseph McGraw, a Fullerton College student was amongst the veterans on the panel, described that a thank you is the greatest way a civilian can show a veteran they are appreciated.
“Were not looking for sympathy or handouts; a simple thank you makes it worthwhile,” McGraw said. “Letting a veteran know that they are not alone is the best thing you can do.”
Each veteran described that they are glad they served their country and if given the opportunity they would enlist again.
“Every day I miss it,” said Marilyn Harris, a veteran from the U.S. Army during the Cold War. “Most of us we still think of ourselves as soldiers. We take pride in that. It’s who we are in our core. “
The veterans were honored by the Quilts of Valor Foundation, which stich handmade quilts for those who have served in the military. Each quilt was custom made for each veteran and differed from the next. Barbra Winkler, the Southern California coordinator, handed out the quilts to each veteran.
“We take pride in our work and this is our way to make something special for them and to show them we appreciate them.” Winkler said.
The exhibit will be open to the public until April 13 and the speaker series will continue on March 22 and 29.
The Fullerton Museum is located at 301 N. Pomona Ave.