Reminiscent of its extremely popular World War II exhibit of two years ago, Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan is now paying homage to the veterans of the Korean War.
Korean War: A Tribute Exhibit opens Friday in Wilson Gallery with a public reception planned from 5-7:30 p.m. Retired Col. Jim Makowske will serve as guest speaker. A special presentation also is planned by Dr. Greg Adamus, along with light refreshments.
This latest exhibit showcases a variety of uniforms, weaponry, medals and war-related newspaper clippings on loan from local veterans who served in what has become known as the "Forgotten War." That conflict was waged from 1950 to 1953.
"We need to preserve the history of our past conflicts. Each one needs to be paid tribute," said Facilities and Exhibits Manager Randy Shultz, who installed the exhibit.
Shultz said about 90 percent of the items on display were loaned by the public or by the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, with the other roughly 10 percent coming from the museum's collections. Among the items are United Nations service medals, a large section of a mobile hospital unit similar to what was immortalized on the M*A*S*H television series and an Army jeep on loan from Leonard Dietz.
Also featured are a number of items brought back to the States from occupied Japan by servicemen, including kimonos, tea sets and scarves.
Delynn Medina and Marilyn Thom painted three murals as backdrops for several sections of the exhibit. In one, the "bridge of no return" symbolizes the separation between North and South Korea. Another gives a glimpse of what were known as the "ghost soldiers," while the third helps to set the stage for the mobile hospital tent.
Another unique feature is a series of slides taken in Korea by then Corp. David Kieliszewski. Shultz was able to convert the slides into a DVD that continually loops. During his time of service, Kieliszewski was involved in transportation and railroads that involved the exchange of bodies killed on both sides of the conflict.
In conjunction with the new exhibit, a lecture series featuring Adamus and Alpena Community College instructor Tim Kuhnlein will be offered at the museum. Adamus is scheduled to speak May 26, June 16 and June 23,while Kuhnlein will show a film and lead a discussion on June 9.
The talks will take place from 3:30-5 p.m., and afterwards participants will have the option of dinner at one of three local restaurants that are offering a buy-one-get-one-free dinner coupon. The coupons are only good for the Saturday of the lecture.
Participating restaurants are Ripley Street Big Boy, JJs Steak & Pizza and John A. Lau.
The Korean War: A Tribute Exhibit will be on display at the Besser Museum through Aug. 25. For more information, contact the museum at 356-2202.