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WW I, WW II history coming to Martinsville for free mobile show
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WW I, WW II history coming to Martinsville for free mobile show

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A mobile museum of World Wars I and II will be set up in Martinsville on Friday and Saturday and open free to the public.

The Virginia World War I and World War II Profiles of Honor Mobile Tour will be stationed in the parking lot of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, said Zach Ryder of the museum.

The Mobile Tour will be for sharing as well as for learning: Visitors are invited to bring their own WWI- and WWII-related photographs to be scanned and included in the Virginia Profiles of Honor project. This partnership with the Library of Virginia will help preserve the documents and stories of veterans for generations, according to .

The Mobile Tour will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. “We’re hoping to get a large community turnout for this,” Martinsville City Manager Leon Towarnicki said in an email.

The unit’s visit to Martinsville is through a joint effort by the Veterans’ Service Organization committee, the Virginia Museum of Natural History and the city, Towarnicki said, adding that local veterans will provide volunteer help.

The Virginia World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission was created by the Virginia General Assembly during its 2016 Session by expanding the existing World War II 75th Anniversary Commission to include programs and observances marking the 100th anniversary of World War I, the website states.

The commission’s website includes a package of educational materials for children. The “Scavenger Hunt” shows various pictures (including goggles; a tank; a helmet with net over it; and a dog with a vest full of patches and medals) and asks users to identify from which war each item was. A vocabulary sheet defines 16 words, such as “doughboy,” “panzer” and “USGI” (nickname for an American soldier in WWI, a German tank and an acroynym for “US Government Issue,” respectively). “Profiles of Honor Stories” tell about figures including LTC. Howard L. Baught, a Tuskegee Airman who flew 135 combat missions; PFC Olivia D. Clark, who wasn’t allowed to be a pilot as she had desired, but who accompanied Gen. George Patton in Europe; PFC Claude S. Rice, who was in a German prison camp; and Sgt. Stubby, a dog who was smuggled to France aboard the USS Minnesota and ended up being an invaluable help to soldiers.

That site also has a blank “Profile of Honor” templates that people may use to write their own stories.

The Mobile Tour is coming from Fort Eustis, and it next will be set up in Kilmarnock, according to the tour’s website. The tour will end its 3-year run on June 30, according to an email from the Commission’s communications manager, Rusty Nix, forwarded by Towarnicki.

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