The Matheson Library commemorated one of the greatest moments in history, D-Day, the best way it knew how: to hear the story one soldier at a time.
The library staff began their commemoration by displaying materials supplied in a kit. To add to this display, they pulled over 70 historical books in the library pertaining to World War II and D-Day and displayed them along with the kit display.
According to the staff, this display began generating a lot of interest from patrons, so they decided to do more. Staff members began contacting local veterans and their families and soliciting items of interest from that period to showcase in the library.
The response was overwhelming. With the memorabilia and artifacts the library received, an exhibit was created in the library's large display cabinet. It contained dog tags, medals, decorations, letters, flight wings, photos, uniform pieces, retired flags, shadow boxes and other personal mementos.
"No other display has every received the attention or interest that this one generated. We knew we had the community's interest, and we wanted to do more, and we did," Lynn Walsh, branch manager, said.
The library staff then contacted Cheraw High School and requested some of its items to display. The library received several boxes of materials, replicated source documents, period news articles, home front information, and photographs of young WWII veterans from the community.
"We received and display three three-inch binders, containing interviews conducted by the high school students and local WWII veterans and civilians living at the time. One of the questions was, 'Where were you on D-Day, and what were you doing?' There were quite a few interviews with local veterans that had participated in the Normandy Invasion," Walsh said.
The library was decorated in a patriotic theme with flags of all sizes, streamers, red, white and blue table cloths, bunting, ribbon and bows.
"With all this in place, we decided to host an event honoring our veterans and their families, so we planned, prepared for and orchestrated a very moving, elegant and memorable event on June 5 called 'Chesterfield County Library System at Matheson Library Remembers....D-Day, the 60th Anniversary,'" Walsh said.
The event was for local veterans, their families and the public. "We wanted to give the veterans the honor and respect they so deserved," Walsh said.
The program began with a presentation of the colors by JROTC cadets. Four WWII veterans and one Holocaust survivor spoke about D-Day. Book editor Margaret Bigger also read excerpts from her anthology, "World War II: Homefront and Hometown Heroes."
"We also wanted to salute women in the military from that era. After the formal part of the ceremony, guests watched a performance by three students about women in the military and they also viewed a student-produced documentary about Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. These students are national finalists for the National History Day contest.
"This program allowed us to honor the Greatest Generation," Walsh said.