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Fighting a war, at home and abroad

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Museum exhibit highlights Littleton’s home-front contributions during WWII

By Ramsey Scott

The sacrifices made by U.S. soldiers on foreign battlefields during World War II and the support from Americans back home are the focus of a new exhibit at the Littleton Museum.

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“Littleton Goes to War: 1941-1945,” a year-long exhibit that opened July 5, not only traces the arc of the global conflict but also shows the major roles that places like Littleton played, said museum director Tim Nimz.

“A big part of the story is the home front — locally, what was going on,” Nimz said. “I hope it brings home to people just how immediate the war was to the home front.

“We all learn about World War II in our history classes, and it’s such a huge conflagration: Millions of people across the world were involved. It loses the hometown connection until you drill down.”

Nimz said Littleton residents might be surprised to know how large a role their town had in the war effort. Five local companies, including Heckethorn Manufacturing Co., which made a vast majority of the 4.2-inch mortar shells used by the U.S. Navy, converted their facilities to make weapons.

“I think some of the specific stories are going to surprise people,” Nimz said. “Littleton played a more significant role than people may know about.”

The exhibit chronicles the contributions of domestic agriculture and industry while featuring tales of heroism at home and overseas. In addition, the museum’s 1890s farmhouse will represent a rural 1940s home with a victory garden throughout the exhibit.

The fruit and vegetable gardens were planted as an act of patriotism to ease pressure on the nation’s food supply.

‘A great exhibit’

Finnegan Sheridan, 11, a self-described World War II buff, was impressed with the exhibit when he checked it out July 6.

“It’s a really great, historically accurate exhibit,” Finnegan said. “Littleton had a lot of industry.”
Scott Sheridan, Finnegan’s father, said he was impressed not only with Littleton’s role in World War II, but also with the quality of the exhibit at such a small museum.

“I found it all very interesting,” Scott Sheridan said. “I didn’t know about the role Littleton played until I walked into the museum.”

Since the exhibit will be on display until next August, several displays will be rotated in the museum’s Changing Gallery. The first is a large collection of Associated Press photos that feature some of the most iconic images of the war. One picture of an unnamed U.S. soldier, still clutching a grenade after he died, is especially moving.

The second rotation will feature historical artwork from the era, including pieces created by GIs on the front lines, Nimz said. The exhibit will culminate next year with a collection of flags, maps and other items from the front lines of the conflict.

The exhibit is open during the museum’s normal business hours, and admission is free. For more information on the exhibit and for hours, visit http://www.littletongov.org/index.aspx?page=1.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check www .columbinecourier.com for updates.