Museum of Black World War II History . . . in Pownal, VT

I like Vermont. I like history. I especially enjoy the history of World War II because it has shaped so much of our world.

Now someone in Vermont, Pownal of all places, is trying to set the record straight on behalf of the black soldiers who served in WWII. So many black units who served honorably have been ignored. Many others were simply not allowed to fight such as the paratroopers who were used in the Pacific Northwest as smokejumpers. The Rutland Herald, my local paper of choice, has an article about Bruce Bird, the founder and curator of the museum: read it here.

I think our history books often overlook minorities, only retelling us the stories we have already heard, lest our national conscience be disquieted. But there is a place for facing our past crimes so that we can repent, set the record straight, and hopefully never do the same wrong again.

One story that I have often read is the discrimination of black soldiers, especially in the south, when compared to that of German prisoners of war. Enemy combatants (to use a phrase we kick around today) were allowed more priviledges in mess halls and restaurants than black soliders who had to be served out back while the white soldiers, regardless of allegiance, ate inside.

Of course I think that Bird has an uphill battle. I have seen his brochures around town, but it will be hard to drum up attendance to the museum. His location is OK, but not good enough. The middle of Bennington would certainly give him a shot. There aren’t many places to go and hang out down town if you have a family looking for things to do.

But I’m afraid that a museum in Pownal will be a tough sell. Arlington’s tiny Norman Rockwell Museum has a great location and interesting content, but even that museum is struggling to make it. Never mind the fact that it only has prints. It will be very hard to draw tourists off the main road to go in search of the museum.

Great idea. Good luck. I hope it works out!