I love small towns. I was reminded of this when my family attended “The 40’s: A Sentimental Journey,” presented by the Eagle (WI) Historical Society and the Palmyra-Eagle Community Band.
We expected to enjoy some great ’40s music—and we did. But that was just the beginning.
Band director Ed Pierce and historical society director Elaine Ledrowski wove together a program that brought to life a 1940s radio broadcast, with all in attendance serving as the listening public. Ed had spent a year tracking down original arrangements of the musical selections. Elaine had combed through period issues of The Quill, the local paper at the time. She and Ed shared a variety of letters and news items—some interesting, some funny, some sad.
Local veterans of World War II were the day’s honored guests. I lost track, but I’d say about two dozen were in attendance.
Ed said in closing, “For a few of us here today, these things are living memories. The rest of us can only try to imagine.” Looking at the faces of many of the older folks in attendance, I could tell that their memories were fresh. But lots of families attended the program too. It provided a great opportunity for kids to hear about the war years from those who’d lived through them.
Events like this could not take place without volunteers. Lots and lots of them.
The program and food were free, but donations were earmarked for the band or the Eagle Historical Society. I told one of the EHS volunteers that I hoped the event raised a lot of money for the society. “Oh, this isn’t a money-maker,” she said. “We did this to honor the veterans.”
If you have trouble finding patriotic spirit on the evening news, try visiting a small-town celebration instead.