Honoring a WWII Veteran For Future Generations
Creating an Exhibit: “P.F.C. John L. Meyer Jr.: My Road to Nuremberg”
MUSE student Jessica Heck used her internship at the Kansas Museum of History to help create a unique exhibit to honor John Meyer Jr.'s service in World War II. Besides getting hands-on experience with the hands-on skills used in the museum studies field, she also saw another side of this line of work: Spending time with John Meyer Jr., the subject of the exhibit, and his family.
The exhibit case in the reference room hasn't been used for anything of this scale before, but the donation of John Meyer's materials to the museum sprung the idea into action. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, "Meyer served in combat in Europe during World War II as a private first class in the United States Army from 1943 to January 1946. He was a member of the First Infantry Division, 18th Regiment, F Company. He built a model of the courtroom used in the Nuremberg Trials, which prosecuted those who participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes."
I've been working on this exhibit case in the reference room at the State Archives since the start of the summer, partly for my job and as part of my internship. Mary Madden, director of the Kansas History Museum, and my boss, Matt Veatch (the State Archivist) encouraged me to get involved in May and, since then I've been researching, interviewing, and drafting exhibit scripts almost every day for four months. I got to know Mr. Meyer and his wife, Marilyn, pretty well throughout the project, which was the greatest honor of all. It's one thing to present material about WWII veterans – it's another to hear them talk about it and see their reaction in person.
The Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper was here, as well as about 45 guests. It was pretty awesome.
It was a fabulous experience and I couldn't have been happier to have been a part of it! This is why I love what I do and what I'm learning to do!