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While the story of World War II often is told on a global or heroic scale, the stories presented here are much more intimate. This exhibition contains interviews, personal correspondence, and other primary documents that illustrate how six ordinary people were impacted by the war.

Their Stories

Despite the differences in their backgrounds and experiences, these subjects all faced a common challenge: to not only survive, but thrive, in the midst of a worldwide conflict. Their stories reveal not only acts of bravery but also everyday moments of anxiety, affection, loneliness, humor, wonder, and even boredom. This exhibition illustrates how ordinary people navigated extraordinary circumstances in the best ways they could.

Young girl in traditional Japanese dress

Born a world away

Terri Hamer

Terri Hamer, a young girl living in Tokyo at the outbreak of the war.

Phil and his wife Toddy

A Lasting Legacy

Phil George

Phil George, a pilot from Austin, TX, who served in China.

DR Busnell sitting in a chair

Local goes global

D.R. Bushnell

D. R. Bushnell had never traveled more than 20 miles from his hometown of Johnson City, TX when he was drafted in 1943.

Black and white portrait of young man in uniform

The letter writer

Eldon Cook

His letters to his wife from “somewhere in Germany” are filled with sweetness and humor.

Black and white photo of young man in uniform


Omer Sharpe

Omer Sharpe, who was captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner-of-war for fourteen months

Air traffic control tower

Love abroad

Tom Ellison

Tom Ellison, who met his future wife in England while serving as an airplane mechanic for the US Navy.