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Historic World War II photographs come to Belton

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Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rebecca Rose

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - Alma Jarnagin slowly walked through the long hall of black and white photos, carefully inspecting the names and locations listed next to each one.

She was looking for any hint of connection to a fiancé she lost more than 60 years ago.

"His name was Charles E. Evans. He was from Salado," she said. "He was killed April 24, 1945, on Okinawa."

The 88-year-old Belton resident was part of a large group of visitors at the Bell County Museum on Saturday, attending the opening of "Memories of World War II: Photographs From The Archives of the Associated Press."

Until Aug. 21, the museum is home to some of the most famous war photographs in history.

Jarnagin could have known any number of the many young faces captured in the 126 photographs. The photos offer a chance to come face to face with some of the most haunting moments in world history.

Images of Jewish women and children in Warsaw being arrested, kamikaze planes attacking U.S. warships, Adolph Hitler talking to tearful Poles after the German invasion and more.

Victor Jorenson's "Sailor and Nurse Kiss Times Square" is part of the exhibit. Jorgenson was a Navy photojournalist, who photographed the same couple as Alfred Eisenstaedt did for the iconic "V-J Day in Times Square" at the exact moment but from a different angle.

The collection contains a rare photograph of "Night" author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. Wiesel was photographed on April 16, 1945, at Buchenwald after American soldiers liberated the concentration camp.

Stephanie Turnham, director of the Bell County Museum, called the images "powerful."

The exhibit, now on tour at participating U.S. museums, was rented from Smith Kramer Exhibition Services for $10,000, Turnham said.

"We just jumped at the opportunity," she said. "Having temporary exhibits is an important part of what we do."

Included in the exhibit are nearly 75 items from the museum's World War II collection and items donated by local collectors.

Outside the museum, a group of World War II memorabilia collectors afforded visitors a chance to get up-close and personal with some authentic military equipment, including jeeps, weapons and uniforms.

Dan Martin, an active-duty officer stationed at Fort Hood, displayed an authentic WWII jeep he had restored himself.

Martin said that as he viewed the exhibit, he examined the photographs with an eye for historical and tactical detail.

"I look closely, and I wonder, 'How did that piece of equipment work?'" he said. "And I ask, 'Who were those people?'"

Admission to the Bell County Museum is free. The museum is at 201 N. Main St. in Belton. For more information on the exhibit, call (254) 933-5243 or go to www.bellcountymuseum.org.

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548.

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