“Thank You Veterans,” a new exhibit at Santa Clara Central Park Library, marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI on Nov. 11, 1918. The year-long exhibit, designed by Bob Byrd, President of the Santa Clara Historic Preservation Society, honors veterans of wars spanning the century since WWI.
The patriotic exhibit features pictures of 30 uniformed veterans from 12 states coast to coast. The pictures were contributed by family members from Santa Clara and other local communities.
“I’m hoping the exhibit honoring veterans will encourage family members to take the time to record an oral interview with their living veterans or research and write about the memories of their deceased soldiers and sailors,” said Byrd.
A native of Clovis and Santa Clara resident since 1965, Byrd was moved to create the veterans exhibit after attending the November 2017 Veterans Day ceremony at Santa Clara’s War Memorial in Central Park.
“Several speakers used the phrase ‘We are the home of the free because of the brave.’ It brought tears to my eyes,” said Byrd.
“Thank You Veterans” also features vintage, patriotic sheet music from the Harris-Lass Museum collection. The titles are touching, for example: “If I’m Not at the Roll Call, Kiss Mother Goodbye for Me,” “Two Little Eyes Are Watching for a Daddy Far Away,” “There’s a Blue Star in the Window,” and, Byrd’s favorite, “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.”
The 1944 tune “Song of the American War Mothers” was written by the late Christine Jacobs Staats, who was a Santa Clara resident and teacher. Vintage U.S. postage stamps, contributed by former Santa Clara mayor Judy Nadler, depict Merchant Marine ships, the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima and uniformed sailors.
Byrd, who has a heart for history and community service, has created more than 20 local history exhibits displayed at the library since it opened 14 years ago. The exhibits of photographs and memorabilia have featured Santa Clara parades, former mayors, high school yearbooks, the Santa Clara Players, Swim Center athletes and Mission City tourist sites.
The 2018 veterans exhibit is located on the second floor of Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Road. It is against a wall along an aisle leading to the History/Genealogy Pavilion.
“You know it is a good display when you can’t take your eyes off of it. Please come and take a look,” said Mary Boyle, Local History/Genealogy Librarian for Santa Clara.