After the war
What: Almost Home
When: 5 pm Sat., Nov. 10
Where: Lynden Pioneer Museum, 217 Front St.
Cost: $25-$30 (includes beverages and a light dinner)
Info: (360) 354-3675 or http://www.lyndenpioneermuseum.com
Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Albert Hamilton was the first Whatcom County resident to die while fighting in Europe during World War I. On Sat., Nov. 10 at the Lynden Pioneer Museum, Hamilton will come back to life, at least for one night. His story—and, among others, that of Lynden resident Gale Edson—will be told at a viewing of Almost Home.
The original play is based on the experiences of Lynden citizens who served in the Great War, and the difficulties they had returning home again—whether it was on leave, or after the battles had ended and they were struggling to acclimate to regular life after their postwar existence.
“We are able to tell their stories because local historians and family members have done a great job of keeping their memories alive,” longtime museum director and curator Troy Luginbill says.
The day after the performance of Almost Home will be Veterans Day and Sun., Nov. 11 will mark 100 years since Germany formally surrendered and all nations involved had agreed to stop fighting while the terms of peace were negotiated. But as those watching the action unfold will soon learn, the war never really ended for many of the men and women who returned to Whatcom County.
When asked what coming home was like for them, Luginbill says you’ll have to see the show to truly understand.
“To sum it up with a line from the play,” Luginbill says, “you return home to normal life, but the problem is you are no longer normal.”
For those wanting to bring the past into clearer focus, a related exhibit called “Echoes From the Trenches: Whatcom County and the Great War” will be on display at the museum until Nov. 30. Visitors can peruse military uniforms, as well as read letters written home to loved ones. The missives give a hint of the horrors soldiers faced—describing chaos, causalities, homesickness and general confusion from those who fought without being adequately informed about what was happening.
“The exhibit looks at the many changes the Great War wrought to forge our modern world in steel and flames,” Luginbill says, noting that the assorted memorabilia collected and displayed allowed them to frame a worldwide event around the stories of Whatcom County citizens.
“I hope the play gives people a better understanding of the personal price so many paid to build the modern world we live in,” he says.
Because it’s focused on people who actually lived and worked in Lynden and Whatcom County, Luginbill and others who are helping bring Almost Home to life also want attendees at the play and related auction to bring home a few insights about learning from the past to better help present-day veterans who might be struggling with their own demons.
“The biggest lesson for us on the home front to understand,” Luginbill says, “is that those soldiers, nurses and the civilians caught in the middle have been changed and we should allow and support that change so they can begin to heal instead of just cope.”
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