Interesting Places to Visit: Stars and Stripes Museum and Library ~ by John Davis
Every Side Road Reveals a Mystery
~ by John Davis
“You see, Watson, but you don’t observe,” commented the detective Sherlock Holmes to his friend, Doctor John Watson. Indeed, most of us go through life seeing the same as others, only to discover later that we’d overlooked something which, had we been aware, could have changed our lives for the good.
I don’t mean we didn’t see the snake that bit us. I do mean the awareness of strange, obscure places which hold wonders which, had we but known about them, could have made our lives so much richer.
Such a place is the Stars and Stripes Museum and Library. I’ve often driven Highway 55 through Missouri. Had I only known, one of the most intriguing small museums is but a short distance off the highway into the flat lands of southern Missouri. Little Bloomfield, Missouri, was the scene of a Civil War event that truly lives with us today.
In 1861, Union troops in pursuit of Confederates captured the town and encamped there. While time weighed heavily on their hands, they commandeered the local Bloomfield Herald’s newspaper printer, and published a newspaper called, patriotically, the Stars and Stripes. Thus, the first ever edition of a newspaper which exists to this very day was officially recognized as coming from this little town in the Missouri cotton fields.
A fantastically comprehensive museum, and remarkably helpful library, follow the history of this newspaper by and for American military personnel through all our wars from that long ago first edition. Not only did Stars and Stripes announce the Armistice of World War 1, or the good news that “Hitler Dead” meant the end of the Second World War, but went with troops to Bosnia, to Desert Storm, and to the Middle East today. It goes where the soldiers are.
Yes, every American ever stationed overseas knows the Stars and Stripes. It became a hallmark of ‘news from back home’. Editions followed the Army to Europe’s wars, and even to ‘all the ships at sea’. “Invasion” “Germany Quits”…and even the first use of the atomic bomb over Japan were communicated to our service personnel by the ubiquitous Stars and Stripes.
But perhaps most valuable were its stories from home. The baseball scores, football schedules, the daily comics, and even slice of life articles gave just that tiny reminder of home. It reminded the soldier in a foxhole, on the Iron Curtain watch, or desert trench of what they were defending. The museum follows, with select articles and artifacts, the editions which popped up over the world.
It went bravely wherever our nation sent our defenders. Yes, even today the Stars and Stripes can be found published daily for those Americans scattered throughout our planet. As the museum justly says, “The Stars and Stripes Museum/Library is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to collecting, documenting, and preserving materials related to the creation and continued history of the Stars and Stripes military newspaper.”
Find them online Exhibits – Stars and Stripes Museum/Library and on Facebook. Consider a donation, too, to continue this little known memorial to a great effort to keep the morale of our soldiers high through the years.
By MW Team Writer: John Davis
John William Davis is a retired US Army counterintelligence officer and linguist. As a linguist, Mr. Davis learned five languages, the better to serve in his counterintelligence jobs during some 14 years overseas. He served in West Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands during the Cold War. There he was active in investigations directed against the Communist espionage services of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. His mission was also to investigate terrorists such as the Red Army Faction in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Combatant Communist Cells (in Belgium) among a host of others.
His work during the Cold War and the bitter aftermath led him to write Rainy Street Stories, ‘Reflections on Secret Wars, Terrorism, and Espionage’. He wanted to talk about not only the events themselves, but also the moral and human aspects of the secret world as well.
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