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Monday, October 31, 2011

Families Affected By Wartime: Part II

This is the second post in a series that will explore the Rosenbach’s newest initiative, Families Affected by Wartime. This ground-breaking initiative, which is still in the planning stages, will serve the military community, a population largely ignored by museums. The project aims to connect families from the past with those from the present, demonstrating the relevance of historical documents to our contemporary wartime experience.

Guest Post By Professor Jim Martin (Bryn Mawr College)

As a retired Army Officer, whose academic research and public service continues to focus on military members, Veterans, and their families, I have been thrilled to contribute to the development of the Rosenbach Museum's initiative - Families Affected by Wartime Project.

The Rosenbach has responded to the call from our nation's civilian and military leaders to become engaged in supporting our returning service members and their families, especially our "Citizen Soldiers" - those members (and families) from our National Guard and other Reserve Components whose service and sacrifice has been critical in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the Department of Defense and the Veteran's Administration have made considerable strides in addressing the needs of these returning Veterans and their families, "government" alone will never be able to meet all the challenges posed by wartime service. The well being of our military service members, Veterans, and their families requires the support of all citizens. Family, friends, neighbors, and other citizens must step up and provide the "welcome home" and the sustaining support these Veterans and families deserve. The transition for these members and their families can be hard and often include physical and emotional needs as well as employment and educational challenges that must be dealt with as part of reintegration. Our national identity is grounded in the way we honor our sacred commitment to our Veterans.

The Rosenbach collections provide an innovative and unique opportunity to reach out and engage military/Veteran families with an experience that will connect them with past generations of American's who have also served and sacrificed for our Nation's safety and security. As described in an earlier blog by Emilie Parker, the wartime letters and other materials from the collections from previous wars, relate directly to the contemporary experiences of military families. The Rosenbach’s initiative, to share these letters and help today's military/Veteran families connect with the experiences of earlier generations, provides a powerful message of caring and encouragement. As the Families Affected by Wartime initiative takes shape, I hope that everyone will follow its development and offer whatever support is needed to make it a success. The Rosenbach is setting a path for all museum's and similar community institutions to follow. This represents the kind of citizenship that marks us as One Nation! I encourage you to watch for further information on the Rosenblog.

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