Reflections from the Curators

| Remembering Melbourne

| Memories of Wartime Melbourne

| Legacies

 

I am grateful to those men and women who I interviewed about life in Melbourne during World War II. Their stories reveal the complexity of civilian responses to the American military presence.

Kate Darian-Smith

 

As I travelled throughout the US on research trips on three separate occasions in the 1990s, I was ‘adopted’ by aging Marine veterans and their families and welcomed into their homes.The extraordinary hospitality I was shown mirrored the warm welcome that they had themselves experienced more than fifty years earlier in Victoria. Veterans chauffeured me to and from airports, bus stations and places of interest, and their wives made me comfortable by ensuring that I had everything I needed in the guest rooms of their homes, cooking me special ‘American’ meals and preparing packed lunches for me. Spending time with these men in their home environments afforded considerable insight into their personal lives and circumstances. Thanks to our previous correspondence and our mutual interest in one another, I was able to quickly establish close bonds of trust with veterans. They welcomed the opportunity to reflect on their lives with someone who was not a family member or close friend. Our discussions were wide ranging and, while the war featured prominently in our conversations, so did the subjects of love, death, life, sex and family. I will never forget (will always remember/be moved by?) the generosity of spirit displayed by these veterans of the First Marine Division and the openness and honesty with which they shared their stories with me. This exhibition is dedicated to their memory.

Rachel Jenzen

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