An exhibit that tells the story of Louisiana's contribution during World War II is coming to Lake Charles.

Produced by the National World War II museum, "The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II," will be at Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center, 1001 Ryan St., from Aug. 2 until Oct. 19. An opening reception is set for 5:30-8 p.m. Aug. 2.

During a press conference on Thursday, Charles Dalgleish, president of the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission, said the exhibit will include artifacts, photos and oral histories that detail Louisiana's part in the war, leading to the Allies' eventual victory. Nearly 280,000 Louisiana residents served during the war. Dalgleish said his father, John, served as a B-24 Bombardier navigator.

"We should remember and honor the courage of these men and all they did during World War II," he said.

Army First Lt. Alvin Joseph Monlezun, of Lake Arthur, died in Aachen, Germany, Oct. 10, 1944, just before the Battle of the Bulge. Lee J. Monlezun, Alvin's nephew and godson, said those who served should be honored and remembered.

"If it wasn't for these guys and ladies, we wouldn't have our home today," he said.

Charles A. Mayfield, an African American enlisted in the Navy, was one of 320 men killed on July 17, 1944, during an explosion while aboard a ship in Port Chicago, Calif. Lyle Sanford, Mayfield's nephew, said this exhibit brings his story to life.

"You get to see the sacrifices of how these people lived back then," Sanford said. "That sense of sacrifice is important because it's something I think we've lost."

Mayor Nic Hunter said the city and McNeese State University will host a panel discussion on how the war impacted Southwest Louisiana. It is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at Tritico Theater, 4205 Ryan St.

Hunter said the city is also seeking war artifacts and relics to add to the exhibit. They can be brought to Historic City Hall between 1-4:30 p.m. until July 12.

Residents are asked to bring photos of those who served during the war to be featured on a Wall of Honor, sponsored by Stine Lumber in honor of J.W. Stine. Photos can be brought to Historic City Hall or emailed to grant.leonards@cityoflc.us.

An oral history produced by students from the Calcasieu Parish School Board Television Production Program will accompany the exhibit, Hunter said. Students interviewed WWII veteran Gen. Erbon Wise; E.K. Hunter, son of WWII veteran Judge Edwin F. Hunter Jr.; and Jim Beam, retired American Press editor.

Historic City Hall is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

For more on the exhibit, call 491-9147.


Online: cityoflakecharles.com

Calcasieu Parish Government and Cameron Parish Reporter

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