This isn't the first time we've been pleasantly surprised by our across-the-street neighbor, the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. But while we've long enjoyed its restored courtrooms and settler artifacts, we were truly blown away by its newest show, So Far From Home: The American POW Experience in WWII.
Though small in floor-size, the exhibit is heavily concentrated. You have a lot of reading to do there, but it's worth it; the beauty of this show lies in the collection of amazing personal stories from the POWs and their families.
I was particularly struck by the collection of objects illustrating the experiences of the families at home, who received telegraphs and the rare letter from their boy overseas. Two heartbreaking telegraphs from Western Union are there, with the dreadful words, "The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son ... has been reported missing in action ..."
A video at the end of the show features vets themselves talking about their experiences. When I walked in, one airman was describing his capture and imprisonment at the Buchenwald concentration camp. Upon seeing the tortured and emaciated captives there, he said, "I wanted to resign from the human race." He adds that the smell from the crematoriums is still in his nose 66 years later. It's devastating.
But the show is also amazing, especially when you learn of the courage and perseverance of the men and women who rescued others at their own risk. There are several stories like that here, and they restore your faith in people.
So Far From Home is up through May 2011, and admission is always free. For more information, read Bree Abel's article on the show from earlier this month.