The Historical Society of Federal Way invites you to take a local look back on the early 1940s.
“World War II: Washington Remembers” is the society’s latest exhibit, showcasing Federal Way’s service members, military artifacts from the 1930s and 1940s, along with stories of trials and tribulations felt throughout the state. While the foundation of the information is provided by Legacy Washington’s traveling exhibit, the historical society is adding local flair with memorabilia from Federal Way veterans.
“Before they liberated concentration camps or freed countries from tyranny, men and women in uniform … braved the unknown, lived through the unthinkable and changed who we are,” the Legacy website states.
“It’s kind of nice to see their different stories, the different battles, and what they did once they returned,” said Suzanne Vargo, board member of the historical society, of the exhibits spotlight features. “They’re all people that lived here in Federal Way.”
On display are several WWII uniforms from the U.S. Army and Marine Corps provided by local community members, along with a uniform worn during the Battle of the Bulge, which was donated by longtime South King Fire and Rescue member Roger Hershey.
“You’re going to walk into this room and be in a 1940s living room at Christmas time,” Vargo said of her vision for the exhibit setting.
Hanging in the entrance of the historical society is a plaque inscribed with dozens of names of local residents who signed up for the WWII draft, many of which were high school students from Federal Way, Vargo noted.
This exhibit is focused on people of local connection and how it affected the people of Federal Way, Vargo said.
Western Union Tribune articles show the heart-wrenching chronicles of local resident Paul Young and his status as a prisoner of war.
Throughout the exhibit’s stay through May, the society will also present programs about various issues the country faced during the 1940s, such as rationing gas, milk and sugar.
“We’ve never had to ration our sugar,” Vargo said. “I mean gas has gotten expensive, we may have re-thought our trips and how far we’re going to drive but nothing like what these people sacrificed. And back then, you just did it.”
Among the collection of artifacts are a rationing how-to guide and a vintage paper Kit-Kat candy bar wrapper, which reads: “This product is made with plain chocolate. Our standard Chocolate Crisp will be reintroduced as soon as milk is available.”
The society will also touch on the tragedy of internment camps and the mentality brought on by war that lasted decades, Vargo said.
When community members have a chance to explore how this war impacted Federal Way, it doesn’t seem as looming or distant and brings the history home to the heart of Washington, she said.
The annual open house and grand opening of the exhibit is from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7.
The Historical Society of Federal Way is located at 2645 S. 312th St. at the Steel Lake Park Annex. For more information, visit federalwayhistory.org.