This year I have really enjoyed planning programs for the Lansing Historical Society as vice president. Last summer I asked the board if they’d mind going with a World War II theme this year and the suggestion was met with enthusiastic agreement.
Our programs are all related in some way to World War II. Our president, Barb Dust, has worked diligently to arrange many of the war-related artifacts in the museum so that they are categorized by each war. You’ll find helmets and dress uniforms and flags and other items on display from the Civil War forward. She made poster boards with photos and interviews she and I had done with some local World War II veterans.
So far we’ve had a program on Mexicans in World War II, a program on August Olsen, a Lansing native who served in the Army and died when his plane was shot down over France, a Lansing Memory Night where members shared their memories of Lansing during the war and a holiday performance by the Thornton Fractional South high School Chorale, which included well-known holiday tunes that originated during the war.
Our next program takes place on Feb. 25. Due a conflict with use of our regular room, we needed to find a new location for the meeting. We partnered up with the T.F. South History Club to relocate our meeting to the main lobby of T.F. South High School, 18500 Burnham Ave. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.
In keeping with the World War II theme and in honor of Black History Month, our program will focus on the extraordinary role of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Members of the Chicago DODO Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen will present an overview of the first African American pilots to serve in the Armed Forces.
Last year I had the privilege of interviewing the late Quentin Smith, of Gary, about his time spent serving with the Tuskegee Airmen. Meeting him is what made me want to have a program focusing on his part of World War II history.
I hope you’ll come out for the program, which will be followed by an optional tour of the newer portion of the high school building.
And if you’re a history buff and especially like local history, don’t forget to also mark your calendar for March 3 when the village of Lansing will celebrate 120 years since its incorporation with activities taking place downtown at Park Plaza, Ridge Road and Grant Street, and at the American Legion post, 18255 Grant St. The festivities begin at 2 p.m. and will include a presentation of colors by the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard, a performance by the Memorial Junior High School Choir and a reading of the incorporation documents.
The following weekend, on March 9, the Lansing Historical Society will hold an open house from 10 a.m. until noon and the public is invited to come and view some of the exhibits and items in the museum’s collection, like an 1890s organ and a display of first lady dolls dressed in replicas of their inaugural gowns. The museum also has a player piano that is more than 110 years old that we hope to have playing during the open house.