Graduate student designs war exhibit in Wrather

The War and Remembrance room features flags, uniforms, and other antiques from various wars in the past. || Michelle Grimaud/The News

Richard Davis, a Murray State graduate student from Paducah, Ky., is nearing the completion of his longtime project of renovating the on-campus Wrather Museum’s War and Remembrance Room.

The room, once designed to feature the Civil War and World War II exclusively, now features every American War dating back to the Revolutionary War.

Davis began the project in an effort to build up his portfolio as he will be pursuing a doctorate degree in public history once he graduates in December. Davis said the room means much more than just a portfolio filler to him now.

“It’s all about that look on your face,” Davis said. “It’s all about that look that you get when you learn something you didn’t know before. That’s what I want. That’s what I want this room to do.”

The idea to renovate the War and Remembrance room stemmed from Davis’s graduate thesis revolving around Forrest C. Pogue, the library’s namesake, as he was an acclaimed historian of the United States Arms and the biographer of Gen. George C. Marshal.

Many of Pogue’s own possessions are housed in the War and Remembrance room, as many of his military possessions were donated to the University in 1989.

Inspired by Pogue, Davis created the exhibit to combine the startling unknowns of national history within the wars with the unveiling of the stories of local hidden heroes.

Davis made sure each war was brought into perspective by featuring not only the national heroes who are universally known, but also local people. John Irvin, a Kentucky native, was awarded the Silver Star for abandoning a position of cover to help the medics get wounded back to the boats in the liberation of France.

“I just wanted everyone to know about all these people who’ve done all of these amazing things in wars, and these people are from right here in Murray, Calloway County, Graves County, and all these places right next to us,” Davis said. “Their grandkids, great grandkids, or even sons and daughters are right around us and we don’t even know it.”

Davis has been working on the room since January.

The War and Remembrance Room is open to the public during Wrather museum hours Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Story by Shannon MacAllister, Staff writer.