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Mass. teacher to honor WWII veterans with mobile museum

By JEFF MALACHOWSKI | MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass. | Published: December 22, 2017

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — Listening to gripping battlefield tales that World War II vets shared at a conference this summer, Mark Vital continues to be filled with admiration for the sacrifices of the Greatest Generation.

Vital – an English teacher and community outreach manager at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School – was struck by the long lasting effect the horrors of war had on World War II veterans. Many – including Vital's dad Walter – opted against sharing what they witnessed during battle because they did not want to re-create it.

"For many of the veterans it was too horrific to talk about," he said.

The four-year Army veteran left the conference seeking a way to honor Marlborough's World War II soldiers and sailors. He recently came up with the idea to create a mobile World War II museum featuring artifacts from the city's veterans. Vital is searching for medals, photos, uniforms and other World War II memorabilia families may have.

"A lot of families have this stuff and don't know what to do with it," he said.

Vital – whose father did tours in World War II and the Korean War while serving in the Navy – plans to enlist the help of his students to conduct videotaped interviews with Marlborough's World War II veterans. The interviews will focus on their war experiences and what Marlborough was like when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

"Once these men and women are gone we won't have their stores," he said. "I feel so passionate about this."

The mobile museum will be stationed at a public location – such as the library. A location has not been determined yet. Local community groups, such as the Boy and Girl Scouts and schools, can check out the exhibit out to allow younger generations to get firsthand stories about the war.

The Vitals have a deep military history. Vital's aunt and uncle also served during World War II. His brothers Manny and Jimmy fought overseas in the Navy.

"I have this legacy of veterans in my family," he said.

Vital hopes all who see the exhibit come away with a deeper appreciation for what the Greatest Generation went through during the war. He plans to do similar exhibits for the Korean and Vietnam wars.

"This is not just a keepsake," he said. "I hope they can get a great sense of pride in their family's commitment. I want folks to get that appreciation and respect. It's called the Greatest Generation because of what they did. That appreciation is really important."

Anyone interested in submitting artifacts for the exhibit is encouraged to email Vital at sweats4vets@yahoo.com.

jmalachowski@wickedlocal.com

©2017 MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, Mass.
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