Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


June 12, 2014

1944 walking tour is Saturday

ASHLAND — Downtown Ashland has changed dramatically during the 70 years since the D-Day Invasion of Normandy during World War II, although a surprising number of features from that era can still be recognized along today’s Winchester Avenue streetscape.

The days and ways of life in a homefront city during the second World War will again come to life in this city on Saturday, as an army of volunteers welcome guests for the first 1944 Walking Tour of Downtown Ashland, by the Eastern Kentucky Military Historical Society (EKMHS) and Highlands Museum & Discovery Center. The tours, starting on the top of each hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Highlands Museum near the corner of 17th Street and Winchester Avenue, will be led by longtime local residents and historians.

“People are certainly embracing this event. They are excited to see something downtown and they are excited to honor the World War II generation,” said EKMHS President Matt Potter.

“Each tour is expected to last from an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and a half,” Potter said Thursday afternoon as volunteers organized massive enlargements of photos captured in Ashland during the 1940s, and stapled copies of a reprint of the June 6, 1944 D-Day Invasion “EXTRA” edition of the Ashland Daily Independent.

Each tour will begin with a viewing of a short film showing a local scrap metal collection effort. “It screams Ashland, and it’s in color,” Potter said while viewing the surviving film, which has since been posted on the Youtube website. The guided tours will depart from the museum and proceed to 22 historic destinations, where tour guides will stop each group for expanded discussion of the role those locations served during the war era.

An unexpected highlight of the day will be a gathering of World War II veterans for a “meet and greet” at Highlands Museum & Discovery Center from noon to 2 p.m. “We will have several World War II veterans. They’ve actually been calling,” Potter said, later adding “Even if you don’t go on this tour, we all have the opportunity and obligation to come out and say thanks to these men and women.”

Other highlights of the day include a showing of the D-Day film “The Longest Day,” at the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, next door to the museum, along with the chance to see the window decorations at downtown shops in honor of the event, Potter said.

With an excellent forecast for the weekend, Potter said each hourly tour should be well attended.

“We couldn’t have gotten any luckier with the weather. I know a lot of people have had a difficult week with no power,” he said.

The EKMHS president encouraged people who use personal mobility devices, such as power chairs and scooters, to make use of the devices. There will also be a small number of golf carts available for those who may not be able to stand and walk the entire tour, he said.

Tickets for the 1944 downtown walking tour are $10. For more information call (606) 547-2607.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.

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