Veterans Day lecture on WWII

WWII the focus of Veterans Day lecture and exhibit

COOKEVILLE – World War II is the focus of a Veterans Day lecture to be presented by Tennessee Tech University History Department Chair Dr. Jeff Roberts on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Cookeville City Hall council chambers.

The lecture, sponsored by the Cookeville History Museum as part of the Heritage Lecture Series, coincides with a “pop-up” exhibit – “Cookeville Veteran: Bennett Travis” – that showcases the life of a young Army Air Corps pilot who was killed in 1945 in the Philippines during World War II. The exhibit continues through Nov. 17 in the City Hall lobby.

“Our intention for Dr. Roberts’ lecture is to expand a little bit on the story of Bennett Travis,” Beth Thompson, Cookeville museums manager, said. “Imagine a Cookeville boy in the 1940s heading out into a world completely unknown to him – and with his life in jeopardy. Dr. Roberts will be able to give us a feel for this time in history.”

The Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence will be led by Cookeville veteran Jim White. A reception will follow the brief lecture. Admission is free.

Attendees are also encouraged to view the exhibit to learn more about the life of Bennett Travis.

Pam Philpot, Cookeville History Museum exhibit specialist, explained that a pop-up exhibit is a small exhibit that “pops up” in various places throughout the community. The Bennett Travis exhibit is the first in the series.

“We chose Bennett Travis as our first Cookeville veteran to recognize because his family graciously donated many of his belongings to the Cookeville History Museum this year,” she said. “We think it is important to recognize the local young men who fought so bravely for the many freedoms we value today. It is heart-wrenching to see his belongings and to think about the sacrifice this young Cookeville man made for his country.”

Travis, a Cookeville Central High School graduate, was born in 1919 and volunteered for military duty during his senior year at Tennessee Polytechnic University. He enlisted on April 6, 1942, and went on to serve with the 317th Troop Carrier Group (the “Jungle Skippers”) in the Philippine Islands. He was promoted to captain shortly before he was reported missing in action on June 17, 1945.

Cookeville City Hall, located at 45 E. Broad St., is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

For more information about Cookeville History Museum pop-up exhibits, call 931-520-5455.

“If you would like to have our exhibit ‘pop up’ in your location, such as a school, bank or library, please contact us,” Thompson said.

Philpot added, “We hope this community outreach will stir interest in local history and send more visitors to the museum.”

PHOTO: Cookeville veteran Bennett Travis, who died during World War II, is the focus of a Cookeville History Museum pop-up exhibit that continues through Nov. 17 in the Cookeville City Hall lobby.