Many West Orange County residents answered the call to duty during World War II — some served on the home front, and others fought overseas; some returned home, and others died fighting for freedom.
The Winter Garden Heritage Foundation has created an exhibition of photographs, maps and artifacts that pays tribute to the men and women who played a role in the war’s European and Pacific theaters.
“Every American community, including our own, set out to survive the calamity,” the exhibition placard reads. “However, in achieving victory, these communities and the lives within them bore the scars of conflict. … Personnel and families on the home front faced the possibility of loss; new wartime restrictions; and a strange, new world of soldiers on the streets and air sirens blaring at night.”
Items pertaining to the war showcase what life was like in the early 1940s as America went to war. There are ration books, advertisements, a military uniform, assorted patches and dog tags, a draft card, and more.
Stories of some of Winter Garden and West Orange County’s well-known veterans grace the walls of the museum as well. A framed letter from Army Air Force Lt. Col. George McMillan — who served with the Flying Tigers and who was killed in 1944 at the age of 28 when his plane was shot down — to his dad mentions the weather, a salary increase, some photographs he took and a new will he wrote.