New exhibits, a movie about the Memphis Belle bomber and helpful guides make the Bombers on the Prairie B-29 Museum a special place to learn about Pratt history during the 1940s war era.

Pratt was a different place back in the 1940s, and a visit to the B-29 Museum, located near the airport, tells the story of that era.

Back then, the United States was caught in the throes of a world war, and the local army air base did its part by training troops who engaged in the aerial portion of that conflict.

At the Bombers on the Prairie B-29 Museum there is a surprisingly large number of both artifacts and explanatory signage from that era of time. The museum highlights not only the local war effort but also the efforts of pilots and crews stationed at similar army air bases throughout Kansas and elsewhere.

Smart phone users who have a QR scanner installed will find QR codes scattered throughout the exhibit space that facilitate deeper exploration of individual exhibits.

Pratt volunteers like Milt Martin and Lee Van Slyke, who were present on a recent Sunday afternoon, help visitors view various films, including one that provides an inside look at the army air base back in the day.

Another interesting film provides an inside view of the “Memphis Belle,” a bomber which completed 25 successful missions into Germany. This film, produced by a Hollywood filmmaker who embedded with the crew of the bomber on its last mission into Germany, provides an inside view of what the air and ground crews faced during the war. This was real-life footage which afforded a sense not only of the unity of purpose of the men who were determined to defeat a totalitarian state but also the angst and sadness of those awaiting for the return of planes which never did. Even as the bombs dropped toward the intended targets of munitions and other war-industrial buildings, one couldn’t help but think about the German citizens below, who also suffered death or injury due to being within the vicinity of the targets.

The museum itself pays tribute to the young men (and some women) who did what their country asked them to do at a trying time in history. While the horrors of war continue to haunt a troubled planet, hopefully one day we will be able honor our war dead, as well those who survived (if with physical and mental scars) when war is no more.

Until then, we are left with the message of hope contained in a Christmas carol, which was originally a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. A couple of stanzas follow:

“And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on Earth,’ I said,
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on Earth, good will to men.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor does He sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, good will to men.”

 

Admission for the B-29 Museum: Bombers on the Prairie is $5 for adults. It is open every Sunday from 2-4 p.m.