The Door County Historical Society will host its dinner meeting and program “When is Daddy Coming Home?” presented by author Richard Haney on Monday, October 24 at the Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church beginning at 6:00 pm. Haney makes an exceptional contribution to the literature on the Greatest Generation – one that is both devastatingly personal and representative of what families all over America endured during that testing time. Veterans present at the dinner will be honored and presented with a token of appreciation.
“Dear Son . . . Daddy received your letter yesterday so will answer it now. I was sure glad to hear from you and you told me lots of things, didn’t you? . . . I sure would like to have been home with you and Mommy but we have to make the Germans quit fighting first—then maybe Daddy can come home. We will have some great times together when I do come home.” World War II was coming to a close in Europe and Richard Haney was only four years old when the telegram arrived at his family’s home in Janesville, Wisconsin. That moment, when Haney learned of his father’s death in the final months of fighting, changed his and his mother’s lives forever.
Unlike many of America’s 183,000 World War II orphans, Richard Haney has vivid memories of his father. Sixty years later Haney, now a professional historian, skillfully weaves together his parents’ lives during the war, drawing from their letters, his mother’s recollections, and his own memories to create a unique blend of history and memoir. Through his father’s letters, he reveals the war’s effect on a man who fought in the Battle of the Bulge with the 17th Airborne but wanted nothing more than to return home…a man who expressed the feelings of thousands when he wrote to his wife, “I’ve seen and been through a lot but want to forget it all as soon as I can.” Haney illuminates life on the home front in small-town America as well, describing how profoundly the war changed such communities. At the same time, his memories of an idyllic family life make clear what soldiers like Clyde Haney felt they were defending.
Richard C. Haney has created a compelling, and often heartrending, picture of life in wartime America. At a time when our country’s young men and women are again away at war, “When is Daddy Coming Home?” will touch us in a remarkable way and provides excellent material for discussion; you will begin to understand the immeasurable sacrifice and come to a deeper understanding of the effects of war on everyday lives.
Richard Carlton Haney earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and later graduated from West Point’s post-Ph.D. military history program and the army’s National Security Seminar at Carlisle Barracks. He is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he teaches courses in 20th-century U.S. history, American military history, and Wisconsin history. The UW-Whitewater organization Students for an Accessible Society has twice presented him with its teaching excellence award.
Guests will enjoy a family-style Swiss steak dinner complete with salad with apples and maple vinaigrette, cherry Jell-O, mashed potatoes, gravy, braised red cabbage, rolls and butter, bread pudding with citrus sauce, and beverage. Dinner and program fees are $21 for Society members and the guest fee is $25. The dinner will be held at the Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church, 323 S. 5th Ave.; for handicap accessibility, enter on Quincy Street. Dinner is served promptly at 6:00 pm, so plan to arrive early for check in and seating. Books will be available for purchase.
Space is limited; please make your reservation today by sending payment to the Door County Historical Society, P.O. Box 71, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235; the reservation deadline is Monday, October 17. If you are would like to attend the program only, the fee is $5 and the program time is 6:45. For further information, contact the Door County Historical Society at (920) 421-2332 or Director.DCHistoricalSociety@gmail.com