THE WAR AT HOME

GEORGIA WORLD WAR II HERITAGE TRAIL

Even though no World War II battles were fought in or near Georgia, the all-consuming war effort affected just about everyone within its borders, leaving a trail of history that spans the entire state. That history is now tied together through the Georgia World War II Heritage Trail, encompassing 10 sites from the coast to the border with Alabama to the Appalachian Mountains. “People thought the World War II Heritage Trail was a great idea right from the beginning,” says Sherri Jones, executive director of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society and chair of the Heritage Trail. “That helped with building momentum. It took a couple of years to put it together, but the payoff was great.” Jones got involved after the WWII Home Front Museum opened on St. Simons Island in late 2018. She knew that World War II buffs would visit, and wanted a way to help them find other sites in the state, plus help people visiting the other sites find hers. Two years later, that vision became a reality. The trail’s website, georgiawwiitrail.org, includes suggested routes for visiting the various sites, all of which document the more than 300,000 Georgians who served in the war and thousands of civilians in the state who supported the war effort. “The state of Georgia played a big role in World War II,” says Jones. “It’s been really exciting to learn how involved Georgia was and what a difference we made. The tour gives you the full story, not just pieces of it. It’s really something for all Georgians to be proud of.” Jones worked with leaders at all of the trail’s sites, including Darlene McLendon, president and CEO of the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins. The museum is comprised of four buildings, with World War II represented in three of the four, including exhibits honoring the Tuskegee Airmen and an entire hangar dedicated solely to the war effort. She says the trail and being recognized as a TravelBlazer is a major boost to all 10 stops. “It helps each member get our story out to a larger platform,” McLendon says. “All of the members want visitors and students and for people to come and see what we have. To have a larger voice is a great benefit for us.”