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11/08/2013
Pride of Our Nation…Pride of Our College Exhibit Honoring Veterans Opens Wednesday at Hudson Valley Community College
Keynote Address by Andersonville Prison Researcher Highlights the Opening

CONTACT: Deborah Renfrew (518) 629-7180, d.renfrew@hvcc.edu
Alice Malavasic (518) 629-7697, a.malavasic@hvcc.edu
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Friday, Nov. 8, 2013

The third annual Pride of Our Nation…Pride of Our College exhibit, honoring veterans who are family members and ancestors of Hudson Valley Community College students, faculty and staff, opens Wednesday, Nov. 13 in the Dwight Marvin Library at Hudson Valley Community College and runs through Saturday, Dec. 7.

Open to the public free of charge during library hours, Monday through Saturday, the exhibit includes photographs, personal stories, and artifacts belonging to the families and to the veterans who served or are serving in the United States Armed Forces from the Civil War up to the current conflict in Afghanistan.

In 2012, exhibit organizers provided critical information to the Andersonville National Park and Museum in Andersonville, Georgia in its ongoing research efforts on Union soldiers who were imprisoned there between 1864 and 1865. In turn, organizers got answers to questions that a local family had about an ancestor who served in the Civil War with the 83rd New York Infantry, Company D in 1863, and was among the 32,000 Union soldiers held in the notorious Andersonville prison. Designed for 10,000 prisoners, the facility is surrounded by the graves of the nearly 13,000 soldiers who died there.

That story will be told at the official opening of this year’s exhibit at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 13, when Christopher Barr, museum interpreter at Andersonville, delivers the keynote address “Hearing Lost Voices: Finding and Sharing Individual Stories of Sacrifice at Andersonville Prison” in the Bulmer Telecommunications Center at the college. Also open to the public at no charge, the address will be followed by a reception at the exhibit.

Hudson Valley Liberal Arts major Dan Curry submitted a photo of his ancestor, Thomas Curry, to the 2012 exhibit. The picture is a copy of an original tin type made in 1863. Thomas Curry was an Irish immigrant who volunteered for service and was captured by Confederate forces in May 1864 during the Battle of the Wilderness and sent to Andersonville prison camp. The Curry family believed Thomas died in prison in December 1864 and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Alice Malavasic, American History professor at Hudson Valley and director of the Pride of Our Nation…Pride of Our College exhibit, sent the photo and relevant service information to the Andersonville National Park and Museum for verification. In fact, most soldiers who died at Andersonville were buried in marked graves and the information provided by Malavasic helped Barr to solve the mystery of a Union soldier named Thomas Cary, buried in grave #10,872, whom Andersonville researchers had never been able to locate in Union Army service records. Barr was able to match Thomas Curry’s records with the existing records on Thomas Cary and concluded it was highly likely that it was Thomas Curry buried in the grave mismarked Thomas Cary. Barr commented, “We may have uncovered a previously untold story, and one that his [Curry] family never knew. Until this morning that grave had never been connected to this solder.”

This past summer, Thomas Curry’s descendants, Joseph Curry Sr. and Monsignor Joseph Curry, visited the grave site and paid homage to their ancestor. Curry family members from New Jersey will join local family at the lecture and official opening of the exhibit on November 13.

Among the other stories in the exhibit are:

  • Margaret Ashmead Green-Witt, enlisted, grandmother of Liberal Arts major Michaela Childs.
    Private Margaret Ashmead served as a Technician Third Class in the U.S. Army WACs from February 2, 1943 until October 16, 1945. When Private Ashmead enlisted she stood less than five feet tall and weighed less than 100 pounds. Her uniform, the smallest issued by the army, had to be shortened and taken in. Private Ashmead’s photograph and uniform are on display in the exhibit.
  • SSG Derek J. Farley, son of Carrie Farley, secretary to the Dean of Liberal Arts and Health Sciences.
    Sergeant Farley was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team Leader in the U.S. Army. He served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007 and was redeployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Sergeant Farley was killed in action on August 17, 2010 at the age of 24. He was awarded two Purple Hearts in 2007 and 2010, and the Bronze Star in 2010. Sergeant Farley’s photograph, boots and text of a poignant e-mail he sent to his mother are on display in the exhibit.
  • Omaid Yousofzai, 2010 graduate of Hudson Valley and 2011 graduate of SUNY Cobleskill.
    Afghan native Omaid Yousofzai was an interpreter with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006. He translated documents, helped train members of the Afghan army and went on missions with the Army Special Forces into Afghan provinces to meet with local elders. Omaid later immigrated to the United States and married. He is currently employed by Rensselaer County and lives with his wife and two children in Clifton Park.

For more information about the exhibit or the keynote address, call (518) 629-7336 or go to www.hvcc.edu/events.