History on Elm Reflects on the Homefront on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion on the French coast in World War II, also known as D-Day, the State Historical Society of Missouri will feature a public program, examining how a Missouri railroad town took on the war. Journalist Bill Cloud reflects on his family-owned newspaper, Pleasant Hill Times, which published photographs, letters and stories from men and women serving at home and abroad during the war. Cloud will be the featured speaker at the State Historical Society of Missouri’s History on Elm program, Tuesday, June 11, noon- 1 p.m. at the Center for Missouri Studies, 605 Elm St., Columbia.

As a young boy, Bill Cloud spent time at the newspaper his grandfather founded and that his father, Tilghman Cloud, served as editor. He would later report for The Miami Herald and Newsday before teaching journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After 29 years of teaching writing and editing, Cloud came across many of his father’s photographs and was struck by the newspaper images during World War II in the town where he grew up. Cloud has pieced together a narrative based on these stories that appeared in Pleasant Hill Times in the early 40s and how the town of Pleasant Hill was affected at wartime.

The newspaper described a beautiful, 70-degree Fahrenheit day in Pleasant Hill June 6, 1944, as American troops landed in Normandy, France, which led to the country’s liberation from German Nazi forces. Downtown Merchants brought out their sidewalk flags and the Stars and Strips fluttered in the breeze. “People went about their everyday business and talked of almost nothing but the invasion,” according to Cloud. “It was hard to keep thoughts concentrated on anything else.” Cloud said that he hopes his upcoming presentation will not only capture the thoughts of soldiers from the area who served in World War II, but also relay the hardship, tragedies, and anxiety felt by the townspeople.

The State Historical Society’s History on Elm series explores a variety of topics on the second Tuesday of the month at noon, ranging from Missouri art and authors to unique and interesting collections at the State Historical Society of Missouri. The series is free to the public and registration is not required.