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Juneteenth display at Western Michigan University's Bernhard Center created by Miguel Ramirez, Coordinator of Diversity Education for WMU's Office of Diversity and Inclusion Photo by Andy Robins, WMUK
Andy Robins / WMUK

June 19th is "Juneteenth." The annual celebration marks the day in 1865 when African-American slaves in Texas finally learned that they were free, long after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth has long been celebrated by African-Americans in the Southern states. It has caught on in the North in more recent years.


Detroit Tigers outfielder Charlie Maxwell waves goodbye outside Tiger Stadium in Detroit June 25, 1962, after the ball club announced he had been traded to the Chicago White Sox
Alvan Quinn / The Associated Press

Paw Paw Village Council President Roman Plaszczak says people ask often if Charlie Maxwell is “still around”. The man who became known as the “Sunday Punch” during his major league baseball career will be the special guest on Sunday June 9th when an exhibit on the history of baseball opens at the Carnegie Center in Paw Paw.


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A new exhibit on the history of baseball in Paw Paw includes bats, balls, scorecards and other items. Village Council President Roman Plaszczak says former major league all-star Charlie Maxwell has donated bats, gloves and one of the uniforms he wore for the Detroit Tigers.

Maxwell will be the special guest for the opening of the exhibit on Sunday June 9th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carnegie Center in Paw Paw. Maxwell played 14 years in the majors, including six full seasons, and parts of two others with the Tigers. Among his nicknames was “Paw Paw” for his hometown.


Polar Bear Monument in White Chapel Cemetery, Troy, Michigan, sculptor Leon Hermant. Photo by Bolandera from Wikimedia Commons
Bolandera / Wikimedia Commons

When President Woodrow Wilson agreed to send American troops to northern Russia in 1918, it was only to guard stores in Archangel. But it didn’t take long for the Americans to find themselves in combat with Bolshevik soldiers. Author James Carl Nelson tells the story in his book The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919. Note: This interview was originally broadcast in February


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Author James Carl Nelson says as World War I was winding down on November 11, 1918, fighting in northern Russia was getting more intense. He says it was frustrating for American troops who wondered what their mission was. 

Nelson’s book is called The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia, 1918-1919. He tells the story of men, most of them from Michigan and Wisconsin, and their strange trip from what was then called Camp Custer near Battle Creek to Russia, 600 miles north of Moscow for a mission that went beyond the end of World War I. Note: This interview was originally presented in February. 


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