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Oceans Apart


Flashback to 1940. Juanita Wagner is a young student in Danville, Iowa. Juanita was involved in a pen pal project with children living abroad. She drew the name of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam.

That's how Danville established a connection with the girl who wrote a famous diary and later died in the Holocaust.

Juanita wrote a letter to Anne, and in return Anne wrote back, also sending a postcard. Anne's letter was written before the Frank family went into hiding following the Nazi invasion of Amsterdam. A copy of the letter Anne sent to Juanita is on display at the Danville Station, a museum in that small Iowa town.

Now, Danville students are involved in a postcard project. The students' goal is to collect a million and a half postcards from people in the United States and overseas to honor the innocent Jewish children who died in the Holocaust. Anne Frank was one of those children.

Oceans Apart is a book that two students from Burlington wrote about this unique pen pal connection between Juanita and Anne Frank. The two authors say this is an important piece of local history, and the story needs to be told. In the letter, Anne Frank wrote about her sister, her family life, and what the Frank family was doing in Amsterdam. There was no mention of the Holocaust.

The students are trying to help raise money to expand Danville Station, and build a new educational facility there. The cost to do that is about four hundred fifty thousand dollars. Once the building is complete, it will serve as a museum, an education center and library where people can learn much more about Danville's connection to Anne Frank.

The two young authors will have a book signing at the Burlington Public Library, on Saturday, February 23rd at 10am and 3pm. Proceeds from sales of the book will help fund the project in Danville.    


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