The Tradition Started with Armistice Day

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National Infantry Museum on Veterans Day, November 11, 2009

A lot of folks showed up on this Veterans Day at the National Infantry Museum.  The fact that 280 members and guests of the Rotary Club of Columbus held their weekly meeting there today certainly contributed to the heavy volume. 

Rotary Club of Columbus meeting at the National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GAThe program for the Rotarians was to tour the museum.  Since I had already done it about four times, I decided to concentrate on a new exhibit that just popped up in the lobby.  It contained artifacts from World War One. 

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Matt Young demonstrates U.S. Army World War I gas mask

Matt Young, educational director for the museum, and Jack Reed, weapon’s curator supplied most of the artifacts from their own collection.  The light machine guns –  the British Lewis  and the French Chauchat – were furnished by the Army.

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French and British World War I light machine guns

Young Fort Benning soldiers found the exhibit especially interesting since they could compare the weapons, gas masks, toilet and mess kits, and other accoutrements of war used in World War I with what they use today. 

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Matt Young shows young Fort Benning soldier trainees how World War I weapons and equipment differ from what they use

Matt, who is a very enthusiastic teacher of history using museum props – previously he was director of education for the National Civil War Naval  Museum, where he often wore Civil War uniforms – was continuing his tradition of making history live by wearing a World War 1 Uniform.  He told me that this one-day exhibit was so appropriate because it represents Armistice Day, the forerunner of Veterans Day.  Armistice Day celebrates the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. It was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. 

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Jack Reed wearing World War I Scottish uniform

As I surveyed the exhibit I had to reflect on the colossal carnage of that  war.  It just about wiped out a generation of Europe’s young men.  The United States did not lose a generation to it, because our country was only in it for a year.  But, it did cost more than 116,000 American lives.

(I took all of the pictures but the one of the Rotary Club meeting. Jim Cawthorne of Camera1 took that one. Thanks, Jim.)

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2 Responses to “The Tradition Started with Armistice Day”

  1. Lamar Johnson Says:

    Obviously, your writing skills prove you are from a bygone era, Dick. You write very well and your use of grammar is correct. How quaint in this day and time.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. worldwar1letters Says:

    Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery. Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Come visit the blog and march along.
    http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com

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