VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — A four-year effort to remember those who fought and gave their lives during World War I begins this weekend at the Indiana Military Museum, 715 S. Sixth St.
Judge Jim Osborne, the museum’s curator and founder, is planning an event Saturday and Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the “war to end all wars,” with new memorabilia, restored artillery never seen by museum visitors before and re-enactors who will give event-goers a taste of what trench warfare was like 100 years ago.
“We’ve recreated a World War I trench out on our battleground area,” Osborne told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial. “It’s pretty extensive. We’re working on it right now and will probably continue working on it until the event opens to get it all finished.
“We’ll have living history people dressed up as both allied and German soldiers,” he said. “People can walk through, kids, too, and see what it was like in the trenches, because that’s basically what World War I turned into — trench warfare for four years.
“We’ve got all the equipment, things for people to see, and I think it will be really interesting,” the judge said. “The soldiers can talk to them about weapons, gas masks, barbed wire. It will all be there.”
Osborne wants to host a WWI event each summer until 2018, which marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. It began in 1914 and lasted for four years; the United States entered in 1917.
It’s important, he said, to remember not only those who fought and died but also to remember the history surrounding the first World War.
“We don’t talk about it much anymore,” Osborne said. “That’s one of the reasons why I thought doing this was so important. We don’t have any World War I veterans still with us, but we have to remember what history taught us.
“World War I laid the groundwork for World War II. The Treaty of Versailles ensured that, 20 years later, World War II would erupt from the same problems. There are lessons to be learned from that.”
America was late to join but Osborne said by war’s end more than 4 million soldiers had either been drafted or had enlisted into the military, and about 116,000 of them died in the year that followed.
“Those people need to be remembered as well,” Osborne said.
Osborne said he will unveil five new pieces of restored WWI artillery for the event as well as a French field hospital truck that was just recently completed. There will also be “several hundred” new pieces of WWI memorabilia put on display inside the museum, including German emperor Kaiser Wilhelm’s battle flag.
“There will be a lot for people to see and appreciate for the very first time,” Osborne said. “We’ll also have vendors. The Evansville Military Club will be set up selling artifacts, and we’ll have a food vendor.
“There will be a lot of activity and things to see, well worth people’s time.”
The event will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
The outside exhibits are free.
Information from: Vincennes Sun-Commercial, http://www.vincennes.com
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