Museum presents “For Home and Country: World War I”

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It was 100 years ago that the United States joined allied forces to fight in World War I. The war had been raging in Europe for two and a half years. Americans supported President Woodrow Wilson’s stand on neutrality at first, until German submarines launched an attack on American ships in the North Atlantic.

Wisconsin’s National Guard units were called to duty when President Wilson declared war on Germany in April 1917. Local men enlisted or were drafted to save France from defeat, and many saw action overseas, valiantly fighting for our freedom through the armistice on November 11, 1918. While at home, life would never be the same for those left behind.

The World War I years were a time of profound change. To commemorate the centennial of the Great War, the Oshkosh Public Museum is pleased to present a riveting exhibition this summer that focuses on first-hand experiences of local men and women during the war. For Home and Country: World War I allows visitors to virtually “step into their shoes” for an unbelievable journey into this turbulent period.

This thought-provoking exhibition transports guests back to the World War I era through artifacts, photographs, and unique stories or incidents recorded by the local men and women who experienced them. Among the highlights of this exhibition, visitors can listen to the actual captivating letters sent home, and the compelling music that gripped and motivated the Nation.

Museum Director Brad Larson will present “It Was All the Hell Anybody Wanted: Three Fox Valley National Guard Units in the Great War” on Wednesday, July 18, at 6 p.m. In this presentation, Brad will share the stories of triumph and sacrifice of the 150th Machine Gun Battalion of the famous 42nd “Rainbow” Division.

On Wednesday, August 15, at 6 p.m., Debra Daubert, Curator of Exhibitions, will present “World War I for the Housewife and Family.” This presentation explores the many forms of propaganda used to play on U.S. citizen’s patriotic duty and the sacrifices made during the war. Attendees will even have an opportunity to sample altered wartime recipes.

Americans helped turn the tide and gain victory, but at the cost of more than 100,000 lives. Hundreds of men and women from Oshkosh fought or served in many ways during the war, and many died. When Oshkosh got the news of peace on November 11, citizens blew steam whistles, rang bells, and a parade celebrated the end of a horrific war.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the Oshkosh World War I Commemoration committee is asking every church in our city to follow that historical example by ringing your bells for five minutes at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 2018. The sound of church bells across the city will help us all remember the service and sacrifices of Oshkosh citizens during a terrible war and to celebrate peace.

For Home and Country: World War I will be on view at the Oshkosh Public Museum through October 7. Located at 1331 Algoma Boulevard, regular hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. General admission to the Museum is: Adults $8, Seniors (62+) $6, College Students $6, and Children (age 6-17) $4. Admission is free for children under age six and Museum Members.

Please contact Karla Szekeres at the Oshkosh Public Museum at 920.236.5763 or email kszekeres@ci.oshkosh.wi.us if your church or organization is interested in participating in the commemoration event by ringing your bells on November 11. For more information about the Museum’s exciting events and exhibits, call 920.236.5799, email museum@ci.oshkosh.wi.us, or visit oshkoshmuseum.org.

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Karla Szekeres Oshkosh Public Museum Civic Contributor

The Oshkosh Public Museum is a non-profit regional history museum entrusted with the care of more than 300,000 historical photographs, documents, and artifacts that represent the history, culture and heritage of the region. Housed in the historic Sawyer home since 1924, the Oshkosh Public Museum is an amazing resource for research and discovery of Oshkosh and the Lake Winnebago region. Situated just off the Fox River near historic downtown Oshkosh, the Museum’s mission is to preserve the area’s colorful legacy, and to bring history to life through innovative exhibitions and educational programs that will both inspire and entertain guests of all ages and interests.

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