Crowd Lines Up To Visit Traveling World War One Museum
RENO, NV - World War One may be fast fading from our national memory.
Other, more recent conflicts, now occupy our thoughts, and there is now no one left to tell of first hand experiences.
But it marked a pivotal moment in world and American history.
It was, until another world conflict mandated numbers,, known as 'the Great War' or with an optimism that now seems naive, the "war to end all wars."
By its end the seeds of the Second World War and even the Cold War with Soviet Russia were already sown.
Alliances that continue today were forged and there was a new player on the world stage, the United States.
It set new standards for grinding brutality. Between 1914 and 1918, as many as 60 million met on the battlefields of Europe. Nine million died.
Yet, it's story is disappearing from our national consciousness.
As the 100th anniversary of its beginning approaches, a traveling museum intends to change that.
Wednesday, the Traveling World War One Exhibition made a one-day stop in Reno. The long trailer outfitted with articles from the National World War One Museum in Kansas City was parked all day outside the Nevada Museum of Art.
In the long lines that waited outside and filed through the exhibits on this one day stop were veterans of wars that followed and there were the just plain curious.
But for some it was a more personal journey.
Jeanine MacMichael's native Belgium was a battle ground in this war and the next. Her grandfather fought in the first war. Her father died in the second.
Growing up under German occupation, she says the lessons of the World War One were fresh and fueled an immediate response to help the Allies anyway they could.
"Even as children we did whatever we could do to get the occupiers out so we could have our own country again," she remembers.
Sheila Parker's grandfather fought the first world war on horseback, a member of the U-S cavalry. He talked at length about France after the Armistice, but not so much about the war itself.
"He talked about being cold, hungry and afraid," she says. "Those three things mainly, cold, hungry and afraid."
She brought her son and two artifacts of her own, a picture of her grandfather on his horse and a souvenir post card he brought back from the war for his four year old sister.
A tour of the museum helped her understand what her grandfather saw and experienced.
"The trenches. I don't know how people lived like that for two years."
Both left with old memories freshly stirred and the wish others could have shared them.
"All the schools should bring classes of children and teach," said MacMichael.
"The countries that were involved are still our allies today," noted Parker. "So it's very important."