One hundred years ago, America was suddenly swept into the “Great War” that had been raging in Europe for five years. Arizona had been a state for only a short time, but its citizens were anxious to assist in the war effort.
“Arizona and the Great War” is the new, featured exhibit that portrays the background, social and political change, and transition from an isolated Southwest territory to a patriotic state engaged on the home front in support of our troops “Over There!”
Focal point of the new exhibit is “the Trench,” where visitors can stand side-by-side with our infantry soldier in the congestion and mire of ‘home’ on the front-lines, complete with artifacts and material from the day (1917-1919). Look for the barbed-wire cutters readied for the next assault, and the hanging gas mask in preparation for whatever the enemy may wrought.
Throughout the main gallery, read the information panels that depict the lack of preparedness for war faced by citizens of Arizona (and America), and the sacrifices faced at home – from the draft to rationing, from the ‘victory gardens” to the Liberty Bonds and war savings stamps.
Check out the “fly boy” heroes – the stories of Frank Luke, Arizona native, air ace and medal of honor recipient, and of Prescott’s Ernest Love – and their tragic stories and personal memorabilia, including a vintage leather flying helmet, goggles and gloves of the type worn by these WWI aviators.
Additional elements of the “Great War” exhibit include the impact on Arizonans with being part of a nation faced with questions that had not been considered since the Civil War – how to fund the war effort? …how to raise, train, equip, feed and move a million-man army? …what needs to be done to secure national transportation, communications and wartime production of goods and material?
“This new exhibit is both nostalgic and heart-warming,” adds Fred Veil, executive director of the Museum that is celebrating its 90th anniversary in June. “It portrays a time of resolve and sacrifice when Arizonans were thrust from a simple existence into the midst of a global conflagration. It further portrays the celebration of victory, the agony and despair of loss, the pride of new-found patriotism, and the impact of such global engagement as the infamous influenza pandemic with its effect on families at home.”
Click on the image to view a short video: