An exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the nation’s entry into World War I, the “Great War,” the “war to end all Wars,” is the newest display at the North Carolina Museum of History, and in the museum’s long history, it may be the best exhibit of all.
Replicas of trenches — this was brutal “trench warfare” at its most intense — are frighteningly realistic, uniforms and weapons are real, and the historic details of the conflict are presented in a memorable way. One uniform is on loan from the Smithsonian. Those who see the exhibit will never forget it, it’s that simple.
Jackson Marshall, curator of the exhibition, interviewed veterans of the war, and that doubtless helped inspire him to design this exhibition, which surpasses many in larger museums. Marshall said, for example, that the veterans feared they would simply be forgotten.
Their sacrifices in blood and years lost and the toll on their families must never be forgotten, and thus this is one exhibit that is beyond a draw for enjoyment. It ought to be felt as a wonderful duty to attend for all, particularly considering North Carolina’s history (in the past and still being made) in America’ military training. This is must-see. It is a debt that is owed to those who served and those who are descended from them.