OLD FORT, N.C. – In a tribute to victory acres, war bonds and heroic efforts in battle, a traveling exhibition commemorating the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I opens at Mountain Gateway Museum Monday, March 27. Mountain Gateway Museum will present the free exhibit of 10 informational panels and related artifacts through May 17. It’s a great way to show appreciation for “The war to end all wars.” The centennial exhibit will travel statewide in 2017.
WWI began with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife July 28, 1914. The U.S. was reluctant to enter the conflict as the casualties to European armies approached one million by 1916. Although the U.S. was initially a neutral state, continuing German atrocities and attacks on American vessels led President Woodrow Wilson to declare war on Germany in April 1917.
Four artifacts connected to William Waldo Dodge, a premier silversmith of the 20th century, will be in the exhibit. They are loaned by the N.C. History Museum, the administrative head of Mountain Gateway Museum.
Dodge had been a student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before serving in World War I, where he was exposed to gas poisoning. He spent months recovering at the veterans’ hospital in Oteen, near Asheville. He learned silversmithing from an occupational therapist there, whom he married. Two tools along with two pieces of silver crafted by Dodge will be in the exhibit.
“We are honored to be a part of the recognition of the service and sacrifice of our soldiers and others during World War I,” said Museum Administrator RoAnn Bishop. “North Carolina and all the nation felt the effects of ‘the Great War.’”
Agriculture was the linchpin of the state’s economy in 1917, and North Carolina farmers fed their fellow citizens and provided crops for the insatiable textile mills and tobacco factories. Women joined the Red Cross, YMCA and Salvation Army to serve as nurses in military hospitals at home and in France. Children grew thrift gardens to earn money to buy war bonds. Industry and individuals united to support the war effort.
North Carolinians served in the major battles of the Western Front in 1918, including with the British Army in intense combat in Belgium and France. The U.S. suffered more than 275,000 casualties and more than 50,000 deaths in five months of action in 1918.
In addition to Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort, the exhibit will travel to Bath State Historic Site, Edenton State Historic Site, Bennett Place State Historic Site, Charlotte Public Library, Museum of the Cape Fear, Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum and other venues. For a complete schedule, visit http://www.ncdcr.gov/education/topics/world-war-i.
For additional information, please call (828) 668-9259. Mountain Gateway Museum is within the Division of State History Museums in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.