Community pitches in to put on WWI, WWII memorial event at Poquoson Museum

Contact Reporterjoreyes@dailypress.com
Poquoson community pitches in to put on WWI, WWII event

To find artifacts from World Wars I and II, Poquoson Museum's volunteers did not have to look far — the posters, medals, guns and uniforms on display at the museum came from friends and neighbors.

"We call people and see what they have," said Theresa Forrest, secretary of the museum board. The museum, a converted farmhouse, is decked out with photos of the city's veterans of the two World Wars and relics from life on the battlefield and life on the homefront, drawing focus to the city's experience during the war.

The exhibit coincides with the 100th anniversary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II, and the volunteers wanted to do something special to complement their display.

They decided to host an event that would both honor the city's veterans and teach younger generations about life during the two wars. The event, called America Goes to War: A Living History of World War I and World War II, is being held Saturday and Sunday at the museum, 968 Poquoson Ave.

Forrest said the event is bigger than anything the museum has put on in the last few years, but it was a challenge they accepted because they wanted to do something special for the veterans — Forrest estimated there are fewer than 10 World War II veterans still living in Poquoson. In addition to honoring them, she thinks it's important for younger generations to learn about this time in history to understand the sacrifices that people made.

To start the event Saturday, the museum invited World War veterans to come and be recognized in a ceremony conducted by the American Legion.

The event will feature a re-enactor who will demonstrate different weapons and highlight aspects of battle. Forrest said the re-enactor plans to set up a camp and dig a trench before the event starts to be part of his demonstration.

"He wants to make it as real as possible," she said.

Classic car collectors are bringing vehicles from the time period to show at the museum. Saturday evening, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., a small ensemble from the Army Training and Doctrine Command Band will perform a USO-style show, playing songs from the early 20th century. A DJ will play music the rest of the time.

The museum will also be open throughout the event with volunteers on hand to answer questions about the items on display. Forrest said people were happy to provide materials or make copies of photographs for the exhibit. Forrest contributed food and gas ration books that she found in her parents' old stuff.

Other items in the exhibit include rifles and handguns from the wars, ribbons and medals and propaganda posters. One Poquoson woman lent the museum hundreds of letters her father wrote home when he was away during the war.

Forrest said many of the volunteers and other people who will be at the event have their own stories from the wars, either relayed to them by an older relative or from their own experience growing up during World War II, that they will be able to share with attendees.

Forrest told a story about her father-in-law, who lost his belongings after his ship sank in World War II. He had to borrow clothes from his brother, who was also serving in the Navy. Forrest pointed out that on the posters with all the veterans, the two brothers, who look like they could be twins, had their names swapped by accident.

"I noticed because his picture's the one that's in my house," Forrest said while pointing to her father-in-law's portrait.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and admission is free. There will be vendors selling items, and food will be available for purchase. For more information on the event, call Forrest at 757-377-9711.

Reyes can be reached by phone at 757-247-4692.

Want to go?

What: America Goes to War: A Living History of World War I and World War II

When: Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Poquoson Museum, 968 Poquoson Ave.

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