New interactive exhibit portrays lives of soldiers fighting in W - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

New interactive exhibit portrays lives of soldiers fighting in World War I

The North Carolina Museum of History is opening their newest exhibit, North Carolina and World War I. (Source: WECT) The North Carolina Museum of History is opening their newest exhibit, North Carolina and World War I. (Source: WECT)
The new exhibit depicts how our soldiers fought knee-deep in muddy trenches. (Source: WECT) The new exhibit depicts how our soldiers fought knee-deep in muddy trenches. (Source: WECT)
RALEIGH, NC (WECT) -

Few people remember World War I, but the official record shows more Americans died in only five months of combat in that conflict than were lost in 10 years of fighting in Vietnam.

A special exhibit will open to the public Saturday at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh as a way to honor the legacy of bravery and sacrifice of the North Carolinians who fought in World War I.

World War I was once called "the Great War." Starting in the summer of 1914, it raged for four years throughout several European countries, including France, Belgium and Russia.

But in 1917, the United States became involved in the conflict after Germany sank several American ships and threatened to sink more. That was 100 years ago this week.

To mark the event, the North Carolina Museum of History is opening its newest exhibit, North Carolina and World War I.

The exhibit's curator, Jackson Marshall, had a grandfather who fought in World War I.

"I think there are two goals that I had. One is to honor the veterans of World War I, and I think the reason we need to know about World War I is that it greatly impacted world events," Marshall said. "People are not aware that we are dealing with the legacy or the fallout from World War I, right now, today."

Over 86,000 North Carolinians volunteered or were called for service, and made the long trip over the Atlantic into European combat areas.

The new exhibit depicts how our soldiers fought knee-deep in muddy trenches. For a large part of the exhibit, there are hundreds of sandbags lining the life-sized replica trench with interactive videos and film footage dotting the way.

There is a re-created field hospital and more than 500 artifacts that will lead visitors into the lives and experiences of the Tar Heel soldiers who were fighting far from home.

Museum Director Ken Howard says the exhibit is an important way for all of us to reflect on the contributions of all of the men and women who fought in defense of our country, both overseas and at home.

"We don't use a lot of text panels like we do in other exhibits," Howard explained. "There is a lot of videos and interactives, lights and sounds to give you that experience, but we want the visitor to come away with the fact, or the knowledge that World War I was really a terrible event, not only in world history but in U.S. history. But North Carolina did its fair share in that way, and really, the North Carolinians who went to serve did a tremendous job."

The North Carolina and World War I exhibit is believed to be the largest of its kind among state history museums. Visitors can see it, free of charge, until early January 2019.

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