Remembering Virginia's Role In "The Great War"

Feb 16, 2018

The Navy Yard at Norfolk around 1917.
Credit Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

A hundred years ago this November, the First World War came to an end.  All of those who fought are now gone, but the Virginia Museum of  History and Culture wants Americans to remember what that conflict meant on the battlefield and here at home. 

Nearly four million Americans joined the military to fight the war in Europe, millions more did their part on the home front.

The Commonwealth and the Great War exhibition opens February 17.

“There are over a hundred objects in this show,"  notes Andrew Talkov, vice president for exhibitions. "One  is a chair from the deck of the Lusitania, which was the famous ship that was sunk by a German submarine in 1915 that didn’t immediately propel America into the war, but it certainly raised America’s concern about unrestricted submarine warfare and our rights to the sea.”

Also on display: Cultural artifacts like the cuffs worn by Harry Houdini, movies and music of the time.

“You can take a record and place it on an old record player and hear some of the music of the era.  You can also watch clips of some of the films that were popular in the day in a simulated movie theater,” Talkov says.

Visitors, he says, will discover the central role played by Virginia in a war that raged from 1914 to 1918.

“Virginia, after 50 years of being somewhat isolated by the outcome of the American Civil War, fully rejoins American society and becomes much more industrialized with the expansion of ship building in the Newport News area and the building of army installations that are still with us today– places like Fort Lee.”

The exhibition runs through November 18.

Click Here for more about The Commonwealth and the Great War

The Virginia Historical Society recently announced a name change and will soon be known as the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.