Traveling Exhibit Commemorates Centennial of U.S. Entry into World War I Opens Tuesday, Feb. 14 at N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport

World War I lock, buttons, dog tag (large silver circle), and buckle will be displayed at NCMM-Southport.

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 in Southport Tuesday, Feb. 14. The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport will present the free exhibit of 10 informational panels and related artifacts through March 24. It’s a great way to show appreciation for “The war to end all wars.” The centennial exhibit will travel across the state 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.

“We are honored to start 2017 recognizing all the sons and daughters of North Carolina who contributed to the defense of the principals of democracy during World War I,” Museum Director Mary Strickland explains. “Even here in eastern North Carolina we played a part.”

The N.C. Maritime Museum at Southport will showcase artifacts from Fort Caswell that have not been on display before. They are loaned courtesy of the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell. A World War I dog tag, buttons, military medals, and images of men stationed at the fort, as well as other military ephemera give the traveling exhibit a strong tie to this community.

Ships for the effort were built in Wilmington, and Camp Glenn near Morehead City was a National Guard training station that later was transferred to the U.S. Navy. It became a Naval Air Station and helped patrol North Carolina’s coastline for German U-boats that threatened our shores during WWI.

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 Southport, the exhibit will travel to the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort, 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 our WWI page.

For additional information, please call (910) 457-0003.