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Over There and Down Home: Mainers and World War I
The Maine State Museum opened its newest exhibition, Over There and Down Home: Mainers and World War I, on Saturday, November 4, 2017.
Over There and Down Home: Mainers and World War I features the efforts of Maine industries, communities, and individuals in support of the Allied Forces as the United States struggled to define her place in the increasingly global conflict. The exhibit chronicles the United States’ journey from neutral country to a member of the Allied Forces through the lives and contributions of Mainers. From collective efforts of feeding and outfitting Allied troops before the U.S. entry into the war, to later supporting Liberty Bonds on the home front, Maine was an active participant in World War I. A particular focus of the new exhibition is on the experiences of the Maine National Guard, the Old 2nd Maine, as the unit transitioned to the 103rd Infantry in the 26th Division, known as the “Yankee Division.” The exhibition features many objects and stories from individual soldiers who belonged to that unit.
“People will be surprised at how involved Maine was in World War I, a war we should not forget,” comments Museum Director Bernard Fishman. “We mobilized tens of thousands of men and women, boosted our industries, and felt a rush of patriotism for our country and cause that is profoundly impressive. The objects from that strange war, and the many personal stories from home and from the front, will fascinate anyone who is interested in Maine and in the people of Maine.”
“In my research, I found the personal stories of Mainers around the state to be most compelling,” comments the exhibit’s curator, Angela Goebel-Bain. “With photographs and artifacts, the exhibit tells about these people, such as Leroy Hoskins of Milo, who enlisted before the national draft so he could serve with his two uncles already in the Maine National Guard. Franklyn “Nemo” Burbank of Livermore Falls led his men and personally captured a German machine gun, first invented by Maine’s Hiram Maxim. Back home, years before America entered the conflict, farmers of Aroostook County rallied to feed Belgian refugees, while women from twenty-six Maine communities sent “comfort bags” to wounded French soldiers. Once the United States declared war, Mainers launched an all-out effort to support the U.S. soldiers through the Red Cross and the purchase of Liberty Loan Bonds.”
Over There and Down Home: Mainers and World War I continues at the Maine State Museum through November 11, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the armistice between the Allied and Central Powers that ended the war.