WWI exhibit to highlight veterans’ shrine rededication

May 6, 2019

An exhibit chronicling World War I will be one highlight of this year’s Memorial Day weekend rededication of Fort Wayne’s Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum.

“The Great War: From Ration Lines to the Front Lines,” a traveling exhibit curated by the Indiana Historical Society, will be on display at the shrine and museum, 2122 O’Day Road, beginning Friday through June 13. 

The display features Indiana’s contributions to the effort dubbed “The War to End All Wars” and its lasting effects, according to the IHS.

The exhibit details the economic and social effects of the war on the Hoosier state -- including how the demand for steel and machinery built industry in Gary, South Bend and Indianapolis, the discrimination faced by those of German heritage and the contributions of black Americans and women.

The roots of the war and the lasting memorials to the fallen are also highlighted.

Eric Johnson, spokesman for the shrine and museum, said that although no American veterans of the war remain alive, interest in the war has not died.

“A lot of the families are really interested in where and how their relatives fought,” he said.

The Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the war, was signed June 28, 1919. The centennial of the U.S. entry was marked April 6, 1917.

Johnson said the exhibit, which will open at 11 a.m. Friday, will serve as a backdrop to the rededication of the shrine and museum May 25. More details about that event will be released in upcoming days, he said. 

“The (shrine) fell into neglect for some time,” Johnson said. “Now there is a tremendous resurgence in interest in the rebirth of the shrine and museum.”

Johnson noted a recent upswing in donations and volunteer work “to make the shrine shine.”

Hours for the IHS exhibit will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Admission is free, although donations will be accepted.