Historical society brings WWI to life
By ANDREA KECKLEY
Jul. 30, 2018
TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP) — The year may be 2018, but it was 1918 at the Torrington Historical Society on Saturday.
"Are you signing up, Dearie?" Diane Callahan called out to a passer-by.
In a full suffragette uniform, Callahan stood at her booth and encouraged attendees to join the fight for women's voting rights. Nearby, other re-enactors in period attire displayed both American and German memorabilia from World War I. Saturday marked the opening of Torrington Historical Society's new exhibit, "All Hands on Deck: Torrington and World War I." It also featured military uniforms, equipment and photographs of World War I soldiers who lived in Torrington.
"It makes it real," Callahan said. "When you sit down in school, whatever grade you are ... it's boring. You're reading a book. But somebody who wants to put a little outfit on and talk honestly to somebody that you can relate to, it makes people think. And that's what I love most of all."
The historical society chose to open the exhibit Saturday in recognition of World War I Living History Day. This year marks one century since World War I's closing year. The war raged from July 28, 1914, until Nov. 11, 1918. The event also paid tribute to the women's suffrage movement, whose history is entangled with World War I. The exhibit was organized by Torrington Historical Society and the Connecticut Civil War Round Table.
"I think it's pretty interesting because it was one of the only wars the United States got involved in for altruistic reasons," said Alan Crane, a member of the 26th Yankee Division World War I Living History Association.
Crane presented a display of the American Army's material culture during the war, including equipment soldiers would have carried in France, weapons and various personal effects.
"It was a tremendous amount of sacrifice that was made by American soldiers," Crane said. "That's largely forgotten now, and I want to make sure that people remember that and get to experience that today."
And they did it in a unique way. John Callahan, Diane Callahan's husband, also was a re-enactor. The two share a love of history, but they were on opposite sides of it Saturday. John played the role of an antisuffragist.
"I think I like the enjoyment of putting a spark there for people to want to know more about themselves and about the American way," he said.
Information from: Republican-American, http://www.rep-am.com