In March, students from Prof. Judy Walden’s HIST 370 class (“Europe and World War I”) visited the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. The museum offers an amazing collection of artifacts and displays interpreting the “Great War.”
Displays vividly brought to life events that the students had been studying all semester. History/Secondary Education major Nicole Gearhart (’14) commented that “seeing a shell that weighed hundreds of pounds makes it much easier to fathom how so many men could die” in the war. The recreations of a shell crater and a trench had a powerful impact on Josh Zieman (History and Political Science, ’14), who said he now has “a new appreciation of shell shock” from “seeing the intimidating weapons and from just looking at life-size models of the trenches.”
Most importantly, the museum helped put a human face on the immense scale of destruction of the Great War, while at the same time reminding us that individual men and women held the guns, drove the ambulances, survived the bombardments, and died on the battlefields. Visiting the museum helped students understand that history is composed of “events that were lived by real people whose stories are left to us not only in books, but in the things they left behind,” in the words of Mitchell Nicholas (Criminal Justice, ’13).