[Editor’s Note: This exhibit will be closing April 14, 2019; be sure to see it before another century passes.]
At this time in 1918, America was fully engaged in the “Great War” — the war to end all wars — that had been raging in Europe for five-plus years. Arizona had been a state for only a short time, but its citizens were anxious to assist the war effort. “Arizona and the Great War” is the featured exhibit at Sharlot Hall Museum that portrays the background, social and political change, and transition from an isolated Southwest territory to a patriotic state engaged on the home front in support of our troops “Over There!”
A focal point of the new exhibit is “the trench,” where visitors can stand side-by-side our infantry soldier in the congestion and mire of ‘home’ on the front lines, complete with artifacts and material from the day (1917-1919). Look for the barbed-wire cutters readied for the next assault, and the hanging gas mask in preparation for whatever the enemy may wrought.
As we prepare for the centennial of the Armistice — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month initiated in 1918 — let us reflect on the heroes of the time, and the sacrifices made on the home front. Throughout the main gallery, read the information panels that depict the lack of preparedness for war faced by citizens of Arizona (and America), and the sacrifices faced at home — from the draft to rationing, from the ‘victory gardens’ to the Liberty Bonds and war savings stamps.
And check out the ‘fly boy’ heroes — the stories of Frank Luke, air ace and medal of honor recipient, and of Prescott’s own Ernest Love — and their memorabilia, including the flying helmet, goggles and gloves of these aviators.
The “Arizona and the Great War” exhibit is in the Theater Gallery of the Lawler Exhibit Center on the Museum campus. Admission to the exhibit is included with the Museum entry, where guests can also step-back-further in time to explore the Territorial Governor’s Mansion, old Victorian homes, replica School House and Ranch House from the late-1800s, and relish the flora and fauna of a four-acre heritage campus and historic site.