Remembering Our Heroes: World War I

Mike Magut ‘20
EE Staff Writer

Nothing holds more power than our history. Events that occurred in the past have effectively created everything that we have and understand today. All periods of history should be remembered, as they gave us this very world that we have come to know.

Now, as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Great War armistice, it is time to look back at one of the most important events in known history: World War I.

Starting November 17, Central Connecticut State University will host a World War I exhibit in the Burritt Library to commemorate the period of U.S. involvement.

The exhibit contains displays of rare, authentic uniforms and equipment of servicemen and sailors.
A special focus of the display will feature Connecticut veterans and their wartime experience.

Filling one display case on the library’s second floor, photographs and letters tell the story of Herman Wunsch.

A 19-year-old infantryman from New Britain, Wunsch wrote weekly letters home describing his battle experiences, the deaths of his friends and the shellshock he sustained in battle.

Other highlights include a World War I pilot’s group, an ambulance driver’s uniform and a rare army nurse’s straw hat.
CCSU has also put on display memorabilia and uniforms from Polish-American volunteers of the Polish Legion, which fought in Europe from 1918 to 1921.

Exhibitors who lent items from the military collections include Peter Tragni, William Baldwin, Dr. Robert Jacobs and Jeffrey Magut.

“This remarkable opportunity to show the individual soldier’s experience in World War I will take history out of the pages of a textbook and bring it to life right before your eyes,” said Jeffrey Magut, a World War I researcher and militaria collector.
The exhibit includes items from the Balloon Corps, which changed the way the army observed the enemy.

While unusual to us today, this sort of tactic displays the ingenuity of military minds at the time.

“When we think about the Great War, the advances in military technology and communication led to many of the scientific and social innovations that define the 20th Century.

From wireless radio, to the development of the airplane as a weapon, to the beginnings of submarine and tank warfare, it all starts in World War I,” Magut said, explaining how the war effected science and technology.

Anyone who may have an interest in viewing the vast history of the our nation is encouraged to attend.

“We are hoping that the public will have their curiosity piqued to explore the larger aspects of world conflict as it relates to the experience of the individual American soldier,” Peter Tragni said, describing the overall intention of this exhibit.

The exhibit was overall an integral outlook into our history.

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