Event Preview: The Great War Encampment at Illinois State Military Museum

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Soldiers gather around shabby wooden barracks and smoke drifts through the air lazily as the men chat amicably. Metal helmets rest on wooden posts and turn-of-the-century songs are hummed beneath their breath. Some warm their coffee over the fire, others clean their guns. All ignore the spectators in modern clothing crowding the rope line that distinctly separates their lives: civilians and reenactors. Heavy gunfire starts as the soldiers scatter, abandoning their dishes and grabbing for any available gun, while their fellow soldiers shoot across No Man’s Land, some of them writhing around in pretend agony while they scream for medics. After fifteen minutes, it is done as people cheer for the conclusion of the reenactment.

Every year the Illinois State Military Museum puts on a reenactment in honor of the Armistice Day. Armistice Day (Veteran’s Day) remembers the end of World War I, and reenactors participate in three skirmishes throughout the day. The museum will be open, and in past years have placed interpreters to help teach the history of World War I weaponry, medicine, and daily life while in the trenches. This is an immersive event for all the family and is an incredibly informative and fascinating event to attend. There are also two lectures by Dr. Chris McDonald and Jim Bilder for those who want to learn a more in-depth history of the life of everyday men who fought and died in the trenches.  This event will be hosted at the Illinois State Military Museum, 1301 N MacArthur Blvd Springfield, IL 62703 and will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and times, please call 217-761-3910, or visit their website

–Katie Brethorst

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