The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum will host a Grand Opening of its new World War I Exhibit, with activities for the entire family, including re-enactors, live period music and refreshments, and free tours of the exhibit, on Sunday, May 30, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.  At 2:15 p.m., a brief ceremony will kick off the activities, including President Wilson re-enactor Judd Bankert delivering excerpts from one of President Wilson’s speeches about the war, and brief remarks from officials, including Mayor Lacy King and Delegate Dickie Bell.  Thanks to the sponsorship of Bankers Insurance and Segars Engineering, the event is open to the public and free of charge.  In addition to free tours of the exhibit, tours of the Manse will be available all afternoon, until the last tour at 4:15 p.m., for $5.00.  

Throughout the afternoon, the re-enactors, including soldiers, Red Cross nurses, and Salvation Army “Donut Lassies,” will share what life was like during the war.  Refreshments will include donuts and other snacks that were available during that time period.  Museum educators will be on hand to share artifacts from a World War I soldier’s trunk.  Don Wilson, President and CEO, will be leading the free tours of the exhibit.  

The exhibit is a fully immersive state-of-the-art experience that takes visitors to the battlefront during the First World War.  It includes a trench, a bunker, a command center, a triage area, lighting, sound effects, and photographs.  The exhibit was designed by Riggs Ward of Richmond with panels written by local author William Walker, who also donated a World War I pistol to the exhibit.  The Presidential Library also gathered artifacts from the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, the Marshall Foundation in Lexington, and local collectors Jim Huggins and Eleanor Albers.  The exhibit is now included in the Presidential Library’s visitor experience at the regular admission price.   

Bankers Insurance Group is a national company that offers insurance options for businesses and individuals and has offices locally in Staunton, Harrisonburg, Lexington, and Charlottesville.  Segars Engineering is a Waynesboro civil, structural and architectural design firm focused on green building projects in the industrial, institutional and private sectors.  

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is open 360 days a year for guests from around the world to tour the President’s Birthplace, the Museum, and the historic gardens.  In addition, thousands of schoolchildren participate in educational programming each year.  The Presidential Library attracts top-flight speakers, runs teacher institutes, and a variety of educational symposia.  For more information, visit the WWPL’s website at  

Anyone who has questions about the ceremony should contact Barbara Wimble, Manager of Visitor Services, at (540) 885-0897, ext. 106, or at

did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation