Nearly 300 people participated in the Presidential Library's Grand Opening celebration of its new World War I trench exhibit on May 30.  Guests enjoyed re-enactors, live period music, refreshments, and free tours of the exhibit.  A brief ceremony with remarks from officials, including a Woodrow Wilson reenactor, kicked off the activities.  Re-enactors, including soldiers, Red Cross nurses, and “Doughnut Lassies,” shared what life was like during the war.  Guests explored artifacts from a World War I soldier’s trunk and toured the new trench exhibit, a fully immersive state-of-the-art experience that takes visitors to the battlefront.  Everyone enjoyed cake donuts and small bottles of Coke similar to those from the period as well as World War I songs performed by Cynthia and Bill Polhill. The event was sponsored by Bankers Insurance and Segars Engineering.  Coca-Cola Enterprises donated the Cokes, Dunkin' Donuts donated the donuts, and Shenandoah Valley Water donated bottled water.

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.  

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