Carroll's Role in World War I CARROLL COUNTY

November 12, 1993

It is fitting that during this time of relative world peace the Historical Society of Carroll County has mounted a special exhibit to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War I.

There was no 25th anniversary tribute, because the United States was in the midst of World War II then. And the 50th anniversary of the Great War came and went because it coincided with the conflict in Vietnam, when few people wanted to honor veterans or a military war.

Curator Jay Graybeal has assembled some fascinating artifacts that provide a vivid picture of the ways Carroll County residents participated in the "war to end all wars." The small but illuminating show conveys the agony and brutality of the battlefront, as well as the conscientious efforts of folks on the home front laboring for the war effort.

The exhibit runs through March 31. It begins with the formation in Westminster of Company H of the Maryland National Guard, which first saw service in 1916 on the Mexican border under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. It ends with descriptions of Armistice Day in Carroll County in 1918.

To convey the feeling of a doughboy on the front, Mr. Graybeal has a mannequin wearing an Army uniform and a battle pack. From the museum at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Mr. Graybeal obtained a trench mortar and a machine gun. He also has assembled pictures of dozens of the 1,200-plus Carroll County men and women who wore uniforms during the war, as well as of some of the 13 county residents who were killed.

The catalog includes a collection of letters that soldiers wrote to parents, friends and sweethearts back home. Some deal with the logistics of sending mail; others are poignant reminders of the damage inflicted by the modern weapons. "In fact, he put five bullets through me. . . and I can tell you that no one thought I would live. . . Every morning [they] dress [the wound], and I suffer the torture of the damned," wrote Lloyd Schaeffer, an aviator assigned to a French squadron on the Western Front.

For World War I veterans still alive, the society's exhibit is a fitting tribute. For the rest of us, it is a reminder that war on a continent thousands of miles away nevertheless has a profound impact on a local community.

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