DES MOINES – On Memorial Day weekend, the State Historical Society of Iowa will open a new traveling exhibit that honors more than 4,000 Iowans who lost their lives a century ago during World War I.
The “World War I Honor Roll” opens to the public at 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 26, at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, 600 E. Locust St., in Des Moines. Admission is free.
The exhibit features thousands of names and corresponding photos the State Historical Society collected from Iowa families who lost loved ones during the war. The society sent out an initial call, in 1920, and then again in 2017, to shore up the official records during the war’s 100th anniversary.
The new exhibit is the result of that research – and a tribute to a generation of Iowans who sacrificed their lives to the cause of freedom.
"Memorial Day is a time to honor those who paid the ultimate price in service to our country," State Historical Society of Iowa Administrator Susan Kloewer said. "This exhibit will help Iowans connect names with faces from World War I in a very powerful and moving way while on display at the museum and as it travels throughout the state."
The new Honor Roll coincides with the museum’s ongoing exhibit “Iowa and the Great War,” which explores how hundreds of thousands of Iowans stepped up to support the cause, both in the trenches and at home. The ongoing exhibit explains how the country’s first African-American military officers trained at Fort Des Moines, how war-time propaganda shifted opinions about prohibition and women’s suffrage, and even how the military gave some Iowans their first experiences as pilots.
The exhibit also features artifacts from Capt. Edward Fleur of Des Moines, who was killed during a German gas attack in 1918 and who, thanks to the efforts of his wife, Minnie, is buried in Des Moines’ Woodland Cemetery. His descendants plan to donate additional artifacts – including a uniform, quilt, personal journal, plus photos and negatives – during a small private ceremony on Saturday at the museum.
In their honor, Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a proclamation to observe “Edward and Minnie Fleur Day” on May 26, 2018.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.