Brenden LaFeur, left, of Laconia and Dave Laiche of Nashua dress the part and display items such as clothing and weapons used during the war. NASHOBA
Brenden LaFeur, left, of Laconia and Dave Laiche of Nashua dress the part and display items such as clothing and weapons used during the war. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / CALEY MCGUANE

DEVENS -- Uniformed re-enactors and civilians alike gathered at the quadrangle behind the Fort Devens Museum on Saturday to honor the centennial of Camp Devens, as well as the United States' entry into World War I.

"We figured we'd give people a little taste of what it was like and sort of the whole overall view of what the Great War was like," said Kara Fossey, director of the Fort Devens Museum.

The World War I Living History Weekend continued on Sunday.

Fossey said the museum wanted to do something special to commemorate the building of Camp Devens in 1917 while also recognizing that it has been 100 years since the U.S. entered World War I.

On the field were white, yellow and brown tents, marking the camps of the Allied Powers, Central Powers and the Red Cross.

Fort Devens Museum Director Kara Fossey takes a seat in one of the 1920s cars displayed during this weekend’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of
Fort Devens Museum Director Kara Fossey takes a seat in one of the 1920s cars displayed during this weekend's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Fort Devens. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / CALEY MCGUANE
Military gear, uniforms and photographs of soldiers lay on blankets and tables.

Sean McCarthy was reenacting as a German soldier and said he enjoys learning about history.

"This is the easiest way to learn more about it. You actually put on their gear and uniforms. It's a lot more interesting than just reading a book," he said.

People escaped the rain underneath the tents to listen to re-enactors describe the history behind the gear worn by the "doughboys" and foreign soldiers. Old Model T Fords and a Model Ford ambulance often honked their horns in demonstration, and music played in the tents on record players.

"The forgotten generation ... needs to be recognized for what they did," said Tom Summer, director of re-enactors.


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Summer has been a re-enactor for 16 years. He also invited people who wanted to bring in their World War I collections, such as Shawn Pease, who brought in items owned by his grandfather who was a first sergeant in the 101st Infantry, Yankee Division, Company C.

One item he displayed was a 1918 flag his grandfather brought back from France.

Walking among the soldiers -- who automatically stood at attention as he approached -- was President Woodrow Wilson closely followed by his Secret Service agent, portrayed by Kevin Titus of Canaan, Connecticut and Michael Esposito of Richmond.

"We want people to believe that, for that moment, they're meeting with a historical character," said Titus, who portrays Wilson and President Warren G. Harding in events across the country.

"We do it because we want history to be recreated and remembered," he said.

Those who came enjoyed seeing the historical items.

Steele McCurdy, Groton's fire chief, brought his daughter Isabel, whom he described as a history buff.

She said, "Most of the time I learn about the Revolutionary War and World War II, but I don't know much about World War I so I wanted to know about that."

Scott Lesch came to the event with friends because they all have ancestors who served in World War I.

"It's just an interesting thing to do.

Dave Laiche of Nashua educates guests on some of the items men would keep and carry with them when while at war. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / CALEY MCGUANE
Dave Laiche of Nashua educates guests on some of the items men would keep and carry with them when while at war. NASHOBA VALLEY VOICE / CALEY MCGUANE
I was a Civil War re-enactor, so living history stuff is kind of an old hat to me, but I've never seen the museum before and think it's wonderful," he said.

Near the end of the day Brian Willette, Veterans of Foreign Wars state sergeant-at-arms, led a re-enactment of the Croix de Guerre -- a French military decoration -- for the WWI 104th Infantry Regiment, 26th Yankee Division with the help of a few reenactors. The regiment was the first to fight on foreign soil against a foreign enemy. They were also the first American regiment to be awarded a foreign decoration by a foreign power on April 28, 1918.

Willette said the 104th Yankee Division returned home with the mission to honor those who died in battle.

"It is now our mission to perpetuate their memory in history. Our gathering here at this special event is proof that their last mission was accomplished. We have not forgotten. And with that, we accept our mission to remember, honor and teach our children that freedom is not free," Willette said.