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State commemorates involvement in WWI, celebrates shared history during Arkansas Heritage Month

Department of Arkansas Heritage - Monday, April 24, 2017

Arkansas’s participation in World War I will be commemorated throughout May during Arkansas Heritage Month, designated annually by the governor and promoted by the Department of Arkansas Heritage (DAH).

This year's theme, “A State of War: Arkansas Remembers World War I,” centers on the centennial remembrance of World War I and its effects on Arkansas. Activities and programs are planned across the state. For a list of Heritage Month events, visit ArkansasHeritage.com.

“More than 71,000 Arkansans served their country during World War I,” said Stacy Hurst, DAH director and the state historic preservation officer. “Our communities were greatly affected, making this year a wonderful time to learn about that local history. You can choose from an architectural tour, music programs, an art exhibit and an artifact fair –there are so many exciting programs planned across the state to honor Arkansans’ service in WWI.”

Below is a sampling of Heritage Month activities scheduled across the state. For a full schedule of events, visit ArkansasHeritage.com:

  • Voices of the Great War, available through May, Riley-Hickingbotham Library, Ouachita Baptist University, 410 Ouachita Street, Arkadelphia, features items from the Library’s Archives and Special Collections including documents, photographs and other materials which offer insight into the lives of those affected by the Great War.
  • Historic Jazz and Ragtime Concert, Tuesday, May 2, 7 p.m., Arlington Hotel Lobby, 239 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, Chuck Dodson and his trio present a one-hour concert of jazz and blues, stride and barrel piano playing, ragtime and commentary reminiscent of WWI-era music in the lobby of the historic Arlington Hotel.
  • Hot Springs WWI-Era Architectural Tour, Tuesday, May 2, 5:30 p.m. Mountain Valley Water Building, 150 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, walking tour of downtown Hot Springs' WWI-era buildings led by local historic preservation expert, architect and hotel owner Anthony Taylor.
  • Our Railroad Men in World War I, available through May, Arkansas Railroad Museum, 1700 Port Road, Pine Bluff, is an exhibit about the importance of the railroads in shipping military as well as civilian goods and the service of railroad employees in the war effort.
  • A State of War: Special World War I Tour, available through May, Old Independence Regional Museum, 380 S. Ninth St., Batesville, rotates participants through stations located throughout the museum. Stations include: aviation, food, mining, 1918 flu epidemic and inventions.
  • Mt. Judea Heritage Day Festival, Saturday, May 6, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mt. Judea, is a fun day to learn about Mt. Judea's heritage, highlighting the effects of WWI and the 1918 flu epidemic on the area.
  • Arkansas Artifact Fair, Sunday, May 7, 2-5 p.m., Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham St., Little Rock, individuals are invited to bring WWI items for identification by professionals who will record and catalogue the artifacts.
  • Fur & Feathers: Animal Heroes of WWI Opening Reception, Thursday, May 11, 4-6 p.m., Vada Sheid Gallery, ASU Mountain Home, 1600 S. College St., Mountain Home, features art, vintage photos, posters and stories of the animals that worked alongside soldiers during the war.
  • Arkansas's Most Endangered Places Bike Ride, Thursday, May 18, 6 p.m., meet at Bobby's Bike Hike in Little Rock's River Market, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, for a tour of Little Rock’s historic places, a special edition T-shirt from Rock City Outfitters, and a pint of Stone’s Throw brew.
  • Perry County Heritage, Heirloom and Arts Festival, Saturday, May 20, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Downtown Perryville, featuring local craftsmen who will demonstrate blacksmithing, quilting and handmade items around the courthouse square, in addition to a WWI exhibit.
  • World War I Experiences of Stone Countians, Sunday, May 28, 2 p.m., Edwin Luther Auditorium, Stone County Museum Complex, 206 School Ave., Mountain View, featuring Harmony, the trio composed of Robert and Mary Gillihan and Dave Smith, will perform original songs written by Charley Sandage about Stone County veterans' experiences in WWI.
  • When Dey Listed Colored Soldiers: World War I, A War to End All Wars, Monday, May 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Central High National Park Site Visitors Center, 1315 S. Park St., Little Rock, is an historical overview of the African American presence in WWI, presented by the Milton Pitts Crenchaw Aviation Training Academy in partnership with the National Park Service and Helping Engage Arts.
  • World War I in Jefferson County, available through May, Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Historical Museum, 201 E. Fourth St., Pine Bluff, a “Last Man Club” exhibit features items from local individuals who served in World War I.

Governor Asa Hutchinson created the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee by executive order on March 31, 2016, and appointed members to lead the state's remembrance on the 100th anniversary of the Great War. Through 2018, the committee is encouraging organizations to develop and participate in activities that will expand the understanding and appreciation of the significance of World War I.

For more information about the Department of Arkansas Heritage, visit ArkansasHeritage.com. To learn more about the impact of the WWI in Arkansas, visit WWIArkansas.com.