A collection 100 years in the making

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The Varnum Armory in East Greenwich hosted an event Friday night commemorating the centennial anniversary of World War I. Museum quality artifacts were displayed, alongside medals of honor and letters to home.

Hosted by the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission, the event was a kickoff to get people excited for the next 12 months as part of the commission’s efforts. The group plans on take materials to libraries and school to educate on the roles of women and minorities in WWI to complement the traditional historic narrative.

Matthew McCoy, state coordinator of the Rhode Island World War One Centennial Commission, said his favorite pieces of the event were the placards placed on tables highlighting the 26 Rhode Island recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross during WWI. The second highest medal of valor, the cross was given out for going "above and beyond" during service.

McCoy said he hoped the night will spark educational conversations about WWI in classrooms and help honor U.S. history.

Shawn Pease of Seekonk, Mass. presented his grandfather's history at the Armory on Friday night. His grandfather, Wesley Pease Jr., served in the National Guard in part of the 26th Yankee Division. Published in a book, "Dear Family: Letters from the Mexican War and the Great War in France." Shawn has letters sent to home almost daily from Wesley beginning with the Mexican War. Shawn stands behind the photo of his grandfather, who survived WWI.

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