The Kinsley Library’s “World War I and America” series will have its second meeting from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18. Series scholar Larry Burke will discuss what led up to the declaration of war by the United States and the impact of the U.S. involvement in the war.
Burke is a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired Dodge City Community College instructor. He has received numerous academic awards, published book reviews in the “Journal of Military History,” and published a short story entitled “Quon Loi.”
“Larry Burke brings a passion for history and the gift of storytelling to his presentations,” said Kinsley Library Director Joan Weaver. “He captivated the 70 participants with his knowledge and understanding.
Mike Stephens will also display and talk about his collection of World War I artifacts which come from his “Museum of the Common Soldier” in La Crosse.
Stephens is a Navy veteran, but his interest in the military began much earlier. When he was 8 years old, a World War II veteran showed him artifacts that he had brought home from Germany. His interest was sparked, and he began reading books on the military.
However, it was not until 1978 that he purchased his first item, a World War II German Black Wound Badge, at a flea market. This badge designated a soldier that had been wounded in action. From that point on, he began collecting things that pertained to the ordinary soldier.
The Museum of the Common Soldier currently contains thousands of artifacts, mainly from World War II, but also encompasses the Civil War, World War I, Korean War, and Vietnam War. They fill the second floor museum of his home and are displayed on the walls, in cases, and on manikins. They include uniforms, flags, guns, knives, patches, shells, shrapnel and all things combat related.
“The Kinsley event will be a hands-on display, said Stephens. “I want people to be able to feel the things that the soldiers had. And I’m much more interested in something that has a story behind it than just the article. I enjoy sharing those stories with people.”
This “World War I and America” series is being funded by an initiative of Library of America presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and other organizations, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and additional support from the Kansas Humanities Council.
The series is free and open to the public. More information and registration is available on the library website, www.kinsleylibrary.info, by visiting the library at 208 E. 8th St., Kinsley, or by calling 620-659-3341.