NMU Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center WWI exhibit opens

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Marquette County is commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.

The Northern Michigan University Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center's exhibit "Soldier's Stories: The U.P. in WWI" opened its doors Wednesday night.

It's part of the Marquette Regional History Center's "World War I Remembered" series.

One area focuses on U.P. soldiers who served in the Northern Russia Expeditionary Force.

They called themselves Polar Bears.

Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center Director Daniel Truckey's grandfather was one of those soldiers.

The Polar Bears continued fighting for their country for more than six months after the war ended.

"He didn't talk about it much," Truckey said. "I think that in some ways it was both a traumatic and a difficult memory for him because many of those guys came back disillusioned with what they were asked to do. They never really understood why they were there. It was kind of a side show of the war."

There are also several individual stories displayed throughout the exhibit.

Ann Johnson's grandfather served in the Navy. A bit of his story is shared at the exhibit.

"He was very proud that he was a chief petty officer," Johnson said. "he went across the Atlantic Ocean 10 times during the war and he had two brothers who were also in the war. One was the first POW from the U.P. and one was actually killed in action just a few weeks before the armistice was signed."

Johnson hopes people walk away from these exhibits knowing a little bit more about our nations history.

"We can learn from the mistakes they made and we can also learn from the things they did right," Johnson said. "We need to pay attention to our past to move forward."

The "World War I Remembered: How Marquette County Served" exhibit at the Marquette County Regional History Center will be open until June 10.

The "Soldier's Story" exhibit at the NMU Beaumier Heritage Center will be open until June 1.

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