The Gaucho Gazette

A Call to Arms World War One: A Petaluma Perspective

Gabi Cervantes and Patrick Mantoani

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There is always plenty to learn about history. Countless wars and battles have left society with the decisions of various disagreements. On the days of April 2nd through 21, the Petaluma Historical Museum brought a very impactful war to heart. The museum featured an exhibit called “A Call to Arms World War One: A Petaluma Perspective.” While a donation of $5 was recommended, the exhibit was free to all. Coincidentally or perhaps purposefully, this April also happens to be the 100th Anniversary of America’s entry into the war, adding to the feeling of profound grandeur one feels upon viewing the remnants of old civilization. The exhibit holds a variety of artifacts about World War I, including full uniforms, propaganda posters, and war supplies. They also bring in some photographs and letters from natives, which helps tie in a perspective from Petaluma.

A good majority of the exhibit is propaganda posters recruiting children, men, and women for war. These posters seemed like printed copies with a few originals mixed in. Original newspapers from Petaluma were well displayed and preserved, producing legible and textured writing, begging the reader to lean in and touch — an act the exhibit begs you to refrain from. Most prints were hung up on walls surrounded by authentic original casing. A wall located in the middle of the exhibit, beneath the aesthetically pleasing stained glass ceiling, offered an interesting personal twist to the war. People like Dolcini, Peterson, and those with other recognizable surnames were featured as Petaluman soldiers who passed away during the war. Pictures of these men who died for their country create a devastating display, showcasing the waste of a youthful generation. On the opposite side of the wall, hidden from the mainstream traffic of the exhibit were letters too personal to display openly. These well preserved and heartfelt letters, makes one feel guilty for intruding.

Overall, the exhibit was full of sentimental displays containing lots of memories of war and its veterans, so as to never forget the tragic and impactful event. This exhibit honored the truly native aspect of the Great War, and offered a bridge between knowledge acquired in a classroom about world history, and knowledge of local history for a Petaluma resident. Although small in size, the Petaluma Historical Museum found a way to pack years of important history into one floor.

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A Call to Arms World War One: A Petaluma Perspective