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The Great War Christmas Event

Hosted by Lewis Army Museum

This vintage World War I postcard is part of the Lewis Army Museum’s WWI collection some of which will be on display during the Great War Christmas Event at the Lewis Army Museum. Photo credit: Lewis Army Museum Collection

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The Lewis Army Museum will host the Great War Christmas Event Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will be held in the museum lobby. "During this centennial year we are looking back at how the U.S. Army shaped our local and national culture. We hope this event will bring folks together to kick off the holiday season," said Erik Flint, director, Lewis Army Museum.

As the 100th anniversary celebrations at Joint Base Lewis-McChord come to an end, this event is meant to evoke the Christmas celebrations of the World War I era. According to Heidi Pierson, curator, Lewis Army Museum, "It was a time when the U.S. had seen substantial immigration and the soldiers who were drafted in the Army reflected this."  This created many challenges for the newly enlarged Army.

"The challenge to create a unified military force, as well as a patriotic and loyal citizenry, fell in large measure to the War Department Committee for Training Camp Activities (CTCA). This newly created agency partnered with civilian organizations like the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), the Knights of Columbus, the Red Cross, the American Library Association, and the Jewish Welfare Board. The goal was to give the trainees wholesome recreational activities that would also serve to educate the men and make them better soldiers and citizens," wrote Alan Archambault, Director Emeritus, Lewis Army Museum, in the LSCS Centennial Magazine.

Visitors are invited to make paper-chain garlands to help decorate the lobby. Holiday menus and music from WWI will be on display. The museum staff will host a smell scavenger hunt, where visitors can guess the holiday scent and connect it with the WWI era. Old-fashioned donuts will be served similar to those served to the soldiers. "There will be two discussions of the Christmas Truce of 1914 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the museum lobby. The unofficial truce began on Christmas Eve, with English and German soldiers singing carols across no-man's-land. During Christmas Day, soldiers from both sides celebrated together and even played an impromptu game of soccer, before returning to a state of war the following day," said Pierson.

She tries to plan activities and talks that will appeal to all age groups. "In planning these events, I try to find tidbits of history that bring people together through their shared history and humanity. That may sound like a big concept, but the smell scavenger hunt is a perfect example of something that most people can identify with, in one way or another. We hope to begin having monthly events starting in early 2018; we would like the museum to be a place local families can return to regularly for something interesting and educational," she said.

The event is free and open to the public.  The pedestrian gate will not be open so visitors without post access will need to enter through the Visitors Center at I-5, exit 120.

The Great War Christmas Event, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, Lewis Army Museum, 4320 Main St. and Constitution Dr., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, free, 253.967.7206,

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