Unknown Soldiers

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PAULDING, OHIO (WPTA21)-It was called ‘The Great War’ and ‘The War to End All Wars’. World War I was neither but by the time it ended forty million people were dead.

“World War One has made what the world is today,” says historian Mark Holtsberry. “It just seems like it just drew me.”

The John Paulding Historical Museum in Paulding, Ohio, is paying tribute to the thirteen hundred men and women who left their Paulding County homes to fight in the Great War. County commissioner Mark Holtsberry has amassed a collection of artifacts carried by soldiers on the fields of France and Belgium and has put them on display. Personal items..uniforms, canteens, mess kits. And overwhelming evidence of the role of the horse in the Great War.

“The U. S. Federal Government redesigned the saddle in 1904,” says Holtsberry, “and they came up with two patterns the first pattern which was this one here is a 1904 first pattern saddle.”

Saddles, bridles, horse blankets..this is a saddlers chest for battlefield harness repairs. Interest in the Great War has reignited with the recent release of the film ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, restored and colorized archival film that looks like it was shot yesterday revealing the humanity of those who fought, and changing the way we think about a war now a hundred years past. But Mark Holtsberry is more than a collector, he’s written a book on the soldiers from Paulding County, collected stories and newspaper articles..this1917 article mentions a gift, a German Lugar, sent to a father from his soldier son, Don Crane. That gun is now part of mark’s collection.

“They’re the true heroes, all of ’em,” he says. “They came back here families to raise a job to get they made something out of themselves here in this county and what they contributed made this county what it is today.”

And that’s part of the lesson to be learned here, how the Great War changed those who fought it, how we live with those changes today, and how remembering what happened and why will ensure these hometown heroes shall not grow old.



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