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‘Big Red One’ history displayed - Flint Hills Discovery Center gets assist with division exhibition

By Maria Childs | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | July 25, 2017

     In about a month, the com­plete history of the “Big Red One” will be on display at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kansas.

     Robert Smith, director of the Fort Riley museum divi­sion, has been partnering with staff of the FHDC to create the exhibit, which will fill the 2,800 square foot second floor of the center. He put in trans­fer requests for artifacts, which were granted by military muse­ums from across the country.

     “This project has been in the works for about a year and a half,” Smith said. “One of my goals is to work with other insti­tutions like the Eisenhower Li­brary, the Beech Museum of Art and the Flint Hills Discovery Center. We’re out to hit the wid­est audience to tell the Army and the 1st Infantry Division’s story.”

     This will be the third time Smith and his team have part­nered with the FHDC for an exhibit. The 100th anniversary exhibit will include profiles of six Soldiers throughout the his­tory of the division including the Soldier who fired the first American artillery round dur­ing World War I and a former commanding general.

     “We’re going to highlight some brand-new artifacts that we just received,” he said.

     Smith said through the Cen­ter of Military History, museum directors can request a transfer of artifacts that are not on dis­play at another military muse­um. Through this connection, Smith was able to obtain Maj. Gen. Terry Allen’s dog tags, combat helmet, pistol belts and his major general’s flag.

     “They are such important pieces to history of the divi­sion,” he said.

     During the exhibit, there will be a children’s obstacle course available that will be interactive with the World War I era division mascot, Rags.

     “He actually learned to sa­lute,” said Capt. Robert Co­gen, who works with Smith at the museum. “Because of the high pitch he could hear shells coming in before the impact so in the trenches he would drop down and that’s how the Soldiers knew there was incoming fire, they saw Rags.”

     According to Susan Adams, the director of the FHDC, Rags will be a key component in the children’s area.

     “He’s going to walk kids through the obstacle course and encourages them to go over a wall and go on the bal­ance beam to simulate what Soldiers would do to get ready for war,” she said. “It’s some­thing for kids to get engaged in and the Rags component makes it more fun and inter­active.”

     The exhibit is expected to open Aug. 26 and will be on display until Jan. 14. For more information, visit www.flint­hillsdiscovery.org.

 

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