NEW BRITAIN - Central Connecticut State University will be hosting an exhibit this Friday through the middle of December to commemorate World War I.
The exhibit will kick off with a presentation by on Friday, from 4:30-6:30 p.m., at Elihu Burritt Library. Speakers willl include Carl Antonucci Jr., director of library services, Kenneth DiMaggio, professor of humanities at Capital Community College, M. B. B. Biskupski, professor of history at CCSU, Renata Vickrey, university archivist at CCSU, and Christine Pittsley, project director of the Remembering World War I Community Archiving Project.
Vickrey said all of the speakers will focus on Connecticut’s role during the war. Antonucci and DiMaggio, she said, will talk about Italians in Connecticut during that time period. Vickrey and Biskupski will speak about Poles in Connecticut, specifically about how the Polish saw the war as a chance to regain Poland’s independence.
One of the most amazing stories, according to Vickrey, was the creation of an entire army comprised of Polish immigrants residing in the United States and Canada determined to fight for the freedom of Poland. The Blue Army, or Haller’s Army, was a Polish military contingent created in France during the latter stages of the war. The name came from the blue uniforms of the soldiers.
The army was formed on June 4, 1917, and was led by Gen. Jozef Haller von Hallenburg.
On November 11, 1918, the war ended and Poland regained independence. Soldiers from the American Army returned home, but soldiers from Haller’s Army went on to fight against the Soviet Union’s Bolsheviks to secure Poland’s eastern borders. They returned home in 1921.
“It’s important to remember,” Vickrey said of the war. “We want to commemorate it.”
“We invite veterans, students and people from the community to join us.”
Vickrey said the reception on Friday is free of charge and will include food and beverages.
There will also be an original World War I ambulance on display outside the library just for the opening night of the exhibit. The exhibit will include uniforms, posters, letters from soldiers and other materials. It will remain open through Dec. 15, during the library’s normal hours.