John Jeffries has collected World War I memorabilia for most of his life. Now as a graduate student at Oklahoma State University, he’s using his history major and collection items to honor veterans.
Between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday, Jeffries will be showcasing his collection at the Social Sciences and Humanities building, formerly known as Murray Hall.
“Originally, the intention was to just do a display of uniforms and equipment and memorabilia from the period to give students an opportunity to get to see, you know, actual pieces from the war,” he said. “And it just kind of built up from there into a larger display that the department kind of got behind.”
Having the memorabilia there will give the students and community a better idea of what was used during the war.
“Really, I like having tangible evidence to show people because I think it creates a better connection than watching a documentary or reading a book. And it talks about the experiences of the soldiers. You know really the ferocity of the fighting,” Jeffries said.
As a veteran himself, Jeffries said he was inspired by his service and the World War I and European culture class he enrolled in at OSU. He served with the United States Marine Corps Reserve.
Jeffries said he was introduced to World War I re-enactment by a friend.
“I’ve done World War I re-enacting for 10 years ... I’ve done these displays for the public before and it always seems to be, I feel I’ve gained a better reaction out of the public like they get to see tangible items, than you know, just talking about it in class through lecture … it’s one thing to see it in the photo, it’s something different when it’s literally right there in front of you,” he said.
Jeffries describes the first world war as senseless but still finds it fascinating.
“One of the things about WW I that kind of got me even more was, you know, World War II there was a very definitive good versus evil kind of feeling to the war ... World War I was this catastrophic failure of imperial governments,” he said. “And of these old European monarchies that just dragged the world into essentially a war that really had no reason behind it.”
Jeffries said this is something he is passionate about, and hopes to see the community there Thursday.
“I believe this will be a unique and educational forum to respectfully honor and commemorate Veterans Day which was once known as Armistice day to commemorate the ending of the First World War,” Jeffries said.