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Historical re-enactor commemorating 100th anniversary of World War I

Arn Kind is a member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a historical reenactment group based out of Fort Snelling. On May 3, he'll dress the part for a living history program about “Minnesota in the Great War.” America entered World War I exactly 100 years ago. (Submitted photo)

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany.

Four days later, his request was granted, and America formally entered The Great War, now known as World War I.

To commemorate this 100th anniversary, historical re-enactor Arn Kind is touring the Kitchigami Regional Library System to present a living history experience.

Kind will perform in Park Rapids at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 3. The event will be held in the Northwoods Bank community room.

The First World War, which for America, lasted only 19 months, involved more than 100,000 men from Minnesota. They served in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Medical Corps.

Of that number more than 1,400 were killed in battle or fatally wounded. Another 2,000 died of disease; many from the flu epidemic which broke out during the so-called "The War to End All Wars."

Kind will dress the part for an exciting, living history program, entitled "Minnesota in the Great War."

He is a member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, a reenactment group based out of Fort Snelling. Because this group is noted for its authenticity, they have appeared in many documentaries and historical feature films, such as "The Blue and the Gray," "North & South," "Glory", "Gettysburg," "Dances With Wolves" and "Gods and Generals."

Kind brings this authenticity to his presentations.

He has been an educator for 38 years, both in the classroom, teaching grades 4 through 12, and through his presentations to young people and adults of all ages.

His unique performances are popular in a multitude of venues — from library and classroom seminars at elementary, middle and high schools to immersive lectures at the university level as well as summer camps, historical reenactments and festivals.

A very important part of Arn's presentations are the artifacts, uniforms and equipment that attendees will be able to observe, handle and interact with as part of their hands-on experience in living the history.

In this presentation, participants will learn the following:

• the causes of the war

• why and how America got involved

• strategies used to win the war

• the uniform, weapons, equipment and the life of the typical Minnesota soldier or "Doughboy"

• the role women played in the war

• the new technologies that were introduced during the war. Technologies like the airplane, the submarine, the tank and the introduction of lethal gas on the battlefield made the Great War the first "industrial war." Minnesotans found themselves on battlefields and on seas that were far more lethal than anything that had come before.

• how the end of the war would make the U.S. a world power, but it would plant the seeds that would lead to the Second World War.

This free Legacy Program is funded, in part or in whole, with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008 which dedicated funding to preserve Minnesota's arts and cultural heritage.