Photo by Bobby Jones A small group of curious and reflective veterans sat quietly as Museum educator Thomas Frezza and special guest Michael Bosworth of the Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships gave their accounts on the lives of Naval and Marine personnel during World War I Centennial of the U.S Declaration of War Day program at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy Apr. 6.
Both dressed in 1917 period uniforms – Freeza wearing an enlisted Marine uniform with Sergeant stripes and Bosworth a Navy commander uniform – to give visitors a perspective on what they wore in Europe after the United States entered WWI. Bosworth studies history and provides lectures, demos and music of past military and naval times, specializing in the Napoleonic Wars, the War of 1812 and, most recently, World War One, with both naval and cavalry presentations.
Bosworth, kicked off the observance, using slides and personal experience highlighting the difference between the naval weaponry of WWI and today’s modern Navy.
“One of the most interesting periods for me is the Q and A after my lectures. People often come up after and tell about their own experiences or ask specific questions [probing] your background knowledge about the period,” Bosworth shared.
“WWI was particularly nasty. It really changed a generation. The technological advances in terms of artillery and gas warfare caused a tremendous number of casualties. In a way, me and my fellow historians are trying to speak for those who can no longer speak,” said Bosworth, a 20-year Naval veteran.
“I’ve always had a great love of history,” Frezza, who found his connection with the military through his late great grandfather, a WWI veteran, and another grandfather who served in WWII. “Their experiences drove my interest in military history to know more about what they did.”
He noted that visitors seemed interested in naval forces in Europe during WWI and also the transition of the marine uniform during that time period.
“Most people look at photos and don’t realize what material uniforms were made out of in 1917. That’s one of the reasons why I wore the uniform to give them an up-close and personal look at what they look and feel like although it’s a replica,” Freeza said.
“It was interesting and a little bit inspiring to share the history. It’s one of those wars that we have no more living veterans. So it’s a war that people don’t really think about any more, but I find it very important because it shaped us into what we are today,” Freeza said.
“I’m sharing this information, because [my great-grandfather] was someone who never talked about the war. It was mostly through letters that we learned about his service and a few little anecdotes of what happened to him then. I hope my great grandfather would be happy that he has a great grandson that’s interested in what he did,” Freeza shared.
Pam Overman, a Navy Art Collection curator, was on hand to educate and give visitors a tour of 22 Navy war posters on […]