Homefront exhibit honors 100th anniversary of U.S. entry into WWI
By Rachel Siford
via the Suffolk timesreview.com web site
Southold Historical Society’s current exhibit, “The Homefront,” commemorates the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I.
The exhibit focuses on Southold Town’s role from 1917 to 1918 and features the story of Carl Vail, a Southold resident who fought in the war, left behind a diary and gave the historical society an oral history before his death in 1998.
“There are great questions and wonderful reactions to the exhibit,” director Karen Lund-Rooney said. “He survived as a soldier and was gassed with mustard gas.”
Mr. Vail died at the age of 102. After the war, he resided on a farm in Southold and established two car dealerships.
Historical society intern Alex Bradley, a recent Mattituck High School grad soon headed to Tufts University in Massachusetts, has been reading from Mr. Vail’s wartime diary and used it to stage a re-enactment, donning a uniform accurate to the period. Mr. Bradley gave several performances as Mr. Vail, the last of them this past weekend.
“Adults and children are just fascinated,” Ms. Lund-Rooney said. “He gets kids in a circle and they get to ask him questions about what it was like to be a soldier.”
Carl Vail was born in 1895 and grew up in Peconic. The Vails are among Long Island’s oldest families and a Vail has fought in nearly every American war or conflict since the French and Indian War, according to the historical society. He enlisted in the United States Army one year after graduating from high school in 1917, leaving his family’s farm.
Mr. Vail fought in the Battle of the Argonne Forest and recalled the first day of the attack, when he rounded up six wounded men and went to find help. He found a Model T ambulance with a driver and a lieutenant and started back to the front line.
Read the entire article on the Suffolk timesreview.com web site here.
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