Jacob Ceglenski knows a lot about Vietnam War-era history, but his Eagle Scout project for the Museum of Missouri Military History required him to learn a whole new set of information about World War I.
"Things you never really thought about, until you find out about it," Ceglenski said of working on his project which will inform local schools, libraries, historical societies or groups requesting his traveling World War I history exhibit.
Ceglenski, 17, a senior at Helias High School, said he's been volunteering with the museum since October. He's been interested in history since about fourth grade.
In this year's Oct. 14-15 museum open house, Ceglenski will don a Vietnam-era U.S. military uniform and provide information to visitors on it and various pieces of gear, museum Director Charles Machon said.
"We thought this would be a good way to partner with him," Machon said of the portable exhibit Ceglenski created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.
In addition to that need, Ceglenski said, "it was a topic I didn't know a whole lot about" — for example that Missouri contributed the eighth-highest number of servicemen to the war.
As much as possible, he tried to incorporate Missourians' experiences into the displays. The last surviving American veteran of World War I was from Missouri — Frank Woodruff Buckles, of Bethany. "He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 at the age of 16 and served with a detachment from Fort Riley, Kansas," according to the exhibit. He drove ambulances and motorcycles near the front lines in Europe and lived to be 110.
There's a photograph of a 1919 homecoming parade downtown on High Street.
"I really hope they can appreciate what veterans did for us," Ceglenski said of what people his age might take away from the exhibit.
Information from the Secretary of State's Office notes more than 156,000 Missouri men served in all military branches during World War I, and more than 10,000 were killed or wounded in action.
After high school, Ceglenski hopes to join the military. He's leaning toward the Marine Corps at this point, he said, hoping to become an officer and serve four years before deciding if he'll make military service his career.
In the meantime, he wants to fulfill a promise he made to his late grandfather, Eugene Ceglenski, the only other Eagle Scout in their family who passed away in May.
"I just keep thinking about my grandpa," he said. One of the last things he told him was he would fulfill the dream he's had since he was 6 or 7 of becoming an Eagle Scout, too.
A member of Immaculate Conception's Troop 6, he's been working on his Eagle Scout project since the beginning of summer and just finished it this week.
"He's been here almost every day in July," Machon said. He presented the idea to Ceglenski in January.
"He's breaking ground here," Machon said, adding Ceglenski is the first Eagle Scout-to-be to do something like this for the museum.
The exhibit, which consists of collapsible panels with placards attached by Velcro, is free for anyone who wishes to showcase it, after it spends about 60 days on display at the main building of the Missouri National Guard headquarters.
The exhibit ranges in topics from the start of the war in Europe and the drawing in of the United States to the realities of trench warfare and the weapons used, the contributions of women in the war and the details of the Doughboy uniform.
Machon said the exhibit can be kept for up to 90 days, and he only asks it be kept indoors, as it's not waterproof.
Those who wish to use the display can contact the museum at 573-638-9603.
If it hasn't already been loaned out, the exhibit will be on display for the museum's open house in October, Machon said.
The museum's hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and closed on all major holidays. It is located at 2405 Logistics Road in Jefferson City.
A placard on the exhibit thanks Jacob Porting, Zach Burkemper, Jordan Wright, Justin Frese, Shane Kleithermes, Kara Dudenhoeffer, Julia Ceglenski, Toni Prawl, museum curator Douglas Sheley and Machon for helping to make the exhibit possible.