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Historical society goes ‘Off to War’

The Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society invites the public to stop by the Phillips-Dawson House and explore a collection of wartime artifacts going back to the Revolutionary War.

The new “Off to War” exhibit opened last week with more than 200 historical pieces, either from the historical society’s collection or on loan from local history buffs like Kermit Hobbs. These artifacts cover conflicts like the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, World War I and World War II.

“We started going through things in the attic and in our boxes. Then we just started finding things,” Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society Executive Director Kimberly Blair Greene said. “We brought them out, did a little research on them and had some help to get them in the right place.”

A member of the historical society identified an artillery belt from the Spanish-American War, Greene said. Uniforms are displayed, including those from World War I, along with a gas mask and helmet worn in battle by Sgt. Marshall E. Askew.

“It was weird touching something that you know someone wore in battle,” Greene said.

A Japanese “Hokobukuro” battle flag that was picked up in June 1945 is displayed prominently. Authentic gear ranges from clothing to sidearms and swords. Newspaper clippings and other documentation reveal names from Virginia that served, along with details of their triumphs and tribulations.

Greene said this is the first such exhibit ever hosted by the historical society.

“I wanted to honor the people who served, give them recognition and give their families a chance to have remembrance,” she said.

The exhibit will last through March and is free and open to the public at the Phillips-Dawson House, 137 Bank St. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Visit suffolkhistory.org or call 539-2781 for more information.