• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

A Cinematic Salute - America Goes to War

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Date: January 22, 2013
Contact: Shera Cohen, (413) 734-8551

SPRINGFIELD, MA - For well over the past century perhaps the single best and most common way to depict wars in the history of the United States has been through film. "A Cinematic Salute - America Goes to War" is scheduled on the second Wednesday of every other month beginning February 13, 2013. Feature films and documentaries will be presented in the Armory Museum theatre at 7pm and are free of charge.

Because of its own history and importance to the United States, Springfield Armory National Historic Site chose to launch this film series. A Park Ranger will introduce each film and its connection to Armory manufacturing history. Throughout the series, guest speakers will contribute unique perspectives on the films.

The series will provide an educational and entertaining means to view history through motion pictures. According to Superintendent James Woolsey, "These WWI, WWII, and Korean War films have been carefully selected to represent the background, personalities, and weapons of significant wars in which our country has participated."

As would be expected from any movie and in the case of this series - war movies - not all facts are presented accurately. These motion pictures and documentaries will allow staff to educate the public about what is true about Armory firearms in each of the films.

February 13: The Negro Soldier kicks off the series with a tribute to Black History Month. Opening remarks are by Anthony Guillory, an Assistant Professor of History at Springfield Technical Community College. Learn about the experiences and important contributions of African-American soldiers who fought in WWII. The snow date for "The Negro Soldier" will be the following evening, Thursday, February 14th at 7pm.

April 10: The movie classic Pork Chop Hill depicts the Korean War in 1953. Opening remarks are by movie critic Sy Becker of WWLP TV. The film shows the struggle to hold a position under almost suicidal conditions while peace talks take place on the other side of the world.This true to history film stars Gregory Peck, and correctly portrays Springfield Armory weapons.

June 12:The Emmy Award winning documentary television series Victory at Sea presents naval warfare during WWII. Opening remarks will be given by film author Mike Dobbs, editor of Reminder Publications. The 26-episodes, originally broadcast by NBC in 1952-1953, represent a time when the war was still fresh on people's minds. Unique and distinct film production and composer Richard Rogers' magnificent score made Victory at Sea a benchmark documentary.

Three episodes of 30-minutes each will be featured depicting Springfield Armory's weapons in the hands of US soldiers. First, episode 6 titled Guadalcanal features US Marine training in Australia and New Zealand as they prepare to land at Guadalcanal. Then, episode 15 titled D-Day details the Allied invasion of Normandy from preparation to execution. Finally, episode 20 titled Return of the Allies shows the 1954 liberation of the Philippines Islands by the US Army as they fought their way to Manila.

August 14: Next is the feature film Gung Ho, based on the actual Makin Island attack by US Marine Raiders and starring Randolph Scott. The movie is an excellent depiction of Springfield Armory M-1 rifles and is significant in its portrayal of US Marine action that exposed Japanese vulnerability.

October 9: Shifting back to documentaries will be The Battle of San Pietro, considered to be a landmark film on WWII. Made in 1945 by John Huston and Frank Capra, it is the true story of the capture of the Italian village San Pietro. The film presents the visceral realities of small unit fighting with no insulation. US soldiers are featured throughout dependent on their M-1 rifles. Capping the evening on thisdouble bill will be the episode War Comes to America of the Frank Capra - directed series Why We Fight.

December 11: Completing "A Cinematic Salute - America Goes to War" will be "The Fighting 69th," made in 1940. Jimmy Cagney, Pat O'Brien, and George Brent portray members of this largely Irish American regiment of the First World War. The script includes actual exploits of soldiers donned with Springfield Model 1903 rifles on their shoulders. The film describes Jerry Plunkett, played by Cagney, and his struggle to fit into the unit. Most of the stars in the movie portray men who were real soldiers at the time. In addition, many of the events and battles, such as Chantilly, actually occurred during WWI.

No reservations are required and the theatre seats 50. The site is wheelchair accessible, and there is ample free parking. For information call 413-734-8551 or check the website at www.nps.gov/spar.

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site is the location of the nation's first armory (1794 - 1968) and was established by George Washington. The site includes historic grounds, buildings, and the world's largest historic American military firearms collection. The park is open daily from 9am - 5pm. There is ample parking and the building is wheelchair accessible. For further information and weather cancelation call 413-734-8551 or check the website at www.nps.gov/spar or go to our www.facebook.com/sparnhs.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Workers at Springfield Armory

Springfield Armory functioned in tandem with its sister armory in Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, providing arms for the nation from 1795 until Harpers Ferry Armory was burned down during the Civil War. Today, both sites are units of the National Park Service. More...