BLOOMINGTON — A combination of local and military history will be shared at this year’s Evergreen Cemetery Walk, which begins Saturday and will continue Sunday and next weekend.

The educational event is a partnership between Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, the McLean County Museum of History and Illinois Voices Theatre Echoes.

“This year’s theme is a commemoration of the centennial of the U.S. entering World War I,” said Candace Summers, director of education for the museum.

Tickets are available for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. performances Saturday and Sunday and Oct. 7-8. Tickets can be purchased at the museum, the cemetery and Casey’s Garden Shop, all in Bloomington; and The Garlic Press in Normal.

Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for museum members and $5 for children and students. Adults can receive a $2 discount if tickets are purchased 24 hours in advance. Tickets at the gate will be limited. 

Each walk will last less than two hours. Some wheelchairs are available with advanced reservation from the museum.

“This walk will shed light on what local people were doing, how they were feeling and help connect people to what was going on in the nation and world at the time,” said Summers. “We also want people to remember why that war happened and hopefully we won’t repeat the same mistakes.”

During the walk, costumed actors will portray local individuals from the past who have a connection to World War I. Featured characters this year are Carl and Julia Vrooman, Julia Holder, Edward and Lincoln Bynum, Ethel Hamilton Hanson, Roland Read and Carolyn Schertz Geneva.

The Vroomans, best known for Bloomington’s Vrooman Mansion, were active in promoting victory gardens and feeding troops and starving Allied nations, said Summers. Carl Vrooman served as assistant secretary of agriculture for President Woodrow Wilson, and Julia Vrooman traveled overseas to entertain troops.

Geneva was a nurse during the war who was stationed in Great Britain to treat wounded soldiers. Summers said the character will speak about the dangers she faced as a nurse overseas.

The Bynum brothers were soldiers serving with a local African-American regiment and were sent overseas for combat. They will share stories about fighting for civil rights. 

A third soldier, Read, will share his journey after being rejected multiple times from serving, but eventually served in the French and Serbian armies during World War I.

Another individual, Holder, was involved in local and international relief efforts as she worked for the Red Cross War Fund.

The final character, Hanson, was organizer of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense in McLean County.

For more information about the Cemetery Walk, visit www.mchistory.org.

Follow Julia Evelsizer on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer

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