WWI speaker Vince Cockriel holding a framed “Meritorious Services Citation Certificate,” the equivalent of a “Purple Heart” at the time. Photo by James Lohmeier
WWI speaker Vince Cockriel holding a framed “Meritorious Services Citation Certificate,” the equivalent of a “Purple Heart” at the time. Photo by James Lohmeier

Submitted by James and Cindy Stigler

WOODVILLE, WI – On Thursday, May 16, as part of the Woodville Syttende Mai Celebration, the Woodville Community Library and Woodville Historical Society had an interesting speaker on World War I (WWI), Vince Cockriel, at the Woodville Community Hall.  This informative historical presentation lasted for a little over an hour.  Afterward, questions were numerous and interesting, going into the logistics of the war and into the way the African Americans were treated.

Vince Cockriel is the owner of the Cannon Falls Military History Museum.  The museum has the largest personal collection of WWI memorabilia in Minnesota.  This free museum also has many items from the Spanish American war, the Philippine Insurrection, and Mexican Border War.

The Cockriel’s speech started with him focusing on the Wisconsin and St. Croix County's effects of the war, specifically stating that the deaths from the influenza pandemic actually took more lives than battle casualties.  He spoke in front of a table where two American uniforms were displayed, along with a “Meritorious Services Citation Certificate” and other items.   He talked about how Wisconsin supported the war effort by being one of the largest contributors of war bonds.  It's especially important to note that Wisconsin was against entering the war, but after war was declared, we wholeheartedly backed President Wilson with approximately $145 per person in war bond purchases.

Additional information regarding this speaker, details of WWI, and other information can be found at the Woodville Historical Society on the Main Street in Woodville, open every second Saturday of the month and is free to the public.