TROY, N.Y. - When New York Army National Guard Soldiers of the 42nd Infantry "Rainbow" Division Headquarters report for their next drill training at the unit armory in Troy, N.Y., they'll be greeted by Soldiers of the unit's past, on prominent display on the drill floor.
The past Soldiers are mannequins in the division's new "Century of Service" historical exhibit, which opened September 8, 2017 as part of the annual reunion of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation (RDVF).
The exhibit commemorates the creation of the Rainbow Division in 1917 for service in WWI and includes a timeline of the unit's 100 years of service to state and nation.
Prominently featured are four vignettes of the most significant events in Rainbow Division history, with representation of Soldier uniforms and information about WWI, WWII, 9/11 and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The display was created as a partnership between the division headquarters, the New York State Military Museum and the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation. The effort was coordinated by retired Maj. Patrick Chaisson, an historian for the RDVF.
"We could simply not have completed this without the support of the Military Museum," Chaisson said. "They've been terrific in lending their support and expertise for the exhibit."
For example, Chaisson explained, the 9/11 display vignette includes artifacts from the New York State Museum collection of World Trade Center items, such as a vehicle door from an FDNY firetruck.
The goal of the centennial display is to provide a visual reminder to the latest generation of Rainbow Division Soldiers of their historic past.
"This is what the Rainbow Veterans Foundation is all about," said retired Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, RDVF chairman and former commander of the 42nd Infantry. "Preserving the legacy of the Rainbow Division, telling the story of this organization's tremendous history and passing that on to our newest Soldiers."
The foundation oversees and support Rainbow Division memorials and monuments worldwide, and the partnerships behind the display will add to the impact of telling the division's story to the next generation of 42nd Division Soldiers.
"This display ties the unit's past to the present," noted Capt. Alexandra Feliciano from the division intelligence section. "The Soldiers of the past paved the way for Soldiers of today. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed and will continue to impact Soldiers of today and tomorrow."