Fort Riley’s Soldier and Family Readiness Group hosted a Hands-on-History event as part of a Family Wellness event for the Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion on Mar. 3, 2021, in Fort Riley, Kan.
This event was co-hosted with the curators of the Fort Riley Museum to create a hands-on experience. Articles of period-correct uniforms, equipment, and weapons were brought in to further immerse attendees of the event in the history of the Army and the 1st Infantry Division’s early beginnings.
A hands-on experience like this event naturally comes with complications when conducted in a COVID environment. Keeping the attendees’ safety in mind, COVID-19 mitigation measures were implemented to reduce the chance of transmission of the virus.
“Bringing people together is critical, but people think the better answer during a situation like this is to not have any events at all,” said Lt. Col. John Brock, the battalion commander of HHBn. “The right answer is to do the events but plan accordingly in regards to safety and follow the parameters set.”
Although safety was a focus, Family Wellness and creating human connections through the history of the Army was the main goal to be achieved in this event.
“When we focus on Family Wellness, we are bringing the community together,” said Brock. “We’re expanding the influence of our interactions with people in a safe and meaningful way.”
Soldiers and Families were randomly chosen from the crowd to represent a specific time in the Army through the items that were brought in. The museum curator gave a brief history lesson and trivia about each item being worn.
“I think it helps give Soldiers a lot of pride knowing the legacy and the traditions that come with wearing this patch,” said Spc. Sage Martin, an intelligence analyst, attached to HHBn. “This event just helped reinforced those feelings in the 1st Infantry Division and reminded me of the impacts that we have made through multiple wars and the heroism we displayed.”
When members can understand the lineage of the organization they belong to, it gives them a sense of purpose, identity, and a willingness to make sacrifices for a given cause.
“The 1st Infantry Division is the oldest division in the United States Army,” said Brock. “We have the richest and deepest history, it only makes sense to highlight and showcase that history for Soldiers and Families to foster that sense of pride. It is that sense of pride that can ground them and create cohesion to the unit.”
As the 1st Infantry Division continues to move forward through another year in a COVID-19 environment, HHBn will continue to host SFRG events where Soldiers and Families can turn to each other and their organization to gather safely and build on Family Wellness.