BONHAM — The Sam Rayburn House in Bonham was built in 1917 and the family moved in to the home just in time to spend Christmas at the Texas Highway 56 estate.
This year, the Sam Rayburn House State Historic Site Museum will honor the centennial anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I by presenting information to site patrons about what a World War I Christmas was like at the house.
“We will also have World War I artifacts on display from the Fannin County Museum,” Sam Rayburn House State Historic Museum Curator Anne Ruppert said. “They were nice enough to loan us the items to help tell the story of World War I here at the site.”
The site’s open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 890 W. State Highway 56 in Bonham.
“The Rayburns had only been living in their newly built home outside of Bonham for a year when the U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917,” a news release from the site said. “As a Congressman in his third term in Washington, Sam Rayburn was part of that historic vote that brought U.S. military forces into the fray. It was not an easy vote for the future Speaker of the House. Rayburn became physically ill during the debate. At one point he worried that he would have to leave the House chambers to vomit.”
When Rayburn returned to the chambers, he voted to enter the war.
As time went on, the release said, Rayburn saw other congressmen enlisting, and instead of joining the fight, Rayburn decided to stand for the soldiers in Congress.
Christmas that year was less bountiful than it had been in previous times. Wartime holiday meals would have been low on meat, wheat and sugar.
A World War I Christmas, Ruppert said describing the event in 2017, was about sacrifices.
“We also make sacrifices today,” she said. “They may not be as great as the ones that they made then, but a common thing from then to now is that we want to make sacrifices for the greater good. What we can learn from the past is perspective. That will help us remember.”
The Saturday event at Sam Rayburn House includes themed house tours, crafts for children and refreshments.
“This year is very similar to last year,” Ruppert said. “This is a continuation of our celebration of the end of World War I. We want to highlight Mr. Sam’s involvement in the war and how the food and other items would have been rationed during that time and farm would have provided a way for food.”
For more information on the Sam Rayburn House and about Rayburn’s life, visit http://www.visitsamrayburnhouse.com.