Cantigny Park offered a number of fun activities for all ages during its annual “McCormick Day” to celebrate the 133rd birthday of Colonel Robert Rutherford McCormick.
“Every event in some regard goes back to Colonel McCormick, from the vintage children’s games he played in his youth, which kids could see before they had Nintendo, to the sheepherding on grounds and the bulldogs, all of these things relate to Colonel McCormick in his lifetime,” said Jeffery Anderson, Tour Director at Cantigny’s Robert R. McCormick Museum.
Born in the Windy City in 1880, he became an iconic publisher and editor of the Chicago Tribune, before joining the military.
During World War I, McCormick went onto to lead his troops to victory at the battle of Cantigny, a pivotal moment during the war.
“The Battle of Cantigny was significant cause it was a German controlled village, near Paris, France,” said Anderson. “And the U.S. forces under their own command were able to take this village and then defend it from seven German counter-attacks. It was the first counterattack they’d been apart of and was a major part of American Military History that showed we had the ability of accomplishing such a feat.”
Upon his death in 1955, McCormick left in his will a large trust to maintain his estate in Wheaton and open it up for the public’s enjoyment.
“He always honored the men who fought alongside him in battle, which is why he named his estate here in Wheaton, Cantingy, in honor of the village that he helped defend,” said Anderson.
Cantigny staff welcomed the public to the park free of charge for McCormick day, giving families a chance to explore history in a way they couldn’t in any books.
“To be outside and learning and to be more hands-on is a lot better,” said Sugar Grove resident Mary Podschweit.
“I didn’t realize there was so much to this place and so when we got here and got a chance to walk around and see the museum, it was really nice,” said Beth Ngo of Naperville. “I really appreciate it and the kids like coming here because of the tanks.”
Guests also took a self-guided tour through 24 of the 35 rooms inside the McCormick mansion, including the colonel’s bedroom, kitchen, and library.
“Here at the house, we try to recapture that time period,” said Will Buhlig, Assistant Director for the Robert R. McCormick Museum at Cantigny. “So indeed it is a step in time for the visitor into the 1930, 1940s, and 1950s.”
“The favorite thing I saw mostly was his mansion (and) the guns,” said Christian Ngo, Naperville resident.
Another highlight was singing “Happy Birthday” to the day’s honoree and even Mrs. McCormick herself cut the cake.
The park’s open to the public all year round. For more information or a look at upcoming events, visit www.cantigny.org.
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