- Associated Press - Sunday, January 15, 2017

NITRO, W.Va. (AP) - There are many flags in Nitro’s World War I Museum, but 92-year-old Clyde Mynes has a few favorites.

One is a small American flag he carried in Berlin during World War II. The other, now tattered and worn, was the first flag to fly over Nitro a century ago.

Nitro, which turns 100 years old this year, kicked off a year’s worth of centennial celebrations at the town’s World War I Museum on Thursday. Multiple state and local officials spoke at the event about Nitro’s history, and its plans for the future.

The city was created in less than a year to create and operate a gunpowder manufacturing complex during World War I. Military barracks were built for thousands employees to sleep in. About 19,000 employees worked in the factory at any given time. After the war multiple manufacturing companies began moving into the city.

Mynes, a Huntington native who moved to Nitro in 1955, is one of many veterans who live in the town. He remembers people throughout the area wanting to enlist, while he was too young to do so right after Pearl Harbor he did join the war effort later.

He now volunteers every Thursday at the museum. His schedule is the same - eating lunch at the old high school, then heading to the museum for a few hours in the afternoon. He brings in things his family has collected - from the flag he carried more than 80 years ago to old copies of military newspapers.

He said attendance at the museum isn’t as high as it should be. For him the war history featured in the museum isn’t history.

“It was our life,” he said

Nine percent of the town’s population are veterans, according to 2015 American Community Survey estimates.

Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt says the centennial is an opportunity to not only reflect on the last century, but also a chance to bring people into the town.

He said the town is using the central image of a World War I doughboy to remind people of the town’s history. All branding for the events and images throughout the town feature the drawing. Doughboys also have been placed at the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge.

“We want all citizens to know they are part of something,” Casebolt said. “That they belong and they can all unite under this belief and this rich war history we have.”

Casebolt said he hopes children in the area will remember the events planned throughout the year, including an all horse parade, and BoomTown Days celebration.

Casebolt said people have been coming up to him to talk to him about the plans the town has for the year. He said what makes Nitro unique are the people who are taking chances to get involved in any way that they can.

“On a daily basis people are coming to me asking what they can do to help. It’s the people that make it special,” Casebolt said.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.

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