LAKEVIEW — Somewhere around the 23rd century, B.C., some military leader, whose name has long since been lost to antiquity, realized that many of his soldiers were not coming back from battle, owing in large part to head wounds.
If only there were some way to turn aside errant arrows and axes, he might have thought. And who knows, it may have been at this particular moment that a turtle crossed his path and the idea for the helmet was born.
Of course, we’ll never know the true story regarding the invention of the helmet, but according to historians, it is one of the oldest known articles of protective gear, the earliest samplings dating back to the 23rd century, B.C. Sumerians.
The Greeks of the 17th century, B.C. also implemented helmets, as did the Assyrians around 900, B.C.
It wasn’t until the late 1600s that the popularity of helmets faded, owing in large part to the invention of rifled firearms, against which the helmets of the time were virtually useless (not to mention pointless, since soldiers typically just aimed for their opponents’ torso).
Helmets made a comeback in modern times when artillery became accurate enough to cover long distances and rain death from above.
French military commanders in 1915 finally realized the same thing that that 23rd century, B.C. leader had: Head wounds were costing men. Helmets were back in fashion, with the British military quickly joining in.
The helmets recently displayed at a fundraising brat sale by members of the Lakeview Hough Pontius VFW Post No. 3701 don’t go back quite that far, but for aficionados of military gear, they’re interesting all the same.
According to VFW member Jim Wood, the helmets currently in the collection include British, current United States, German, French, and U.S. helmets from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. The display helps attract customers to the brat sales, which typically are held in front of Leppink’s Market on Lincoln Avenue.
“At the next sale a Russian helmet will be added,” Wood said. “Proceeds from the sale are divided equally between the VFW Home for Children, the VFW Cancer Fund and the local food pantry.”
Those who stop by the brat sale can “handle the merchandise” and try on the helmets, have pictures taken while wearing them and even see how the helmets are fitted to each individual.
So in addition to possibly saving lives, these helmets are also helping raise funds for some very worthy local causes.