Those who serve in war have a tendency to not talk much about that experience.
If they do, it is typically much later in life.
That was the case with Kenneth S. McKay.
McKay, a World War I veteran, was born and raised in Kintire Township, Redwood County and attended Delhi school. He was born Nov. 20, 1894 and served his country as a member of Company L, the Redwood Falls National Guard Unit.
The story of McKay may have never been told if it were not for the fact that some of his things were given to Philip and Janean McKay. They had gotten to know Kenneth McKay and his wife Roberta (Rogers) McKay while they are all living in the Morris area.
Among the things given to Philip and Janean was a collection of items from his time in the service of his country. Janean held on to those items, which included a number of photographs, as well as a diary he kept that told the story of his experience in basic training.
Janean recently talked about the items with her children, and it was agreed the best place for those items was not with the family, and so Janean recently donated them to the Redwood County Historical Society.
“We thought the best place for them was in a museum,” said Janean.
Janean added in the items they received was that diary McKay kept, which included a day by day account of his time preparing for and being involved in the war.
The diary itself was actually given to Kenneth McKay’s children, but Janean took the time to transcribe what was written in it, and as part of the donation she has included a copy of that account.
Janean said Kenneth and Roberta, although distant cousins to Philip, acted more like grandparents to their children, and she said they were very wonderful people.
McKay spent time in New Mexico where he received training, and in June 1918 he boarded an English trading vessel to cross the Atlantic Ocean. His diary accounts life on the ship, including getting seasick. There are also accounts of the day he was injured by a piece of shrapnel.
Janean added Kenneth had emphysema, which she said he attributed to gas he was exposed to during his time as part of the war in Europe.
After returning to the United States Kenneth McKay lived in Morris where he served for a number of years as the Stevens County treasurer. He passed away in April 1978 and is buried in the Redwood Falls Cemetery.
The items from the McKay collection will be on display at the Redwood County museum in the future.
A World War I exhibit is currently on display at the local museum.