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World War I Centennial News


 

Essex Resident on World War I Commission

By Rita Christopher
via Shore Publishing

There are people who argue that the 20th century in the United States really began nearly two decades after its formal start. That date is April 6, 1917. It’s not because our calendars were defective, but because on April 6, 1917, America entered World War I fighting on the side of France and the United Kingdom against the forces allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary.

TJack Monahan 400Jack Monahan of Essex one of 12 members of the United States World War One Centennial Commission. (Photo courtesy of Jack Monahan ) he United States joined the conflict as a nation with limited experience on the world stage. It emerged as a major international power.

“It changed America’s role in the world,” said Jack Monahan of Essex, one of 12 members of the United States World War One Centennial Commission, charged with making sure Americans don’t forget the struggle.

The commission, Monahan explained, has a mandate to memorialize the war, honor those who fought in it and educate the wider public about the American role in the conflict. The group organized a major commemoration on the anniversary in Kansas City featuring a video narrated by actor Gary Sinise, along with music, poetry, and readings all designed to mark America’s entry into the war. The event included flyovers from a B-2 stealth bomber and a French aviation group, trailing red, white, and blue plumes to signify both the French and American flags.

The celebrations were held in Kansas City because there is an existing World War I memorial in that city, but part of the commission’s mandate is to help raise funds for a World War I memorial in Washington, D.C. The monument will be located in Pershing Park, named for General John Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces.

Monahan, a retired U.S. Army officer, pointed out that there are monuments in Washington D.C., to the other major struggles in which the United States has participated in the 20th century: World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam, but no memorial structure to World War I. The commission is also charged with raising funds to renovate some 100 World War I memorials throughout the country.

World War I, Monahan said, is the least-known, the most overlooked of 20th-century conflicts, yet he maintained that much of what characterized that century grew from the war. The draft brought people who had come to this country in the great years of immigration at the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century together for the first time. Monahan pointed out that the famous 42nd Infantry Division known as the Rainbow Division had National Guard units from more than 26 states.

“In that sense, it made modern America,” Monahan said.

Read more: Essex Resident on World War I Commission

Telling the Untold Stories of World War I Soldiers, Sailors and Marines at Suresnes American Cemetery

PARIS, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – Students from the American School of Paris (ASP) clustered around headstones at Suresnes American Cemetery last week with pens and notebooks in hand, forming research questions about the Americans honored there. Three teenage girls sat on the grass near one headstone, working together to think through some of the questions. Amelie, one of the students, asked: “Why did he become a soldier?” “Did he have a diary during the war?” “Why is he buried in France?” But this visit wasn’t just a one-day field trip to the American World War I cemetery outside of Paris, rather it served as the starting point for an entirely new student project.

BT1 6673Students from the American School of Paris discuss a new project while visiting Suresnes American Cemetery. (Photo credit: Thomas Neville/American School of Paris.)Gathered with his students on the cemetery grounds that day, their teacher, Thomas Neville, announced the classes’ new assignment—the Monuments Project. With more than 35,000 Americans buried or memorialized overseas from World War I, there are thousands of untold stories, and the students learned they would be uncovering some of these unknown, personal histories. “This is very valuable because this soldier never lived on to tell his story, and should have the chance to be known, since he did a great service to his country,” said Katie, one of the students, in reflecting after the visit.

Through a connection with an American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) staff member in the Paris area, Neville and ABMC began working through this project idea in the fall of 2016. “Very little is known about a lot of the people buried at Suresnes,” said Neville. “That’s a perfect problem statement to begin with. That’s an authentic experience for the students.” And as the idea evolved, Neville found a trans-Atlantic connection to expand the effort and bring on a partner school that had done a similar project in the past.

Anthony Rovente, a social studies teacher with Lopez Island Middle High School (LIMHS), teaches in a school on an island off the coast of Washington state. Accessible only by ferry, Rovente is constantly trying to use technology in his classroom to bridge this geographic gap. Last year, one of his classes embarked on ProjectWA, an effort that focused on lesser known aspects of Washington state history delivered via a smartphone app. When Neville began researching for this new project with the cemetery, he came across a story about Rovente and ProjectWAProjectWA. Because Neville and Rovente both loved the concept of connecting history with place, teaming their classes up together to tackle the stories at Suresnes American Cemetery seemed like a perfect fit.

Read more: Telling the Untold Stories of World War I Soldiers, Sailors and Marines at Suresnes American...

At a hefty cost, WWI made the U.S. a major military power

By Greg Myre
via National Public Radio

World War I sometimes seems like the war America forgot.

The U.S. entered the fight a century ago, on April 6, 1917, nearly three years after it erupted in Europe during the summer of 1914. The Americans made quite a splash, turning a stalemate in favor of their British and French allies.

Pershing at ArlingtonGen. John "Black Jack" Pershing visits Arlington National Cemetery in 1925. Pershing led the U.S. forces in World War I, the moment when the American military first displayed its might in a major foreign war. The U.S. military suffered heavy losses, but it also expanded dramatically, modernized and became more professional under Pershing's command. The cost was hefty, with the U.S. losing 116,000 troops in a war that claimed some 9 million lives. Yet it also marked the coming of age of the American military, which transformed itself overnight from a small army engaged in regional battles into a major powerhouse — a role it maintains to this day.

Still, World War I has been overshadowed by other American wars. It tends to be glossed over in schools, and this centennial has been muted compared to a pair of recent milestones: the 75th anniversary of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack that launched the U.S. into World War II, and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which lasted from 1861 to 1865.

"The Civil War and the Second World War get a lot more attention from Americans," said Christopher Capozzola, who teaches history at MIT and has written extensively about World War I. "But I think if you step back, especially a century later, and look at the First World War, it touched nearly every aspect of American life, public and private, and every community in the country, in ways that are a little less visible but maybe just as important."

Prior to World War I, the U.S. fought a few limited skirmishes abroad, in places such as Mexico, Cuba and the Philippines. The U.S. had neither the inclination nor the military might to wage a major war in Europe, and the Americans initially sat on the sidelines under the banner of "armed neutrality."

President Woodrow Wilson won re-election in 1916 with the slogan "He kept us out of war."

But when German submarines launched a new round of attacks on civilian vessels in early 1917, including American ships, the American mood changed. With a sense of resignation, Wilson called for war — and Congress backed him.

"Armed neutrality, it now appears, is impracticable," Wilson told Congress.

But as historian Libby O'Connell noted, the American military was less than awe-inspiring.

"We had a tiny military. We had just a 130,000 troops before we declared war," said O'Connell, a commissioner on the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, set up by Congress to mark the anniversary.

Read more: World War I Made The U.S. A Major Military Power

National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC

In D.C., WWI wall's crafters face hurdles

By Frank E. Lockwood
via Arkansas Online

WASHINGTON -- The new national World War I memorial won't be finished in time for the centennial of the armistice that ended the conflict, officials said last week.

The memorial won't be as sweeping as originally envisioned, either, but the simpler design may cost less money and encounter less opposition, they added.

Edwin FountainEdwin FountainFayetteville native Joseph Weishaar was selected as the designer after winning an international competition. Phoebe Lickwar, a professor at the University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture, is the project's landscape architect. Sabin Howard, a New York City sculptor, will create the 65-foot-long bronze wall that will be a focal point of the project.

Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, said the goal is to break ground by Nov. 11, 2018, exactly 100 years after the fighting stopped.

But there are still hoops to jump through -- and millions of dollars to raise -- before construction can begin.

"This design has to be approved by four different agencies: three federal and one for the District of Columbia. And it has to go through a public historic preservation review process, and that, frankly, was something that we did not anticipate when we started this," Fountain said.

Originally, officials had hoped to complete the project in time for the anniversary.

The United States entered the war in April 1917, enabling England, France and their allies to defeat the nations aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Millions of people died in the conflict, including 116,516 Americans.

Read more: WWI wall's crafters face hurdles; Arkansas native’s design scaled back

McNair Middle SchoolStudents of McNair Middle School in Fayetteville Arkansas.

Fayetteville, Arkansas middle school gives assist to national WWI Memorial

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The students of McNair Middle School have been helping the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission through our new Poppy Program, selling poppy seed packets to raise money for our new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC.

The poppy sale was part of a special 'doughnut day', to mark the April 6th centennial of the U.S. joining the war. The students successfully raised an amazing $404.83.

The poppy flower is a remembrance symbol of all veterans, and stems from the poem, "In Flanders Field", which was written during World War I by a Canadian medical officer named Lt Colonel John McCrae.

McNair Middle School is very proud of former student, Joseph Weishaar, who was selected to be the designer for the new memorial.

 

 

This participation in the war had huge impact on the USCG afterward. Tell us about how things changed, and what was to come with their role in WWII and beyond.


Flanders House in NYC to host commemoration May 19

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Preparations for NYC "In Flanders Fields" event in 2016.Preparations for NYC "In Flanders Fields" event in 2016.
The Flanders House in NYC will host a World War I commemoration event in May.

Their Annual "In Flanders Fields" Memorial will take place on Friday, May 19th at 11:45 AM at De Witt Clinton Park in NYC. In attendance from the government of Flanders will be Hon. Jan Peumans, President of the Flemish Parliament, and Hon. Rik Daems, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The Flanders government is proud of their history and of their longstanding partnership with the American people. They have a number of activities underway for this centennial period to tell that story, to include support for historical exhibits, cultural events, both across the United States and in Europe. Details for the May 19th event, and for other programs can be found here: http://www.flandershouse.org/in-flanders-fields

In advance of the NYC event, at noon on April 30, 2017, in Washington DC's Pershing Park, the 3rd annual ceremony to commemorate Lt. Col. John McCrae’s timeless poem “In Flanders Fields” and support veterans and their families will be presented by the "In Flanders Fields" Fund, a non-profit organization created at the centennial of the poem. The Fund hopes to keep the poem's message alive through education and inclusion, while delivering on its directive to continue making the world a better place.

Proceedings will begin at noon with a ceremonial remembrance and will conclude by 1:00 p.m. with a recitation of the poem. For more information, visit inflandersfields.org

 

This participation in the war had huge impact on the USCG afterward. Tell us about how things changed, and what was to come with their role in WWII and beyond.

World War I and the Navy

U-boat threat leads to game-changing innovations

By Rear Admiral Sam Cox, USN (Ret.)
Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
via Military Times

“We are ready now, sir” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Taussig, division commander for the first six U.S. destroyers to arrive in Europe (in Queenstown, now Cobh, Ireland) 100 years ago on May 4, 1917, in response to a question from the local British commander on when the U.S. destroyers could commence operations against German U-boats.

TaussigAmerican destroyer squadron commander LCDR Joseph Taussig steps off the USS Wadsworth upon the squadron's arrival in Queenstown, Ireland in 1917.It's not exactly what Taussig said, although the gist was correct, but it's what the British press reported. The “quote” became the most famous U.S. Navy rallying cry of the war. It was also a huge boost to British morale at a time when U-boats were sinking British merchant ships at a rate that gravely threatened the entire Allied war effort and Britain’s very survival.

In many respects, however, the U.S. Navy (and the U.S. Army, too) were far from being ready to go to war. The U.S. had tried very hard to stay out of the First World War and the horrific carnage of millions of futile deaths that characterized the war.

The British naval blockade of Germany, which disrupted U.S. trade to Europe, angered the U.S. almost as much as German actions. Even the sinking of the liner SS Lusitania by a German U-boat in 1915, and the loss of 128 of the 139 American civilians on board, was not enough to overcome intense opposition in the U.S. to going to war.

Only belatedly did President Woodrow Wilson and Congress authorize serious preparations and a massive naval buildup (the Naval Act of 1916), but none of those new ships would be ready by the time the U.S. declared war on April 6, 1917, resulting from the German’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare that February.

World War I would profoundly change the U.S. Navy, and naval warfare, ever after. The rapid building program created the second-largest navy in the world. Two U.S. technological innovations early in the war, underway refueling and reliable radio-telephones, were significant in defeating the U-boat threat and revolutionized naval warfare.

Read more: The U-boat threat leads to game-changing innovations

Four Questions for Dr. Peter Jakab, National Air and Space Museum

"Each soldier had an individual story to tell."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The people at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC have been very busy telling the story of World War I. They have created no fewer than five new exhibitions that opened this month. One that we are very excited about is "ARTIST SOLDIERS" at the National Air & Space Museum. This exhibition shows artwork from the "Great Eight" combat artists who served with the American Expeditionary Force. It also showcases photos of remarkable underground artwork & carved graffiti that common soldiers from World War I left behind, while waiting out bombardments in caves and mines. The Smithsonian Air & Space curatorial team have just recently finished the new on-line version of the exhibition. https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/artist-soldiers We had the great honor to meet and talk to Dr. Peter Jakab, Ph.D. who is the Chief Curator of the National Air and Space Museum. He took particular interest in creating this exhibition, and took some time to tell us about it.

The new online version of your WWI exhibition, Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War, is now up. What will we find there?

Peter JakabDr. Peter Jakab, Chief Curator of the National Air and Space Museum.The exhibition features never-before-seen material. The first part of the exhibition displays 54 works of art from the AEF Art Program. Eight professional illustrators were commissioned as officers in the American Expeditionary Forces and went to France in 1918 with the American troops. Their mission was to capture the experiences of American soldiers in a realistic, in-the-moment way. They were the first true combat artists. They produced approximately 700 paintings, drawings, and sketches. They were on display as part of a Great War exhibition in the 1920s, but other than one or two shown with other material over the years, they have not been exhibited as a collection in living memory.

The second half of the exhibition displays 29 art photographs of stone carvings left by soldiers in underground shelters that were adjacent to the trenches. These shelters were occupied by solders on all sides and are largely unknown even to WWI historians because they remain on private lands in hard to access places. The carvings range from simple inscriptions to elaborate works of art to religious alters carved in the walls. The photographs of the carvings are on display for the first time. In addition to the artwork, the exhibition also displays examples of “trench art” made by soldiers and other artifacts associated with the WWI soldiers’ experience.

Read more: Four Questions for Dr. Peter Jakab

TampaCrewmen webCrewmen from the USCGC Tampa, a Miami-Class cutter that initially served in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, followed by service in the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. USCGC Tampa was sunk in combat during World War I, with the highest American combat casualty loss in the war.

U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I, both here at home, and overseas. To help tell that story, the Coast Guard has created a remarkable new web page, full of stories, photos, and other resources. To tell us about the web page, we caught up with the Coast Guard's Chief Historian, Scott Price.

The USCG just went live with their new web page for World War I. Tell us about it -- what is the link? What will we see there?

We've recently created a new index page that will highlight our service's history during World War I. It will also include downloadable products as they are created, including illustrated fact sheets, articles, and hopefully soon, some infographics. The URL for the page is https://www.uscg.mil/history/ops/wars/WWI/WWI-Index.asp

The USCG played a very important role in WWI, and was in the thick of the U.S. wartime activity. Tell us what they did, and what they achieved.

scott priceU.S. Coast Guard Chief Historian Scott PriceThe Coast Guard in its modern iteration had only been formed in 1915, so this “new” organization had barely had time to come to grips with itself before being thrust into the chaos of a World War. What had happened was that in 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the Life-Saving Service to form the Coast Guard. The Revenue Cutter Service, formed originally in 1790, was a sea-going service that had seen action in most of the country’s wars but the members of the Life-Saving Service, who manned hundreds of small surfboat stations around the nation’s coasts, had not. Yet they now belonged to this new Coast Guard, and the attempts to merge the two previously separate organizations had to take a back seat to fulfilling the Coast Guard’s new wartime role in supporting the Navy.

The legislation creating the Coast Guard specifically stated that the Coast Guard was one of the armed forces of the United States and in times of war it would fall under the Navy Department, as during peacetime it was actually under the Treasury Department. The Coast Guard had taken its national defense responsibility seriously and had worked closely with the Navy in developing its mobilization plans and it was ready for the move to the Navy on 6 April 1917.

Cutters were assigned to the local naval districts and reported for duty that very day war was declared. A number of cutters would be assigned to duty overseas and they formed one squadron that they Navy sent overseas to serve as convoy escorts between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. Our port security responsibilities as we know them today come directly from our service in World War I, particularly after the terrible explosion in Halifax. Officers commanded Navy ships and airstations, attacked U-boats and took significant losses. In fact, our memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, is dedicated to the CGC Tampa which was lost with all hands off Wales along with the lost members of a rescue team off the cutter Seneca. Much of our history during the war is located and highlighted on our website and I would encourage anyone interested in our history to check it out.

Read more: U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I

World War I 102nd Field Artillery Lawrence MAThe World War I 102nd Field Artillery from Lawrence, MA. Some 200 service members from Lawrence died in WWI.

Lawrence, MA honors its WWI casualties in Europe

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

At least 200 people from the small city of Lawrence MA died in World War I – the exact number is not known – and 352 died in World War II. As many as 19,000 men and women from the city may have fought in the two wars. Next month, City Councilor Marc Laplante from Lawrence will fly to France for an eight-day trip through five ABMC cemeteries in France and Luxembourg where 45 of the Lawrencians killed in the two wars are buried. At each of the graves and memorials, Laplante will plant the city of Lawrence's blue and white flag. The city's local newspaper helped raised about $1500 to purchase the city flags and the four wreaths to lay at the walls of the missing. He will also bring a resolution from the city of Lawrence, and resolutions from the Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Governor, and the U.S. Congresswoman representing Lawrence, MA. At the request of the ABMC, Laplante said he also will leave copies of newspaper obituaries and other records about the 51 service members. He'll also leave resolutions the Lawrence City Council is expected to pass on Tuesday commemorating the service members and recognizing the work of the agency, the American Battle Monuments Commission. We talked with Council Member LaPlante about this important effort to honor those veterans.

You have a special Europe trip planned. Tell us about it -- how did the trip come about? What do you hope to see & do?

Marc LaplanteThe trip came about after a conversation with a WW1 buff who visited Europe several times and recommended a book to me about a Lawrence, MA company that fought in the Great War. It intrigued me that when these boys returned home from a brutal war they became the city officials and business leaders whose shoulders I stand on today as a city councilor.

That conversation and book sparked my interested in visiting France. Then using my capacity as a elected official, and with the help of Congresswoman Nicki Tsongas' office, I started making plans to visit France and to acknowledge and pay official tribute to the boys from my city who are buried in the ABMC cemeteries.

Also, being from French/Canadian ancestry and learning about my ancestors migration from France to the United States via Canada, I decided to include my wife and school aged children on the trip so that we can all learn more about our origins and the sacrifices made during the world wars that protected our liberties and freedoms.

A big part of the trip will include visiting five ABMC cemeteries and placing a City of Lawrence flag on the grave sites of each of the 46 WW1 and WW2 soldiers/sailors buried in France and Luxembourg, and remembering those 6 Lawrence soldiers whose names are listed on the Walls of the Missing. I will also present a city resolution to the director and the staff at each cemetery thanking them for their service as the caretakers of these graves. For each day prior to the trip, I prepare and post on Facebook a short bio about a Lawrence soldier/sailor that I will recognize during my time in France. During these 52 days, through the research and photos, it's almost as though my trip has already begun.

Read more: Lawrence, MA honors its WWI casualties in Europe


"In Flanders Fields" ceremony April 30 at Pershing Park in Washington, DC

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

At noon on April 30, 2017, in Washington DC's Pershing Park, there will be a ceremony to commemorate Lt. Col. John McCrae’s timeless poem “In Flanders Fields” and support veterans and their families.

Flanders Field McCrae 500This 3rd Annual event will be sponsored by the "In Flanders Fields" Fund, a non-profit organization created at the centennial of the poem. The Fund hopes to keep the poem's message alive through education and inclusion, while delivering on its directive to continue making the world a better place.

McCrae’s poem immortalized the fear and mystery of a life lived in the face of destruction. His clarion call to carry on in the face of all odds has inspired generations to don a poppy pin, a powerful metaphor for the persistence and beauty of life, in memory of the lost.

In support of the soldiers who continue to defend our great country, commemoration of “In Flanders Fields”, and remembrance of all lives lost in World War One, the public is invited to the future site of the National World War I Memorial on April 30, 2017. Proceedings will begin at noon with a ceremonial remembrance and will conclude by 1:00 p.m. with a recitation of the poem. For more information, visit inflandersfields.org

This participation in the war had huge impact on the USCG afterward. Tell us about how things changed, and what was to come with their role in WWII and beyond.

 Flags at LA ColiseumThe World War I Centennial Commission Flag and the American flag flanking the Olympic Cauldron at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the Centennial Ceremony on April 6, 2017.

Veterans speak at Coliseum WWI LA Coliseum event on April 6

By Catherine Yang
Via The Daily Trojan

Beneath the soaring main arch of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a ceremony commemorating the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I took place on Thursday, 100 years after the April 6, 1917 congressional declaration of war.

The event was free and open to the public and organized by the California World War I Centennial Task Force, a volunteer-led effort of scholars, historians and citizens dedicated to celebrating the Forgotten Generation of World War I.

“The United States World War I Centennial Commission was created by an act of Congress in 2013 to honor and commemorate our involvement in World War I,” California World War I Centennial Task Force co-director and amateur historian Courtland Jindra said. “Finally, near the end of 2016, we decided to create a completely grassroots organization in the hope that the state would give us their blessing once they saw we were forging ahead. And thus, the Centennial Task Force was formed.”

The Coliseum served as a fitting site, as it was originally constructed as a World War I memorial and rededicated in 1968 to all 4.7 million Americans who served in the war.

Read more: Veterans speak at Coliseum WWI LA Coliseum event

AP photoThe sun rises over the nation's official WWI monument, Liberty Memorial, in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, April 6, 2017. Foreign dignitaries from around the world are converging on Kansas City and its towering World War I monument to observe the 100th anniversary of the day the U.S. entered "The Great War." (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Thousands Pause for Global WWI Centennial Observance

By Jim Suhr
Via The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Awed by an eight-plane flyover that left the sky streaked with plumes of red, white and blue contrails, thousands paused Thursday in the shadow of the nation's official World War I monument in remembrance of the day a century ago that the U.S. entered the fight.

Melding equal measures of homage to American sacrifice with patriotism, the commemoration — "In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace" — amounted to a multimedia time warp to April 6, 1917, when America begrudgingly joined the global conflict that President Woodrow Wilson had sought to avoid through neutrality.

With winds fluttering flags amid temperatures in the upper 40s, a few thousand ticketholders and dozens of foreign ambassadors watched a color guard clad as WWI-era "Doughboys" present the colors. Short films — one narrated by Kevin Costner, another by Gary Sinise — displayed on twin screens 25 feet tall offered documentary-style flashbacks. Ragtime music, military pomp and recitations of writings of the period filled voids between speeches, many of them by politicians.

Many who publicly spoke offered a nod to American sacrifice: By the time U.S. troops helped vanquish Germany and the conflict ended in 1918, more than 9 million people were lost to combat, some 116,000 of them Americans killed in what turned out to be a transformational war. A conflict initially fought by horseback and in dank, muddy trenches gave way to carnage by armored vehicles, air combat and German use of mustard gas.

"America entered the war to bring liberty, democracy and peace to the world after almost three years of unprecedented hardship, strife and horror," retired Army Col. Robert Dalessandro, chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission behind the commemoration, told the crowd. "We still live in the long shadow of World War I in every aspect of our lives."

Read more: Thousands Pause for Global WWI Centennial Observance

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