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Has the US forgotten about World War One?

By Jane O'Brien
via the BBC News web site

There are no World War I veterans left alive in the US, but a century after the conflict that reshaped the world, ground has broken on a new monument in Washington, DC, to the 4.5 million Americans who served.

The US entered the war in 1917 - almost three years after European powers had been bludgeoning themselves to near destruction. Some 53,000 US soldiers were killed in combat, according to the defence department, while 64,000 died off the battlefield, including deaths from the influenza epidemic. Another 200,000 were wounded.

 98990557 171003renderposesAn illustration of the WW1 memorial concept, scheduled to be completed by late 2018 At the time, few Americans wanted to join a conflict largely thought to be pointless and irrelevant. Despite its profound impact on what became the "American Century", World War I remains a marginal war for many in the US.

"The Great War" was overtaken in the national consciousness by the Great Depression and World War II, says Edwin Fountain, vice-chairman of the WWI Centennial Commission. The commission has been authorised by Congress to build the new memorial in Washington, DC, as well as increase awareness of the war.

"The Centennial is the last best opportunity to teach Americans that World War I was in fact the most consequential event of the 20th Century," he says. "It had effects that we live and struggle with today, overseas and at home."

"The debate about the role of America in the world, the balance between national security and civil liberties, the place of women, African Americans and immigrants in our society - all those issues were vigorously discussed during WWI.

"You cannot contribute to those discussions today without understanding our historical roots."

Read the entire article on the BBC News web site here.

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