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ILLINOIS AND THE GREAT WAR
April 6, 1917 to June 28, 1919

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Soldiers of the US 132nd Infantry, 33rd Division, holding the line on the west
bank of the Meuse, opposite Consenvoye.  Signal Corps Photo.

A number of Illinois men and women were playing an active role in the World War long before the United States entered the conflict. Some were fighting on the western front, some were Red Cross nurses or welfare workers. Others joined the Lafayette Escadrille (the American aviation unit in the French army), or entered the French Foreign Legion. Records compiled by the Office of the Adjutant General show that Illinois gave 351,153 men to the Army, Navy, and Marines of the United States during the war. Out of every twelve men in the Army one was from Illinois. Illinois furnished more men to the armed forces than any other state in the Union, with the exception of New York and Pennsylvania, both of which had larger populations. The state's own division, the Thirty-third, was the only distinctly Illinois division that saw active service in France.

Money, next to men, was the greatest need of the government and Illinois gave its share and more. About seven percent of the subscriptions received for the nation's war loans, a total of approximately $1,300,000,000 came from Illinois - which, at the time, had about five percent of the population of the United States. Statistics compiled by the State Council of Defense show that the total contributions of the state to various funds raised by war aid and relief organizations was more than $45,000,000. One of the largest Illinois contributions to the war effort by Illinois farmers was the farm crop of 1918. Estimated by the Department of Agriculture to be worth $879,697,000 it was the greatest crop in money value that was ever produced by any state in the Union. As factories were quickly converted into munitions plants the output of Illinois factories in direct war contracts in 1918 was approximately $2,000,000,000.

By the time the War ended, more than 5,000 men from Illinois had given their lives in defense of world freedom and liberty.

 


2017 Illinois World War One Commemoration Events/Activities (June - Nov.)

 

   

 JUNE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Over There: U.S. Enters the Great War

Come to the Palmer House and learn about how on April 6, 1917 the United States joined its allies in the Great War ((WWI). Join us as we commemorate this sacrifice to service and the sacrifices made here at home 100 years ago. Greg Jacobs will be speaking about Camp Grant during WWI, original construction thru the "stand down" order that came out in mid-November 1918. There will be some backstories about personnel sent to Camp Grant.

 

Colonel Palmer House - Lawn

(Crystal Lake)

1:00 - 4:00

 

8 Centennial Celebration - The 1st Infantry Division's 100th Anniversary

Bring the family for military-theme activities celebrating the 100-year history of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, the famous Big Red One! The unit was assembled for the first time on June 8th, 1917, and led America's military participation in World War I and later conflicts.

Event Highlights:

· Drop in and try on uniforms from WWI to the present.

· Visit our World War I inspired Cantina Cantigny for a light refreshment (while supplies last).

· Stopover with our World War I reenactors depicting the Black Lions of Cantigny.

  • Make your own poppy at our craft table.
  • Sign our Happy 100th Birthday card being sent to Fort Riley Kansas, the current home of the 1 st Infantry Division.

 

Cantigny Park Visitor Center

(Wheaton)

1:00 - 4:30

 

 

JULY

 

8 Muster of the 122nd Field Artillery In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the mustering of the 122nd, events will include reenactors and speeches. Also, Goldberg, the canine mascot of the 122nd, will be unveiled.

 

Gen. Jones Armory

(Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AUGUST

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10, 13-14 Illinois National Guard at the State Fair

August 10th the Guard will participate in the Twilight State Fair parade.

August 13 & 14 - Veterans at the fair days - The Guard will be set up near the main gate.

 

State Fair Grounds (Springfield)

 

19 McLean County Home Front During WWI, with Bill Kemp

The "Great War" involved a host of home front activities, including war bond drives, food conservation efforts, shipments of Red Cross supplies, parades, and public gatherings to sing patriotic songs. There was also a dark side to the war, including the suppression of the large local German community.

McLean County Museum of History (Bloomington) Governor Fifer Courtroom

1:00

 

26 Troop Deployment Reenactment

Reenactment of deployment of soldiers from the 33 rd Division who were heading to Camp Logan in Texas for training before going overseas.

 

 

Monticello Train Depot (Monticello)

 

26 First Division Museum Reopens The museum will be recognizing the 100 years of continual service by the First Division.

First Division Museum (Cantigny Park, Wheaton)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER

 

27 Upper Midwest Region Meeting

 

 

Pritzker Military Museum and Library

(Chicago)

 

 

30 The Evergreen Cemetery Walk (Fee-Based)

The theme of this year's Walk is WWI. The Walk will feature the stories of eight McLean County individuals (2 duets, 4 solo performances) who were in some way impacted by the U.S. involvement in WWI. The list of characters may include: Carl and Julia Vrooman; Edward and Lincoln Bynum (both served in the 370th Infantry known as the Black Devils), and Carolyn Schertz Geneva.

 

 

McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theater, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery (Bloomington)

 

 

 

 

OCTOBER

 

1, 7, 8 The Evergreen Cemetery Walk (Fee-Based)

The theme of this year's Walk is WWI. The Walk will feature the stories of eight McLean County individuals (2 duets, 4 solo performances) who were in some way impacted by the U.S. involvement in WWI. The list of characters may include: Carl and Julia Vrooman; Edward and Lincoln Bynum (both served in the 370th Infantry known as the Black Devils), and Carolyn Schertz Geneva.

 

 

McLean County Museum of History, Illinois Voices Theater, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery (Bloomington)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEMBER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 McLean County Home Front During WWI, with Bill Kemp

The "Great War" involved a host of home front activities, including war bond drives, food conservation efforts, shipments of Red Cross supplies, parades, and public gatherings to sing patriotic songs. There was also a dark side to the war, including the suppression of the large local German community.

 

Normal Public Library

(Normal)

7:00 pm

 

 

10 Veterans' Day Ceremony

Illinois State University will be hosting its annual Veterans' Day ceremony at noon in the Bone Student Center, with Dr. Ross Kennedy as the guest speaker. This year's theme will be the Great War.

 

 

Illinois State University (Normal)

Bone Student Center

12:00

 

 

11 Great War Encampment Reenactment of trench warfare/life in the trenches by the Illinois National Guard

Illinois State Military Museum

(Springfield)

 

 

 

 

DECEMBER

 

9 Christmas Truce in the Trenches

Midway Village Museum

(Rockford)

10:00 - 11:30 am

 

9 Christmas at the Front
The National Guard will recognize what soldiers, from the Civil War through World War II, go through at Christmas time while serving their country.

Illinois State Military Museum

(Springfield)

 


 

 UNITS COMPOSED WHOLLY OR IN LARGE PART WITH ILLINOIS MEN

33rd Infantry Division Shoulder Flash
 The 33rd Infantry Division was the only distinctly Illinois division that saw active service in France. Activated on July 1917 as a National Guard Division from Illinois at Camp Logan, Illinois, it began operations in France in May, 1918. The Division fought in Le Hamel, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the Somme offensive, and at St. Mihiel. Losses to the Division were high: 691 killed in action, 6,173 wounded in action. After the end of hostilities, it returned to Illinois, and was deactivated on May, 1919, at Camp Grant in Rockford.



84thDivisionThe 84th Infantry Division was comprised of personnel from Illinois, Wisconsin, and Kentucky. It was formed in 1917, and formally activated in August, 1917. It was deployed to France in October 1918 to serve as a training formation for replacements which would be sent to the Western Front.  At the war's end, the formation was recalled home and, without having seen combat actions, and was inactivated in January 1919.

 

86thBadgeThe 86th Infantry Division saw no combat in World War I. It was activated August, 25 1917 at Camp Grant in Rockford. It went overseas in August 1918, returned to the United States in November 1918, and was deactivated in January 1919. Individual units within the Division, particularly the 171st Infantry Brigade and 172nd Infantry Brigade, were used to reinforce or replenish frontline units.

 

145px 88th Infantry Division SSI

The 88th Infantry Division was comprised of personnel from Iowa, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Illlinois. It was formed at Camp Dodge, Iowa on August 5, 1917. It shipped overseas on September 7, 1918. While it never participated as a Division, soldiers from its ranks were used to reinforce or replenish frontline units. It lost 12 soldiers killed in action, and 66 wounded in action. It was inactivated on June 10, 1919 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.

 




 

RESOURCES FOR THE STUDY OF ILLINOIS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR

  • World War One Resources at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. (LINKOne of the largest collection of World War One reference materials and information in the U.S.
  • World War One Documents at the Illinois State Library. (LINK) A treasury of contemporary official documents and histories, published by the State of Illinois and the Federal Government.
  • Music of the First World War(LINK) The First World War is considered to be the most musical of all of America's wars. This exhibit uses optical musical recognition software to digitize the World War I sheet music in the collection of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library and added it as playable .mp3, MIDI, and AIFF files.
  • The DeWitt County World War I Collection(LINKLetters and service records of men and women of DeWitt County who served in World War I.
  • A University Goes to War, World War I Women. (LINK) The materials in this collection, dating from 1917-1919, document the participation of the students, alumni, faculty and staff of Illinois State Normal University in World War I.
  • Answering the Call (LINK). An online exhibition of digital images of World War I posters held in Illinois State University Milner Library’s Government Documents World War Poster Collection.
  • A Seaman's Diary of World War I (LINK). Sverre O. Braathen (1895-1974) grew up in the Red River Valley of the north, North Dakota. His handwritten diary from his time on the U.S.S. Kearsarge during World War I is part of the Illinois State University Milner Library collection. 
  • Radio station WJBC maintains a digital Memorial Wall (LINK). They provide a section for McLean County and Livingston County residents who served and perished in the conflict of World War I.
  • A history of McLean County. (LINK) McLean County, Illinois, in the World War, 1917-1918. By Edward E. Pierson.

MEMBERS OF THE ILLINOIS COMMITTEE

  • Mr. James Balcer: 11th Ward Alderman (Retired), City of Chicago
  • Mr. Kenneth Barber: Executive Director Cook County, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Mr. Robert Bland III: Dept. of Homeland Security, Illinois National Guard
  • Mr. Andrew Bullen: Library Automation and Technology Coordinator, Illinois State Library
  • Alderman Edward Burke: 14th Ward Alderman, City of Chicago
  • Ken Clarke: President & CEO, Pritzker Military Museum & Library
  • Dr. Mark DePue: Director of Oral History, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Theresa A. R. Embrey, Chief Librarian, Pritzker Military Museum and Library
  • Mr. Jay Dogherty: City Club of Chicago
  • Mr. Dave Fornell: WWI Reenactor
  • Dr. William Furry: Executive Director, Illinois State Historical Society
  • Mr. Scott Fuzer: Director, West Monroe Partners
  • Ms. Jeanne Hamacher: Educator
  • Dr. Paul Herbert: Executive Director, First Division Museum
  • Ms. Kristen Hoeker: Special Events Coordinator, Midway Village Museum
  • Mr. Greg Jacobs: WWI Camp Grant Historian
  • Mr. Gary Jenson: Assistant Adjutant, American Legion
  • Mr. Dave Joens: Executive Director, Illinois State Archives
  • Mr. J.D. Kammes: Public Programs Manager, First Division Museum
  • Mr. Edward Kelly: Chair, Military Affairs Subcommittee, Union League Club of Chicago
  • Dr. Carla Knorowski: Chief Executive Officer, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation
  • Mr. David Kohn: Executive Director of Public Affairs, Union League Club of Chicago
  • Mr. Brad Leighton: Illinois National Guard
  • Mr. Kevin Leonard: University Archivist, Northwestern University Library
  • Mr. Jan Lorys: Manager, History Muzeum Polskie w Ameryce
  • Lt. Colonel Kevin Lovell: Deputy District Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Enginners
  • Dr. Christopher McDonald: Professor, Social Sciences, Lincolnland Community College
  • Ms. Susan Mennenga: Pritzker Military Museum & Library WWI Centennial Project Manager 
  • Colonel Andrew Mogado: Naval Station, Great Lakes
  • Ms. Emily Muskovitz Sweet: Executive Director, JRC & Government Affairs, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Mrs. Alice Palmer: The Palmer Institute
  • Mr. William Pishotta: Director of Veterans Outreach, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Illinois
  • Mr. Jess Ray: University Registar, Illinois State University
  • Mr. Stewart Reeves: Executive Director, Illinois State Military Museum
  • Mr. George Reinke: WWI Reenactor
  • Dr. Mark Roehrs: Professor, Social Sciences, Lincolnland Community College
  • Ms. Alison Ruble: President & CEO, USO of Illinois
  • Ms. Susan Sacharski: Archivist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Ms. Adriana Schroeder: Historian, Illinois State Military Museum
  • Mr. Scott Schwartz: Director and Archivist for Music and Fine Arts, Sousa Archives & Center for American Music
  • Captain Dave Truitt: Chicago Marine Heritage Society
  • Mr. Frank Valadez: Exec. Director, Chicago Metro History Education Center
  • Mr. Duane Watts: People Program
  • Dr. John Williams: Professor, Political Science, Loyola University Chicago
  • Mr. Joseph Weishar: Architect, WWI Memorial
  • Mr. Pete Zaper: WWI Historian

 

The Fourth of July Memorial Donation Appeal 

Help us build the National WWI Memorial at Pershing Park in our nation’s capital. We need your help to speak for these American veterans who sacrificed so much, 100 years ago. They are not forgotten if we remember. Thank you!

More information: (LINKand link to a description of the Memorial: (LINK)

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OUR MISSION STATEMENT

Records compiled by the Office of the Adjutant General show that Illinois gave 351,153 men to the armed forces of the United States during the war, the third highest total number. To commemorate the centenary of our involvement in the Great War, the Illinois World War I Centennial Committee has a mission to:

ADVOCATE. Encourage other entities in Illinois to recognize the contributions of Illinois to the First World War.

EDUCATE. Develop tools to educate others about the contributions of Illinois to the First World War.

FACILITATE. Support other entities that are recognizing the contributions of Illinois to the First World War.

ELEVATE. Recognize and celebrate Illinois veterans and civilians for their sacrifices and contributions to the First World War.

PARTICIPATE Join other states in a national effort to recognize veterans and civilians for their sacrifices and contributions to the First World War throughout the United States.


ILLINOIS INSTITUTIONS IN THE GREAT WAR

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A growing number of institutions, companies, and universities are contributing their wartime stories for posterity. Learn more about them here.

 


PRITZKER MILITARY MUSEUM & LIBRARY
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Illinois is fortunate indeed to be the home of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, whose commitment and sponsorship of Illinois and National World War One centenary commemoration efforts has been both tireless and unswerving.


PROCLAMATION ESTABLISHING THE COMMITTEE smCeremonial Proc WWI Centennial


On April 1, 2016, Governor Bruce Rauner issued a proclamation officially recognizing the Illinois World War One Centennial Committee