African American Officers Mule Rearing gas masks doughboys with mules Riveters African American Soldiers 1 The pilots pilots in dress uniforms


World War I is central to American and world history but few Americans are aware of its impor- tance. For a variety of reasons, World War I has a much fainter imprint on the American conscious- ness than our other two great wars: the Civil War and World War II.

We have a sharply de ned sense of the Civil War, because of its place in our history and our ability to walk its battle elds. We have a vivid mind’s eye of World War II, because of its moral clarity and the national triumph it represents, as well as the presence of living veterans in our so- ciety. Both wars have also been frequently and richly depicted in popular lm.

Not so World War I. It is distant in time, it was fought overseas, news cov- erage was less immediate, ambivalence surrounded the reasons for the war and its aftermath, and U.S. forces fought for a relatively brief period of time. But in that short period, Americans fought with the same tenacity they did in World War II, and they died at a rate surpassed only in the Civil War.

This educational guide is published in the midst of the centennial of the Great War, on the 100-year anniversary of America’s entry into that war. The United States World War I Centennial Commission was chartered by Congress to educate the American people about World War I, commemorate our nation’s role, and honor the courage and sacri ce of American service- men and women in the war.

It is our hope that this guide will inform and inspire Americans of all generations.

Libby O’Connell, PhD

Commissioner U.S. World War I Centennial Commission


This Education Guide is supplemented with tools and lessons for further study, available at the web- site for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.

These resources include lessons plans, activities, videos, photo galleries, ar- ticles and other tools. The headings on our online di- rectory of resources corre- spond to the page or section headings of this guide.

We also encourage you to let us know if you’ve used this guide or any of our on- line resources to teach or commemorate World War I in your community!

Learn more, and join the Commemoration at:


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