World War I changed the world. It ended the era
of monarchies and set in motion the decline and fall of colonial empires. It introduced mass industrial warfare and gave rise to over a century of conflict, including a second global war that was the largest in human history.
Yet its legacy extended beyond disruption and devastation. The war saw the introduction of large scale humanitarian efforts. It led to technological innovations that had widespread peacetime benefits. Subjugated peoples around the world were emboldened to pursue self-government. International organizations arose that formed the model for similar institutions today.
The United States initially retreated from international politics shortly after the war. However, World War I represented a turning point in its relationship with the world. It emerged as the undisputed leader in economic production, and became the center of global finance.
At home, the war fundamentally changed American society. The role of government in daily life significantly expanded. Women and minority groups staked their claim to their fair share of rights and opportunities. The assimilation of millions of immigrants was greatly accelerated.
America’s participation in World War I shaped its future and influenced the course of global events. As the U.S. commemorates its World War I centennial, the war’s impact continues to be felt, from the highest levels of international politics to the countless local street corners, parks and cemeteries that host memorials bearing witness to the service and sacrifice of the America’s World War I generation.