Having just celebrated Veterans Day, it’s appropriate to reflect on how this commemoration originally began as Armistice Day following World War One. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War. Now that we are approaching the 100th anniversary of what is known as The Great War, it is a disappointing how little Americans know about World War One today.
America mobilized more than four million citizens during World War One (WWI), resulting in over 110,000 deaths and 200,000 wounded. Although WWI began in 1915, America did not declare war on the German Empire until April 6, 1917 because of their increasing aggression towards our interests.
In preparation for our nation’s WWI centennial in 2017, Congress established the United States World War One Centennial Commission to commemorate the war through various programs, projects, and activities. I am excited to announce the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is now a Partner Organization with the Commission. Their goals of “Honor, Educate, and Commemorate” align closely with ours of “Historic Preservation, Education and Patriotism.”
Throughout the centennial commemoration, we will share stories of how DAR actively contributed to the war effort in many ways. For example, DAR loaned its Headquarters to the Federal Government for office space and formed a War Relief Committee. DAR member Jane Delano was the superintendent of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, training over 8,000 registered nurses for duty. When France ran out of chickens in 1917, DAR had a campaign to “rechickenize” France to help mitigate food loss. DAR collected more than $130,000 for the support of 3,600 French war orphans requiring food and shelter.
Our partnership with the WWI Centennial Commission and DAR’s commemoration of the war will be woven into many of our national committees. We will be sharing some of the activities currently planned but, please also feel free to innovate and create your own commemorative events and/or committee activities.
Thousands of WWI war memorials exist in communities across the nation. DAR chapters and states are encouraged to identify and report their location to the Commission. Learn more about WWI memorials all over the country at the Commission’s Location Explorer page of their website, where you can also submit any missing memorial sites or to correct previously recorded location information. If your local WWI memorial needs restoration, you can apply to the “100 Cities/100 Memorials” program for matching grants. You may learn more about the program here.
Furthermore, we encourage preserving the memories of your family members and other important groups and individuals who contributed to WWI. The WWI Centennial Commission has a section on their website called Family Ties encouraging people to help tell the Stories of Service of their relatives. You can add your relatives stories of service to the permanent record of the WWI Centennial Commission by submitting your stories here.
Serve your community by providing teachers the information guide Understanding the Great War. This educational resource created by the Commission and the National World War One Museum offers articles, lessons, teaching guidelines by grade level and subject. Visit theworldwar.org/education for more information. And be looking out for the 2017 American History Committee essay topic which will focus on WWI.
Join in the action by finding state organizations and local activities focused on commemorating WWI. Visit www.worldwar1centennial.org/
Additionally, a new Commemorative Events Facebook group has been started for the “DAR WWI Centennial Commemoration” that you can join if you’re interested in staying up on the latest news about the DAR’s efforts and to share ideas about how your chapter is involved.
The DAR’s WWI 100th Anniversary Team is excited to kick off commemoration activities and work with your states and chapters on how you can participate in your local communities. For more information regarding DAR World War One centennial commemoration activities, please reach out to Donna Crisp, National Vice Chair, Commemorative Events, 100th Anniversary of WWI/Treaty of Versailles, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to working with the WWI Centennial Commission throughout this important commemoration to help “educate the country’s citizens about the causes, courses and consequences of the war; to honor the heroism and sacrifice of those Americans who served; and to commemorate through public programs and initiatives of this global event.”