This past year marks a full century since the United States entered World War I, also known at the time as The Great War. Memory of this monumental event in history has been dimmed and overshadowed by our more recent conflicts, but its effects continue to shape the actions of our government. It has been said that our involvement marked the beginning of the United States as a world superpower, and dramatically altered the political face of Europe.
The conflict had been raging throughout Europe for three years when the U.S. officially entered the fray after repeated attacks on American merchant ships by the German Navy. In April of 1917, Congress officially declared war on Germany and joined British and French forces in pushing back the German offense in Western Europe. Intense fighting and staggering losses on both sides eventually led to the signing of an armistice with Germany in November of 1918.
At home, fervor to serve in the war effort was largely whipped up through the use of posters emphasizing patriotism and career opportunities. In all, 4.7 million American soldiers served, with almost 117,000 killed and nearly three times that many wounded and lost to disease. These losses were, however, relatively modest compared to those of the European countries involved.
In commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of World War I, the “War to End Wars”, the Terry Fisher American Legion Post, the Rockwall County Historical Foundation, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Rockwall Recreation and Parks Department, have aligned to honor the United States efforts during the Great War.
The Rockwall County Historical Foundation, the County Historical Commission, and the DAR will host exhibits at the RCHF Museum and Bailey House at 815 Washington in Harry Myers Park. These exhibits are private collections from citizens, DAR members and other contributors. It will include pictures, weapons, artifacts and other historical items. The Bailey House will be the site for the exhibits and be open from 10am to 5 pm on Founders Day.
The Terry Fisher American Legion Post 117 will conduct an interactive history event for elementary aged children from 10 am to 5pm. Boys and girls will be reenacting enlistment, induction and basic training drills similar to those the “Doughboys” experienced 100 years ago.
A Memorial Day Concert at the Harbor on Thursday evening, May 24 at 6:30 pm will highlight World War I in music and spirit. Special emphasis will be given to the 21 Veterans of Military Service from Rockwall who paid the ultimate sacrifice in World War I.