Rep. Jacobs Asks Navy to Name Warship After World War I Filipino American Hero 

By Chris Jennewein
via the Times of San Diego (CA) web site 

Rep. Sara Jacobs has asked the Navy to name a new ship after Telesforo Trinidad, a Filipino American sailor who received the Medal of Honor in 1915.

Telesforo TrinidadTelesforo TrinidadTrinidad, who saved his crewmembers after boiler explosions aboard the armored cruiser USS San Diego, is the only Filipino American and the only Asian American sailor to receive the Medal of Honor.

A future USS Telesforo Trinidad would be the first warship named after an American of Filipino descent.

“Fireman Second Class Telesforo Trinidad was a hero and a history-maker, and as we celebrate Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I am honored to lead the effort to encourage the Navy to name a ship after him,” said Jacobs, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

She said naming of a warship after Trinidad would be a symbol of the Navy’s commitment to “diversity, equality, and inclusion during this time of national racial tensions and unwarranted violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”

Jacobs was the lead signatory of a May 26 letter to the acting Secretary of the Navy co-signed by 10 other members of Congress, including Mike Levin, Scott Peters and Juan Vargas from the San Diego delegation.

The letter recommend that Trinidad’s name be used for a future Navy surface combatant. While the specific type of warship was not mentioned, it could be one of the new Constellation-class guided-missile frigates due to start construction this summer.

Colorful Characters: John H. Buckley, a WWI war hero

By Deborah Cameron
via the Longmont Leader newpaper (CO) web site 

Memorial Day is more than just a long weekend. For many, it is a time when we look back with gratitude at those who served our country’s military. While many of these heroes have come from Longmont, one of the best known is World War I pilot, John H. Buckley.

John H BuckleyBuckley was so esteemed that The Longmont American Legion Post was named for him in 1920, while memories of WWI were fresh in the community’s collective memory. A little more than two decades later, Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora also was named for him.

Buckley was born on July 8th, 1895, and was raised in Longmont, He played both basketball and track while in high school, according to a video posted on Facebook by Buckley Air Force Base. Following commencement, he attended the University of Colorado-Boulder and was a part of the track team there. He received recognition for his athleticism in 1915, according to the campus newspaper, the Silver and Gold, which was mentioned in the Longmont the first 150 Years, by the Curator of History at the Longmont Museum, Erik Mason.

Buckley enlisted as a pilot in the Air Force a month before his college graduation. He was one of 79 Longmont residents to serve overseas and 430 to serve both at home and abroad, out of a town population of 5,500, according to the Silver and Gold newspaper. He served in the 28th Aero Squadron in France as a first Lieutenant flying reconnaissance airplanes over Germany. He enlisted with his best friend and fellow Longmont resident Albert ‘Dick’ Smith.

As part of a publicity tour for a centennial WWI commemoration exhibit, held in 2018 at the Longmont Museum, a descendant of Smith’s, talked about Buckley. She recalled during service, the pair of friends shot down eight planes between them, according to Denver7.

Buckley was killed in the air over France on September 18th, 1918. According to the American Legion Post history, “he and a fellow pilot, Kenneth Bell, were forming up in a patrol to cross enemy lines on a combat mission in low clouds … visibility was poor … both planes were seen to dive with one making a turn to avoid the other. This resulted in a collision where the left wings of each plane were torn off,” according to a post from the American Legion. The report indicated that each plane went into a death spiral until they struck ground.

At the time of his death, Buckley was 23 years old. He was buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Military Cemetery in France near the crash site, according to

Harlem Hellfighters 2 TRS Willett Family AnneClaire Legendre 1200x703Sgt. Leander Willett family receives Harlem Hellfighter Sgt. Leander Willett's Purple Heart medal on Congressman Tom Suozzi's office in New York. Ehe Willett family asked Suozzi for help in obtaining a Purple Heart for their relative, after being declined due to a lack of documentation. Willett was stabbed with a bayonet and had been the victim of a mustard gas attack, but never received recognition despite the injuries sustained while serving in World War I. 

Suozzi and Espaillat fight to have Harlem Hellfighters recognized by Congress for their World War I bravery

By Dean Moses
via the AMNY Newsletter (NYC) web site 

More than a century ago, the members of the 369th Infantry, known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” served the country with honor during World War I — but the contributions of these Black servicemen have long been ignored.

Now, Congressmembers Tom Suozzi and Adriano Espaillat are looking to finally give the Hellfighters the recognition they deserve through legislation introduced on May 28, the Congressional Gold Medal Act.

“It’s never too late to do the right thing,” Congressman Suozzi, who represents northeast Queens and northern Nassau County, told amNewYork Metro.

On Memorial Day, the United States honors the fallen heroes who have served in the nation’s military. Yet one group has not received the recognition that they so duly deserve, but Suozzi and Espaillat are working with the help of the Congressional Black Caucus to make sure their service will forever be revered.

The Harlem Hellfighters were an African American infantry unit in World War I; however, in place of being honored, their heroic service was met racism and discrimination. While the US Army provided the uniforms, it was the 16th Division of the French Army that provided the unit with firearms and helmets.

The Hellfighters also fought alongside the 16th Division of the French Army because, at the time, white American soldiers were not willing to serve beside them.

Even so, the Hellfighters were the most active unit during WWI, fighting on the front lines for 191 days through brutal trench warfare.

Suozzi recalls learning about the Hellfighters’ heroism from friends and neighbors in his hometown, Glen Cove, where close to three dozen descendants of infantry members still live.

“The Harlem Hellfighters must now be properly recognized for their invaluable contribution to our country,” said Suozzi. “My hometown of Glen Cove was home to nearly three dozen Harlem Hellfighter heroes. The bravery, dedication, and sacrifices of the Harlem Hellfighters, who served 191 days under near-constant enemy fire, impacted the outcome of the first World War and in turn, American history. My legislation to award The Harlem Hellfighters a Congressional Gold Medal is a small but important first step in righting this decades-old injustice.”

While France hailed their service with the Croix de Guerre and other prestigious awards, descendants of the Harlem Hellfighters are, up until recently, fighting for their relatives to receive a Purple Heart and other medals of honor.

Their name, Hellfighters, were bestowed upon the soldiers by the Germans in reference to their tenacious combat. They were the first unit to reach the Rhine River, which aided in ending the war.

In 2019, the Willett family visited Suozzi’s office requesting his help in obtaining a Purple Heart for their relative, Harlem Hellfighter Sgt. Leander Willett, after being declined due to a lack of documentation. Willett was stabbed with a bayonet and had been the victim of a mustard gas attack, but never received recognition despite the injuries sustained while serving in WWI.

Doughboy monument rededicated at Summerville's Memorial Day ceremony 

By Doug Walker
via the Northwest Georgia News web site 

Chattooga County residents turned out in large numbers to mark Memorial Day early May 29.

Summerville GA Doughboy memorialSummerville Mayor Harry Harvey (left) and Chattooga County Historical Society leader Gene McGinnis admire the Spirit of the American Doughboy monument, rededicated Saturday, in the Veterans memorial section of Dowdy Park in Summerville.A special ceremony was held to rededicate the Spirit of the American Doughboy monument as part of the veterans memorial in Dowdy Park in downtown Summerville.

The monument had been located in Trion for decades before it was moved to the Chattooga County Memorial Home near Pennville in 1988. It now graces the county seat.

Georgia’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden was the keynote speaker but the real heroes of the event were several Word War II veterans and a number of the children of World War I soldiers.

William E. Henderson served with the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946. He was with a unit that built submarine nets to trap Japanese submarines.

Harold “Bud” Dempsey served with the U.S. Army in Italy from 1944 to 1946.

“I was drafted,” Dempsey said “I don’t volunteer for too much.”

Dempsey was with an infantry unit attached to the Fifth Army under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

“I got over there just before the war ended,” he said.

Audrey Croft sat in a wheelchair on the front row with a framed picture of her father, J.J. Copeland, one the veterans of WWI whose name is inscribed on the Doughboy monument. Croft proudly answered questions about her father and had pictures made with Carden prior to the program.


Presentation banner(left) Terry Hamby, Chair of the U. S. World War I Centennial Commission, and General Mark Milley, USA, 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stand at attention from the reading of the Citation for Hamby's Distinguished Public Service Award  at the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC. (right) Milley pins the medal on Hamby.  

WWI Centennial Commission Chair receives Distinguished Public Service Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 

holding folderTerry Hamby and General Mark Milley display the Citation for the Distinguished Public Service Award  that Hamby received.

Terry W. Hamby, the Chair of the United States World War I Centennial Commission, received the Distinguished Public Service Award from General Mark A. Milley, USA, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a ceremony May 28, 2021 at the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

 The award was presented in recognition of Hamby's "extraordinary contributions as the Chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission." In particular, the award highlighted Hamby's leadership of the Commission "to completion of its mission to build the United States National War Memorial in Washington, DC. "

Hamby was appointed to the Commission by then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He was elected Chair on September 13, 2017.

Hamby is a Viet Nam veteran, serving in the Naval Air Wing during the conflict. After discharge he joined the US Army Reserve, retiring with 26 years of service in 1993. 

Hamby is part of a family filled with a tradition of military service, with his Great Grandfather serving in the Civil War Union Army, his Grandfather was in the Army during WWI, his father served in the Army Pacific Theater during WWII, his son served in the Navy during the Persian Gulf War, and his grandson is now serving.  Hamby's grand uncle was killed serving in the Army in WWI.

As a result, Mr. Hamby has dedicated his life to serving and honoring our U.S. military and is a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

During his four years of membership and leadership, Hamby led the World War I Centennial Commission through the design approval proceess and fundraising effort that ultimately earned the Commission a construction permit for the National World War I Memorial in 2019.

Construction of the Memorial began in December, 2019, and the Memorial was opened to the public on April 16, 2021 during the First Colors Ceremony.


FoldingMembers of Boy Scout Troop 400 in Richmond, VA carefully fold flags which were flown over the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC on April 16, 2021, the official opening of the memorial to the public. The flags were folded to be placed in presentation cases like the one at right. 

Virginia Boy Scout Troop lends hands to help honor Americans who served in WWI 

A Boy Scout troop in Richmond, Virginia, over a century old itself, lent its hands recently to help acknowledge those whose help enabled the April 16, 2021 opening of the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC honoring the 4.7 million Americans who served their nation in uniform 100 years ago.

As part of the activities after the recent Father & Son Hike, Troop 400 folded flags that were flown over the Memorial so that they could be placed into presentation cases for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission World War I Memorial Donor and Patron Recognition Program. The flags will be given to those individuals and organizations which played essential roles in the Commission's seven-year campaign to get the memorial approved, designed, funded, and constructed.

"On April 16, 2021, the World War I Centennial Commission celebrated the Inaugural Raising of the Flag of the United States of America over the newly constructed National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC," said Meredith Carr, Deputy Director of the World War I Centennial Commission. "Directly following the ceremony, the WWI Centennial Commission flew 100 flags over the Memorial on its opening day. These flags will be presented to our major donors, Special Advisors, and champions in the Pentagon and Capitol Hill."

But before the flags could be presented, they had to be folded neatly in a prescribed manner for placement in presentation cases. 100 flags take a lot of folding. That's where Troop 400 stepped in to help.

“Troop 400's origins go back to 1913, so we predate WWI", says Scoutmaster William "Billy" H. Parrish IV, who along with his three sons is an Eagle Scout in Troop 400. “To be chosen for folding the flags for the World War I Memorial Donor and Patron Recognition Program is a special and unique honor. The Scout Oath includes doing your duty to your Country and it is fitting that as a Scout Troop we honor those who served.”

Journey Home Album CoverRecorded by Vocal Arts DC in 2018, The Journey Home commemorates the centennial of World War I and advocates for the long-awaited national memorial to those who served in the war.

John Brancy and Peter Dugan Release The Journey Home: Live from the Kennedy Center

On May 28, 2021 Vocal Arts DC in collaboration with Avie Records released The Journey Home: Live from the Kennedy Center. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, the concert, which sold-out at the time, explores timeless themes of longing, loss, love, and the search for peace in the wake of catastrophe.

Musical selections range from Schubert's Der Wanderer, to Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel, as well as popular tunes and art songs by composers and poets who died in the war. The concert is performed by Grammy Award winning baritone, John Brancy, and pianist (and host of NPR’s From the Top), Peter Dugan in a 2018 live performance from the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater.

The concert was presented by Vocal Arts DC and the General Delegation of Flanders to the United States. Brancy and Dugan will also release a single and music video from their performance of, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” from the album. Upon its release, the album can be found on all major streaming platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play.

Accompanying the album, the duo has released a film of the performance, which includes interviews with historians and military personnel. The film also explores the long overdue process of creating a national memorial to World War I in Washington, DC, including interviews with the United States WWI Centennial Commission and a rendering of what the completed monument will look like. The National World War I Memorial has just opened in Pershing Park in Washington, DC, although the bronze sculpture, which will be the largest in the northern hemisphere, will not be completed for another three years. The film was scheduled to be aired over Memorial Day Weekend on WNET’s All Arts Channel. More information about the streaming options for this performance can be found at


 Resized DH4 on truck with honor guardThe World War I DH4 aircraft arriving at Wichita Airport is greeted by an honor guard from McConnell Air Force Base, and a saluting battery from the US Army's 130th Field Artillery Brigade in Wichita. The historic World War I DH-4 aircraft, identical in every way to the one Lt. Erwin Bleckley flew on his legendary flight that earned him the Medal of Honor, will serve as a living memorial to Wichita's greatest aviation hero. Photo courtesy of Grant Schumaker.

DH 4 on truckThe 50th Aero Squadron, DH-4 #6 aircraft is now in Wichita, Kansas where it will be restored to flying condition & stationed as it’s future home. This historic aircraft represents the US Air Service(USAS), 50th Aero Squadron based at Remicourt, France, where on Oct 6, 1918, Lts. Goettler , pilot & Bleckley, observer, were killed in their DH-4, #6, aircraft while on their 2nd mission of the day in attempting to locate the 308th Infantry Battalion, 77th Division, in the battle of the Meuse-Argonne.

Piece of World War I history returned to Wichita, honors airman

By Anna Auld
via the television station (KS) web site

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A piece of World War I history returned to Wichita Friday, May 28: an airplane that looks exactly like the plane Lt. Erwin Bleckley flew during his last mission during the First World War. The name “Bleckley” may sound familiar as Bleckley Street in Wichita is named for the airman who died on that final mission more than a century ago.

The plan with the plane, once it’s restored, is to have it displayed at Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport, available for thousands to see and to learn a little about the plane’s history and why it’s important to Wichita.

There was a ceremony Friday to honor Lt. Erwin Bleckley. He died at the age of 23 on Oct. 6, 1918 on a mission to drop supplies from the sky. he later received the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

“This is a very big deal for the city of Wichita to bring this airplane home,” said Col. Phill Heseltine with McConnell Air Force Base.

Lt. Bleckley was born and raised in Wichita. He later joined the 130th Field Artillery. Many say he was the first volunteer for missions. The Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation spent thousands of hours researching and planning to bring the historic plane back to the exact specifications of the airplane Lt. Bleckley flew on his last mission. It’s on the only DH-4 plane left in the world.

Now it’s real to the people of Wichita,” said Grant Schumaker with the Bleckley Airport Memorial Foundation.


 American Legion magazine 30918 0

June American Legion Magazine spotlights new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC

via the American Legion web site 

The June 2021 American Legion Magazine digital edition looks at the rocky road to citizenship through service, the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C., and more. The clickable digi-mag is available through

Non-members can download a PDF file of the Memorial article here.

In “Thank You, & Goodbye,” Ken Olsen talks with foreign-born veterans deported by the United States after it failed to grant them citizenship promised when they enlisted. For more than 100 years, The American Legion has fought for servicemembers and veterans to receive U.S. citizenship through military service.

•Following a live broadcast ceremony April 16, the new National World War I Memorial is open to the public. Read about the memorial’s commemorative elements, and then use the WWI Memorial Virtual Explorer and WWI Memorial Visitor Guide apps to explore the site. Plus, John D. “Jack” Monahan, The American Legion’s representative on the U.S. World War One Commission, previews “A Soldier’s Journey,” the Sabin Howard sculpture to be installed in 2024.


 nursesEula Bernice Butzerin and Susie Lee Welborn of Montana were two of more than 20,000 American Red Cross nurses mobilized in World War I.

To Find Their Brothers: The Trek of Two Montana Nurses in WWI

By Edward E. (Ed) Saunders LTC, U.S. Army (retired) Billings, MT
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site

Note: May 6, 2021 was National Nurses Day.

In France the guns of war stopped, 11:00 a.m., November 11, 1918. The Great War ended. Its carnage unimaginable. Millions died, including eight million horses. The stench of rotting flesh the only smell. Explosions scarred the earth; rain and tears filled the craters. Birds flew endlessly looking in the emptiness for a tree, any tree, that remained upright with branches. It was as if God himself had collapsed in exhaustion pleading for His creation to stop. 

Into this wretched desolation, two weary women from Montana labored through mud and blood-soaked fields to find their brothers. The two were nurses, still in their twenties, but aged beyond measure. Battle weary from tending thousands of men torn by lethal lead and razor-edged shards of steel. Their hands worn from service; their souls scarred from death.

To Find Their Brothers 1Eula B. Butzerin
(U of Chicago)
Eula Bernice Butzerin was born in Wisconsin, 1891, and moved to Missoula, Montana, as a girl. Her father, Albert, was a railroad engineer and Montana state senator. Eula, an honor student, graduated from Missoula High School, and Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago. She taught at present Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

In 1918 the Kansas City Red Cross Nurses Association selected Eula as chief nurse. She joined Base Hospital 28 in Kansas City. In 1918 BH28 sailed for war in France, and began operations in Limoges.

Eula’s brother, Leroy “Roy”, a student at the University of Montana in Missoula, enlisted in the Army, May 1917. Roy was a sergeant in the 4th Engineers on the front lines. Lethal war gas killed him, 26 Sep 1918. History does not record when Eula got the news.

After the war and still in France, Eula began nearly a 300-mile trek to find her brother: Roads destroyed, railroads wrecked, destruction everywhere. She hired a French guide and together they labored northeast through battlefield after terrible battlefield.

Eula found a supply sergeant in Roy’s unit. The sergeant apparently told Eula the general location of Roy’s grave. Eula and the guide pressed on, mile after mile; asking directions from anyone in the area. In time they found Roy’s grave, marked with a stick and his dog tags hanging from it.

Eula’s thoughts are not known when she found her brother’s grave. But they were united once more. Eula never gave up on her brother. Roy is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, France. A white cross shows his home state of Montana.

Eula returned to America and received degrees from Columbia University, New York City. She was director of public health at the University of Minnesota, and professor of nursing education at the University of Chicago. Eula was later the national director of American Red Cross nursing projects, and international nursing liaison with the American Red Cross.

She never married or had children. Eula died 27 July 1978 in a retirement home near Seattle, Washington. Eula was cremated; her ashes scattered in the redwood forests of northern California. Apparently Eula does not have a memorial marker or veterans headstone anywhere.


2 Film Still Roberto Duran Kevin Collins Nelson in Souilly with ReenactorsRoberto Duran (left) and Kevin Collins-Nelson (with rifle) on location in Souilly, France with World War I reenactors. during the filming of Pershing's Paths of Glory. 

General Pershing was inspiration for film cast member joining USAF, becoming pilot

By Dayle Davidson Hartnett, Ph.D., Producer, and W. Joseph Hartnett, Director, Pershing's Paths of Glory
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site

Photography by Jason Dixson Photography, www.jasondixson.comRoberto Duran at the film premiere. Photography by Jason Dixson Photography, www.jasondixson.comRoberto Duran, a Captain in the United States Air Force, is currently flying for Air Force Special Operations Command, and living at Duke Field, Florida, in the northern panhandle of Florida.

After Duran graduated and before he was commissioned, he auditioned for and was cast in Pershing’s Paths of Glory, a documentary film which features Pershing Rifles, a Pershing Angel, and Blackjacks who travel and mark incidents in the life of General John J. Pershing, the great World War I Commander of the American Expeditionary Forces.

Duran, a Pershing Rifleman from Texas and college graduate from Louisiana State University, was a serious, stabilizing force among the diverse group of high energy, military cadets still in secondary school.

He enjoyed interacting with Kevin Collins-Nelson, his stalwart counterpart also a college graduate and Pershing Rifleman from California who had graduated from Shaw University. They had long conversations and talked about everything, especially their shared experiences in the Pershing Rifles.

Duran joined the cast to experience in person the places where Pershing’s victories and achievements occurred, as well as to be a witness to the aftermath of the serious consequences of WWI. Clearly visible in both France today and in WWI home museums, are the trenches, unearthed, unexploded bombs and soldiers’ personal belongings.


In the Trenches 

In The Trenches of World War I 

via The Friends of the Frankfort Public Library (IN) web site

The Friends of the Frankfort Public Library invites you to “In the Trenches of World War I” during the month of May. We have been working with several entities to bring you compelling stories of WWI and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located in Arlington National Cemetery. These month- long programs are in conjunction with the Friends Annual Meeting that will be held on May 14 at 6 p.m. in the Elizabeth O’Rear Skanta Theatre. Social distancing and masks are required.


Please join us on Thursday, May 6 at 3 p.m. (EST) for a virtual presentation by military historian and best-selling author, Patrick O’Donnell. He will discuss one of his latest books, The Unknowns, The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home. O’Donnell illuminates the saga behind the creation of the monument and animates the tomb by giving voice to those who served in WWI.

When the first Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, General John Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in WWI, selected eight of America’s most decorated, battle- hardened veterans to serve as Body Bearers. He chose them for their bravery and to tell the larger story of America’s role in World War I. – The Unknowns

A Zoom link to this virtual program will be provided within three days of the presentation on the library’s website: and Please email your questions for the author to Mindy at by May 1. Also, by registering for this program, you will receive an email with a link to easily access Zoom. Please let us know if you have any technical questions. O’Donnell’s presentation will be available on the library’s website from May 6 through May 31.


The Indiana Historical Society’s (IHS) traveling exhibit, courtesy of Kroger, explores the roots of WWI, America’s entrance into the war, Indiana’s contributions to the war effort, the evolution of warfare, the role of Hoosier women both at home and abroad, the construction of the American Legion building and the Indiana War Memorial, and more. In addition to the IHS exhibit, we will have enlargements of historical photos and memorabilia courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute,

Indiana War Memorial, National Archives, VFW Post #1110, Clinton County Historical Museum, and a replica of a WWI Trench. This exhibit will be on display in the Anna and Harlan Hubbard Gallery.


A Call to Honor: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Replica. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a half-scale replica of the Tomb will be on display outside in front of the Frankfort Library, May 14 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (In case of rain, the replica will be moved inside to the Circulation Area.) The Tomb replica will be staffed at all times to answer your questions and is owned and managed by the Americanism Committee of the Exchange Club of Rome, Georgia. The Indiana Patriot Guard will be escorting the replica to the library the morning of May 14, from the downtown square to the library. This exhibit is sponsored by Frankfort VFW #1110. 


World War 1 America Exhibition Comes to Irving Archives and Museum 

via the Irving Archives & Museum (CA) web site

foreveryfighterawomanposter 1920wWWI America invites audiences into a nuanced understanding of World War I as a transformational event in American history, a compressed and convulsive time of social, economic, and political change, a lens through which to understand what it means to be “modern.”

WW1 America is on view April 9 through May 30, 2021 at Irving Archives and Museum.

Although it was fought thousands of miles away, the war transformed the United States from a relatively provincial power on the world stage to a full-fledged global, military-industrial leader, held together by a newly powerful federal government and charged with confident patriotism. This is the America that dominates popular memory: the saturated hues of patriotic posters, jubilant crowds at Liberty Loan rallies, the ranks of manly Doughboys, and hearty choruses of “Over There.”

And yet there were darker sides of the American experience during the years 1914 to 1919: entire swaths of US cities engulfed in racial conflagrations; workers striking by the millions; women demonstrating in the streets demanding the right to vote; immigrants harassed and deported; dissenters and “hyphenated” Americans pursued, surveilled, jailed, or lynched; and violent disagreements about the nature of civil liberties.

The American stage during and just after World War I witnessed sharp challenges to virtually every familiar boundary—those of citizenship, gender, race, class, nationality, generation, culture, not to mention traditional assumptions about foreign entanglements.

As the war came to an end, making the “world safe for democracy” may have actually seemed easier than making democracy even possible for millions of Americans at home.

And if the war did not have a precisely causal effect on social change during the period—for issues such as woman suffrage, African American migrations, Prohibition, labor struggles—it was nonetheless always in dialogue, sometimes violently, with the day’s upheavals, shaping the nation in profound and lasting ways. Indeed, so many issues from this period cascade down the years to our own time.