Circa Summer 2018

Feature

REMEMBERING WWI by R. Jackson Marshall III, Deputy Director, Division of State History Museums, and Curator of the North Carolina and World War I Exhibition

Exhibition visitors share a reflective moment.

30th Division helmet.

British poet Laurence Binyon captured the sentiments for a generation lost in World War I with lines from his poem For the Fallen : “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” Presently, the museum is commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I. It began in Europe in August 1914, and within weeks, European countries massed armies against one another in tremendous battles. Throughout 1915 and 1916, casualties mounted beyond all compre- hension—in two 1916 battles in France, more men were killed or wounded than the entire popula- tion of North Carolina at that time, equivalent to the entire population of Mecklenburg and Wake Counties today. Understandably, American citizens wanted no part in the awful conflict that raged overseas. By 1917, however, the United States was dragged into the European war when German U-boats attacked American ships, and bungling German diplomatic attempts to convince Mexico to go to war against the US came to light. But the United States was so unprepared for war that it took a year to mobilize, train, and ship overseas enough troops to form a large-enough army to fight in Europe. Throughout 1918 American soldiers engaged in numerous costly battles that ended with an armistice on November 11, 1918. President Woodrow Wilson and the American people hoped that US military intervention in the war and the creation of a League of Nations would ensure that WWI would be “the war to end all wars.”

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US Army recruiting poster, 1918.

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