The Centennial Commemoration of The United States in World War One

Pritzker Museum donates $5 million to World War One centennial effort

Centennial Commission Meeting Video

The Centennial Commission held a public meeting at the Pritzker Military Library and Museum in Chicago on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 12:30 CST. You can view the event video above.

Announcement of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library partnership with the World War One Centennial Commission

On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 5:30pm, The Pritzker Military Museum & Library hosted a private reception and press event by the United States World War One Centennial Commission, recognizing the PMML as a founding sponsor and partner in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war. Through this partnership, the Museum & Library will strive to give the centennial the recognition it deserves through partnership activities to include the publication of the official World War One Centennial coffee table book, a number of television programs, an exhibit, and development and distribution of a commemorative coin.

“As an institution dedicated to preserving and sharing the history and heritage of the Citizen Soldier, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is proud to support the Centennial Commission in similarly preserving and sharing the history of World War One, so that we can learn lessons from the past to apply to the future.” — Col. (IL) Jennifer N. Pritzker, ILARNG (Retired)

About the United States World War One Centennial Commission

The Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act (Public Law 112-272), passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013. The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One; encouraging private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial of World War One; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One; and developing recommendations for Congress and the President for commemorating the centennial of World War One. The Commissioners serve without pay, and no appropriated Federal funds may be used for any of the Commission's activities or expenses.


The Centennial of World War One


"The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.... It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
President Woodrow Wilson
Address to Congress, 2 April 1917

By Kate Thayer
Chicago Tribune

Chicago -- A $5 million donation from a Chicago military museum will help a national effort to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The Pritzker Military Museum and Library, which announced the donation Friday, is the founding sponsor of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission — a group formed last year and charged with developing projects to mark the anniversary of the United States' involvement in the war in 1917.


All former Presidents join
Centennial Commission
as Honorary Chairs

CHICAGO, December 10, 2014 -- The United States World War One Centennial Commission announced today that all four living former Presidents of the United States will serve as Honorary Chairs of the Commission.

George HW BushJimmy CarterFormer Presidents James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, and George Walker Bush each will lend their name to the centennial commemoration, which will run through July 2019, honoring the participation of the United States and its citizens in the war effort.

George W BushBill ClintonWhile there are no living veterans of World War One, President George H.W. Bush offered the use of his name in honor of his father Prescott Bush who served as a field artillery captain with the American Expeditionary Forces (1917–1919) during World War One, where he came under fire in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Commission planning for
national memorial in DC

There is no national World War One Memorial in the nation's capital.

World War One Commission Vice Chair, Mr. Edwin Fountain says the Commission hopes to change all that. Fountain appeared at a Newsmaker meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on the 12th of August. Video of his talk is available here.

Fountain reported that the Commission had selected this as one of its projects. Congressional action will be required to make it a reality. Funds for the memorial will be privately raised. A number of community and private organizations have endorsed the plan.

The World War One Commission was created by the Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2013. Its members are charged with educating the American people about the effects of the war, and honoring those who no longer have a voice. The last living  American World War One veteran was Frank Buckles, who died in 2011.



100 Years Ago

World War One—called the "Great War" until the world learned that there would be more than one such war in the twentieth century—was the first total war of the modern period. The participants, unprepared for the long and bloody conflict that ensued after the summer of 1914, scrambled to mobilize their manpower and industry to prosecute the war. All searched for a decisive military victory. Instead, dramatic and largely unforeseen changes in warfare quickly followed one another, in the end altering both Europe and the larger Western culture that it represented. Although the bloody conflict finally ended with an armistice in November 1918, it cast a long politico-military shadow over the decades that followed.
poster 14The United States reluctantly entered Europe's "Great War" and tipped the balance to Allied victory. In part the nation was responding to threats to its own economic and diplomatic interests. But it also wanted, in the words of President Woodrow Wilson, to "make the world safe for democracy." The United States emerged from the war a significant, but reluctant, world power.
poster 11Under unprecedented government direction, American industry mobilized to produce weapons, equipment, munitions, and supplies. Nearly one million women joined the workforce. Hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the South migrated north to work in factories.
Two million Americans volunteered for the army, and nearly three million were drafted. More than 350,000 African Americans served, in segregated units. For the first time, women were in the ranks, nearly 13,000 in the navy as Yeoman (F) (for female) and in the marines. More than 20,000 women served in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. poster 4The first contingent of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), commanded by General John J. Pershing reached France in June, but it took time to assemble, train, and equip a fighting force. By spring 1918, the AEF was ready, first blunting a German offensive at Belleau Wood.
The Americans entered a war that was deadlocked. Opposing armies were dug in, facing each other in trenches that ran nearly 500 miles across northern France—the notorious western front.  poster 6Almost three years of horrific fighting resulted in huge losses, but no discernable advantage for either side. American involvement in the war was decisive. Within eighteen months, the sheer number of American "doughboys" added to the lines ended more than three years of stalemate. Germany agreed to an armistice on November 11, 1918.
Two million men in the American Expeditionary Force went to France. Some 1,261 combat veterans—and their commander, General Pershing—were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest award for extraordinary heroism. Sixty-nine American civilians also received the award.
To learn even more about the Great War, click on the "History" button on the front page.

The Commemoration

From 2017 through 2019, the World War One Centennial Commission will coordinate events and activities commemorating the Centennial of the Great War. (Why?) The Commission has partnered with a broad range of organizations across the United States and around the world to spotlight events publications, productions, activities, programs, and sites that allow people in the United States to learn about the history of World War One, the United States involvement in that war, and the war's effects on the remainder of the 20th century, and to commemorate and honor the participation of the United States and its citizens in the war effort.

The Commission will serve as a clearing house for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One. The Commission will also encourage private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War One.

To take part, click on our EVENTS link for a detailed list of events being planned during the centennial commemoration period. Many more events will be announced later.

All faiths worship services mark
centennial of Great War's start

People of all faiths gathered on Sunday, July 27 across the nation to mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War, and reflect on the effects and consequences of that terrible conflict. The World War One Centennial Commission invited faith communities Commission-Cathedral logosacross the nation to mark the occasion somberly, and consider the suffering of that time and resolve to avoid such agony in the future.

This ecumenical day of remembrance and reflection across all faiths was  the solemn beginning of the national commemoration of the Great War centennial which will extend through 2019. In order to facilitate this remembrance, the Commission partnered with Washington National Cathedral to create resources for worship on that Sunday. These resources include prayers and collects (also suitable as a litany) and homiletic reflections on the scriptures. The Cathedral and the Commission invite you to use these resources, in whole or in part, with freedom to modify them for use by your congregation, on appropriate dates throughout the commemoration period.

For more information and links to these and other liturgical resources for the centennial commemoration, click here or on the graphic above right.

Monuments,  memorials
to be registered, revitalized

WASHINGTON, DC -- Across the nation, thousands of monuments and memorials to America's World War One efforts stand in city squares, cemeteries, parks, and public buildings.
The 933  chambersburg doughboy 3World War One Centennial Commission will partner with Saving Hallowed Ground, the American Battle Monuments Commission, the World War One Memorial Inventory Project, and other organizations to identify and record all these monuments.

The Commission will encourage local communities and organizations to perform conservation and preservation services to the monuments themselves, and engage school students, Scouts, and communities in researching and learning about the history of their monuments and about the stories behind the names inscribed on these Living History Memorials, to remind citizens of their meaning and the great deeds they memorialize.

Check out the Monuments and Memorials page to view the sites currently listed in the database.  Monuments and memorials not included already by by nominated by completing the submission for linked on the Monuments and Memorials page.


Commemoration Partners

 Commemoration News
AmerLegion color Emblem op 600x600 VFW National World War I Museum logo

Evarts Tracy

Pioneer of American camouflage
was a renowned architect

By Nancy Piwowar

Plainfield, NJ -- Evarts Tracy was one of the foremost architects in America in 1915, but as World War One came closer to America, he was one of the first men to offer his services to the government. Such patriotism was a family tradition: Tracy was the great-great grandson of Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the only one to sign three other historic documents: The Association of 1774, The Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States.

Tracy was born in New York on May 23, 1868, and moved with his family at the age of six to Plainfield, New Jersey. His parents' house is located on West Eighth Street in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District, Plainfield, New Jersey. He graduated from Yale in 1890.


World War One Centennial
Commemoration effort moves forward

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON – It was called The Great War even as it was going on. It engulfed the world, and the world is still feeling its effects.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, and U.S. officials are gearing up to mark the centennial.
In his day job, Robert J. Dalessandro is the director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort Lesley J. McNair here. He also is the acting chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission.
The Great War began in July 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This triggered an interconnecting network of alliances to spark mobilization, bringing in the empires of Europe. England, France and Russia lined up against Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
A generation of men died in battle on the fields of France. The Somme, Verdun, Ypres and Meuse-Argonne became killing grounds. On the Eastern Front, millions of Germans, Austrians and Russians battled. Overall, about 16.5 million people were killed in the war.
At first, the United States stayed out of it. In fact, when President Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election in 1916, his campaign slogan was "He kept us out of war."


 PritzkerMML Logo

Founding Sponsor
ABMC-logo Navy Memorial



 World War I Memorial Inventory Project 2

logo saving hallowed ground



washington national cathedral NDIA seal




WWI Historical Association 2 National-Guard-Bureau-logo
AFS  PershingRiflesCoatOfArms  great-war-project