This year marks the 100th anniversary when the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. On this Bastille Day, Friday, July 14, the French people will honor our continuing commitment as trusted allies by inviting the United States military to lead the traditional military parade. Nearly 200 American service members will march along the Champs-Elysees in commemoration of the U.S. entry into “the Great War.”
VA is a proud participant in the United States World War I Centennial Commission tribute to our past Veterans. Nearly five million men and women served in WWI with 116,516 giving their lives in the line of duty. More than 320,000 were injured in service to our nation. Frank Buckles, the last surviving American Veteran died in 2011. We should never forget these dedicated service members whose commitment in a new kind of warfare forever changed the world. World affairs, military technology and geo-political maps formed during the war from 1914 – 1918 remain today.
Across our country, efforts are underway to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Great War’s ending on Nov. 11, 2018. VA, in partnership with the World War I Centennial Commission, is supporting initiatives to honor those who served, help educate our citizens about the war and its consequences, and to commemorate through public programs our noble mission to support Veterans, their families and their survivors.
This fall, a ground breaking ceremony is planned in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. A new memorial plan has been approved and construction of a new National World War I Memorial will get underway. In the meantime, Veterans and VA employees are encouraged to support local community initiatives to honor our World War I Veterans legacy. In fact, most state governments are commemorative partners and are leading efforts in local and regional areas to restore monuments, host historical and educational forums and conduct fund-raising for the national monument.
Please visit ww1cc.org/memorial to learn more.
About the author: Joe Curtin, an Army Veteran, is the director of VA’s National Veterans Outreach Office. The National Veterans Outreach Office leads, coordinates and reports outreach program activities and communications throughout VA to increase Veterans’ awareness of VA’s healthcare, benefits and services, as well as how to apply for them.