After years of extensive research, planning and coordination with state, federal, military and international governments, supporters of the World War I Memorial will break ground for the site just prior to Veterans Day.
The groundbreaking event is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 11 a.m. at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. The program will serve as an opportunity to thank partners and supporters who have helped turn a historic vision into reality. Unique to the event, the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony will include soil brought from French battlefields signifying the allied service and sacrifice of those who fought for the common cause of freedom.
The event will be streamed via Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/ww1centennial.
VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin is scheduled to be among the featured speakers. VA is one of many federal agencies participating in the World War I Centennial Commission’s mission to build a new national memorial. Although there are no living World War I Veterans, VA recognizes the incredible history this generation of Veterans made to both America and the world following the Great War.
Overseas and here in the United States, the World War I Commemoration Commission has been leading numerous programs from fund raising to build the memorial to historical and educational programs.
To date, France has hosted several events to memorialize and commemorate major battles and campaigns. The impact of World War I not only changed the technology of warfare, but the forever shaped the geopolitical landscape worldwide. In fact, the challenges in the middle east, southwest Asia, and eastern Europe are directly traced to the outcomes in the war.
For the United States, the significance of World War I cannot be oversimplified. The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, and fought until the armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. In that period of less than two years, more Americans died than in Korea and Vietnam combined. Nearly five million Americans served; 116,516 men and women Americans died, and there were more than 320,000 U.S. casualties. The face of America at war also reflected a diverse population of immigrants, minorities and native Americans.
Next year, Veterans Day 2018, the nation will commemorate 100 years since the end of the Great War.
Please take an opportunity to learn more about the memorial and centennial program at ww1cc.org/memorial. Volunteer opportunities abound and those interested can inquire with state and local officials overseeing these efforts.
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.