On Saturday many across the nation will pause to honor the veterans who have served their country. This year there’s a special observance that goes along with Veterans Day.
It was 100 years ago that the U.S. entered World War I, helping Great Britain, France and their allies defeat Germany. The end of World War I resulted in President Woodrow Wilson declaring Nov. 11, 1919, as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. Since then Armistice Day has become Veterans Day, a time to honor all who served.
This year there are activities to mark the anniversary of World War I. The North Dakota World War I Centennial Commission has been formed to work with schools, news media and communities on projects honoring the 30,000 people from North Dakota who served in World War I and the 1,300 who died in the war. It also supports the national effort to build a memorial in Washington, D.C. The commission has worked with the North Dakota Newspaper Association to create a package of stories and photos on the state’s role in the war. Readers can enjoy some of the stories in the Saturday Tribune and online.
Some interesting events have taken place or are scheduled related to World War I. The United Tribes Technical College International Pow Wow in September honored Native Americans who served in the first world war. Native Americans weren’t eligible to be U.S. citizens at the time, but they didn’t hesitate to serve.
University of Mary students from Joseph Stuart's Cultural History of the Great War class have collected letters from soldiers printed in newspapers in 1918 and 1919. Students will use these letters to perform a Reader's Theater inside the North Dakota Heritage Center's Russell Reid Auditorium at 1 p.m. Saturday called "Letters from the Great War." There also will be a lecture by Stuart. The students worked with the World War I Centennial Commission on the project.
All the veterans from World War I are gone but their letters and the stories they shared with their families keep the memories alive.
While the number of veterans from World War II continues to dwindle there are still enough survivors to provide insight into that war.
Recently members of the famous 164th Infantry Regiment from North Dakota appeared at Bismarck State College. They recounted the role they played at the Battle of Guadalcanal and in later battles in the Pacific. Many in the regiment were North Dakota farm boys who had never traveled far from home. They performed heroic feats in the Pacific. North Dakotans would continue to serve with distinction in Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. Military members from the state have been on duty in peace and war.
It’s good that on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry in World War I we take the time to revisit the era. It’s important that we know our nation’s history and the role North Dakota played. There are a lot of intriguing stories related to World War I and this is an appropriate time to look at them.
Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.
There will be a Veterans Day ceremony at noon Friday at AMVETS, 2402 Railroad Ave., and at 9:45 a.m. Saturday at the North Dakota Heritage Center. It’s an opportunity to honor all veterans.