Special Issue  -   U.S. Entry into WWI 
Centennial Commemoration on April 6, 2017

On April 6, 2017, the United States will commemorate the centennial of its entry into World War I. The nation's official observance, organized by The World War I Centennial Commission, is taking place at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dedicated shortly after the war, the Memorial was the first national monument dedicated to the 4.5 million U.S. World War I veterans and to the over 110,000 Americans who lost their lives in the conflict.

This once-in-a-century event will include a world-class multimedia production and live presentation, featuring speakers from around the globe!

We invite you to join us for this unique teaching and learning opportunity, using the resources provided below.
In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace
Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I

Program of Events - Thursday, April 6, 2017

11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Ceremony
2:30 - 4:30 p.m. - Colloquiums
Panel 1 - Why the US entered WWI, moderated by Robert Dalessandro
Panel 2 - How do we build peace after a great conflict?, moderated by David Ignatius

Schedule may vary slightly, all times in CDT (Central Daylight Time)
We are excited to offer educators the opportunity be part of America's official historical record of this event! The livestream of the entire ceremony will be available to teachers; in addition, we are providing activities designed for use within a typical class schedule.

Available resources will include a toolkit for hosting an in-class or local commemoration, a resource on remembrance and commemoration featuring the WWI Centennial Commemoration's poppy program, a look at American patriotism through WWI propaganda posters, and a number of lesson plans and links addressing the U.S. entry into the war

We also invite educators to share photos and brief summaries of their activities. These stories will be archived with the official Commission website as part of our nation's official historical record. Please visit to learn more.

When the Great War began in the summer of 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed "The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name during these days that are to try men's souls."

While war raged overseas, the United States remained officially neutral. However, citizens raised funds for both sides, and shipped millions of tons of relief and war goods to Europe. Americans volunteered to fly, fight, and heal the wounded. Still, the majority of Americans believed this was not their war. In November 1916, Wilson won re-election under the slogan "He kept us out of war."

In January 1917, Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, with the hope it would end the European stalemate. Shortly after, the U.S. learned of a telegram sent by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, enticing Mexico to invade the U.S. in exchange for American territory. In March, the fall of Russia's monarchy simplified the moral argument for the Allied cause: the war was now between democratic nations and autocratic empires.

In response to these events, on April 2, Wilson went before the U.S. Congress and stated: "the world must be made safe for democracy." Four days later, on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war.

Looking for more resources on the history of the U.S. entry to the war? Take a look at the archive of our last newsletter issue which is full of resources from the National Archives, Library of Congress, Stanford History Education Group, Smithsonian magazine, and others.

Visit for more education resources that you can use free of charge and see the Understanding the Great War newsletter archive.
The United States World War One Centennial Commission and the National World War I Museum and Memorial are dedicated to educating the public about the causes, events, and consequences of the conflict and we encourage the use of these resources to better understand the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community.

Partners on this project include:
The Pritzker Military Museum and Library is a founding sponsor of the United States World War One Centennial Commission.