Armistice and After: The Legacy of the WWI Generation in the U.S.

"This is the great reward of service, to live, far out and on, in the life of others." - Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain I came upon this quote about four years ago - near the 100th anniversary of Chamberlain's death - and right around the time that France, Germany, the UK (and the Commonwealth Countries) were …

Reading List for the U.S. in World War I

As we move through the centenary of the U.S. experience in World War I, I've had several people ask me for book recommendations on the topic. Which is tough, because when someone generally asks me for recommendations my head goes blank and I mutter something about "Good Omens" (seriously, phenomenal book, nothing to do with …

In an American Cemetery in France: Thoughts on Memorial Day

A gentle breeze slipped past the gravestones near me, rustling the slim folds of the American flag overhead, tapping the fasteners against the pole in a metallic rhythm. Aside from our low voices, the soft sounds of insects and birds, and the occasional passing car, it was the only sound to be heard. We were …

Thoughts While Reading World War I Rosters

Over the past few months, I've been spending a lot of time reading over World War I rosters, both unit and casualty reports. As I was going over them, I began to wonder how someone like me in the future would read my name on some roster. And then this just sort of happened. Pages …

The Ghost of Black Jack Pershing: the US Army and the Centennial of WWI

It’s the 100th anniversary of the U.S. participation in World War I, as many of you know. The Department of Defense has tapped the Army to lead the way for the whole organization when it comes to centennial activities and planning, because - let’s face it - it was an Army run show. Yes, the …

” Look! Here are the Americans!” The U.S. in World War I and Popular Memory

One hundred years ago this week, the United States entered World War I. “Too late to make a difference!” say some, often British or Commonwealth. “Should never have joined it at all,” say others, usually non-interventionist Americans. “World war what?” say many, usually all other Americans. “Thank you,” say a great many, almost always French. No …

When the United States Army Went to War Armed with French Weapons

France. What a silly place, am I right? They eat frogs, they're on their, like, millionth government since the Revolution, and they keep needing us 'Muricans to save them during world wars. Well, that is one way of viewing the Franco-American narrative, I suppose, if one were to overlook the incredibly vital French aid during the American …

Walking a World War I Battlefield

I've been to a lot of battlefields: from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Most are neatly marked with "this thing happened here" or "Robert E. Lee's horse drank from a puddle here." I've even been to a few from the Soviet-Afghan War and Operation Enduring Freedom, although I saw …