World War I

National Archives

One hundred years ago, Americans were adjusting to life after a destabilizing world war. The Spanish influenza decimated communities, fears of Bolshevik-style communism ran rampant and hundreds of thousands of returning veterans were competing for jobs and housing ⁠— including African Americans confident that fighting abroad earned them the right to freedom at home. 

Throughout the summer of 1919, the war between nations gave way to a war between races. Mobs targeted and lynched black Americans. 


Courtesy Kentucky National Guard

World War I, which ended with an armistice agreement 100 years ago, transformed life in the United States. The "war to end all wars" also introduced a new chapter in African-Americans' fight for equal rights. About one million African-Americans registered for the draft and nearly 370,000 African-Americans enlisted in the U.S. military during World War I. Along with the activist W.E.B. Du Bois, many of those who served hoped that a war fought in the name of democracy would, at its end, make American society truly democratic as well.

David Davis, a professor of English at Mercer University, spoke with us about the atmosphere African-Americans met overseas in the war and the environment to which they returned after the armistice. 


War Department / U.S. National Archives

The armistice declaring the end of World War I, on the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" of 1918, was signed 100 years ago. Georgia contributed more than 100,000 men and women to the war effort, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. During U.S. involvement in the war from 1917-1918, the state was also home to more training camps than any other state.

Georgia Humanities president Laura McCarty stopped by "On Second Thought" to talk about Georgians' contributions to the war effort and highlight some lesser known stories, including those of Moina Michael and Eugene Bullard. Michael, a former University of Georgia administrator, is credited with popularizing the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for those lost in the war. Bullard, from Columbus, Georgia, was the first African-American fighter pilot. Serving in the French military, Bullard predated the Tuskegee Airmen by more than 20 years. 


Imperial War Museum

During December 1914, something remarkable happened. For a week before Christmas Day, French, British and German soldiers laid down their arms. They talked, sang carols, and wished each other Merry Christmas. This was known as the Christmas Truce, and did not happen again. We learned more about this piece of holiday history from Emory University professor Patrick Allitt.

 

 

The Library of Congress

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States' involvement in World War I. More than a 100,000 men and women from Georgia served in the conflict. One of them was Roland Neel of Macon. Lieutenant Neel received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action. He shared his memories in a 1975 interview with the Macon Telegraph.

 

Amazon.com

A hundred years ago, the United States entered into WWI. To mark the centennial, the Atlanta History Center is taking a closer look at Georgia’s connections to the conflict. Take the red poppy, now a ubiquitous symbol in times of war.