Thursday, April 6, 2017 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the United States entry into World War I, declaring war against Germany. Also known as the First World War, it was a global fight originating in Europe from July 28, 1914 to November 11, 1918. The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary by Yugoslav nationalist Gavril Princip in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. A crisis ensued when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia and within weeks international alliances formed and major powers were at war as the conflict spread around the world with Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom among those mobilizing.
At the outbreak of the war, the United States pursued a policy of non-intervention, while trying to broker a peace agreement. However in May of 1915, a German U-boat sunk the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania, traveling from New York to Britain. At the time Lusitania was the world’s largest passenger ship and 128 Americans were among the dead. President Woodrow Wilson demanded an end to submarine attacks on passenger ships and Germany complied. President Wilson also attempted to mediate a settlement. In January of 1917, Germany resumed its submarine warfare and sunk seven U.S. merchant ships. The President called for war against Germany, which the Congress declared on April 6, 1917 mobilizing a stunning effort, eventually drafting 2.8 million American soldiers into the conflict. For the first time in history women played a large part in the war efforts. Due to the heroic and skilled nature of U.S. Troops, on November 11, 1918 at 11 AM (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) a ceasefire came into effect.
One of the deadliest conflicts in history, more than nine million military personnel and seven million civilians were killed as a result of this war. More than 116,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice. Approximately 2,000 Malden men and women served in uniform during WWI from 1917 through 1919. Malden lost nearly 80 servicemen killed in action or who died later from their wounds or exposure to gas and disease. Most of these deaths occurred in just a six month period from May 1918 through November 1918 and included Austin F. O’Hare who was killed on the very last day of the war, Armistice Day November 11, 1918. On this 100th anniversary of this great struggle, let us never forget the sacrifices of our soldiers and the war that shaped the social, military and political fabric of the 20th century.
On November 11, 2017, the World War I Centennial Commission will dedicate a long overdue memorial to those lost to this war at Pershing Park in Washington, DC. Pershing Park honors John J. Pershing who served as General of the Armies in World War I.
This Memorial Day Monday May 29, 2017 at 1 PM, the City of Malden and the Irish American Club will sponsor a ceremony to honor its men and women who served during WWI. We will remember those who made it home to Malden and many others who paid the ultimate sacrifice like David Tartikoff and William Trafton at a ceremony at the WWI Monument located at the corner of Malden Street and the Fellsway at Devir Park.
Released by the Office of Mayor Gary Christenson