The Great War—later known as World War 1—started in Europe in 1914. It was the world’s first mechanized war and was fought with tanks, trucks, machine guns, and airplanes. About 10 million died on the battlefields and another 20 million died of hunger and disease related to the war. The United States entered the war late—in 1917—and the war ended in 1918.
In the years leading up to America’s entry into the war, there was no national consensus in favor of war. Once in the war, however, there was a great need to convince the public of the righteousness of American involvement and the patriotic duty to fight “the enemy.” In his book A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn writes:
“The government had to work hard to create its consensus. That there was no spontaneous urge to fight is suggested by the strong measures taken: a draft of young men, an elaborate propaganda campaign throughout the country, and harsh punishment for those who refused to get in line.”
The Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio has a display of World War I memorabilia.
According to the display:
“The Germans first use of gas warfare at the Battle of Ypres on April 22, 1915, not only caused soldiers to die, but also caused especially horrific pain. Both sides rushed to find a defense. Within a year, each side found that masks connected to canisters with chemical filters protected soldiers from breathin in the deadly gases.”
More About World War I
Veterans Memorial Museum: World War I (Photo Diary)
Air Force Museum: World War I airplanes (photo diary)
Air Force Museum: World War I memorabilia (photo diary)
Museum of Flight: World War I German airplanes (photo diary)
Museum of Flight: World War I Sopwith airplanes (photo diary)
Museum of Flight: World War I French, British, and American airplanes (photo diary)
Museum of Flight: World War I model airplane display (photo diary)
Museum of Flight: World War I French and British airplane models (photo diary)