Honoring service of WWI soldiers

Grow Nebraska

One hundred years ago this week, the United States Congress passed the Declaration of War against Germany requested by then President Woodrow Wilson.
The catalyst for America’s entry: unrestricted German submarine warfare sunk several American merchant ships, which resulted in the deaths of numerous American citizens.
The war would forever change our country and reshape the global balance of power.
During this anniversary, Nebraska will be honoring those who served and gave their lives in the “Great War.”
A century has passed since the First World War, but shadows of the war remain across Nebraska today.
Nebraska’s most notable connection to “the war to end all wars” is General John J. Pershing, whose leadership helped defeat Germany and bring a swift conclusion to the war. Pershing led the First Army, which was a key part of the Hundred Days Offensive leading to the armistice ending World War I (WWI).
Today, a bust of General Pershing sits in the Hall of Fame at the Nebraska State Capitol alongside other notable Nebraskans like Buffalo Bill and Willa Cather.
During this anniversary, we will honor the heroes who came home from war, but also the many who died during service. Nine million soldiers lost their lives and 21 million more were wounded during WWI.
The unprecedented carnage saw the first use of chemical warfare, flame throwers, tanks and fleets of combat aircraft. It also saw the introduction of the use of X-ray machines, blood banks and guide dogs.
WWI also coincided with the birth of the American Red Cross in Nebraska, which is also celebrating their 100-year anniversary this year.
Over the years, Nebraska has honored those who gave their lives in WWI. Offutt Air Force Base was named after Omaha native Jarvis Offutt who served as an aviator in the U.S. Army Air Service and was killed in France during the war.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium was dedicated to all “who served and fell in the Nation’s Wars,” including Roscoe “Dusty” Rhodes, the captain-elect of the Nebraska football team of 1918 who was also killed in action in France. Jarvis and Roscoe were just two of the over 800 Nebraskans who lost their lives in World War I.

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