KANSAS CITY - With the World War I Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. as the backdrop, Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer, foreign dignitaries from 27 countries, Governor Eric Greitens joined local elected officials and a sizable crowd on April 6, 2017 to commemorate the United States entry into the Great War.
"As we reflect on the First World War and its lessons, I think of the ways in which our modern Army was created in this conflict," said Speer during his remarks at the ceremony. "Our units, our methods of leadership and organization, and even how we fight came into being as America, for the first time, projected and sustained millions of its sons and daughters overseas for years of warfare."
Earlier other speakers had echoed these thoughts speaking about dramatic changes in technology like tanks and machine guns, medicine and society. Soldiers began the war on horseback and ended the war in tanks.
"As the Army Center for Military History points out, a soldier from the late 19th Century would have been thoroughly disoriented by the vast changes in the Army, but a Soldier from today would feel at home in the Army of 1918, said Speer."
It was also the first time that the Unites States had fought alongside our modern allies. Respective government officials of Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy and the United Kingdom read passages expressing concern of American neutrality at the beginning of the war and relief and joy when America declared war.
"We still live in the long shadow of World War I in every part of our lives," said retired Col. Robert J. Dalessandro, chairmen of the United States World War One Centennial Commission.
The United States lost more the 116,000 Servicemembers in just 12 months of conflict.
The ceremony featured descendants of famous Generals and war heroes, a verbal history with images from the war on the large jumbotrons, a tribute to African-Americans, Native Americans and immigrants for their significant contributions, and a flyover of the Patrouille de France and a B-2 Bomber.
Near the conclusion of the commemoration Secretary Speer read from President Calvin Coolidge address at the Dedication of this Liberty Memorial on November 11, 1926.
"Reverence for our dead, respect for our living, loyalty to our country, devotion to humanity, consecration to religion, all of these and much more is represented in this towering monument and its massive supports. It has not been raised to commemorate war and victory, but rather the results of war and victory, which are embodied in peace and liberty…"