News and Updates

Complete Set of Tennessee Gold Star Records Available Online as World War I Anniversary Approaches

The United States officially entered World War I April 6, 1917. About 130,000 soldiers from Tennessee went off to battle – many of whom did not return. During the war, families of soldiers hung small flags with blue stars on them to signify that they were contributing to the war effort. The families of soldiers who were killed in action changed their blue stars to gold.

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Public Event in Nashville to Commemorate U.S. Entry in WWI

NASHVILLE – State organizations will gather on April 6 in downtown Nashville to commemorate America’s entry into World War I on April 6, 1917. The Declaration Day ceremony will honor all Tennesseans who served in WWI, often referred to as the Great War. It will also recognize the more than 3,400 Tennessee soldiers who lost their lives during the war. The event is organized by the Tennessee Great War Commission, Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee State Museum and the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services.

“The Great War propelled Tennessee into the twentieth century,” said Dr. Michael Birdwell with the Tennessee Great War Commission. “Although it was a war of staggering destruction and devastation, it also paved the way for enormous opportunities. Sergeant Alvin C. York earned a Medal of Honor along with five other Tennesseans and used his fame to improve public education across the state. The story of the war abroad and at home needs to be relearned for a new generation.”

Staff with Tennessee State Park’s Interpretive Programming and Education Division will be present in period uniforms of WWI doughboys. Reenactors will be distributing copies of the Gold Star records with the names of Tennesseans who lost their lives in the war. Tennessee National Guard will provide a color guard and bugler. The first mass war of the twentieth century lasted four years – from 1914 to 1918. More than 100,000 Tennesseans volunteered or were drafted. In September 1925, the War Memorial Building was dedicated to commemorate those who served.

What:Commemoration of the U.S. entry into WWI
Who:Jeff Wells, Tennessee State Parks Director of Interpretive Programming and Education
Dr. Michael Birdwell, Tennessee Great War Commission Chair
Many-Bears Grinder, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Veterans Services
When:Thursday, April 6, 2017
Noon – Introduction by Jeff Wells, Master of Ceremonies
12:15 p.m. – Presentation of Colors and Pledge of Allegiance
12:30 p.m. – Remarks and Commemoration
Where:Courtyard of War Memorial Auditorium
301 6th Ave. N., Nashville TN 37243
WWI Centennial Commission

World War One Centennial Commission

The Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013 Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013. The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One; encouraging private organizations and State and local governments to organize and participate in activities commemorating the centennial of World War I; facilitating and coordinating activities throughout the United States relating to the centennial of World War One; serving as a clearinghouse for the collection and dissemination of information about events and plans for the centennial of World War One; and developing recommendations for Congress and the President for commemorating the centennial of World War One. The Commissioners serve without pay.

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WWI Resources

Europeana 1914-1918 – untold stories & official histories of WW1

Explore stories, films and historical material about the First World War and contribute your own family history. Europeana 1914-1918 mixes resources from libraries and archives across the globe with memories and memorabilia from families throughout Europe. Discover. Learn. Research. Use. Share.

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Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I (1914-1918), the Tennessee State Library & Archives will send a team of professional archivists and conservators to communities across Tennessee. You may schedule an appointment, and we will digitally copy and help you preserve your World War I era manuscripts, artifacts, and photographs. You keep the originals.

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The Great War Commission has the duty to formulate, develop and execute plans for projects and activities that facilitate the recognition by Tennessee of the centenary of World War I, with particular emphasis on those Tennesseans who made the supreme sacrifice and those who returned home gravely wounded.

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Library of Congress to open major exhibition on World War I in 2017

The Library of Congress—which holds the largest multi-format collection of materials on the American experience in World War I—will present a major exhibition in 2017 to commemorate the centennial of The Great War.

The United States’ involvement in the “war to end all wars” began on April 6, 1917, when the U.S. Congress formally declared war on the German Empire, and concluded Nov. 11, 1918, with the armistice agreement. The exhibition will examine the upheaval of world war, as Americans experienced it—domestically and overseas.

Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917-1918

March 31 – Aug. 20, 2017, The National Museum and Memorial Courtyard

This special centennial exhibition, Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys, 1917-1918, features the incredible contemporary photographs of Michael St Maur Sheil, depicting the battlefields of the Western Front where the Americans fought. This latest exhibition marks the entry of the United States into the war in 1917 and promises to be as spectacular as the prior entries in the series, which have now been seen by more than five million people.

When the United States entered the cataclysm of the war to become known as World War I, the global conflict had consumed many nations since 1914 and continued for years. The Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918 halted the fighting on the Western Front.

© 2017 Great War Commission of Tennessee. All rights reserved.