WWI Commemoration Series Begins at SMSU

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It was the first war in which so many nations of the world came up in arms against one another in the fight for power and control. It was a war that would see whole generations completely annihilated. It was the war that would change the world forever.

Southwest Minnesota State University begins the official start of a five-year WWI Commemoration Series, to be held April 2014-May 2019, that will honor the memory of those affected by the Great War and educate those seeking to learn more about how it changed the face of our nation as well as others.

The commemoration series is being held in honor of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War, now known as World War One, which began in late June 2014 when, with the ‘shot heard round the world’, Serbian Gavrilo Princip killed Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria.

The series began April 15 and 16 in a presentation by professors of history Jeff Kolnick and Tom Williford, focusing on the pre-war world, the great migration to the United States and what led to the Great War.

Kathleen Ashe, associate professor of McFarland Library; Hollie Martin-Hoffman, Lyon County Library director; Paula Neimes, Marshall-Lyon County librarian; and Dr. James Zarzana, professor of English at SMSU, will spearhead the series, with a focus on major parts of the war over the next five years, with a collaborative effort between the school and the community.

Though America’s participation in the war will be covered, a good portion of the series will focus on WWI and Europe.

“For Americans, there is a general importance of knowing how WWI affects Europe [eastern countries] today and how it was changed….suffering effects of end of the war. People should know more about it,” Dr. Zarzana said.

The tentative schedule of the series includes:

• American and Her Emergence in the World; Jeff Kolnick and Tom Williford; May 2014

• “Guns of August” and First Shots; Michael Hofstetter; September/October 2014

• Music; Dan Rieppel; November 2014

• “Christmas Truce”; December 2014

• Early War; Joan Gittens; February 2015

• War Machines and “Trench Scene”; Jim Zarzana; March/April 2015

• Russia and the War; Michael Hofstetter; September/October 2015

• Verdun and The Somme; Joe Amato; February 2016

• “War at Sea” and American Neutrality; Tom Williford; March/April 2016

• “Music to Inspire” those pre-war and war-era peppy songs; John Ginocchio; TBA

• Lawrence of Arabia and Dardanelles; Michael Hofstetter; September/October 2016

• Ypres, Belgium; Jim Zarzana; February 2017

• Anti-War Movement and Attacks on Civil Liberties; Joan Gittens; March/April 2017

• Music and the Water; Dan Rieppel; TBA

• USA, Woodrow Wilson and US entering the War; Jeff Kolnick; September/October 2017

• Art and the War, Before, During, and After; Pat Brace; February 2018

• War Poets; Jim Zarzana and others; March/April 2018

• Fall of Russia, Germany’s last gamble, USA enters in force; September/October 2018

• The Great Influenza; February 2019

• Treaty of Versailles; March/April 2019

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