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Fort Sam Houston Museum features World War I centennial exhibit

By Randy Mitchell | U.S. Army North Public Affairs | April 19, 2017


April 6 marked the official start of the United States World War I centennial period, which runs through June 2019, covering the U.S. entry into the war to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston has partnered with many other commemorative organizations to show Texans role during the war.

The Fort Sam Houston Museum at the U.S. Army North Quadrangle is exhibiting historical objects and displays to commemorate the military’s role during the role beginning with a new display, according to Jackie Davis, U.S. Army North museum director. The displays will switch out through the period to reflect different actions and roles the post took on during that period.

Texas and Fort Sam Houston were poised for war long before the April 6, 1917 declaration of war against Germany.

The U.S. Army Southern Department (a forerunner to U.S. Army North) had already responded to organized incursions into U.S. territory by Mexican revolutionaries and bandits with the Punitive Expedition. The Punitive Expedition (under the leadership of Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing) brought thousands of National Guard troops from all over the country to Texas in 1916 and served as a proving ground for military mobilization, training, and logistical support that would be used in 1917-18; resembling the mission U.S. Army north performs still today, according to Davis.

In Texas, volunteers have taken the challenge of organizing the Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration Association, an unincorporated nonprofit association with the goal of communicating, coordinating and commemorating the Great War in Texas.

Over two years, the group has grown to over 600 people and hundreds of organizations and groups; including County Historical Commissions, museums, veterans groups, schools, universities, military organizations, and others.

By late 2015, they had also successfully lobbied the Governor’s office to establish a commemorative body. Gov. Greg Abbott appointed the Texas Historical Commission as the lead agency to spearhead the state’s activities. To find the many other events, displays and activities to commemorate WWI, visit the following sites:

• Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration Association web site at https://www.texasworldwar1centennial.org/, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TEXAS.WWI.CENTENNIAL or Twitter at @WWI_TX.
• The Texas WWI Centennial Commemoration depends on teachers, students, historians, local officials, and interested citizens to give it meaning. They have a list of off-the-shelf activities at https://www.texasworldwar1centennial.org.
• The Texas Military Forces Museum website at http://texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org.

World War I introduced Texans to the world and the world to Texas. Contact the Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration at WWICC.TX@gmail.com for more information on how to commemorate the WWI people and places that changed your community or organization.