Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gov. Bevin declares April 6 World War I Centennial Day

Gov. Matt Bevin has designated tomorrow as World War I Centennial Day in Kentucky. One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States of America declared war against Germany and entered the battles of World War I.

The proclamation officially begins more than two years of events to commemorate the Great War and the thousands of Kentuckians who sacrificed to help bring the terrible carnage to an end.

“One hundred years have passed since the United States entered the war that was expected to end all wars. While that has sadly not been the case, the liberty of billions hung in the balance” said Gov. Bevin. “The Kentuckians who bravely fought to protect and defend the fate of the free world during World War I may no longer be with us, but the legacy they left behind cannot be forgotten. We are thankful for their sacrifice, and proudly honor their memory.”

In his proclamation, Gov. Bevin noted that Kentucky was chosen as the site of one of only 16 World War 1 cantonments, Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville, where more than 150,000 men were trained for service in World War 1.

Two men with Kentucky backgrounds were awarded the Medal of Honor for valorous service in World War 1: Capt. Samuel Woodfall and Sgt. Willie Sandlin of Buckhorn. When Gen. John J. Pershing was asked to name the most gallant among all of America's heroes of the Great War, Capt. Woodfall, a evident of Fort Thomas, was among his selections.

And at least six men from Kentucky served in the legendary U.S. Army unit nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters and were awarded the Croix de Guerre by the Government of France for their valorous service in World War 1: Pvt. Bert Beckham, Pvt. Robert Wooten, Pvt. Bradley Logan and Pvts. Ionia Harris, all of Shelbyville; Pvt. Leonard Todd of Finchville; and Pvt. John Ray Carter of Anderson County.

Kentucky established a 26-member committee to assist with the Centennial Commemoration from April 5, 2017 to the Summer of 2019. The members include representatives of historical societies, education, the arts and the military.

Many non-profit museums, organizations and other groups will be holding events throughout the next 10 years to commemorate the Centennial. You can find more information at:
Also, next week on KET, "American Experience" will be presenting "The Great War," a three-part, six-hour documentary on World War I. It airs at 7 p.m. CDT on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.