Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Brig. Gen. Ronald A. Westfall, director of the joint staff for the Indiana National Guard, commemorated the nation’s entry into World War I in Indianapolis at the Indiana War Memorial today.
Westfall highlighted Hoosier involvement in World War I particularly the 38th Infantry Division, which became a unit due to wartime mobilizations.
“Indiana was a major contributor to the war effort in World War I just as we have been in every major conflict our country has been involved in,” said Westfall. “The 38th Infantry Division, headquartered right here in Indianapolis, is one of 18 U.S. Army divisions, and one of eight National Guard divisions in the Army’s inventory. The 38th Infantry Division deployed overseas in October 1918 where it landed in France at the height of the German peace offensives.”
Other guest speakers spotlighted veterans of a war that is also known as ’the Great War’ at a facility built to honor those veterans and America’s allies. General John J. Pershing, who led the American Expeditionary Force into Europe in 1917, help lay the memorial’s cornerstone in 1927 and the auditorium is named in his honor.
“We honor the historic legacy of the tens of thousands of Americans who answered the call and who gave what (President Abraham) Lincoln said, ‘the last full measure of devotion’ when liberty and freedom hung in the balance,” said Holcomb. “We can, most importantly, never never allow the memory to end of those who served and why they served, and never allow that to fade. And days like today are so encouraging to me and remind me, in fact, that we won’t.”
This event is the first in a series scheduled over the next two years.
The U.S. officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917, nearly three years after the conflict began in Europe and triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28, 1914.