Centenial Commemoration of the United States’ entrance into WWI

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the American entrance into WWI.
Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser, and Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston, opened a panel discussion about "Fighting Doughboys: Massachusetts Called to arms in WWI" at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center of Boston University.

Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the American entrance into WWI.

Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Jim Peyser, and Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston, opened a panel discussion about "Fighting Doughboys: Massachusetts Called to arms in WWI" at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center of Boston University.

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On the picture from left to right, up and down, President of the WWI Centennial Stephen Taber, Consul General Valéry Freland, Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, President of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Alex Rankin, BU Professor Erik Goldstein, Brigadier General Leonid Kondratiuk, MIT Professor Christopher Cappozola, Professor Anatole Sykley.

Consul General, Valéry Freland, gave the following speech:

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  • "Dear Massachusetts Secretary of Education Jim Peyser,

  • Dear Brigadier General Leonid Kondratiuk,
  • Dear President of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Alex Rankin,
  • Dear Professors,
  • Honorable guests,
  • Dear Friends,
  • Bonsoir à tous et merci infiniment de cette initiative et de m’accueillir avec autant d’amitié ce soir. Thank you so much for this initiative and your warm welcome.
  • It’s really a great pleasure and a great honor for me to be here tonight, at Boston University, to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the entrance of the United States into the First World War. As we all know, April 6th, 1917 marked a major shift in our common history: by responding to the call of President Wilson, by following Colonel Stanton’s famous injunction “Lafayette, we are here!”, “Lafayette, nous voilà !”, the American people showed their faithfulness to the enduring links of friendship that have shaped the Franco-American relationship since the American Revolution.
  • Today we pay tribute to the four point three million American soldiers who participated in the war because they believed in a better future, and to the one hundred twenty thousand who gave their lives in the hope that peace and freedom would prevail. Among these Americans, I want to salute more particularly Bostonians and New Englanders. We must also remember that some of them joined the side of freedom and democracy before April 1917, and here I have in mind the courage of the founders and members of the “Escadrille Lafayette.” We mustn’t forget the sacrifice and the values of democracy that all these Americans stood for.
  • History teaches us that the United States’ entrance into the First World War would prove pivotal in bringing about its end. It is true and it is essential. But we can also say that April 6th, 1917 was the beginning of a new world, the beginning of the modern world. Why?
  • - Because it contributed to the first victory of European democracies against authoritarian regimes. But we all know that it was a very fragile victory; a victory in which we sadly find some of the causes of the Second World War.
  • - This date also changed the world because it marked the entrance of the United States onto the international stage, paving the way for it to become the worldwide economic, political and cultural leader. Indeed, until this date, the United States more or less stood aside international matters. By asking Congress to vote for the entrance of his country into the war, President Wilson put an end to nearly a century of isolationism.
  • - Last but not least, this event led to a new world order where global cooperation had to play a central role. Let me quote President Wilson at the Peace Conference in Paris in 1919: “In coming into this war (…) the thought of the United States was that all the world had now become conscious that there was a single cause which turned upon the issues of this war. That was the cause of justice and of liberty for men of every kind and place.” These words found a positive echo among many French politicians such as Aristide Briand. And we mustn’t forget that it is the abomination of this War and its challenges that gave President Wilson the idea of a League of Nations.
  • This commemoration must also be the occasion to reaffirm the lessons that our democracies have taken from this conflict that left ten million soldiers dead and twenty million wounded.
  • First the absolute need to build strong and lasting peace in Europe. This Europe of peace was built from the willingness of European countries to leave the deadly cycle of nationalism of the first and second world wars. It was built from the friendship between France and Germany, a friendship that is imperative.
  • This commemoration also reminds us of the absolute necessity to continue building a world that is regulated by the international community, embodied today by the United Nations.
  • Finally, it reminds us of the strong friendship between the United States and France, the intertwining destinies and lasting alliances, sealed by treaties as well as wedding rings. A friendship that not only helped to build our world, but one that continues to help us face current challenges such as terrorism and climate change.
  • With this in mind France and the United States are staging a series of events this year to familiarize people about this critical period of our history. For example, a number of scholarships will be offered to students to encourage further exploration of this crucial time. And, as I am speaking, the Patrouille de France is performing in Kansas City and will continue touring the U.S.
  • To conclude, I would like to warmly thank Boston University, the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, the World War One Centennial Commission and World Boston for organizing this event.
  • Vive l’amitié franco-américaine !"

April 6 was also the kick off of a major nationwide centennial commemoration for which the French Embassy in the United States has co-organized throughout 2017 a series of exhibitions, talks, concerts, and screenings across the country.

Here is the link to the website giving you all the details!
http://franceintheus.org/spip.php?a...

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The above photo was taken on June 26, 1917. It shows the first American contingents which set foot on French soil at Saint-Nazaire. Photo credit to ecpad.fr

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The above photo shows US soldiers returning from WWI arriving in Boston on a battleship in 1918. Photo Credit to Boston Globe File.

Dernière modification : 07/04/2017

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