Shenandoah County Library Archives

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Warrior Images: WWI

Albert Steele.jpg

On April 6, 1917 the United States of American entered World War One when Congress approved a declaration of war against the German Empire.

Many across the country had argued for war because of German attacks on American shipping, attempts by the German government to ally with other nations against us, and because of perceived German atrocities in Europe.

However noble these principles were, Shenandoah County’s citizens mainly felt fear when war was declared. Residents were afraid for their fathers, brothers, and sons who would have to fight and die oversees. Local men also felt fear, fear for their families who would be left behind, fear of travelling to a foreign land when most had never left the region, and fear of death.

Despite this many locals responded to the call, most because of a sense of duty to report when ordered by the draft board. While we are unsure exactly how many served, based on national averages somewhere between 600 and 1000 county residents went off to war.

Those who did become part of the Armed Forces were subject to a wide array of experiences. Some stayed in the states serving in various essential ways. Others deployed oversees. Many saw combat in bloody battles in France and Belgium. A few even went on to be a part of the force occupying Germany.

After the fighting stopped, those serving were demobilized and sent home. They returned and tried to resume their prewar lives as quickly as possible. Most never talked about their experiences even though their war service certainly influenced their lives. Today, none remain to share their story.

This exhibit helps us understand just how strong an individual’s service in World War One may have influenced their life. 

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