Carson City – The numbers of soldiers who participated in and died in World War I, one of history’s bloodiest conflicts, is hazy. November 11 was known in the United States and in Europe as Armistice Day from its inception in 1919, a year after hostilities officially ceased, and in the United States, then President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954.
Congress passed the Uniform Holidays bill in 1968, which moved Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October, and so it was from 1971 to 1975 when then President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day back to November 11.
The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies estimates some 40 million casualties in WWI with roughly 20 million losing their lives and another 21 million injured. That includes an estimate of 9.7 million military personnel dead, and roughly 10 million civilians.
The Russian Empire suffered 30 percent of the war casualties, France 25 percent, the British Empire 16 percent, Italy 12 percent, Serbia 8 percent, Romania 6 percent, and the United States endured 2 percent of casualties in World War I, 116,798 deaths, and of those, 197 were from Nevada. Two from Carson City and two from Douglas County.
The Nevada State Museum is planning a commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I. The event is free and will be held in the Nevada State Museum at 600 N. Carson Street in Carson City on Saturday, November 10, 2018, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 pm. To learn more, Mina Stafford, Curator of Education, stopped by the KNVC studios and chatted with Brian Bahouth.
The Pyramid Lake Veterans and Warriors Association will present colors at the event.
“Since there were Native Americans from Nevada who served in WW I, I wanted to bring that side of Nevada’s history into the program, so they are going to be there at 10:00 o’clock to do a flag ceremony and present colors.”
The State of Nevada has published a book that chronicles Nevada’s contribution to World War I. Written by Maurice J. Sullivan, the adjutant general of Nevada.
“We have a book called Nevada’s Golden Stars that is a book produced by the State of Nevada that is a memorial gift to the families of Nevada residents that died during WW I,” Stafford said. “When you read through that there are several students from the Stewart Indian School or residents from different tribes in Nevada, so definitely the Native Americans of Nevada and in the country have provided service in WW I and all wars, so that’s an important group to remember.”
The Nevada State Museum is an organization committed to relating history to the public, and Mina Stafford said thinking about the past informs the future.
“It’s very important to study your history to know how it reflects on you and how to make decisions for the future, depending on what the experience was in the past,” Stafford said. “But also to realize that we’ve been here for a while, and we’ve done a lot of different things, and Nevada has an identity that has to do with supporting the country and supporting a cause. Our motto being Battleborn has to do with supporting President Lincoln and the Civil War, but since then, we have always fulfilled our obligations to the country for drafts, for military service or raising money for war bonds or what have. Nevada is just Battleborn, and we are ready to serve, all of us, and so this is to celebrate that, the identity of all Nevadans, and specifically the people who have gone and served, letting them know that we remember.
“The thing that happened after WW I is that a lady decided that she wanted to use the poppy, the red poppy, as a sign of remembrance. She did a whole campaign, a long time, to make sure the poppy would be used as a sign of remembrance, and in Europe, it’s very big, and I’ve been trying to make it big in Nevada this week.”
For more from Mina Stafford about the WWI commemoration at the Nevada State Museum, listen to the audio interview embedded above …
Below is a press release from the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs:
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, the Nevada State Museum in Carson City will be hosting a special event – “Armistice: Commemorating the End of the Great War – on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Admission is free. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and opens with a presentation of the colors by the Pyramid Lake Veterans and Warriors Organization. At 11 a.m., World War I Cavalry reenactors will be in the museum parking lot, exhibiting their horses and gear.
The event also marks the culmination of the museum’s Poppy Project, in which volunteers, students and community members have spent the past six months constructing paper poppies at various museum events. Inspired by the poem, “In Flanders Field,” the red poppy has become an internationally recognized symbol of the remembrance and welfare of war veterans. A display of the poppies will be featured in the Dema Guinn Concourse of the museum. Attending veterans will receive a packet of Flanders Poppy seeds donated by Botanical Interests, Inc.
From noon to 3 p.m., representatives from veteran service organizations will be available at information tables. Also, amid the poppy display, there will be readings of poetry and of a few short biographies from Nevada’s Golden Stars book – a collection of memorials to Nevadans who served and died in WWI.
Throughout the day, visitors also have the opportunity to see the museum’s historic Coin Press No. 1 in operation as commemorative medallions featuring the USS Nevada battleship will be minted. Launched in 1914, the famed battleship served in both World Wars.
Those who wish can purchase a pure silver “blank” in the museum store for $60 and have it minted on the coin press as a keepsake.
Visitors can also take in the museum’s special World War I exhibit – “Remembering the Great War: 1914-1918,” – in the museum’s South Gallery. The exhibit features artifacts ranging from historic photographs to patriotic posters to a U.S. Army captain’s uniform from the balloon corps to helmets to a silent film of American troops in France.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is the photographs, all taken by the Photographic Section of the French Army. How the photos came from France to Carson City isn’t known, but they were part of a larger collection acquired by the museum from Carson City history buff and collector Daun Bohall. This is the first time the images have been publicly displayed.
Thousands of Nevadans volunteered or were drafted into military service during World War I, many of them serving in the Army’s 91st Division, also known as the “Wild West Division.” There were 116,798 Americans who died in the war, including 197 from Nevada.
On Sunday, Nov. 11 – as part of the United States WWI Centennial Commission Bells of Peace – veterans will toll the Liberty Bell in Loftin Park in remembrance of those who served and sacrificed. The short program will start at 10:45 a.m., and include remarks by Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell, a U.S. Navy veteran. The playing of taps will close the program.