World War I
Leads to Our 'Memorial
And a Famous War Poem
You Should Memorize
Snack: Since we're going to be
memorizing a poem that has to do with the beautiful, colorful flower, the poppy
- even though its perky charm is found on the graves of the thousands of
American soldiers who died in World War I in France - let's remember the good
that war does, along with the bad, and enjoy some very good poppy-seed muffins
United States kept out of all the wars in Europe for the first 150 years of our
history, but by 1914, America was getting to be such a world power that the
people decided they just couldn't stay out of the latest one.
War I was supposed to be "The War to End All Wars," but it didn't work out that
way. It got out of hand in a hurry: it started in Europe with the murders of
two people . . . and ended up killing millions of people, including many
two people were from Austria-Hungary - Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife -
and the murderer was a Serbian terrorist in the city we now call Sarajevo. The
Austria-Hungary government accused the government of Serbia of masterminding
this crime and sought revenge. They declared war on July 28, 1914, and within
days, countries lined up on either side
every country in Europe participated in the war, with fighting in Europe, Asia
and Africa. More than 65 million men served in the armed forces on both sides,
and more than 14 million people, both soldiers and civilians, including many
Americans, died in World War I.
War I pitted Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy (and later Turkey) against
Great Britain, France and Russia.
this war, the following types of weapons or equipment were developed:
did the U.S. enter this way? For the first three years of it, we were neutral.
But then Americans started to worry that the leader of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm
II, was trying to seize power over the whole world with this war. We felt that
if we didn't join the efforts to stop him, he would take us over, too.
American merchant ships were supplying the British and French with food, guns,
clothing and other supplies from the U.S., and the British and French were
paying us for them even though we were strictly out of the war. But because we
were helping their opponents, German submarines were sinking our merchant ships
and even passenger ships on the way to Great Britain and France, killing our
civilian seamen, which made Americans mad.
April 6, 1917, the U.S. finally declared war. Eventually, about 2 million
American soldiers were sent to Europe to help the French and British push the
German army out of France. We also sent millions of tons of goods to Europe to
help them, including sending shoes, clothes and food.
on Nov. 11, 1918, the war ended. Often, that truce agreement is said to have
been signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th
month. That's where the expression for a last-minute change comes from: "the 11th
World War I, Americans started decorating military graves on the last weekend
in May, and soon that Monday was declared "Decoration Day." Over the years, the
name changed to "Memorial Day" as World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Middle
Eastern wars claimed more American war deaths.
of all the remembrances of World War I, this poem is probably the most famous.
It was written by a Canadian Army doctor, Lt. Col. John McCrae, who lived from
1872-1918, and treated the wounded - and buried the dead - in the bloody World
War I battlefields.
wrote this in Flanders, an area of northern France, where some of the worst
fighting took place. This poem has immortalized WWI in reminding us that the
beauty of wildflowers and singing larks cannot cover over the horrors of war
and the deaths it cause - but if we will remember that those who died were
fighting for our freedom, and pick up where they left off in defending freedom
against all tyrants, then they can rest in peace.
honor of America's generations of war dead, memorize this short and beautiful
This is a poppy, which
blooms in both Europe and the United States in late May.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
the crosses row on row,
mark our place; and in the sky
larks, still bravely singing, fly
heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
and were loved, and now we lie
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
from failing hands we throw
torch; be yours to hold it high.
break faith with us who die
shall not sleep, though poppies grow