100 years ago, President Wilson signed the order to bring U.S. into World War I
April 1, 2017
Mike Peters’ book, “Greeley 1916,” is available at the Greeley Tribune office, 501 8th Ave., and through Amazon.
The book, pulled from his popular “100 Years Ago” columns, chronicles the myriad events that happened in Greeley and Weld County in 1916. The book costs $14.99 for a paperback or $7.99 on Kindle.
It was 100 years ago today — April 2, 1917 — that President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, and it would be the United States' entry into what they then called "The War to End All Wars."
Later, it would be named World War I, and become known for the 9 million soldiers who died and the 21 million wounded.
The war in Europe began in August 1914, pitting Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire against the allies — Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Japan. It would be three years before the United States entered the conflict. The war ended in 1918.
But on this day a century ago, the war act was not without conflict. Several in the U.S. Congress were opposed to the United States' entry into the war, despite the fact that German U-Boats (submarines) had sunk four U.S. merchant ships.
While some in Congress tried to block the war entry by filibuster, others called for young men in their early 20s to join the war effort. They projected that an army of 3 million would be formed to be sent into Europe to fight.
Germany also tried to turn countries in North and South America against the United States, but the effort failed. Despite threats and/or promises from Germany, leaders in Mexico refused to enter the war to fight against the United States. Mexico remained neutral throughout the war.
In Greeley, response to the war action was quick. The Greeley Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization, held a patriotic rally in Greeley to recruit young men for the U.S. Navy. Similar patriotic meetings were held in Eaton and several other Weld County towns.
A Tribune-Republican newspaper editorial on the day after the war declaration showed the importance of the U.S. flag, "Again and again, it has been baptized in blood only to come forth shining with renewed lustre."
At Saint Peter's Church in Greeley all denominations across Weld County joined a flag-raising ceremony by the Grand Army of the Republic — veterans of the Civil War — and sang patriotic songs played by the Elks Club band.
Weld County Court Clerk John Hunter announced he received orders from Washington that all Germans living in America will be encouraged to file their intent to become citizens of the United States.
At the statehouse in Denver, Colorado Gov. Julius Gunter said Colorado backs the president on his declaration of war. He added that Colorado is ready to supply soldiers and sailors, in addition to horses for the work on the front lines, and cattle for feeding the soldiers.
The high loss of soldiers in the war could be attributed to the introduction of "modern weaponry," such as machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons.
The peace conference in 1919 was supposed to safeguard against future wars, but instead it angered many of the defeated Germans, and Word War II would start 20 years later.