State, communities plan WWI events

One hundred years-ago, 26,000 American soldiers died on the battlefields of France in one of the final battles of WWI.
Hundreds of them were from North Dakota.
During the coming month, events will take place to commemorate sacrifices the young soldiers from North Dakota and across the country made in defense of freedom and liberty.
Communications were poor in the early 1900s and initially it was believed about 700 North Dakota soldiers died in the, ….”war to end all wars”.
However, a new study by noted historian Barbara Handy-Marcello now puts the number of state residents who died at just under 1,400. “There were no computers, records were sparse, and many were destroyed or lost over the years. The 1,400 I have documented are those we have evidence died and the number might even be higher”, according to Handy- Marcello.
Handy-Marcello says more than 120,000 soldiers from across the nation died in in WW1 and those who paid the ultimate price from North Dakota came from all corners of the state.
She notes, “A surprising number of the North Dakotans who died were not even U.S. Citizens. Many were immigrants who came to the U.S. to homestead, join in the American dream; vote. Many were American Indians who they were committed to the war effort though they were not allowed to become citizens until 1924”.
The study listing those who died by county is listed on the North Dakota World War 1 Centennial Committee web site. The web site address is
There will be major WWI programs across the state beginning mid-October.
The North Dakota WWI Centennial Committee, funded in part by Humanities North Dakota, a non-profit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will sponsor six free WWI programs leading up to the armistice ending WWI, 100-years ago on Nov. 11. Susan Wefald or Darrell Dorgan will moderate each of the events.
Each free program will include a short WWI video, that provides an overview of WWI, a 30-minute talk by a noted WWI scholar, followed by time for audience discussion of the significant and lasting changes in America and North Dakota caused by WWI. The six programs will begin Oct. 16 and end on Nov. 7.
Another remembrance will occur when the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra dedicates their Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m. concert in the Belle Mehus Auditorium to those who served in World War One.
Dorgan notes, “We originated the idea of having bells toll and sirens ring on the morning of Nov. 11 across the state and nation.
The National WWI Centennial Commission is now asking all states to participate. We are asking communities across North Dakota to be involved in this tribute by flying flags at half-staff, ringing bells and blowing sirens the morning of November 11 at 11:00 a.m.”
North Dakota WWI committee members have also formally requested that County Veterans Services Officers work with local veteran’s organizations to read the names of those who died from their counties.
Nearly 1,400 North Dakotans died in WWI, most in the last six months of the war in the trenches of France. The committee has requested the names of those who died from their county be read aloud from the steps of the county courthouse, or a place of public gathering in their county of residence, when the bells are done tolling.

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