"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
President Woodrow Wilson, addressing Congress on April 2, 1917, requesting a declaration of war
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Wilson had kept the United States out of the conflict since its beginning in 1914, but a growing threat to democracy brought the nation into the fray. By April 6, 1917, four days after President Wilson’s address, Congress had made its decision: America would go to war.
America’s entry marked a turning point in the war, which would end a year and a half later but would cost more than 100,000 American lives, including those of 3,700 Virginians. Through this sacrifice, the U.S. would take on a new role as a world leader.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I, the public is invited to join in a series of special events and programs that will be held with partners across the state.
April 6, 2017
Virginia WWI Centennial Commemoration Event
WWI Memorial Carillon, Richmond, VA
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's entry into WWI, a ceremony was held at Virginia's official state memorial to World War I, the Carillon Tower at Byrd Park. Beginning with a concert of the Carillon’s bells just before noon, the program featured speakers including Governor Terry McAuliffe, Major General Timothy P. Williams of the Virginia National Guard and Dr. Lynn Rainville of Sweet Briar College. Music for the event was provided by the John Marshall Regimental Band Alumni. Delegate Kirk Cox, Chairman of the Virginia WWI & WWII Commemoration Commission, served as master of ceremonies.
After the program, the Commission's Profiles of Honor Tour was open for visitors, and several partner organizations including Historic Maymont, the Virginia War Memorial, and VCU’s Virtual Curation Laboratory were on hand with artifacts and displays highlighting Virginia’s role in the conflict. Please look through our photo gallery of the event below.
Virginia WWI Centennial Commemoration Event Photo Gallery
WWI Speaker Series
In partnership with the Virginia National Guard
To commemorate the 100th Anniversary of World War I, the Virginia WWI and WWII Commission partnered with the Virginia National Guard to host a series of lectures by renowned historians and military leaders across the state. These programs highlighted how the events of World War I shaped the face of the world today.