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Religion and the World War I Centennial

Benjamin J. Wetzel

Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial  Wikimedia Commons
From 2011 to 2015, historians of the Civil War occupied an enviable position: they had four long years to enjoy the 150th anniversary of the conflict, with a spate of monograph publications, conferences, and other academic events scheduled to commemorate the sesquicentennial.  Now, from 2017 to 2018, we are in the midst of another anniversary: the centennial of the United States's involvement in World War I.  From April 1917, when Congress declared war at President Woodrow Wilson's request, to November 1918, when a cease-fire was signed, the United States sent millions of soldiers (not to mention nurses, chaplains, and other personnel) to Europe in an effort that eventually turned the tide of the war in favor of the allies.  Without question, the Great War and the 1919 Treaty of Versailles set in motion forces that would culminate in, to use historian Modris Eksteins's phrase, "the birth of…

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