Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into the Great War on April 6th, 1917, two and half years after the start of the war on July 28th, 1914. President Woodrow Wilson had adopted a position of neutrality hoping to keep the United States out of the European conflict. The causes of the United States entry into Great War included events such as the 1915 sinking of the passenger ship the Lusitania which was sunk by a German U-Boat torpedo, killing some 1,200, including 128 Americans. The German government maintained that the Lusitania was carrying munitions, but the United States demanded reparations and an end to German attacks on unarmed passenger and merchant ships. German U-boats then went on to sink six more American merchant ships including the Housatonic without warning. With these attacks, public opinion in the United States began to turn irrevocably against Germany. The Zimmermann telegram to Mexico on January 16, 1917 was then intercepted promising the Mexican Government that Germany would help Mexico recover the territory it had ceded to the United States of America following the Mexican-American War. Publication of that offer outraged Americans just as German U-boats (submarines) started sinking American ships in the North Atlantic. Wilson asked Congress for "a war to end all wars" that would "make the world safe for democracy"
On April 4th the Senate passed the resolution of war by 82 votes against 6. On the 6th the House of Representatives adopted it by 373 votes against 50, the new woman-member collapsing when the moment came for her to record her vote, sobbing out that she could not vote for war. There was now an end to German-Americanism in the United States – certainly for the purpose of the Great War. The whole nation was presenting a united front against the enemy.
The first 14,000 United States infantry troops landed in France to begin training for combat. Though the U.S. Army’s contributions began slowly, they would eventually mark a major turning point in the war effort and help the Allies to victory.
When the war finally ended, on November 11th, 1918, more than two million American soldiers had served on the battlefields of Western Europe, and some 50,000 of them had lost their lives.
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