World War I, fought from 1914-1918, was the modern world’s first international conflict, and its impact was felt for generations. The Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven opens an exhibition April 6, 2017, commemorating WWI, often referred to as the “Great War.”
Few people were left unaffected during this time period. Methods of warfare were altered forever. The map of Europe was completely redrawn at the conclusion of the war, and decisions that followed contributed to the start of World War II in 1939. Approximately 11 million soldiers were killed, and the war’s toll including civilian casualties exceeded 20 million.
Initially neutral, the United States formally entered the war April 6, 1917. By Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918, more than 116,000 Americans died as a result of the war. Of these, at least 1,600 were Knights of Columbus. Both the first and last American military officers to die during World War I were K of C members.
In addition to Knights who served on the battlefield as soldiers, the organization was active in war relief efforts, managing highly successful fundraising drives and providing hospitality to servicemen in America and abroad through Knights of Columbus recreation centers or “huts,” with the motto “Everybody Welcome; Everything Free.”
Marking the 100th anniversary of the United States’ participation in the war, the K of C Museum’s exhibition, World War I: Beyond the Front Lines runs for the duration of America’s time in the conflict (April 6, 2017 – Dec. 30, 2018). The show provides a historical retrospective of the war and includes interactives, visuals and artifacts from the Knights of Columbus Museum collection and its Supreme Council Archives as well as many borrowed items from private lenders and organizations.
A series of WWI-related lectures and presentations will be offered throughout the duration of the exhibition. The inaugural lecture, by Central Connecticut State University history professor, M. Bolek Biskupski, Ph.D., is Saturday, April 8, 2017, at 2 p.m., and will explore the war’s origins and outcomes.
The Knights of Columbus Museum, located at 1 State Street in New Haven, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily with free admission and parking. More information: 203-865-0400 or kofcmuseum.org.