Nearly a century ago some 2 million Americans crossed the Atlantic to fight in the first global conflict of modern times. The members of the American Expeditionary Forces who served on the Western Front were drawn from every state and class. Some had been in the United States for only a few years or months. Many had come to the New World to escape the poverty, want and warfare that had engulfed much of Europe since the summer of 1914.
The members of the AEF answered their nation’s call. It is likely that few knew much about the geopolitical factors that ignited the conflict. Like most soldiers in most wars, they found themselves fighting for one another more than for any of the abstract ideals outlined by their commanders or their government.
They fought alongside British, French, Italian and Russian allies in places many had never heard of and could scarcely pronounce. They endured bad food and boredom. Those on the front lines faced bullets, poison gas and artillery shells.
More than 53,000 U.S. soldiers perished in battle.
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