World War I history

Forgotten history
U.S. involvement in World War I

— Ashley Pauls

By the time the United States declared war on Germany and formally entered World War I in 1917, the conflict had already been raging on the other side of the globe for three long, difficult years. Though it was called the Great War, or the “War to End All Wars,” seeds sewn in this conflict led to a second World War a mere two decades later.

Although tensions had been rising for some time in 1900s Europe, the event that triggered the first World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. The war eventually cost the lives of more than nine million soldiers and seven million civilians.

While the United States originally took a neutral position in the war, the conflict soon began to spread across the Atlantic. In 1915, a German U-boat sunk a British liner, called the Lusitania, that was carrying 128 U.S. citizens. German submarines continued to attack American ships, and British intelligence intercepted a telegram from Germany seeking an alliance with Mexico.

The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917. More than four million American families sent their sons and daughters to serve in uniform. A total of 116,516 U.S. soldiers gave their lives in combat, and another 200,000 were wounded, a casualty rate even greater than in World War II.

Kansas State University’s World War I Memorial Stadium serves as a memorial to the 48 K-Staters who sacrificed their lives in this conflict. Identical plaques commemorating the veterans are located on the south ends of both West Stadium and East Stadium.