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Experiencing the Centenary
Discovering the Centenary
Understanding the Centenary
International > The First World War centenary commemorations in the United States

The First World War centenary commemorations in the United States

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Fontaine Quentin Roosevelt
© F.X. Dessirier

More than 4 million American servicemen and women took part in the First World War among whom two future Presidents of the United States: Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.  The United States suffered 375,000 casualties including 116, 516 deaths. The Centenary of the Great War will be an opportunity for the American people to remember the sacrifices of their forefathers. Commemorative events, activities and visits to sites will help provide Americans with a better understanding of the history of the First World War and the contribution of their country to this conflict.

To this end, the American Congress adopted a bill on 21 December 2012 which was signed into law on 14 January 2013 by President Barack Obama, for the creation of a Commission for the centenary of the First World War (“ World War I Centennial Commission Act “).

The members of this Commission are to be appointed on 14 March 2013.

What is the law of 14 January 2013 about ?

Composition of the Commission

The Commission will include 12 members :

  • 2 appointed by the President of the Chamber of Representatives ;
  • 1 by the leader of the opposition at the Chamber of Representatives ;
  • 2 by the leader of the majority party in the Senate ;
  • 1 by the leader of the opposition in the Senate ;
  • 3 by the President of the United States, from figures representing the American people, notably Veterans and the representatives of Veterans’ associations ;
  • 1 by the executive director of veterans from conflicts abroad ;
  • 1 by the executive director of the American Legion ;
  • 1 by the president of the Liberty Memorial Association.

The Chairman and Vice-chairman of the Commission will be chosen from among its members.

After consultation with the members of the Commission, the Chairman will name an executive director and any other person deemed to be necessary.

Calendar

  • the appointment of the members of the Commission must be made within a maximum period of 60 days starting from the promulgation of the law (which is to say 14 March 2013) ;
  • the Commission will meet for the first time no later than 30 days after it has been set up ;
  • a report containing the recommendations of the Commission for the commemorations of the Centenary must be sent to Congress and to the President of the United States no later than two years after the date of the promulgation of the law.

Tasks of the Commission

  • to plan, develop and carry out programs, projects and activities for the commemorations ;
  • to encourage private organisations, the State and local government to organise and participate in commemorative activities ;
  • to facilitate and coordinate the commemorations in the United States ;
  • to centralise the collection and distribution of information, the events and projects relating to the commemorations ;
  • to make recommendations to Congress and to the President on the commemorations of the Centenary.

The Commission must meet at least once a year and regularly submit a report on its activities to Congress and to the President. The Commission will meet at the National World War I Museum.

The Commission web site