What Did It All Mean? American Soldiers in World War I - Jennifer Keene

Recorded Lecture

What did the war mean in the lives of the men who fought it? Many twentieth-century ideas of how to raise an army and what it means to be a soldier took shape during WWI. The composition of the army reflected the diversity of the nation (20% were foreign-born; 13% were African American) and the new needs of industrial warfare (60% served in support or service roles). Nonetheless, there were common elements to military service, most particularly the way that military service served as a politicizing experience and a pivotal lifetime event for the generation that served.