LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to establish a World War I Centennial Commission.
The commission would help commemorate World War I, provide educational opportunities about the significance of the war and America’s and Michigan’s role in it, and plan and coordinate activities throughout the state to mark the war’s centennial.
“It’s been 100 years since the United States of America entered World War I,” said Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, who is the chairwoman of the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Homeland Security Committee. “It’s important we establish the World War I Centennial Commission so we honor those who sacrificed their lives and remember the lessons our nation learned.”
Under Senate Bill 248, the World War I Centennial Commission Act would do the following:
- Create the World War I Centennial Commission and provide for its membership and procedures;
- Require the commission to plan programs and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I;
- Require the commission to encourage private organizations and state and local governments to organize and participate in the activities;
- Require the commission to report to certain state officials on its recommendations; and
- Require the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to assist the commission.
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. According to the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars, during the conflict, Michigan contributed more than 135,000 service men and women and suffered more than 5,000 casualties.
The foundation indicates Michigan provided several volunteer units, including Base Hospitals 17 and 36, and the 16th Regiment of Engineers. National Guard units included the 125th and 126th Infantry Regiments and the 119th Field Artillery Regiment, plus several company size units assigned to various divisions. In addition, our state lent its manufacturing and engineering expertise to the war effort.
The United States World War I Centennial Commission was created by Congress in 2013. Members of that commission were appointed by the president and the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National World War I Museum. All four living former presidents have agreed to serve the commission as honorary chairmen.
More information about the centennial and a schedule of events may be found online at worldwar1centennial.org.