MSU fall semester events to mark WWI centennial

Submitted photo/courtesy of Library of America

Contact: Sammy McDavid

STARKVILLE, Miss.—In observance of World War I’s centennial, Mississippi State University is sponsoring three public events during the 2017 fall semester.

The library’s Special Collections and campus’ G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans are coordinating the programs, all to begin at 7 p.m. in Mitchell Memorial Library’s third-floor John Grisham Room.

Until a second global conflict erupted two decades later, the early 20th century’s most horrific military event was known as The European War and The Great War.

WWI took place July 28, 1914-Nov. 11, 1918, and involved more than 70 million military personnel. More than nine million died in combat, a number almost matched by the seven million civilian deaths related to the conflagration.

On one side were the Allies: forces of Russia, France and Great Britain, joined later by Italy, Japan and the U.S. The opposing Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary eventually gained support from the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.

Free to all, the programs include:

—Sept. 14, “The Great War: World War I Writing and Memorabilia from the Special Collections.” Veterans of later wars will participate in reading and discussing soldier correspondences housed in the library archives. An exhibit of related material will be on display.

—Oct. 12, “The Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I.” As Navajo Nation representatives did with the Marines during World War II, descendants of Mississippi’s original residents played significant roles with the American Expeditionary Force, the U.S military’s official designation while in European service. A general discussion will follow the screening of “Choctaw Code Talkers,” the hour-long documentary released in 2010 by Native American Public Telecommunications Inc. For more, see

—Nov. 16, “Poetry and the Poppy: ‘In Flanders Fields’ and One Woman’s Role in Creating a Symbol of Remembrance.” Veterans and audience members will join to read lines from the famous war poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae, a Canadian physician whose verses focused around the small, brilliantly colored flowers he saw growing on the graves of fallen soldiers. Participants then will discuss the herbaceous plant that seemed to flourish on the barren grounds of trench-scarred former battlefields, as well as Moina Belle Michael (1869-1944), the University of Georgia professor and humanitarian who conceived its use to symbolize WWI service and sacrifice.

This program is part of World War I and America, a two-year national initiative of the Library of America, presented in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial and other organizations, with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities.

For additional information on MSU’s WWI programs, contact Sarah McCullough, MSU Libraries’ cultural heritage project coordinator, at 662-325-2506 or; or Brian Locke, the Montgomery Center’s interim director, at 325-6719 or

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