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World War I

  • The front page of the Fargo Forum on this date in 1918 was covered with news about World War I. On the very bottom was a tiny announcement that two boys from North Dakota were going to enter West Point: Frank Henning Jr. of Lakota and Sidney Hinds of Wahpeton.
  • The Reverend Eben Saunders of Fargo was not only a minister, but a well-regarded historian of the Red River Valley. In 1918, from May to June, the Reverend Saunders wrote a column in the Fargo Forum in which he wrote brief biographies of North Dakota pioneers.
  • American attention on World War I shifted from idle curiosity to intense interest when the United States entered the war in April, 1917. Americans enthusiastically found ways to support the boys who were “over there.” They bought War Bonds, donated to charities, and joined the Red Cross. Posters, ads, newspapers, and the movies made patriotic appeals. Hollywood stars like Mary Pickford sold bonds and appeared in patriotic movies.
  • World War I put a heavy burden on the country’s food supplies. Men and horses were taken off the farms and sent to war. German submarines blocked the importation of nitrate fertilizer and food. Decreased agricultural output led to food shortages. It became common to see women and children standing in line to buy food. Lower food supplies led to higher prices and hoarding.
  • In the fall of 1917 as the Great War was raging, eight prominent businessmen of Anamoose, North Dakota, were caught up in espionage charges. The accused included a former state senator and his brothers, as well as the Anamoose mayor and several store owners.
  • The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. The guns fell silent on November 11, 1918. During that time, 35,448 North Dakota men served in the Armed Forces. Over 1,300 of them did not survive. There was sadness across the country as families held funerals for their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. There was even greater tragedy for the families of those who never returned from the war. Without a funeral, there was no sense of closure.
  • North Dakota sent many of its sons to fight in World War I. Some called it the “War to End All Wars,” though it was not. In the spirit of patriotism, young men across the state joined the military to help win the “Great War.” The recruits, 31,269 in number, came from all corners of the state.
  • On this date in 1915, the big news in North Dakota was the opening of the state fair. The event garnered page one headlines in newspapers across the state. Thousands of visitors were expected to arrive in Grand Forks in caravans of automobiles and on special state fair trains. The first day of the fair was a smashing success, blessed with perfect weather. Organizers predicted it would be the best and most successful state fair ever presented.
  • When war broke out in Europe in 1914, President Wilson announced that the United States would remain neutral. Most Americans supported this policy. The country did not want to become embroiled in a foreign war. Wilson was reelected in 1914, running on his slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War.” But public opinion gradually shifted against Germany, and Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war in April 1917. He stated that “The world must be made safe for democracy.”
  • No matter how mighty your locomotive is, it will need a bridge to cross a river. As a result, there are hundreds of railroad bridges scattered across the state of North Dakota. One very significant bridge is the High Line Bridge near Valley City.