2016 marked the Centenary year of the Somme, a battle that took a million men off this place during a four month period.
Today marks our entry into World War I, on 2 April 1917, then President Woodrow Wilson asked The 65th Congress to convene in joint session to declare war on Germany. The man who introduced that joint resolution to the floor was Thomas Martin, a Senator from Virginia. The Resolution has some interesting votes, the only woman in the House of Representatives at the time; the Hon. Jeannette Rankin of Montana was a part of the 56 in dissent. She has the dubious distinction of being the only dissenter in the Declaration of War against Japan. She did not dissent the following December.
The following December during the State of the Union Address on 4 December 1917, then President Woodrow Wilson requested a joint session for the declaration of war on Austria-Hungary. This resolution was introduced on the floor by another Virginian, who happened to attend the rich boys school a stone’s throw from our beloved Institute, the Hon. Henry D. Flood.
Six million American men would be mobilized for this war, the likes of which, hasn’t been seen since except in small skirmishes as parts of campaigns. There are some interesting things to remember about the citizen-Soldiers of the time that can still be said today. The Active-Duty Force had tremendous disdain for the National Guard, and during the rise up to the War in 1916 and even following the the Spanish American War the training and equipping of the National Guard was left to the States. Today you see a much deeper connection with NGB units becoming affiliated with and donning the patch of Active Duty Divisions. The Preparedness Movement further neglected the National Guard Force at the Federal Level which limited our ability to call up for full mobilization. The time it took to basically train Soldiers at that time and then transport them to Europe would have seen us slaughtered if American Divisions were sent to plug holes in the French line immediately.