A few weeks back in late December I was on the Reference Desk when a colleague and I got on the subject of World War One. Specifically, we were talking about how, now that 2013 was here, the 100th anniversary of the Great War was just a year away. No doubt public and filmmakers have been gearing up for the observance for awhile now. You don’t just go out and film a documentary or publish a comprehensive new history of such a cataclysmic event. Such things take time.
Well, as it turns out Congress was also getting into the act: just before the holidays the House and Senate both approved the creation of a World War One Centennial Commission. The bill is now awaiting presidential signature. The twelve member organization will be based in Kansas City, Missouri. This makes sense because the National World War 1 Museum and Liberty Memorial are both in KC. If you have never been, I highly recommend. It’s worth going out of the way. (They are in Kansas City because General Pershing was from the Show Me state.)
It will be interesting to see what the commission does. They could go “narrow” by focusing only on American involvement in the war, which did not begin officially until April 1917; or, the could go “wide” and focus on the war in its entirety. Apparently they are leaning towards the latter. Commissioners will be elected in January and February, and a meeting with international counterparts will be held in Missouri in late March. I hope they do this right.