Though there’s pretty much no one left alive who remembers it, America’s entry into World War I — a century ago this month — left an indelible mark on a generation. Beginning in a tangle of European alliances for reasons that seem murky and irrational in retrospect, the so-called Great War was supposed to be the War to End All Wars. But it ended up becoming the most appalling theater of human carnage in the history of the world thus far, only to lead to an even-bloodier conflict a few decades later. It may not exercise quite the romantic hold on the imaginations of American history buffs as the Civil War and the Revolution, but World War I ought not to be forgotten.
To mark the centennial, the Staatsburgh State Historic Site is offering a special themed tour this Saturday titled “World War I & the End of the Gilded Age.” Led by an interpreter in period clothing, the tour of Mills Mansion is designed to accompany its currently running exhibit focused on the wartime activities and political career of Ogden Livingston Mills, son of Ruth and Ogden Mills. The exhibit also features a silver tray given to the Mills family by General Pershing, to thank them for billeting American officers in their Paris home during the war.
The 90-minute tour begins at 1 p.m. on April 8. Tickets cost $10 general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and reservations are recommended at (845) 889-8851.
The World War I Centennial Commemoration at Staatsburgh will also feature a free “living history” presentation from noon to 4 p.m. with a period reenactor who represents Company C, 1st Battalion, 16th Regiment, First Infantry Division. The presenter, Glenn Lunde, will talk about the experiences of soldiers in the war including what it was like once a soldier signed up, underwent training and then shipped out, along with wartime experiences. He will also answer questions and display reproduction wartime objects.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site is located at 75 Mills Mansion Drive Road 1 in Staatsburg. For details about these events, visit https://parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/25/details.aspx. For information about other commemorations of the World War I centennial, visit www.worldwar1centennial.org.