It was called “The Great War,” and the “War to End All Wars.”
World War I — 1914 to 1918 — changed the lives of families from all over the world, including many in Northeast Tarrant County.
The U.S. entered the war in 1917, and the stories of veterans from World War I came to life recently as the Southlake Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary at Rustin Park in Southlake Town Square.
Grapevine also marked the anniversary, with an exhibit of photos and artifacts from the time period at the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau building.
The exhibit continues through May 6.
The war, said Anita Robeson of the Southlake Historical Society, is “mostly forgotten.”
But area historians have found letters written by the soldiers to family members.
“We hope this program will inspire people to find their family’s connections to World War I,” Robeson said. “So dig out the old uniform and letters in the attic and discover the stories of grandpa’s or great-grandpa’s service.”
Families can research online libraries and databases to find out what their family members did in the war.
“You will be in awe of what he and the others did,” she said.
The goal of the commemoration was to capture the mood of the country as it entered into World War I on April 6, 1917.
“There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of fear and a lot of distress,” Robeson said. “It brought a lot of money into the area because of Camp Bowie and the airfields and increased manufacturing.”
Letters at the Southlake event were read by Librarian Cynthia Pfledderer, historian Paul Porter, Jenna and Lea Johnson and Adrian Johnson. Porter wore an army uniform from the time period.
Grapevine exhibit open through May
“The Great War & Grapevine – A Centennial Look at World War I Through the Eyes of Home,” is a free city exhibit that commemorates the annniversary in the lobby of the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau building, 636 S. Main St.
The exhibit features photos and artifacts from the time period.
“This anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the interesting and varied local perspective of Grapevine citizens during World War I,” said David Klempin, manager of Historic Programs & Preservation, Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The exhibit focuses on eight topics: The Great War; the ones who served; the ones at home; the terrible cost of freedom; the aviators; The Red Cross; the gift of time; and the defunct newspaper the Grapevine Sun.
Staff writer Marty Sabota contributed to this report.