Penn State Altoona will host an excerpt of the forthcoming PBS documentary "The Great War" at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21, in the Edith Davis Eve Chapel. Produced by the award-winning "American Experience" series, the six-hour film is a timely production for the centennial of World War I in April.
This 40-minute excerpt opens in the fall of 1918, on the eve of the bloodiest battle in American history — the Meuse-Argonne in northeastern France.
Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, "The Great War" tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.” The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native-American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten.
"The Great War" also explores how a brilliant PR man bolstered support for the war in a country hesitant to put lives on the line for a foreign conflict; how President Woodrow Wilson steered the nation through three-and-a-half years of neutrality, only to reluctantly lead America into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen, thereby transforming the United States into a dominant player on the international stage; and how the ardent patriotism and determination to support America’s crusade for liberty abroad led to one of the most oppressive crackdowns on civil liberties at home in American history. It is also a story of little-known heroism and sacrifice (including the deadliest battle in American history) that would leave more than 53,000 men dead on the battlefield and more than 60,000 dead from disease. American fatalities would come at a critical time in the war, but they would be dwarfed by a cataclysm of violence that would ultimately claim 15 million lives.
The event is sponsored by Penn State Altoona's History Department and is free and open to the public. It will be followed by a Q&A session with history faculty members Steven Andrews, Jared Frederick, Thomas Martin, Mark McNicholas and Elizabeth Seymour.