Remembering and forgetting the Great War in New York City

Wilson, R. (2012) Remembering and forgetting the Great War in New York City. First World War Studies, 3 (1). pp. 87-106. ISSN 1947-5020

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This article examines the history of the Great War in New York City and the means by which it has been remembered and forgotten through the presence and absence of war memorials. New York City played a unique role in the history of the Great War, contributing to the war effort even before the declaration of war by the United States in 1917. The wartime experiences in the city were accompanied by political and racial tensions as fears of foreign influences undermining the state were ever-present. In a city which had witnessed large-scale immigration over the preceding century, fears of unrest or unpatriotic and un-American behaviour preoccupied both the city and the federal government. Nevertheless, the wartime contribution of the city’s foreign-born residents was substantial as large numbers registered for military service. As a means of reaffirming the principles of patriotism and an ‘American’ identity for the city, after the Armistice the official bodies and veterans groups worked to develop a singular expression or ‘spirit’ for the local war memorials. As the schemes for a central war memorial for the city floundered, the local memorials served as a means for residents to adopt and adapt this hegemonic expression of ‘American’ identity and form specific memories of the war for each community.

Publication Type: Articles
Uncontrolled Keywords: New York City, Great War, memory, memorials, identity
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > History
Depositing User: Ross Wilson
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2013 09:25
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 15:18

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