Southern Methodist University’s (SMU’s) Center for Presidential History’s Dr. Jeffrey A. Engel and Essential History Expeditions’ Dr. Brian DeToy are pleased to partner for an onsite exploration of America’s involvement in The Great War. This trip is open to SMU students, faculty and friends of the university as well as all EHE guests. This trip represents the fifth partnership between CPH and EHE and all guests — whether affiliated with the university or not — have found the partnership to be a fabulous collaboration. A connection with SMU is not a requirement to join this trip.
It has been just over 100 years since the guns fell silent and World War I ended. Still, the events of that era continue to shape and affect our world today. Four major monarchies and empires collapsed in history’s greatest shift in European and world power. The United States and the Soviet Union became major global players out of the ashes. The new map of the world created from the war continues to have significant impact on current events.
The war had been underway for nearly three years when the United States entered WWI on the Allied side in April 1917. However, it would be another year until the American forces finally made their impact on the battlefield. And it was a decisive impact that demonstrated the unflinching resolve of freedom-loving peoples and brought an end to the bloodiest conflict in human history to that point. If your mind is set on a belief that World War I was nothing but static trench warfare and no movement, you will be surprised to encounter the American fighting forces involved in one great maneuver offensive after another. We now, at the centennial, have the incredible opportunity to follow in the footsteps of these young Americans in the Great War tour. In fact, in some of the places we will be there on the same dates as in June 1918!
This America in World War I history tour will bring guests to the verdant fields; and villages, towns and cities where the youth of America made their most indelible mark. From the Big Red One in the first fight at Cantigny, to the Marines at Belleau Wood; from American infantrymen assaulting the lines at St Quentin Canal and the St Mihiel Salient, to the largest battle in American history in the Meuse-Argonne. From the story of the Lost Battalion, to Sergeant York’s exploits, to the four Roosevelt brothers, and so many other iconic stories and sites. We will also pay respect to our allies by visiting the British battles at Mons and Ieper/Passchendaele, the Canadians at Vimy Ridge, the Australians in the Somme and the French at Verdun.
The World War I history tour unfolds over nine days with stories of all the allied participants as well as those of the German defenders. In addition, Essential History Expeditions guests will visit amazing heritage sites in the regions where the Americans fought, including:
- Ieper/Ypres: the Flemish town that saw non-stop fighting from 1914 through 1918. Its famed Cloth Hall and Menin Gate Ceremony will inspire you. For the British, there is no more sacred place in all the war. Four American divisions fought here in the summer and fall of 1918.
- Epernay: the justly famed Champagne district where we will visit the “capital” of Epernay and its vineyards, gastropubs and more.
- Compiegne: where the Germans surrendered in WWI and the French initially surrendered in WWII. It is also an amazing small city of rich history including the capture of Joan of Arc, and where Louis XIV and the two Napoleons had chateaux and palaces.
- Reims: the city of Kings! In its great Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims nearly every French monarch was crowned over the long centuries. We will also visit Eisenhower’s final WWII headquarters, including the map room where the Germans surrendered to the Western Allies on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day!).
The rich farmland, the quaint villages and the dramatic hills and forests of France create an incredibly memorable backdrop for this World War I centennial history tour.