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Memphis in World War I

American Red Cross

Memphis played an important role in World War I, a war which began 100 years ago this month. 

August 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the onset of WWI in Europe.

When the United States entered the war in 1917, Memphians joined the war effort with unprecedented determination. When the armed forces set-up recruiting stations at the Tri-State Fair, able bodied men lined up to enlist.

Citizens organized preparedness parades, and Memphis homemakers rallied to raise awareness about wartime rationing. Local mothers attended demonstrations on how to plan a menu for "meatless Mondays" and "wheat-less Wednesdays."

Newspapers highlighted acts of individual patriots like eighty-year old Mary E. Hedgepath from Ripley, Tennessee, who knitted a-sock-a-day for the Red Cross. Other women did their part by taking factory jobs to fill the void left by local men.

At the same time, anti-German sentiments raged through the city. Schools stopped teaching German, and Germantown changed its name to Neshoba. As the war progressed, more families felt the strains of their men leaving for the war, and tearful goodbyes at the train station became a part of life here in Memphis.

To learn more about all of our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums.

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