World War I was a particularly significant experience for Minnesota. In addition to sending thousands of men overseas, the homefront became a vital center of wartime production. From Fort Snelling serving as one of the two main training camps for American troops in the Upper Midwest to the Iron Range producing the materials which were used to build navy ships in Duluth, all Minnesotans were profoundly impacted by this unprecedented global catastrophe.
However, the homefront also became the opposite of what Woodrow Wilson described as the United States' overarching purpose for entering the war: to make the world safe for democracy. During World War I, a widespread anti-immigrant sentiment pervaded the Minnesota homefront. During the war, Germans and Scandinavians came under heavy scrutiny over their alleged dual-loyalties to the United States and their country of origin. This was born out of the fact that the United States fought against Germany in World War I, while Norway and Sweden remained neutral throughout the war.
Immediately after the war came to an end, strenuous efforts were made locally to erect monuments and memorials to commemorate the veterans who served overseas. These include fourteen public monuments and memorials in eleven different locations throughout the Twin Cities.
Nationally, this was not the case, as World War I is the only twentieth century war in which the United States fought without a national monument or memorial in Washington D.C. Despite the fact that the country sent over 2 million men overseas and almost 117,000 were killed, the war has largely faded from the national consciousness; especially compared to World War II.
With the centennial of the Armistice which ended the war having been reached this November, significant interest in the Great War has been renewed, albeit briefly. As such, this tour seeks to not only resurrect, but preserve the history and memory of the war, the men who served in it, and its monuments and memorials.