Bennington and the Great War
BENNINGTON — On view in the Regional Artists Gallery at Bennington Museum through Dec. 3 is "Bennington and the Great War," an exhibition that explores the impact of World War I on the small town of Bennington.
In 1914 Bennington was a small mill town, concerned with local politics and isolated from international issues. World War I would change that. Over 500 Bennington men joined the armed forces, and about half of that number saw service in Europe. For many of them it was their first time outside of Vermont. Patriotic Benningtonians on the home front contributed hours of their time and money to support the troops.
World War I started after a Serbian nationalist assassinated the Archduke of Austria June 28, 1914. Many Vermonters wanted the United States to stay out of the conflict, although they personally sympathized with Britain, France, and their allies. Opinion changed gradually. Unrestricted German submarine attacks on neutral ships prompted the United States to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.
New technological and industrial developments increased losses, and grueling trench warfare created a tactical stalemate. The Great War was one of the deadliest conflicts in history and devastated the continent of Europe. Although the United States joined the war late, the impact was significant. Sixteen men from Bennington were killed and 27 wounded in action.
The war ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. November 11 is now memorialized as Veteran's Day, and 2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the Great War.
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