In 1917-1918, 4.5 million Americans served in World War One. Of that number only 14 remain.
The "World War One Living History Project" is a 2-CD audio documentary honoring the sacrifices and contributions of America's last surviving WWI veterans. The producers have travelled the country in search of the soldiers who made the world (in President Wilson's words) "safe for democracy." Twelve of these veterans, aged 105 to 115, share their reminiscences, humor and wit with guest host Walter Cronkite.
CD 1 of 2:
The program begins with a 30-minute introduction to the events of 1914-1917, narrated by Walter Cronkite. It explores the political circumstances that precipitated the outbreak of war, and the advances in communication, armaments and transportation which led to an acceleration of hostilities far beyond the known bounds of continental warfare in Europe. The war went quickly from the drawing-rooms of the European aristocracy to the trenches, where the armies of Europe became enmeshed in a conflict in which the prevailing military strategy was to relentlessly deplete the manpower of the opposing army. This segment is articulated through a combination of scripted narrative, recordings of period speeches, and short first-person accounts read by professional voice talent.
The subsequent half-hour segment introduces 12 of the 14 surviving veterans of 1917-1918. American entry in the war represented a tide change in public opinion, the result of unlimited German submarine warfare and threats against U.S. national interests. The veterans recall the first federal conscription in U.S. history, public perceptions of the war and their memories of trench warfare.
CD 2 of 2:
The second hour of the program offers a more intimate portrait of the veterans, their experiences and their attitudes toward the war some 90 years after the fact. It traces the effects of American involvement in the European war, and how the U.S. tipped the balance in favor of an allied victory. It also examines the critical mistakes made following the armistice and how these mistakes reverberated two decades later in World War Two.
The program concludes with a moving tribute by producer Will Everett on insights gained from meeting America's oldest veterans.
Producer: Will Everett
Guest Host: Walter Cronkite
Original Music: Chuck Wild
Production assistant: Joel Lamar
Major funding by:
Univ. of Texas at Brownsville / Texas Southmost College
South Padre Island Texas Convention and Visitors Bureau
Liberty Memorial Monument and Museum
Copyright 2006 Treehouse Productions. All rights reserved.
Original music copyright 2006 Gold Masque Music (ASCAP) and Chuck Wild (ASCAP).