World War I speaker at library Monday

Indianapolis-based storyteller Sharon Kirk Clifton will lead the free presentation, “Over There and Back Again: World War I as Seen Through the Eyes of Two Hoosiers” at 6 p.m. Monday at the Red Room of the Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus.

It was called the Great War, the World War, the War to End All Wars. In its early years, most Americans referred to it as the European War.

“We wanted to protect our own interests by staying out of the fray, remaining neutral, and trading with both sides,” Clifton said. “However, Germany would not recognize U.S. neutrality. American ships at sea became fair game.”

After the Germans sank two U.S. ships, American sentiment shifted, and the public pressured President Woodrow Wilson to go to war against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. On April 2, 1917, Wilson sent a war request to Congress. Four days later, the United States declared war on Germany.

Using the Indiana Historical Society’s archives, Clifton will share the stories of two Hoosiers who served. One was a nurse and the other a soldier. After the war, they became leaders in Indiana.

Information: 812-379-1266 or

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.