TOMAH, Wis. –
wAmerican involvement in the “war to end all wars” began a century ago. Remembering that time period and the sacrifices that went along with it was the focus for a gathering at the Tomah, Wisconsin Museum August 15.
Ward Zischke, the command historian for the 88th Regional Support Command, adorned in World War I-era military uniform, discussed the events that led to American involvement in World War I to include the build-up and creation of the Army and divisions that we know today as well as major battles of the war.
“We should always honor the memory of the Soldiers who participated, but we need to look hard at the reasons we got involved and the outcome of our involvement,” Zischke said.
The evening was organized by Tomah Museum’s Executive Director Jim Weinzatl as a way to honor the nine men from the Tomah area who died during World War I and to preserve the memory of the past.
“There were a lot of events (during World War I) that affected future things in the world,” Weinzatl said. “For instance, new mechanization, a lot of the trucks were introduced, airplanes were introduced, the engine. All that came into play in the first World War. There were also strides in medicine that led to better knowledge for fighting in World War II. A lot of the lower officers turned out to be generals in World War II.
Previously, the Tomah Museum has hosted presentations on the American Civil War, World War II and the Korean War. This event focused on the personal impact to families in the region and also the global impact of the war would have for generations that followed.
“Talking about World War I is important because it changed the history of the world,” Zischke said. “The confidence that western culture had before the war of mankind's progress was dealt a severe blow. Four monarchies were swept away and Communism became a force to be reckoned with. Colonialism began to go into decline and political maps were redrawn in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The United States moved closer to being a world power.”
The 88th Division, as it was known in World War I, was first constituted on August 5, 1917 at Camp Dodge, Iowa as a part of the National Army. The unit deployed to France to fight in World War I from July through September 1918. The 88th Division earned a campaign streamer for its involvement in the Alsace Campaign in October 1918.
Following this service the 88th Division returned to Camp Dodge and was demobilized on June 10, 1919.
The 88th RSC is hosting a 100th Anniversary commemoration for the 88th Division August 19 at its Fort McCoy, Wisconsin-based headquarters. The ceremony will honor 100 years of service by the 88th which was created to fight in World War I. Through its history the 88th has been a division of the National Army, a division within the Organized Reserve, an Army Reserve Command (ARCOM), a Regional Readiness Command (RRC) and its most recent incantation as a Regional Support Command (RSC) which it has been since September 2008.