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"The Great War" Page 1

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    187123
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    "Every nation should be judged by the best it has been able to produce, not by the worst."

    - James Weldon Johnson

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    In the year 1914, the Panama Canal officially opened. This was a dream come true for the Americans. It made passage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean much easier and quicker. This canal took some 10 years to build and claimed thousands of lives of those working hard to complete this tremendous project. President Theodore Roosevelt felt the completion of this canal was essential for not only travel and trade, but to ease the transportation methods of the American Navy. This would give the United States Navy power beyond the United States borders, which would come in handy with the "Great War" that was about to begin.

    Background

    At the same time the Panama Canal was built, an elusive event took place in Europe. The Archduke of Austria,Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated. His murder gave Austria-Hungary the excuse to declare war on Serbia, which they thought was to blame for the Archduke's assassination. This led to country after country joining the war. This was actually the first war in which countries throughout the world participated.

    There were two sides to the war. The Central Powers were mainly Germany and Austria-Hungary. TheAllieswere France, Russia, and Great Britain. Many other European countries joined later.

    Why did the United States Join the War?

    When the World War broke out in Europe, the United States government planned to stay neutral. But most Americans were descendants from Europe. Because of this, it was hard to stay neutral. The American people tended to side with the Allies particularly after the Germans sank a civilian ship named the Lusitania in 1915. Almost 1,200 people died on that ship and that included 128 Americans. Still, the Americans stayed out of the war.