Library program will reflect on World War I
Wiltonian Jean-Pierre Lavieille will lead the World War One: The Path to American Involvement kick-off program of a new World War I series at Wilton Library on Monday, Nov. 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The event is sponsored by the library and American Legion Post 86 and will cover various aspects of WWI, which, Lavielle said, was chosen as the topic because the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the war will be commemorated in 2017.
To set the background for future WWI lectures, Lavielle said, he will “discuss the state of Europe before 1914, the causes of WWI, the 1915-1917 period before the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, and the reasons why the United States declared war on Germany.”
Lavielle said he will also talk about the 26th Division, also known as the Yankee Division, “which was formed by merging the national guards of the six New England states [of] Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire.”
The 26th Division, he said, “was involved in all the battles in France that the AEF — the American Expeditionary Force under the command of General John Pershing — fought.”
From the lecture, Lavielle said, people will learn how much WWI “shaped the world as we know it.”
“I will develop that point in one of the lectures about the consequences of WWI — the various treaties that followed WWI in 1919,” he said.
The heroic exploits of WWII bomber pilot and late Wiltonian Charles M. Baffo, whose on-the-spot command decision spared the lives of hundreds of French civilians, will be commemorated.
On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Baffo posthumously received one of France’s highest medals — Croix de Chevalier dans l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur — and a segment of Route 106 was recently named in his honor.
During the program, Lavielle will describe the transition of the pre-WWI U.S. military from a 60,000-member force chasing bandits like Pancho Villa into the large expeditionary force that helped the Allies defeat the Central Powers.
He’ll also review the first part of WWI to set the context for the United States’ entry in 1917 and the remainder of the series.
A special hero from WWII’s Greatest Generation will also attend the program, for which there is no charge, but registration is recommended.