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Resolution No. 348 - Commemorating The 100th Anniversary Of The Conclusion Of The First World War

      WHEREAS, on July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on the Kingdom of Serbia resulting in a majority of the world’s industrialized nations being drawn into a major conflict that would come to be known as World War I, or the Great War; and

      WHEREAS, in the days leading to the declarations of war, Pope Pius X interceded directly with Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary in an attempt to maintain peace in Christian Europe; and

      WHEREAS, in November 1914, the recently elected Pope Benedict XV in his first encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, “implored Kings and rulers to consider the floods of tears and of blood already poured out, and to hasten to restore to the nations the blessings of peace”; and

      WHEREAS, on April 6, 1917, the United States ended its policy of neutrality and declared war on the German Empire; and

      WHEREAS, on May 23, 1917, Supreme Knight James Flaherty wrote to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson informing him that the Knights of Columbus intended “to establish centers for the large body of men who will be concentrated in training and mobilization camps … for the recreation and spiritual comfort not only of members of the Order and Catholics, but for all others, regardless of creed”; and

      WHEREAS, the Knights of Columbus launched a campaign to raise $1 million to fund this program that received an overwhelming response and generated more than $14 million in 1917, and together with other Catholic entities, an additional $30 million from 1918-1919, for a total amount equivalent to over $734 million today; and

      WHEREAS, at the peak of our operation in July 1918, the Order maintained nearly 150 facilities located throughout the western and eastern war zones staffed by over 1,000 secretaries and scores of volunteers under the motto, “Everybody Welcome, Everything Free”; and

      WHEREAS, on November 11, 1918, an armistice was signed between the Allied and Central Powers effectively ending the hostilities of the Great War; and

      WHEREAS, following the armistice, the Order opened new facilities to serve the occupation forces, including 32 new morale centers in Germany; and

      WHEREAS, with U.S. troops returning from the war, the Order initiated a series of social services for veterans, including a national employment campaign that placed more than 300,000 in jobs and vocational and educational courses that served more than 75,000; and

      WHEREAS, at the 37th Supreme Convention held in Buffalo, New York, in 1919, the Supreme Council celebrated both the end of the Great War and the close relationship between the United States and France by approving the gift of a statue to the City of Metz commemorating the “glorious dead of the American and French armies” and by welcoming the French High Commissioner Marcel Knecht, who bestowed the Legion of Honor upon Supreme Knight Flaherty in recognition of the work done by the Order; and

      WHEREAS, in 1920, the Supreme Officers and Board of Directors traveled to Metz to dedicate the statue and then continued on to Rome where they were received in audience by Pope Benedict XV, who praised the Order, which had “gained the praise and admiration not only of Catholics, but of all of good heart” for its work in the Great War; and

      WHEREAS, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the First World War, the Knights of Columbus opened an exhibition titled “World War I: Beyond the Front Lines” at its museum in New Haven, Connecticut, recalling the tremendous sacrifice made by those who fought in the war and the work done by the Order during the conflict.

      NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that as we recall the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, we remember the more than 20 million killed and 21 million wounded in the conflict, the total equivalent of one out of every 46 people alive at that time in history; and

      FURTHER RESOLVED, that we reflect on the lessons of that terrible conflict and of the failed peace agreements brokered at its closure that laid the groundwork for World War II as well as other conflicts and political strife of the past century; and

      FURTHER RESOLVED, that we reiterate the call of Pope Benedict XV, who reminded us that the “equilibrium of the world, and the prosperity and assured tranquility of nations rest upon mutual benevolence and respect for the rights and the dignity of others much more than upon hosts of armed men and the ring of formidable fortresses.”