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About the First World War, Selective Services Act of 1917, and Liberty Loan Act of 1917

Our purpose is to provide you resources to learn about important events nearing 100 years ago. The entrance of the United States in the First World War, also known as the Great War, shaped our country as a premier world power. We honor the American Veterans and citizens that sacrificed so much so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms envisioned by our forefathers.

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The First World War

In 1917 the US was desperately needed to relieve exhausted allied forces in midst of the Great War. President Woodrow Wilson declared war April 6, 1917. Our fledgling country had an army of only 100,000 and no mechanism to fund a massive war effort.

Selective Services Act of 1917

The first troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), began arriving on the European continent in June 1917.

“No commander was ever privileged to lead a finer force; no commander ever derived greater inspiration from the performance of his troops.”

General John J. Pershing, Commander in Chief (1917 to 1919)

The First National Bank of Chadron collection at the Nebraska State Historical Society contains original documents on local implementation of the Selective Service Act of 1917. A sampling of those archives are available for review at our bank locations.

The Blue Star Flag

The Service flag, also called the Blue Star Flag, was designed and patented by WWI Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two sons serving on the front line. The flag quickly became the unofficial symbol of a child in service. President Wilson became part of this history when in 1918 he approved a suggestion made by the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defenses that mothers who had lost a child serving in the war wear a gold gilt star on the traditional black mourning arm band. This led to the tradition of covering the blue star with a gold star on the Service flag to indicate that the service member has died.

An original “Blue Star Flag” (circa 1918) from the Whitney, Nebraska community is on display at the Chadron bank. Each star recognizes a local boy that was serving in the First World War.

Liberty Loan Act of 1917

A Liberty bond (or liberty loan) was a war bond that was sold in the United States to support the allied cause in the First World War. Subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States and introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. The Act of Congress which authorized the Liberty Bonds is still used today as the authority under which all U.S. Treasury bonds are issued.  Local banks organized the sale of the bonds as described in the ads below. 


Countdown to the 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day


by Pete Johnson, Loan Officer at FNB (US Army CPT 2008-2012)

2018 marks the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I, one of the most defining conflicts in modern history.  On November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m., the War to End All Wars was officially over.  We still feel many of the effects of the decisions made at the treaty of Versailles today, whether it is the establishment of the United Nations, the current turmoil in the Middle East, or the rules of warfare set by the Geneva Convention that are still in use today. 

The Morning World-Herald (now the Omaha World Herald) dated November 12, 1918 laid out the Armistice Terms at Versailles.  Although Germany did not officially surrender until November 11, 1918 the war had been unofficially over since September 29, when the German armed forces requested a ceasefire be established.  The German military had created and enacted a bold strategy in the spring of 1918 in order to crush the remaining French armed forces and isolate the British beachhead in northern France.  The strategy called for an aggressive all-out attack on the Western front that, while initially successful, was ultimately defeated because the German forces had outrun their supply chain, resulting in severely undersupplied forward troops and horrifyingly high casualties.  Some reports indicate that there were an estimated 2 million German casualties alone during this offensive.  This failed offensive crippled the German military and the Germans had no choice but to call for a ceasefire to begin surrender negotiations.

The Armistice terms, which had been drafted in early October, were very successful in eliminating any continued military threat from Germany.  However, the real blow to Germany culminated in the Versailles Treaty in June of 1919.  This Treaty was exceptionally punitive to the German people, and would eventually lead to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. 

First National Bank is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with a CD special that we have named the Liberty CD.  This is our way of remembering all of the men and women of this county who sacrificed so much so that we could have the life we live today and to remind us of those that are still fighting for liberty throughout the world.  If you would like to see this piece of history, or would like to hear more about the Liberty CD, please come and visit us.