Guest column: Idaho remembers World War I

The Idaho Day celebration in Idaho Falls will take place Monday evening, writes Ann Rydalch.

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the Bonneville County Heritage Association will host a program at the Colonial Theater in Idaho Falls in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the armistice ending World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

This free event for the public will have a social hour at 6 p.m. which will include silent auction items and the displays of the student contest entries in the Carr Gallery. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the theater.

It is believed that worldwide as many as 9.7 million soldiers and 10 million civilians died through combat or disease. Some 4.7 million Americans served in the war with 116,500 deaths. The state of Idaho recorded a loss of 358 service members during World War I, a major sacrifice from a state population of only 400,000 at that time.

The annual Idaho Day celebration happens because of legislation passed in 2014 by Representative Linden Bateman which established March 4 as Idaho Day, the date President Abraham Lincoln designated Idaho a state in 1863.

The program on March 5, will have something for everyone to enjoy.

The Master of Ceremonies will be Stephen Yates. Choirs from the 4th Grade Westside & Dora Erickson School and After School/Beyond the Bell Choir, will perform, directed by Jennifer Korenke-Stanger, District 91 Elementary Music Specialist, accompanied by Kathryn Bosworth and Bruce Stanger on the guitar.

A short film, “Idaho Remembers World War I,” written by Linden Bateman and David Nipper and filmed by Paul Jenkins at Intermountain Film & Videos will depict the many men and women who served in World War I and gave their lives. Among those soldiers seldom remembered is Thomas Neibaur, Idaho’s most highly decorated veteran and heroic personality of the Great War, as it came to be known.

Women served during World War I in various capacities on the home front as well, in munitions factories and in agriculture, where as replacements for farmers off to war, became known as “farmerettes.” It is also important to remember about half of all U.S. casualties during World War 1 were from the flu, which was part of a worldwide epidemic which killed between 50 and 100 million people. The film will depict various heroes.

We will also honor some of today’s heroes during the program. Alturas International Academy will receive an award for their continued efforts to maintain the historic significance of the O. E. Bell school building. Steve Carr will be honored for his 30 years of service as a volunteer to the Red Cross and has served on the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross and in international capacities. The American Legion will be honored as we celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the American Legion. Another hero to be honored will be Idaho’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones who is a decorated U. S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War.

The following veterans groups will be recognized: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Viet Nam Veterans of America, Military Officers Association, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans Mobility Core, Submarine Vets of America, Phoenix Quick Response Force and the Daughters of American Revolution.

Ann Rydalch is chair of the Bonneville County Heritage Association.