World War I Impact in the Four States

By Gretchen Bolander

Published 07/25 2014 06:27PM

Updated 07/25 2014 07:26PM

JOPLIN, MO.--- "June 5th, 1917, they asked all the men in the area that were from age 21 to 30 to enlist. And over 4,000 men enlisted," said Brad Belk, Joplin Museum Director. 

That didn't mean just signing up.  

"Well, once they were selected. The story goes, they then had a dinner at the House of Lords and then were marched to the train with a band, accompanied by a band, and sent off in royal fashion," said Belk. 

The war effort impacted the economy, both by boosting the mining industry and asking residents to invest in bonds.

"The major bond drives were held at 4th and Main, right there at the very popular corner right next to the Connor Hotel, and just across the street from the Keystone," he said. 

Long before America committed to fighting for the Allied powers, many residents disagreed about which side to back. 

"The situation was that there were a lot of allegiance to Germany because there were so many immigrants from that country," he said. 

Returning soldiers brought back more than just their time in service, adapting the old military helmet for mine work.

"That was incorporated to support the man's head as far as making sure that nothing fell onto them. Men were getting injured while wearing just a cloth cap," said Belk. 

Monday marks the 100 year anniversary of the start of the war. The United States didn't join the conflict until 1917.  

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