On April 6, 1917, the United States joined World War I when Congress declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. At the same time in Lindsborg, Kansas, most of the city’s nearly 2000 residents rallied to serve their nation when called upon, while others had mixed emotions due to religious convictions or ethnic ties to their Swedish homeland that remained neutral during the war. Bethany College formed new military organizations to train young men to become officers in the military, while some traditions, like Messiah, continued as usual. The choir performed Messiah at Camp Funston in June after the declaration of war, and that same camp would train young men from Bethany and Lindsborg to fight the war being waged in Europe.
By April 1917 millions of men and women from around the world had already perished on the battlefields, in food-deprived towns, and due to disease that spread with the sprawling armies. The young men from Lindsborg joined that struggle, which by the time it concluded on November 11, 1918, over 11 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died. Most of the soldiers from Lindsborg returned home in 1919; some did not. Those that returned reunited with their families who contributed to the war effort by raising war gardens, purchasing liberty bonds, participating in civil defense work, and in countless other ways. This website tells the stories of how the people of one small Kansas town were affected by the Great War, one hundred years ago.