About the series

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the war on April 6, 1917, The Great War, a six-hour documentary presented over three nights, explores how World War I changed America and the world. Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, The Great War tells the rich and complex story of the conflict through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “doughboys.” The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native American “code talkers,” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten. AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War premieres Monday April 10th at 8pm on 5.1. Watch the preview here

War Letter Wednesday

WWI was a watershed in wartime letter-writing, but it is just one chapter in a long history of Americans communicating conflict from abroad. Throughout American history, letters and dispatches from soldiers and others at the front have brought news, good and bad, to waiting loved ones at home. At the same time, letters from the homefront were an eagerly awaited respite from the terrors of war to those serving far from home. These messages range from the poignant, poetic and heartbreaking to the humorous, brief and mundane. Whether written with ink and parchment or tapped out in telegrams or typed in emails, they have all shown the human face of war and conflict.

#WarLetterWednesday is a new weekly Instagram challenge to feature your war letters, photographs, and communication technologies in order to share the history of wartime correspondence. With this campaign, American Experience aims to build a community of museums, libraries, cultural organizations and individuals centered on sharing the history of wartime correspondence in America.

Challenge for the week of April 5:

TOOLS OF THE TRADE - Pens, telegrams, airmail, pigeons, satellite phones -- anything that made wartime communication possible!

Instagram Feed #WarLetterWednesday

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Bataan: A 70th Anniversary Commemoration

On December 15, 2011, honoring the 70th anniversary of the fall of Bataan (April 2012) and the subsequent death march, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) proposed S. 2004, legislation to grant the Congressional Gold Medal to the troops who defended Bataan during World War II. The next day, Congressman Martin Heinrich (D-NM) proposed its counterpart in the House of Representatives – H.R. 3712. One inspiration for this action was the documentary TRAGEDY OF BATAAN. As an adjunct to TRAGEDY OF BATAAN, New Mexico PBS has produced a half-hour program with some of the survivors of the surrender of Bataan.

Japanese Internment Camps in Santa Fe

It’s a part of New Mexican history that few are aware of and no one talked about at the time. According to the Department of Justice, from March 1942 to April 1946, the Santa Fe Internment Camp held 4,555 men of Japanese ancestry. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US Government arrested and imprisoned thousands of Japanese-American men branding them “dangerous enemy aliens.” Incarcerated without trial, they were forced to leave behind their families along with everything they knew and loved. Professor of Literature Gail Okawa, renowned photographer Patrick Nagatani, and southwestern artist Jerry West share their family’s stories about the Santa Fe camp.

Honoring the Buffalo Soldiers in New Mexico

Members of the Buffalo Soldiers Society of New Mexico share insights into the history of the Buffalo soldiers and how they contributed to New Mexico achieving statehood in 1912. They tell us of the challenges these soldier’s faced, their hard work, and particularly of their bravery during the battle with Apache Chief Victorio at the isolated Massacre Canyon in the Black Range Mountains of southern New Mexico.

A look at the Rough Riders of New Mexico

At the turn of the 20th Century, still a territory, New Mexicans wanted to prove their loyalty to the United States. They found their opportunity by joining Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to fight in the Spanish American War. Roosevelt recruited the tough westerners like New Mexican Maximiliano Luna to be part of his Rough Riders. After the war Rough Rider reunions were held for decades at the historic Hotel Castañeda in Las Vegas. Shot on location at the Hotel Castañeda, Noted Western historian Dr.Paul Hutton shares his great knowledge of this important step in New Mexico achieving statehood.

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