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In November 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected President of the United States, in part on his promise to keep the United States out of the first World War.
Five months later, Wilson asked the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war against Germany.
Why did the United States switch its policy so quickly? And how did the Pittsburgh area mobilize both manpower and material to enter the conflict on the side of the Allies, led by the British and French?
A program on Saturday at McKeesport Regional History and Heritage Center will explore those questions and how they resonate today. Retired Army Major Gen. John Stevens, a 1964 McKeesport High School graduate, will present "The United States Joins the Great War: The First Industrial War."
The event at 1 p.m. is free for members of the heritage center and $5 for non-members. For more information, call (412) 678-1832 or visit www.mckeesportheritage.org.
Stevens is a graduate of the University of Dayton and the Army War College who earned his doctorate in operations management at the University of Cincinnati in 1975. He began his military career as an assistant platoon leader in the Ohio Army National Guard in 1970 and transferred to the Pennsylvania Army National Guard in 1975.
In 1993, he became assistant adjutant general at the headquarters of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, responsible for the long range planning, logistics, information management and safety for 16,000 service members. Then, in 2001, Stevens became deputy commanding general of the Army National Guard materiel command, serving on active duty for three years.
He retired from the military after 36 years and was later named by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett to chair the state's Civil Service Commission.
In civilian life, Stevens joined the faculty of Lehigh University and is currently an emeritus professor of management and marketing. He also served as director of the supply chain management master's degree program at Penn State's Smeal College of Business.
The heritage center is located at 1832 Arboretum Drive in Renziehausen Park, next to the rose garden.
Originally published August 16, 2017.