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Remembering World War I

Americanization began as an effort to showcase American patriotism. On July 4, 1915, the first Americanization Day took place as foreign-born and native-born Americans were asked to demonstrate national unity and celebrate those who served the country. The declaration of war in 1917 gave a deeper meaning to the festivities, as American unity took on the purpose of supporting troops in combat. Xenophobia pervaded social culture at the time, and some questioned the loyalties of foreign-born Americans. For doubters, events like Americanization Day became displays of peoples’ loyalties. Those who attended were deemed loyal citizens, while those absent might be subject to suspicion and contempt. Americanization dovetailed neatly with the Anti-Dissent movement, which also developed as a way of eliminating opposition and mandating support for the country’s foreign policy decisions.