Planning for official artists to cover the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I began in May 1917, a month after the United States declared itself a belligerent. The Committee on Public Information had been established in April to coordinate propaganda for the war effort, and the idea for official artists originated in the Committee's Division of Pictorial Publicity. The Army commissioned eight artists, most of them experienced magazine illustrators, to record the activities of the AEF in France.--Army Art of World War I Introduction
Following World War I, Congress recognized the need for federal control over the commemoration of American armed forces overseas. On March 4, 1923, President Warren Harding signed legislation that established the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) and made the new agency responsible for the construction of monuments honoring the American Expeditionary Forces. Soon after, Congress directed ABMC to construct memorial chapels in the eight permanent military cemeteries in Europe, which were at the time maintained by the War Department. In 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order that shifted the responsibility for the management and maintenance of these hallowed grounds to ABMC.
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