The United States Congress stated war against German Empire on 6th April 1917. As the World War 1 began, America formed the 42nd Infantry Division. During the era of World War 1, each state of America wanted to be the first in sending their guards into the war especially along European trenches. There was the negative impact of the competition among the United States, and this led to a significant decision by the government. The government of the United States decided to form a division that would have National Guard units all from the 26 states and then the District of Columbia. Due to the tremendous changes in military and defense, the government established the 42nd Infantry Division in August 1917 and it later was officially formed on Camp Mills in Long Island, New York.

Colonel Douglas MacArthur was the key person to introduce the name ‘Rainbow,’ which became a nickname of sorts for the 42nd Infantry Division. MacArthur described the 42nd Division as a unit that stretches like a rainbow, from end to end of America.

In November 1917, the division arrived in France and later was on the front line in 1918. From March 1918, they remained in persistent communication with the enemy for nearly 174 days. While in France, they took part in six major campaigns and got one out of possible six fatalities among the American Army throughout the war. The division was active until May 1919.

The Second World War led to reactivation of the 42nd Division with a ceremony in 1943. During the reactivation ceremony, the new commander Brigadier General Harry Collins phrased MacArthur’s words regarding the 42nd Division by stating that the Rainbow represented the Americans.

In December 1944, the 42nd Division landed in France and later proceeded to Germany in 1945 and liberated the Dachau camp. The record set by the division was incredible, considering the fact that their Army was the first to ever enter Germany and Siegfried. The soldiers from The Rainbow Division seized more than 6,000 square miles belonging to Nazi Germany as they marched across Europe. Later, they took part in ending the war; and the division was disabled in June 1946.

The 42nd Division was reactivated 1993 and consolidated with the fundamentals emerging from 26th and 50th divisions and formed the National Guard Division, which has units in various states including New York, New Jersey, and Kentucky. Soldiers from these divisions still respond to locals’ emergencies including the terrorist attacks which took place at the World Trade Centre in 2001. The Rainbow soldiers participated in the war on terrorism in Afghanistan; and in 2005, they were deployed to participate in the Iraq war while supporting the Operation Iraq Freedom III.

 

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