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World War I presented challenges that existing state agencies were not well equipped to meet. Certainly, the Oregon National Guard played a central role in the state's response to war. But there were legal and practical limits to its powers. Oregon needed the ability to address a wide range of home front issues with speed and flexibility, unencumbered by the status quo and engrained institutional barriers.
The defense council existed for only a short time during the war but it took on the vital job of coordinating a myriad of efforts on the home front. And it left a legacy of personal military service histories that provide an invaluable window into the experiences of nearly 36,000 Oregonians who went to war.
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