World War I began in August 1914—the United States did not enter the conflict until April 1917. During those nearly three years of neutrality, a small number of Americans did experience the horrors of the war zones of Europe. Some ran for their lives as refugees while others, like journalists and doctors, headed toward the fighting. Missionaries in Persia (Iran) and the Ottoman Empire became witnesses to both the Armenian genocide and the persecution of Assyrian Christians. This history focuses on the war from the perspective of ordinary people who found themselves in the midst of what was then the most destructive and bloody war in history.