Mule Rearing African American Soldiers 1 The pilots pilots in dress uniforms African American Officers Riveters doughboys with mules gas masks

World War I Centennial News


 

"It’s telling a story through a visual narrative."

Howard advances memorial sculpture in Weta Workshop sessions

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

With the unanimous design-concept approval by the U.S. Commission of Fine Art and by the National Capital Planning Commission, in recent weeks, our development of the new National World War I Memorial is in high-gear. Our sculptor, Sabin Howard has taken the design artwork to New Zealand, to work with the incredibly talented artists at the high-tech sculpting studio, Weta Workshop. He took some time to talk to us, and to show us what he has created, and how the sculptural development process will work.

You are in New Zealand right now, working on the WWI memorial bas relief. Why New Zealand, and what are you doing?

Howard 1Sculptor Sabin Howard (right) poses a model at the Weta Workshop Studios in New Zealand.We are working at Weta Workshop in Wellington NZ which is normally the go to place for all the top feature movies like Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Planet of the Apes in the creation of sculpture props. The latest technology is available to speed things up so that we can move things through quickly and efficiently. Using technology we get things blocked out and then take over manually or traditionally using the same techniques that sculptors have used to make art for the last 200 years.

We are taking out the grunt work so that the creative process can shine through. This work has to be delivered at a very high level. I like to call it museum quality art. I have till the end of the year to create something that will blow the roof off the art world and create a visceral response from Washington.

New Zealand has great cultural appreciation for their World War I veterans. Have you seen this since you have been there? How has it manifested itself in your team's work?

New Zealand is a relatively young country. You could say that it’s 200 years old. WW1 defines the people of NZ and is similar in importance to our War of Independence.There is tremendous excitement among the crew to participate in the creation of this initial sculptural maquette. I used one of the workers yesterday as a model of the central charging figure. We are doing what film does in sculptural form so everyone at the shop gets it. It’s telling a story through a visual narrative.

Read more: Sabin Howard update on National WWI Memorial sculpture

 

Stories of Service: The Commission's web page dedicated to commemorating individual serviceStories 1

By Paul Burgholzer
Staff Writer

Note: This story is part of our series on the remarkable World War I resources and features that can be found on the Centennial Commission website, ww1cc.org

Did you have someone in your family tree serve in the Great War? You can share their story with us at our Stories of Service page.

This link will take you to the form where you can add someone’s story. Fill out the service member’s name and dates of service (if known). Then select the service member’s branch or type of service. This could be military branches like the Navy or Marine Corps, or it other service groups like the Red Cross, Salvation Army, shipbuilding efforts, foreign air service, etc. Then write a short summary of their story, and how they contributed to the war effort. The process is simple and quick. It is worth doing to see your family member’s name photo and story on the web page. Add someone to this wall of honor!

A recent story about an Air Corps Observer named Lt. David Ker is truly honorable. He was a charismatic young man who spent his free time dancing, fishing, and spending time with his cousin. Ker loved life but left behind his fiancé, his family, and his fun to serve in the war effort. Being an observer was a dangerous but essential job. His Samson II airplane was shot down in 1918 and Ker was killed. He sacrificed everything for his country and this is why commemorating these individuals is honorable.

On the Stories of Service page you can find stories like Ker’s and many more detailed biographies that make up our great American heritage. Some recently added stories to look out for are Delta Lockhart who left his job as a high school principle in Texas to become an officer in the US Army, LiberAntonio Bonsanto who served with the 127th engineers, and Gilbert W. Zeits who fought in the Argonne Forest and at St. Miheil.

Dive into their stories and more at the WWI Centennial Commission’s Stories of Service page.

 

WWI Memorial design concept gaining ground for Pershing Park

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

Since Congress designated Pershing Park a World War I Memorial in 2014, the Centennial Commission has been collaborating with Federal regulatory agencies to design an integrated park and memorial honoring the more than four million people who served in WWI. The international design competition in 2015 generated a design concept by Joe Weishaar, Phoebe Lickwar, and Sabin Howard that sought to align the current Pershing Park memorial elements with the rest of the park with additional memorial features, specifically a monumental bronze bas relief sculpture that displays the story of a Soldier’s Journey.

memorial designHowever, in 2016, government agencies found Pershing Park eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which layered on even more challenges to the project. This required the Project and Design Teams to seek a more fine-tuned balance between the Memorial design and construction with park rehabilitation, restoration, and preservation.

On July 13, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) concurred with the direction of the Centennial Commission’s development of the WWI Memorial and voted unanimously to adopt the concept design, which makes three changes to Pershing Park. First, this design enlarges the current fountain at the western edge of the existing pool, which would be restored in its same size. The east-facing side of that expanded fountain will become the emotional center of the new WWI Memorial: an approximately 65-foot-long bronze bas relief sculpture with larger-than-life figures that will tell the story of the United States’ involvement during the war through the experience of a Soldier’s Journey. Second, this design will create a walkway over the restored pool for visitors and area residents to access and experience the sculpture and fountain through touch, sight, and sound. Third, the current kiosk will be replaced with a flagpole that will include other commemorative elements about the Great War.

Read more: WWI Memorial Concept Design Gaining Ground for Pershing Park

WWI: "How far we have come, that now we can remember together as friends."

Uploading History: Bismarck Military Aviation History

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

First came engravings, then scrolls, then books, then documentaries. Now, the way history reaches new audiences is through the internet. In this segment previously, we interviewed Youtuber Extra Credits. Today, we spent some time with Christoph Bergs, otherwise known online as "Bismarck", who tackles history with a specific lens: aviation history. Bergs, like our previous interview Bernhard Kast, is not an American yet still has covered American military history as told by the military aircraft they employed. Through simulators, games, and visual representations, the way the world does combat in the realm of the sky is Bergs' key interests. He also has had experience working with the Great War, having worked with our French counterpart, the Mission du Centenaire, visiting the battlefields of the Somme and Verdun. We were fortunate enough to spend some time with him, and he additionally has agreed to produce a video on American aircraft during World War 1 for us. If you'd like to visit his channel, click here.

Making a name in the growing field of historical Youtubers is difficult, yet you have managed to garner a combined 4.3 million views on your channel by focusing on a key element. How did you get started in this field, and started out on Youtube as a whole? What is your overall background?

Image 6Christoph BergsI started out on YouTube a few years ago after I had rediscovered my passion for aviation, specifically military aviation. Right now, I am creating regular content on the history of military aviation with a focus World War 1 and World War 2. All of it is based on research I do myself using primary or secondary sources. My interest in it started out when I was really young however, back when I was around 10 years old and saw the first warbirds in museums and books. Obviously, that was somewhat on the backburner as I went into my late teens. Where I went to school, warbirds weren’t exactly how you would start a conversation with your fellow classmates. It all came back to me after university where I had studied history.

Though a majority of the combat coverage on your channel spans the World Wars, you've been able to produce over a hundred videos, many in-depth and some over an hour long. What sort of narrative emerges by studying the usage of aircraft in war? Why aircraft?

Why aircraft? Pure and simple, I love them. There is just something about aircraft that I like and I have yet to find an exception. There is so much to talk about when it comes to military aviation, it is sometimes a challenge to just decide on a topic. The development of airpower from WW1 to WW2 has spawned so many different designs, concepts and technological advances. In a way, it reinvented military strategy and by doing so it had a profound impact on politics too. Military aviation wasn’t something nations could ignore, they had to invest and develop competitive planes and weapon systems out of nothing. That gives us such a wealth of material to go through, any way you turn something new pops up.

Read more: Uploading History: Christoph Bergs a.k.a. "Bismark"

July 1917 - Building the US Air Service for action in WWI

By Patrick Gregory
via the Centenary News web site

When Woodrow Wilson signed legislation on 24 July 1917 earmarking $640 million for expenditure on US military aviation, it was the largest amount of money ever appropriated for a single purpose by Congress up to that time. But as Patrick Gregory explains the move marked a necessary effort to rebuild an air service, almost from scratch.

NieuportFrench Nieuport 15 plane at Bouy aerodrome, Bouy, Châlons-en-Champagne, June 1917 - later used in training by the US Air Service (Photo courtesy of Kimber Literary Estate)The extraordinarily large amount of money which Congress and President pledged to the Aviation Section in July 1917 – only one branch of the country’s armed forces, and a nascent one at that – marked an acknowledgment by the American authorities of the size and scale of the task faced by the service. It was time to catch up, they realised, and fast.

Underprepared

The air service had found itself chronically underprepared and under-resourced at the outbreak of war, with few pilots and fewer planes. It could boast only 131 officers, chiefly pilots and student pilots out of an enlisted staff of 1087 men. Of those 131 only 26 were deemed fully trained. Worse still, no one serving had had proper combat experience. The groundwork had not been laid, or preparation made, and the Air Service now faced a steep development curve. Having been pioneers of aviation only a decade previously, America now lagged a long way behind the rival, experienced Great War combatants fighting in the skies over Europe.

Part of the problem encountered by the air service stemmed from its curious origin within the military firmament. Still a junior member of the armed forces, and officially only an adjunct of the Signal Corps, it needed to carve out a place for itself in Washington as well as stake a real claim in Pershing’s plans for his American Expeditionary Force.

Even the name of the junior partner changed from one minute to the next, a clue to its uncertain status. It was known by a variety of titles by different parts of government and the armed forces: the 'Aviation Section', the' Aeronautical Division', the 'Airplane Division', the 'Air Division'. All were terms used to describe what was still officially the 'Aviation Section of the Signal Corps'. Only in time would it evolve into its longer lasting title of 'U.S. Air Service', yet even that soubriquet only really began to come into common usage in France in the autumn of 1917.

Read more: July 1917 - Building the US Air Service for action in WWI

99 years ago, World War I arrived on the shores of Cape Cod

By Nik DeCosta-Klipa
via the boston.com web site

On July 21, 1918, Dr. J. Danforth Taylor made a rather urgent call.

“Hello! Is this the Globe?” he asked.

Taylor was informed that, indeed, he had reached the offices of The Boston Globe.

“This is Dr. Taylor of East Boston,” he continued. “I am at Nauset [Beach] on Cape Cod. There is a submarine battle going on just offshore.”

capeattack2largeDr. Taylor wasn’t lying. Exactly 99 years ago Friday, a lone German U-boat attacked just off the coast of Orleans, raiding a tugboat and its four barges — and even incidentally shelling the beach where eyewitnesses gathered in awe.

The raid made the quiet Cape Cod town the only place in the United States to be hit by enemy fire during World War I.

“It brought the war that was over there, over here,” Jake Klim, the author of Attack on Orleans, told Boston.com.

As Klim writes in his book, the SM U-156 was one of the first German submarines over the course of the two World Wars to wreak havoc off the American coast, in an effort to terrorize and incite anti-war sentiment along the Eastern Seaboard. It had already sunk one 500-foot U.S. Navy ship off Long Island that summer, killing six sailors, before reaching Cape Cod.

Military officials had been aware at the time of the possibility that sharks weren’t the only thing lurking off Cape shores. Within a year of the United States entering the war, a short-lived Naval air station was built in Chatham to patrol the waters.

Read more: 99 years ago, World War I arrived on the shores of Cape Cod

Bastille Day 2017 honored Americans who fought alongside French in WWI

By Nathalie Nguyen
Staff Writer

On July 14, hundreds of American service members led the Bastille Day military parade down the Champs-Elysées in Paris, commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI. The formation included some 190 troops from the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division, which was formed to serve in WW1.

Paris 1 600Americans lead Bastille Day Parade in Paris on July 14, 2017. (DIVIDS photo)The event was attended by President Donald Trump and other American officials at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. The United States World War I Centennial Commission Chairman Robert Dalessandro and Commissioner Monique Seefried were present at the event along with the Commission's Vice Chair Edwin Fountain.

As well as commemorating the 100th year anniversary of American troops joining their French allies in the war, this event also celebrates the longstanding partnership and friendship between the two nations.

“France stood with us during the American Revolution and that strategic partnership endures today,” said General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander, U.S. European Command. “On behalf of the 60,000 service members standing shoulder-to- shoulder with the French to ensure Europe is whole, free and at peace, we are honored to lead the Bastille Day.”

Known simply as “juillet 14” in France, Bastille Day is a national holiday that marks the storming of the Bastille Prison, which was used to imprison dissenting subjects by kings and monarchs. The taking of Bastille on July 14, 1789 provided momentum for the French Revolution.

Since the 1880, a military parade down the Champs-Elysées is traditionally held as part of the festivities and celebration. According to EUCOM, more than 3,765 people participated in this year’s parade.

Read more: Bastille Day 2017 honored Americans who fought alongside French in WWI

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Masters

WWI "is truly the birthplace of the modern world"

By Betsy Anderson
Coordinator of Volunteers, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Every few weeks, we like to showcase the efforts of our remarkable Centennial Commission volunteers. Today, we bring you the story of Mike Masters, who is managing the WW1CC's exhibition booth activity. In his short time on board, Mike has told the Centennial Commission story to thousands of people at several convention events around the Washington DC area. Mike is a Foreign Service Retiree and WW1 history enthusiast. He is helping with events in the DC area, and staffed the Commission information booths at the Belgian Embassy Europe Day event, and the Daughters of the American Revolution Service to America night.Mike Masters 400Mike Masters

Welcome to the WW1CC Team! Where are you coming from, what was your earlier career?

I spent a career living overseas, both as poor English teacher living in Japan, and later in multiple countries in the Foreign Service before retiring in 2015. My wife's grandfather fought on the German side in World War One. My children are in college and wonder why their dad has this odd interest but liked the chocolate I got when we were at the Belgian Embassy. 

What an amazing background & set of skills! How did you hear about the Centennial Commission, and how did come to decide to help us?

I attended a meeting of the World War One Historical Association and heard a presentation by Commissioner Monique Brouillet Seefried who also showed the 7 minute video narrated by Gary Sinise about efforts to build a World War One Memorial. I decided that I wanted to help these efforts, and as time goes on, I more and more feel how much we owe the people who served in World War One and how in previous decades they have become the "Forgotten Generation." There are no more World War One veterans who can speak for themselves, so it is the duty of all of us to speak on their behalf. 

What do you hope to achieve through your volunteer efforts with the Centennial Commission? Why is this effort, this mission, important to you? 

I hope to see that the importance of World War One to who we are as a nation is not forgotten. I hope to learn more about World War One and how it changed America and the World. I hope to share my passion for the amazing people and stories of the World War One era. 

Can you tell us an interesting story or fact you have learned about WW1 or its causes or consequences? 

There are so many. This truly was a dividing line, not just for America but for the world. The world of 1914 seems so very distant, but the world of 1918 seems so familiar. We think that we are living in a world of vast technological change, but the people of that world were dealing with changes so much greater, at a pace which must have been very hard to understand. So much of what we think of as making the modern world, including aircraft, electricity , electronic communications, and vast developments in chemistry, physics and medicine, came about in just a few years before the war, and for the people who fought and lived through those events it must have seemed to be an H.G. Wells novel come to life, with all its grandeur and horror. A 20 year old soldier in 1914 was born into a world not so different from that of past centuries, especially if he was raised outside of large cities, but by the time the war was over it must have seemed to the people of that era that they no longer lived on the same planet. The social changes that came with this were greater than anything we have had to deal with in past decades, as hard as that is for many of us to believe. It is truly the birthplace of the modern world. 


Do you have an interest in America in World War I and some time available? Sign up here to be a volunteer for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. Going to college and looking for a great internship opportunity in Washington, DC? Look into the Commission Intern program.


 

WWI memorial plan draws critics in D.C.; Arkansas designer says it’s ‘evolving’

By Frank E. Lockwood
via the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

WASHINGTON -- Members of the National Capital Planning Commission raised questions about plans for a new World War I memorial Thursday, questioning how the proposal could best complement the existing park's design.

Weishaar on Blog Talk RadioJoseph Weishaar, lead designer for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.The federal planning agency asked numerous questions about a proposed Gulf War memorial that also needs its approval. They focused, primarily, on where to place it.

Discussion of the World War I monument, including public testimony, lasted nearly an hour, with critics objecting to nearly every aspect of the proposal: the topography, the trees, the walkways, the water fountains and the flagpole.

One commissioner also objected to New York City sculptor Sabin Howard's artwork, suggesting the preliminary sketches were insufficiently diverse for a 21st-century audience.

"I just want to say I don't see a lot of women," said Eric Shaw, director of D.C.'s planning office. "If we're thinking about contemporary memorials, we have to have contemporary representation."

Fayetteville native Joe Weishaar, the lead designer of the World War I proposal, sat on the front row and listened calmly as critics repeatedly faulted the project.

Afterward, he said he would work to address the objections raised by the commissioners.

The design is still a work in progress, he said. "It's always evolving."

Weishaar, a graduate of the University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture, was picked to design the project in January 2016 after winning an international competition.

Read more: WWI memorial plan draws critics in D.C.; Arkansas designer says it’s ‘evolving’

WWI: "how human and how preventable this catastrophe was"

Uploading History: interview with Extra Credit's James Portnow

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Engaging a new generation is absolutely vital for any field, history included. Popular history has found new formats in the age of the Internet. Podcasts, such as Dan Carlin's Hardcore History or Mike Duncan's History of Rome, as well as Youtube Channels, such as Extra Credits or Alternate History Hub or The Great War, reach a whole new demographic that television documentaries and books haven't been able to tap. This month we'll be introducing you to some of the dedicated content creators who work hard to create educational but exciting videos and podcasts. The first YouTube outlet we will introduce to you is Extra Credits. We were fortunate to spend some time with Lead Writer James Portnow, who told us about their vision for the show.Portnow 300Extra Credit's James Portnow

First, could you tell us a bit about your channel, Extra Credits, as well as what you do for them?

Of course! My name is James Portnow, I’m the lead writer for the shows. Extra Credits is a channel about making learning engaging. We tackle everything from history to game design. I’m a game designer by trade, my co-founder is an animator who’s worked at places like Pixar, and so we took everything we learnt from making games and films and tried to use that to teach.

Initially, Extra Credits was more about the technical side of gaming. You've since branched out into history, and now create some of the most popular historical content on Youtube. How and why did this change occur?

I had been doing a lot of work with school districts and universities on how to make learning something that everyone wants to do. Often they’d ask for an example, so, finally we just decided to make one. Luckily with help from Creative Assembly (the folks who make games like Rome: Total War) we were able to get it off the ground.

Extra Credits History has been going for 4 years and garnered nearly 11 million views overall. Though your initial video was sponsored by a game company, your first unsponsored video was about the Great War. Why did you select World War 1, and specifically the aspect of trying to prevent it?

Because to me it’s the defining moment of the 20th century. It’s the final break from the old medieval or renaissance world that ushers in the modern age, and yet it’s so often glossed over in our schooling. It felt so important in the world today to reexamine its beginning and to discuss how human and how preventable this catastrophe was.

Read more: Uploading History: Extra Credit's James Portnow

“Treasury Raiders” and empty promises: Bonus Marches erupt across postwar U.S. in 1930's

By Michael Stahler and Paul Burgholzer
Staff Writers

The Bonus Marches that sprung up across the country in the early 1930s pitted the American veterans of World War I against their own government. These servicemen fought abroad against the German Empire in France only to return to empty promises by those that sent them to the front line in the first place. The soldiers were guaranteed financial security for their service but the Federal government reneged on their promise.

At the time, soldiers were paid substantially less than the average factory worker. Therefore, they lobbied Congress for adjusted wages, or “bonuses” as opponents would call them. In 1bonus marchers at CapitolBonus Marchers gathered at the U.S. Capitol924, Congress began to issue certificates promising $1.25 for each day a veteran spent abroad and $1.00 for each day a veteran spent at home. Promised to be fulfilled by 1945, veterans began to demand earlier compensation when the Great Depression hit. A quarter of the country unemployed, and many of these veterans homeless, they took to the streets. 20,000 occupied the nation’s capital in May 1932. This march sparked a national debate. The country was supposed to return to normalcy after the war yet in these attempts it further alienated the veterans that helped to win the war.

Their encampments on the banks of the Anacostia River were reminiscent of the settlements used by the former soldiers during their days in the American Expeditionary Force. This effort was led by Walter Walters, a former cannery worker from Portland, Oregon, who stressed proper conduct among these protestors, including no begging, “drinking, or radicalism”.

Under Walters, the men dug latrines, cleared roads within the camps, and assumed military formations before their marches In these camps as well as abandoned buildings and lots, they would gather scraps of derelict cars, pieces of wood, and chicken cages to craft makeshift houses.

Aside from homes, their shantytown featured a library, a post office, and a barber shop. They even produced their own newspaper, which they called the BEF News. This settlement was the largest of many across the country called “Hoovertowns” in derision of then-president Herbert Hoover.

Read more: “Treasury Raiders” and empty promises: Bonus Marches erupt across postwar United States in 1930's

New York National Guard reported for World War I duty 100 years ago

By Eric Durr
via the army.mil web site

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.-- On July 15, 1917, 24,000 members of the New York National Guard began reporting for duty in what was then known as the World War.

NYNG 2New York National Guard Soldiers assigned to Company G, 1st New York State Infantry gather outside their armory in Oneonta, N.Y. sometime in July , 1917 following their mobilization for duty in World War I. The men not in uniform were new recruits. On July 15, 1917 more than 24,000 New York National Guard Soldiers reported for duty and began the process of heading to France to fight the Germans. (Photo Credit: courtesy of New York State Military History Museum)On July 12, President Woodrow Wilson had ordered all 112,000 National Guard Soldiers across the country to report for duty as part of the National Army which was being built to fight the Germans in France.

The United States had declared war on Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary on April 6 and now an Army had to be sent to France to fight.

The first step was to mobilize the Army's main reserve, which was the National Guard. Wilson's order specified that National Guard Soldiers begin reporting to their local armories for during between July 12 and July 25.

New York's troops, along with those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska were instructed to report on July 15. Those Soldiers reported to their armories and began preparing to ship out. The Soldiers were allowed to go home each night and report back to the armory each day to continue training.

Almost 17, 000 New York National Guard Soldiers had been on duty along the Mexican border to prevent incursions from the troops of Revolutionary General Pancho Villa during 1916. Some of them and only returned to New York in the spring.

Other New York Soldiers had been guarding railroad bridges, aqueducts, and the Erie Canal to prevent German sabotage.

Read more: NY World War I History:New York National Guard reported for World War I duty 100 years ago

For France, Trump at Bastille Day was Deeply Symbolic

via The Voice of America

PARIS — U.S. President Donald Trump was the guest of honor Friday at France’s Bastille Day celebrations, an elaborate display that included military bands, flyovers by American jet fighters, and a parade that lasted more than two hours to mark the centennial of the U.S. entry into the First World War.

ParadeFrench Republican Guards ride their horses past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, July 14, 2017. The annual Bastille Day parade is being opened by American troops with President Donald Trump as the guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.The American flag flew along with the French flag on Paris’ famed Champs Elysees, where U.S. troops marched in a parade with thousands of French soldiers, tanks, missile launchers, and armored personnel carriers.

More than 3,500 police took positions along the parade route to guard against potential terrorist attacks.

"We have also found sure allies, friends, who came to help us," Macron said."The United States of America are among them. This is why nothing will separate us, never.The presence today of the U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his wife is the sign of a friendship that lasts through time."

In saying goodbye Friday, the Trumps, President Macron and his wife, Brigitte, walked together before Macron took Trump's hand and shook it firmly for several seconds -- in what has appeared to become a tradition for the two men. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump then went by motorcade to Orly Airport, where they boarded Air Force One for their flight to their next stop in New Jersey.

Read more: For France, Trump at Bastille Day was Deeply Symbolic

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