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World War I Centennial News


Four Questions for Jo-Ann Power

"The women who joined the Corps during WWI were heroines we must continually honor"

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

The WW1CC website is full of interesting pages, and incredible resources. As part of our series on what you can find there, we caught up with Jo-Ann Power, who created and curates a special page devoted entirely to the U.S. Army Nurse Corps in World War I. Jo-Ann is author of more than 60 novels, dozens of newspaper and magazine articles plus non-fiction, and she has won awards and acclaim during her decades’ old writing career. During the 1980s, she became interested in the thousands of women who volunteered to join the Army Nurse Corps. Few Americans had ever heard of them, but Jo-Ann found many primary resources at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. Believing these brave women deserved wider recognition, Jo-Ann spent weeks examining boxes crammed with unannotated photographs, tattered letters and old microfilms of newspaper articles. She turned that research into a novel, HEROIC MEASURES, which was published in 2013 (info here She also turned her vast knowledge into the amazing web page we have today. Today's Army Nurse Corps was created during the war, and their history is truly remarkable. Jo-Ann brings this story to life through a number of unique and innovative storytelling features.

Tell us about the US Army Nurse Corps web page on the WW1CC website. Where is it found? What will people see when they go there? Who manages it?

The Army Nurse Corps section of the WW1CC website is devoted to honoring those 22,000+ American women who volunteered to aid wounded, ill and dying soldiers during the Great War.

Jo Ann PowerJo Ann PowerNurse logoI am the curator for this section, a result of my decades of interest in the Corps and the fact that I volunteered early in 2013 to tell the story of these heroic women. Although I am not a nurse, I became interested in these brave women when I read about them in a brief article in early 1980s. I'd never heard of them, and I have found over the decades, that few other Americans have either! I am a novelist by profession, publishing more than 50 novels since 1991. Knowing that more people learn history by reading novels than reading history books, I thought the story of these nurses would make a marvelously heroic tale. (Please see:

In the 1980s, I lived and worked in Washington D.C. and had worked with the staff of the National Archives and the Library of Congress to write my master's thesis. Taking the subway down to the Archives or the LOC, I asked the archivists to give me their records of WWI nurses and medical care.

What was delivered to me still makes me gasp: I was given cardboard boxes in which the archivists had literally dumped, willy nilly, letters, photos, newspaper clippings and odd bits such as postcards or hospital notes. I pieced these items together to get a "picture" of these women's existences. I also went to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania where I received from those archivists the same uncategorized records.

Working in the past few years with historians at Fort Sam Houston Army Medical Museum in San Antonio and traveling to Cantigny Illinois to the First Division Museum there, I know that now the records of this period are not only well-preserved, but also more have been added.

Read more: Four Questions for Jo-Ann Power

100 years of the Rainbow Division marked in August 12 ceremony on Long Island

By Eric Durr
New York National Guard

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --Veterans and current leaders of the 42nd Infantry Division and the New York Army National Guard marked the 100th anniversary of the “Rainbow Division” with a Saturday, August 12, 2017 ceremony here, where the division first organized in 1917.

1000x832 q95Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry Division color guard stand at attention during a ceremony marking the Rainbow Division's centennial on Saturday, August 12, 2017 at Garden City, N.Y. The color guard members where World War 1 uniforms to mark the divison's creation from National Guard units from 26 states during World War 1. New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs photo by New York Guard Capt. Mark Getman. In an effort to organize and deploy combat units quickly as the United States entered World War 1, the division was formed from assembling the most ready National Guard units of 26 states and the District of Columbia.

Because it would take in units from many states, then-Major Douglas MacArthur, the officer who came up with the idea, said it would stretch across the country “like a rainbow.”

Before it even acquired the number 42, the division became known as the “Rainbow Division.”

Units began arriving at Camp Mills, where Garden City is today, in mid-August and created a tent city in the open meadows of Long Island and all 24,000 men assembled by mid-September for training. The division completed preparations and left for service in France in November, not returning to Camp Mills until 1919.

Just under 3,000 never came home and 13,292 were wounded. With active service in both world wars, the division has been a part of the New York Army National Guard since 1947.

National Guard units in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New Jersey are aligned with the division today, which is headquartered in Troy, N.Y.

“It’s a great day to see our comrades and honor our World War I founders,” said retired Major General Joseph Taluto, who commanded the division in Iraq in 2005, and now serves as director of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation. The foundation organized the event.

Read more: 100 years of the Rainbow Division marked in August 12 ceremony on Long Island

First Division Museum Grand Reopening set for August 26

By Gaylin Piper
Media Director, First Division Museum

Detail Cantigny First Division Museum mural 11 Paul BarkerDetail from First Division Museum WWI mural by Paul BarkerWHEATON, Ill., — The First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton will reopen to the public on Saturday, August 26, at 11 am. The museum began a transformational update last fall including the addition of “Duty First,” an all-new gallery focusing on the modern (post-Vietnam) history of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony, visitors will enter the museum for the first time since Veterans Day 2016. The experience awaiting them features new and updated exhibits plus cutting-edge storytelling techniques.

he “Duty First” gallery occupies the 2,500-square-foot space formerly used for temporary exhibits and programs. Inside it, visitors will learn about the different types of missions performed by the 1st Infantry Division today with the information, in many cases, delivered by the voices of military veterans. Interactive exhibits apply virtual reality technology that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The First Division Museum’s other major gallery is “First in War.” This space, thoroughly updated with new media and more artifacts, will be familiar to previous visitors. Powerful immersive experiences remain intact, such as walking through a WWI trench, onto Omaha Beach and through the jungles of Vietnam.

As before, the compelling record of the Division is presented in the context of broader history, inviting museum visitors to engage in the tough issues of war and peace.

The museum’s grand reopening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the famed military unit known as the “Big Red One.” It became the first division of the U.S. Army in June 1917, assembling to fight in France in World War I. Colonel Robert R. McCormick served in the Division during the Great War, participating in the successful Battle of Cantigny in 1918. Returning after the war, Colonel McCormick re-named his farm Cantigny in honor of those who served in the battle, and on his death in 1955 left Cantigny Park in trust for the enjoyment of the people of Illinois.

“There is no better way to commemorate the centennial of the First Division,” said David Hiller, president and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “We know how Colonel McCormick revered the Big Red One, and all the men and women who served in the armed forces. He’d be pleased that this wonderful museum honors veterans and all those who serve.”

Read more: First Division Museum Grand Reopening set for August 26

WWI tank installed at under-construction Museum of the U.S. Army

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

Tank lift at Army MuseumTank "Five of Hearts" lifted into place at U.S. Army MuseumOn Tuesday August 15th the team at the U.S. Army Center for Military History placed a Renault FT-17 Tank at the construction site of the upcoming National Museum of the United States Army.

The tank followed a remarkable journey, and is a true artifact of World War I. Nicknamed the "Five of Hearts", this tank was given to the U.S. Tank Corps by France during WWI, and is the only known surviving Renault tank used in combat by the U.S. thought to be in existence.

This particular tank participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, and was used to make a critical break in German lines near Exermont, France. When it was taken out of action during the battle, it had over 100 holes in its armor. The fate of the tank's crew is unknown.

The tank would later be shipped back to America as a memorial to those soldiers who served in tanks during World War I.

A video about the "Five of Hearts" story in World War I can be found here

This installation was the last of four macro-artifacts to be pre-positioned in the construction site of the National Museum of the United States Army. The macro-artifacts needed to be installed prior to the steel-work beginning.

The other marco-artifacts include a Bradley Fighting Vehicle used in Operation Desert Storm, as well as a Higgins boat LCVP and a Sherman tank used in World War II.

Read more: World War I tank installed in the under-construction Museum of the U.S. Army

Plans to honor WWI Native veterans in North Dakota

via the Minot Daily News web site

BISMARCK, ND — Even before most Native Americans had citizenship rights, thousands of men from tribes across the country showed their patriotism by volunteering for the military and fighting in World War I.

Private 1st Class John Elk of Standing Rock Reservation in 1919 served in Company D, 139th Infantry Regiment (35th Division), with several other Native servicemen from tribes in North Dakota. Elk has been posthumously recognized as a code-talker in World War I. His commanding officer said he was an “exceptionally good scout, was very cool and calm but very quiet.” From “Warriors in Khaki,” by Michael and Ann Knudson. Photo from British National Archives.Private 1st Class John Elk of Standing Rock Reservation in 1919 served in Company D, 139th Infantry Regiment (35th Division), with several other Native servicemen from tribes in North Dakota. Elk has been posthumously recognized as a code-talker in World War I. His commanding officer said he was an “exceptionally good scout, was very cool and calm but very quiet.” From “Warriors in Khaki,” by Michael and Ann Knudson. Photo from British National Archives.Now, as the nation solemnly marks the World War I Centennial, United Tribes Technical College at Bismarck is planning to honor Native American servicemen from North Dakota tribes who served and sacrificed. The honoring will be held on Sept. 10 during the 2017 UTTC International Powwow at the college in Bismarck.

“One hundred years ago men from our tribes willingly chose to enter the military,” said Leander R. McDonald, UTTC president, one of the planners of a World War I memorial on the college campus. “They didn’t have to do that. It was prior to the time when all Native people were granted U. S. citizenship. But they stepped-up. And we owe it to them to remember.”

N.D. Indian recruits

Native veterans are highly respected and revered throughout Indian Country. An estimated 10,000 American Indians served in the Army in World War I and two,000 in the Navy. Historians characterize their patriotism as remarkable despite having no reason to serve as most were not yet citizens.

In North Dakota, many were recruited in 1917 by Alfred B. Welch of Mandan, an officer in the North Dakota National Guard. Welch befriended Chief John Grass of Standing Rock and was adopted by him into the tribe. He commanded a company of the Guard in France during the war and looked after the wellbeing of Native servicemen.

“I had, in every instance under my observation, found them to be soldiers of great courage, initiative and intelligence,” wrote Welch about the loyalty and behavior of North Dakota Indians who made it good in the great war. “[they were] always volunteers for the most dangerous missions; brave to the point of recklessness; and had proven themselves to be soldiers of the highest type.”

Code Talkers

In World War I Native servicemen performed duties in all military capacities. But one assignment offered a singular purpose not available to others. Those who became messengers and telephone operators transmitted information in Native languages and dialects. Along with men from a handful of other tribes, servicemen speaking Lakota were among the first Native “Code Talkers” in the military.

Only in recent years have Lakota Code Talkers been posthumously recognized for what they did in World War I, often to the surprise of descendants who knew little of the nature of their service. That’s because they remained faithful to their oath of silence, preserving the effectiveness of that field tactic for use later during World War II.

Read more: Plans to honor WWI Native veterans in North Dakota

Evansville Soldier To Finally Receive Recognition On Monument

By Steve Burger
via the Indiana Public Media News web site

chester schulz army photo cropped 1Sgt. Chester Schulz (Credit: ‘Sons of Men’ – 1920, Abe P. Madison)EVANSVILLE, IN. — An Evansville soldier will finally be recognized for his sacrifice nearly a century ago.

On a monument in northern France to the First Infantry Division soldiers killed in that unit’s final battle of World War One, there are eighty names.

Soon, there will be eighty one.

In the chaos that filled the final days of World War One, Evansville native Chester Schulz’ name was not recorded among those killed in fighting near the Belgian border. His family would not learn of his fate for four months.

Posey County resident Nancy Hasting discovered the omission in 2014 when she visited the First Infantry Division monument at Wadelincourt, near the town of Sedan in northern France. Hasting is the great niece of Chester Schulz.

She began communicating with the First Division Memorial Association, which is part of the Society of the First Infantry Division. That group maintains all the monuments in the U.S. and around the world that are dedicated to First Army Division soldiers killed in action since the unit was formed during World War One.

Hasting says, “I think all of my family would be proud to know that I’m pursuing getting him the recognition he deserved.”

Hasting learned this week that the First Division Memorial Association has accepted her claim that Chester Schulz’ name should be included on the First Division monument at Wadelincourt. They are arranging to have it added in advance of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One in 2018.

Read more: Evansville soldier to finally receive recognition on Monument

Landmark exhibition “World War I and American Art” makes final stop at Frist Center in Nashville

NASHVILLE, TN — World War I and American Art, the first major exhibition to examine how American artists reacted to the First World War, opens at Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts on October 6, 2017. Works by more than seventy artists, including George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, and John Singer Sargent, represent a pivotal chapter in the history of American art that has until now been overlooked and underestimated.

 John Singer Sargent’s monumental tableau "Gassed" (from the Imperial War Museums, London) is one of many high-profile loans from both private and public collections that are part of the "World War I and American Art" exhibition. John Singer Sargent’s monumental tableau "Gassed" (from the Imperial War Museums, London) is one of many high-profile loans from both private and public collections that are part of the "World War I and American Art" exhibition.Timed to coincide with the centennial of the entry of the U.S. into the war, this ambitious exhibition organized by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Philadelphia, revisits a critical period in history through a wide variety of artistic responses, ranging from patriotic to dissenting. Garnering acclaim from outlets such as Forbes, The New York Times, and PBS NewsHour, the exhibition and its central themes of how artists respond to geopolitical turmoil is strikingly relevant today. American artists were vital to the culture of the war and the shaping of public opinion in several ways. Some developed propaganda posters promoting U.S. involvement, while others made daring anti-war drawings, paintings, and prints. Some worked as official war artists embedded with troops and others designed camouflage or took surveillance photographs.

The exhibition features many high-profile loans from both private and public collections, including most importantly Sargent’s monumental tableau Gassed (Imperial War Museums, London), which has been seen in the U.S. only once before (in 1999). “Working as an official war artist for the British government, Sargent witnessed the aftermath of a German mustard gas attack on British soldiers. He represented the harrowing scene on an epic canvas measuring about 7½ x 20 feet,” says Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy. “Our presentation of the painting and the exhibition as a whole will be enriched by a lecture on opening day entitled ‘Mr. Sargent Goes to War’ by Richard Ormond, the artist’s great-nephew and a renowned scholar based in London.”

Read more: Landmark exhibition “World War I and American Art” makes final stop at Frist Center in Nashville

2017 eclipse across U.S. recalls WWI eclipse 99 years ago

Maps of Eclipses 1918 2017 KC

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


“There will not be another total eclipse visible ever so large an area of the United States until 2017”

-- The Kansas City Times, Saturday, June 8,1918


100 years later, it’s here! Hidden in between #WW1 reports about U.S. regiments fighting overseas and war bond propaganda was a report about the Total Eclipse casting the moon’s shadow over the country.

In 1918, the path of the eclipse started south of Japan, went across the Pacific Ocean, and then across the United States.

The largest city to see totality was Denver although many could theoretically see it as the size of the shadow was between 70 and 44 miles across as it travelled across America.

The longest duration of totality was in the Pacific at a point south of Alaska. The path of the eclipse finished near Bermuda.

Just as it did on July 8, 1918, a total eclipse will once more sweep across the Midwest on Aug. 21, 2017.

Other newspapers across the nation carried stories of the great celestial event in 1918, some pondering the connection between the darkening sky and the great conflict underway across the world.






Read more: 2017 eclipse across U.S. recalls WWI eclipse 99 years ago

"Part of the story of our families."

Finding the Great War on the way to the Bad Inn

By Christy Leskovar

It all started in 1997. I was living in Las Vegas, working as a project manager for Bechtel. My background is mechanical engineering. Earlier in my career I did engineering design for commercial nuclear power plants. While on a trip to my hometown of Butte, Montana, I heard about a fire on my great-grandparents’ ranch; a dead body was discovered in the ruins, determined to be my great-grandfather; and his wife, my great-grandmother, was arrested for his murder. I was floored. I decided to leave my engineering career, go find out what happened, and write a book about it.

Before I knew it, I was in Flanders.

I was determined to keep the book nonfiction. I wanted you to get to know the people in the story. For that I needed familial and historical context. I started a timeline with three columns: date, events in family history, events in local and world history. The “protagonists” of the story were my maternal grandparents and great-grandparents. I wanted to know how they bumped into history and how history changed their lives.

Christy Leskovar 350Christy LeskovarDoughboy Peter Thompson 1917 or 1918 400When I began, I knew that my Irish grandpa, Peter Thompson, fought in the First World War in the American army, he was an immigrant. He saved a man’s life and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. I knew that the archduke was shot, the Lusitania was sunk, and we joined the war toward the end. Therein lay the sum of what I knew about the First World War when I began this quest.

I needed context. I found books about the war when visiting my parents, books at the library. History books. My library had only a handful of books about the war. I read the bibliographies of the books I did find and ordered those books. I read General Pershing’s book, soldiers memoirs, soldiers letters. I read voluminously about the war, concentrating for the most part on the American involvement, so I could tell the story of this one particular soldier, not any soldier, this soldier, Peter Thompson, my grandfather. I wanted you to feel like you were right there with him on the battlefield, while keeping the book nonfiction.

I had no idea how difficult this would be. The first books I read gave simplistic reasons for the start of the war which made no sense to me. It can be an advantage not to have any preconceived notions before beginning research, otherwise I might have accepted “nationalism” as the reason. I was starting with a blank sheet. I wanted to know why the war started, why we got in it. I also wanted to know what Peter’s sweetheart, my grandmother, was experiencing at home, a high school girl in Butte, Montana, while he was fighting on the Western Front. I had some of his military records. Grandma made sure that all her children had copies. Those gave me his regiment (362nd), brigade (181st), and division (91st). Someone told me I could get the rest of his military records from St. Louis. I did. One of my Bechtel colleagues, Miguel Monteverde, a retired Army officer, told me about the Center of Military History. He knew the man who ran it. I didn’t know there was such a place. To delve into Peter’s battle experience, I need much more than what I could find in books. I was writing ground-level history. I needed details, details specific to Peter. Until Miguel told me about the Center of Military History, I didn’t know where to turn. I called. Roma answered. She had a memo with a regimental history. She sent it to me. She suggested that I contact the U.S. Army Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I did and quickly realized that I needed to go there. I went. The woman asked for the brigade number. 181st, I said. She brought out a box. The largest folder was from Farley Granger, who was an officer in Grandpa Peter’s regiment. He was the father of the actor of the same name. I’d seen him in Alfred Hitchcock movies. I read field messages, orders, some with code names, who were they? Day after day, I pored through the papers in the box. Then to the library. The librarian said there is a regimental history, the official one. They didn’t have it, but he gave me the name of a man in Springfield, Massachusetts, who had it. I called. He sent it to me.

Read more: Finding the Great War on the Way to the Bad Inn

Four Questions for David O’Neal

"These are the stories that stick with people when you talk to them."

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

David O’Neal acquired his first artifact when he was 16 years old. It was a 37 mm tank round from WWI dated 1917. Some 40 years later, he is still an avid student of the Great War....and still collecting WW1 artifacts. But now he is restoring priceless relics of World War I back into their original condition, so that their stories can be told to new generations. We caught up with David to see what is going on now at his WWI Preservation Collection.

You have a pretty amazing collection of World War I artifacts. What do you have?

ONeal 2David O’NealObviously I can’t list everything in the collection, but there are some very impressive items, along with the mundane utilitarian items that were used by the soldiers every day during WW1. Some of the impressive things are of course the WW1 M1917 Ford ambulance re-creation. I brought this vehicle back from extinction, there are no known surviving examples of this version of the WW1 Ambulance produced at the Ford Plant in Detroit in 1917. Ambulance 300The award-winning M1917 Ford ambulance re-creation. (Photo © 2015 by David O'Neal)The Model of 1917 Machine gun cart is an impressive Machine Gun Company artifact that is restored and complete. I also have the 1915 Vickers water cooled heavy machine gun and the Browning 1917 water cooled heavy that were used in conjunction with the cart.

There are uniforms, helmets and accoutrements from many of the combatants specifically on the Western Front. I have a wide variety of small arms, pistols and rifles from all combatants as well as disabled machine guns and ordnance.

There are items that are very rare and hold special attention in the collection. A captured Imperial German Battle Flag. A steel German sniper loop that would have been carried out and set up in no-man’s land. Melted pieces of aluminum that were recovered from the crash site of Zeppelin L48 that was shot down in England in 1917. I have the U.S. First designed WW1 hand Grenade the Mark I, very rare and very interesting story. Pulled from service immediately after implementation.

There are quite few fascinating things in the WW1 Preservation Collection and I am always looking for more artifacts to bring in to preserve them.

Read more: Four Questions for David O’Neal

Four Questions for Karlen Morris

"Patton’s service in World War I is what made him who he was in WWII."

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

Karlen MorrisKarlen MorrisA group from the US Army Brotherhood of Tankers (USABOT) is creating a new memorial to those service members 100 years ago who created the tank corps during World War I. The memorial will feature General George Patton, who famously led the experimental tank group during World War, and who would go on to achieve combat victory as the foremost tanker in the world during World War II. The memorial is getting some help from an unusual source -- the people of Bourg, France. Bourg is where General Patton's World War I tank headquarters, and school, was located. The town is very proud of the key role that they played to support those tankers 100 years ago. We discuss the memorial project with Karlen Morris, a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant, and career tanker.

Tell us about your organization. What is it's background, history, etc.

Patton Battalion – USABOT is a local chapter of the US Army Brotherhood of Tankers. Our battalion covers Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky and Tennessee. USABOT formed around 2012 and the Patton Battalion formed in June of 2013. We are a non for profit organization listed in Kentucky. The mission of USABOT is to document, record and tell the story of the US Army Armor Branch. We have stories and some soldiers from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan to tankers serving today and troops in basic training. We are Tankers and Tank Mechanics of all ranks from Major General to Private. We have battalions that cover all of the United States and one that covers Europe.

USABOT logoYou have an interesting program underway for marking the World War I centennial. Tell us about it.

Patton Battalion – USABOT was granted permission, on April 28, 2017, to build a monument at Memorial Park next to the General George Patton Museum at Fort Knox, KY. The dedication is planned for 10 November 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of when Patton was assigned to the US Tank Corps and build the tank school.

If we cannot raise enough funds to get the monument in place in time the plan is to still celebrate this historic day and get the museum in place.

We are currently collecting donations to help us build the monument which will be a replica of the monument in Bourg, France but slightly different. We want to have on the back of the monument a short timeline of General Patton’s service in WW1, cover the tank battles of the US Tank Corps, and to tell about the World Wars Tank Corps Association which was formed from members of the US Tank Corps in association with the American Legion. We are working with George Patton Waters, Patton’s Grandson, on this project.

Read more: Four Questions for Karlen Morris

Four Questions for Lady Lucy French

"Let the children themselves take ownership of this important period in their history and heritage!"

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

"Never Such Innocence" is a non-profit program dedicated to educating young people about the First World War, its impact and legacy. The program takes its name from a line in Philip Larkin’s poem "MCMXIV", which reflects on the changes caused by the First World War. To mark the centenary of the First World War, Never Such Innocence is running an annual poetry and art competition for young people. This year's 2017 edition of the competition explores the different stages of the First World War, and it aims to provide young people with an objective and insightful account of the events that unfolded between 1914 and 1919. It has been designed so that students can select topics that interest them most, and uses poems and artwork from the war period throughout to help stimulate responses to the competition. We talked to the person who was the vision behind it all, Lady Lucy French.

Tell us about your World War I education project, Never Such Innocence. You have resources to share! You have people that you want to share them with!

Lady Lucy French 300Lady Lucy FrenchNever Such Innocence was set up to help young people aged 9-16 play their part in the centenary of the First World War through poetry, art and song. In 2014 we launched an annual national competition inviting children and young people to submit work inspired by the events of the war – I am delighted to say that the competition is now reaching young people on an international scale!

The competition is free to enter and we produce a resource which provides a child-friendly journey through the First World War. It is available as a free download on our website and we send free hardcopies to schools on request. The resource is updated for each competition to include new stories and perspectives, the fourth edition – to be published September 2017! – will include sections on America’s involvement, also Ireland, and the experience of Belgian refugees. Entrants to the competition are in with the chance to win a monetary prize for themselves and their school, and every child who enters receives a personalised certificate of commendation.

How did this project come about? Who helped you to create it? How did you develop the resource materials?

In late 2012, I decided to find a means of commemorating the Centenary of the First World War. I wanted to ensure that our young people, nationally and internationally, were given the opportunity to play their part, engage, and feel important during this centenary period.

I wanted to help our young people understand the complexities of war and the vital importance of the sacrifices our forces made 100 years ago and today.

Read more: Never Such Innocence: a World War I education program & creative competition

Four Questions for Kevin Fitzpatrick

Governors Island to host Camp Doughboy WWI weekend Sept. 16-17

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

This upcoming September 16-17, Fort Jay on Governors Island, New York, will be hosting Camp Doughboy, a weekend of free events and exhibitions dedicated to commemorate the American participation in the Great War. We caught up with the organizer for the event, Kevin Fitzpatrick. Kevin is the program director of the World War One Centennial Committee for New York City. He’s also the author and editor of seven books tied to city history, including his most recent, “World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War” (Globe Pequot Press).

Could you tell us about this event?

Fitzpatrick leftKevin Fitzpatrick (left) in a Doughboy uniformIt will be the largest WWI public exhibition on the East Coast this year. We will bring living historians and experts on the Great War to one spot for the public to meet and learn about the conflict. We expect sixty-five reenactors in uniform to represent the A.E.F. A collection of vintage vehicles is also making the ferry trip to the island: a M1917 Renault tank, Model-T ambulances, a 1918 Dodge truck, plus a 1917 motorcycle.

What I’m looking forward to seeing most on the parade ground: General Pershing on his horse. The incredible living historian David Shuey—who was in the 2016 New York Veterans Day Parade with us portraying the general—is bringing his horse Aura Lee to the island. One of the more poignant statements that came out of the war, by the cavalry, was, “We rode in on horses and rode out on tanks.” Well, we will have both. We also have some of the finest Great War authors who will be speaking and signing books, including Jeffrey Sammons, Mark Van Ells, and Mitch Yockelson.

How did the location of this event, Governors Island, have an effect on World War I? How did this event come to be in the first place?

Fort Jay was a key component for the Army and Navy in WWI. Before the war it was an airfield where some of the early combat aviators trained. Regular Army troops trained civilian volunteers and officer candidates. The first U.S. military action in WWI, when the U.S. seized German-owned steamships in New York Harbor, was carried out from Governors Island. During the war it was a vital supply depot. Last year when we were planning the first one-day WWI event, it just made sense to hold it on Governors Island. It has more WWI history and memorials than any other place in the state.

Read more: Governors Island to host Camp Doughboy WWI weekend Sept. 16-17

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