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

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A Pretty Tame One: A Story Exploring the Experience of Thomas Croft Neibaur

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 A Pretty Tame One

By Benjamin Sonnenberg

 

A short story explaining the experience of WWI soldier, Thomas Croft Neibaur, the first Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) to receive the medal of honor.

Thomas NeibaurThomas Croft Neibaur

The inside of the Liberty Truck stank of sweat. Thomas Croft Neibaur was pushed into the far back, just behind the radiator. He could hear the drivers’ conversation over the stuttering engine:

“How many guys can we fit?”

“I dunno, about twenty-five.”

Private Neibaur had counted around twice that number. As the truck filled with bodies and clamor about the Argonne, Neibaur withdrew his notebook and began to write:

Oct. 7th, 1918

Mrs. J. C. Neibaur

Sugar City

 

Read more: A Pretty Tame One: A Story Exploring the Experience of Thomas Croft Neibaur

What the Mountains Hold: A Writer's Trek Through the Dolomites of Mark Helprin's WWI Italy

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What the Mountains Hold: A Writer's Trek Through the Dolomites of Mark Helprin's WWI Italy 

by Shannon Huffman Polson

 SP2Remains of a WWI trench in the Dolomites. Photo courtesy of Shannon Huffman Polson

My unseen tears are like this stone.
Death is paid by the living.
    -Giuseppe Ungaretti, Italian infantry WWI and poet

A Soldier of the Great War book coverIn the middle of September, in the mountains of Italy close to where the character of Alessandro Giuliani lived and fought in Mark Helprin’s novel A Soldier of the Great War, my husband and I headed out in rain gear while snow fell heavily. At a local’s recommendation, because of heavy snow we had cut out the first half of our planned day walking toward Lagazuoi and any hopes of travel along the via ferrata, or “iron ways” of more exposed and technical travel across the rock. The mountains hid in billows of white, and we set our poles and boots on icy trails ascending steep and rocky trails criss-crossed by the roots of pine and fir slick with snow.

The first few miles we climbed through deep forest. Finally we broke out above the tree line close to the Cinque Torri, or Five Towers, a dramatic formation of rock made up of towers and a tumble of boulders. The wind picked up, having nothing to stop its wildness, and we zipped our Gore-tex over our chins for the last stretch before ducking into the Rifugio Scoiatolli that appeared through the clouds.

Prego?” asked the woman behind the counter.

Deu cappuccino, per favore,” I asked, deploying the full measure of my Italian.

Si,” she said, and as we walked to a table, I heard the whirring of coffee beans grinding and the welcome whoosh of foaming milk.

Read more: What the Mountains Hold: A Writer's Trek Through the Dolomites of Mark Helprin's WWI Italy

Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.

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 Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.
 by Connie Ruzich

 CotterJrAfrican American WWI soldier posing in Front of mockup of American flag. Courtesy Stars and Stripes.

Although a citizen of the United States, the black man is regarded by the white American as an inferior being with whom relations of business or service only are possible.  The black is constantly being censured for his want of intelligence and discretion, his lack of civic and professional conscience and for his tendency toward undue familiarity. The vices of the Negro are a constant menace to the American who has to repress them sternly.”

—“Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops,” sent August 7, 1918 from Colonel J.L.A. Linard with the A.E.F. to the French Army. Later published by W.E.B.  DuBois in the Crisis, May 1919, pp. 16-18.

Cotter2Portrait of James Seaman Cotter, Jr. 

Over 350,000 black Americans were inducted into the American Army during the First World War, but units were strictly segregated by race, and black soldiers were assigned to hard labor and low status jobs (such as the grave digging, exhumation, and reburial work of the war). Few black units saw combat; an exception were the units who were assigned to the French military, where they fought with bravery and distinction. In the American Army of the First World War, racism was not only accepted, but often enforced. 

Read more: Their Only Crime: African American WWI Poet James Seamon Cotter, Jr.

A Common Language for Suffering and Healing: Greek Tragedy, Contemporary Veterans, and WWI.

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An Interview with Theater of War's Bryan Doerries

 DoerriesBookTOW

Theater of War: With over 600 performances and still counting, Theater of War represents one of the largest and most ambitious projects ever brokered between artists and the Department of Defense. This public health project uses dramatic readings of seminal ancient Greek plays and community conversations to confront topics such as combat-related psychological injury for U.S. Military Veterans. Using theater to build a common vocabulary for openly discussing the impact of these issues, events are designed to generate compassion, empathy, and understanding between diverse audiences. All events are free to the public and feature leading film, theater, and television actors. Bryan Doerries is a Brooklyn-based writer, translator, and director is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. This year, he was named Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. During this two-year residency, he will bring more than 60 Theater of War Productions projects to diverse communities across all five boroughs.

The WWrite Blog was lucky enough to spend some time talking to Bryan Doerries about the ways in which Theater of War might enlighten us about the experience of WWI soldiers and military personnel throughout the Centennial year.

elizabeth marvel as ajax 2Elizabeth Marvel reads Ajax at Women in Military Service for America Memorial, June 2011. Photo credit Theater of WarWWrite: What was it that influenced to take up the Theater of War project? Did you know anyone serving in the military growing up? Family or friends?

Bryan Doerries: No. I didn’t know anyone on active duty certainly. I didn’t really know much about military culture. I had grown up in Hampton Roads, Virginia and although I was surrounded by military culture, I grew up in this rarified academic bubble and was mostly untouched during the Cold War. This was despite the massive growth that took place in the area as it was one of the epicenters of military activity in the country. Yet I felt kind of distant from it. In principle, I was in support of veterans but ideologically against military conflicts. When the invasion of Iraq was imminent, I marched in the streets against it in New York City and it felt kind of ineffectual, like I wasn’t doing much.

Read more: A Common Language for Suffering and Healing: Greek Tragedy, Contemporary Veterans, and WWI.

Champagne, "champagne," and World War I by Marsha Dubrow

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Champagne, "champagne," and World War I by Marsha Dubrow

"On this land of Champagne where we drink the happiness, we lost so many families to war."  

-- Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, President of Champagne Taittinger.  

PartrodgefochchampageThe caption to the original reads "Very much up." Cartoon by Bernard Partridge depicting the French and Americans hitting back at the Germans in the Champagne counter offensive in July 1918. Foch was the French commander-in-chief of the Allied armies, as the name on the bottle label indicates. The soldier hit is German. Copyright Punch Limited.

During the second year of World War I, the French National Assembly voted to send champagne, the bubbly, celebratory drink, as a morale booster to troops and military hospitals on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Champagne, the French region and source of the world's most elegant wine symbolizing celebration and peace, was amassing severe wounds as a key geographical strategic point on the front lines of WWI's Western Front.

champagne"Of all the terrible moments in Champagne's long history, none was more catastrophic than World War I.  It was Champagne's darkest hour," wrote Don and Petie Kladstrup in Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed over War and Hard Times.

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Deadline September 4th! Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy, University of Kansas

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Using Congressional Collections to Engage with WWI: Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy at KU, Lawrence

By Audrey Coleman, Assistant Director/Senior Archivist, Dole Institute of Politics

ArmenianGenocideDeported Armenians marching through the Syrian Desert to concentration camps during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1916

Archival Fellow for Armenian Advocacy
Attention! This application deadline is next Monday, September 4, 2017!
It is hard to believe that, as barbarous battles raged on the Western and Eastern Fronts, another, different human atrocity was committed by Ottoman authorities and Young Turks around the geographical region of modern-day Turkey: the Armenian Genocide. To understand the Armenian Genocide and its place in WWI better, The Robert and Elizabeth Dole Archive & Special Collections at the Dole Institute of Politics*, University of Kansas in Lawrence, is pleased to announce a special fellowship opportunity for the 2017-2018 programming year: the  Archival Fellow for Armenian Advocacy.

Read more: Deadline September 4th! Archive Fellow for Armenian Advocacy, University of Kansas

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