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World War I Centennial News


 

Proclamation: Thanksgiving Day, 1917

November 7, 1917

By Woodrow Wilson
XXVIII President of the United States; 1913-1921

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

It has long been the honored custom of our people to turn in the fruitful autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation. That custom we can follow now even in the midst of the tragedy of a world shaken by war and immeasurable disaster, in the midst of sorrow and great peril, because even amidst the darkness that has gathered about us we can see the great blessings God has bestowed upon us, blessings that are better than mere peace of mind and prosperity of enterprise.

We have been given the opportunity to serve mankind as we once served ourselves in the great day of our Declaration of Independence, by taking up arms against a tyranny that threatened to master and debase men everywhere and joining with other free peoples in demanding for all the nations of the world what we then demanded and obtained for ourselves. In this day of the revelation of our duty not only to defend our own rights as nation but to defend also the rights of free men throughout the world, there has been vouchsafed us in full and inspiring measure the resolution and spirit of united action. We have been brought to one mind and purpose. A new vigor of common counsel and common action has been revealed in us. We should especially thank God that in such circumstances, in the midst of the greatest enterprise the spirits of men have ever entered upon, we have, if we but observe a reasonable and practicable economy, abundance with which to supply the needs of those associated with us as well as our own. A new light shines about us. The great duties of a new day awaken a new and greater national spirit in us. We shall never again be divided or wonder what stuff we are made of.

And while we render thanks for these things let us pray Almighty God that in all humbleness of spirit we may look always to Him for guidance; that we may be kept constant in the spirit and purpose of service; that by His grace our minds may be directed and our hands strengthened; and that in His good time liberty and security and peace and the comradeship of a common justice may be vouchsafed all the nations of the earth.

Wherefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November next as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and invite the people throughout the land to cease upon that day from their ordinary occupations and in their several homes and places of worship to render thanks to God, the great ruler of nations.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done in the District of Columbia this 7th day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seventeen and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and forty-second.

Wilson signature

 

920x920Battleship TEXAS, the last remaining U.S. battleship to have served in both World War I and II, is in danger.

Four Questions for Stephanie Croatt and Andy Smith

Battleship Texas: "A memorial to the bravery and sacrifice of servicemen in both world wars."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Things are not going well for our friends who care for the WWI-era Navy Battleship. They need our help.

The museum ship, located at La Porte, TX, discovered a significant hull leak earlier this year, which create a list to the ship. They tried to patch the leak, but found that the hull structure was seriously compromised, and would require extensive repair work. The team recently started a Petition to the Texas state government to provide funds to save the ship. The petition can be found here:
https://battleshiptexas.org/sign-the-petition/?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=Boosted&utm_content=Fns

We connected with the team from the Battleship Texas State Historic Site, and talked to Stephanie Croatt, Assistant Superintendent, and to Andy Smith, the Ship Manager, about their efforts.

Tell us about this new petition to help the USS Texas. What is it about? What are the goals, who is behind it, etc?

Smith Croatt 400Andy Smith (left) and Stephanie CroattThe initiator of the petition is The Battleship Texas Foundation. As in all cases, petitions are used to garner a metric of how important an issue is to the public. The goal is to be able to provide Governor Abbot the results, to encourage action on funding. We have operated with limited funding and are somewhat hindered by the number of people we can actually touch through our efforts. However based on the results we have determined that well over two million citizens of Texas strongly support action being taken to save The Texas.

What is the current state of affairs with the USS Texas? Is it vulnerable? What is current funding level, etc?

TEXAS is currently extremely vulnerable, as her hull continues to sit in water and rust away. The ship is continually leaking, and Texas Parks and Wildlife has made efforts to manage the water in flow with pumps. That said, however, the ship is vulnerable to getting large holes in her hull that allow more water in than the pumps can keep up with. This creates catastrophic leak events like the leak we had in June and last year’s leak that forced us to close to the public on Veterans Day.

Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently fix these leaks without getting the ship out of the water into a dry berth or dry dock. The dry berth solution is currently unfunded, and the Battleship TEXAS Foundation is working in conjunction with Texas Parks and Wildlife to try to raise those funds (see below for details on the fundraising).

Read more: Four Questions for Stephanie Croatt and Andy Smith -- USS Texas

A Century Ago: Olympia celebrates Thanksgiving during World War I 

By Jennifer Crooks
via the Thurston TALK web site

Camp Lewis Gate 1917Camp Lewis near Olympia, WA was finishing construction on Thanksgiving Day, 1917For many people Thanksgiving is a special annual event, one full of tradition and memories. And the celebration marks the official start of the holiday season. How Thanksgiving was celebrated 100 years ago in Olympia is both familiar, with family reunions, large meals and thankfulness, there are some things that have definitely changed since 1917. Changes include everything from different cooking styles to improved transportation technologies, but the most important change is that Thanksgiving 1917 took place in the midst of the official American involvement in World War I (1917-1918).

Long celebrated in New England, Thanksgiving only became a national holiday in 1863 as established by a presidential proclamation. Every president since then has issued a Thanksgiving proclamation each year. Governors usually proclaim the holiday as well. Until 1939 Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last, rather than the fourth, Thursday of the month. President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the date to boost Christmas shopping in an attempt to aid an economy still troubled by the Great Depression. Thus, Thanksgiving 1917 took place on November 29 rather than November 22.

The Thanksgiving 1917 celebrations were affected by wartime rationing. Except for a handful of laws regulating the purchase of wheat flour and sugar, rationing was largely voluntary. However, it was heavily promoted as a duty to conserve food, especially food needed for the United States military and our allies.

Olympia Thanksgiving reder 230x300Reder & Phillips Grocery Store promised in the November 23, 1917 issue of the Washington Standard newspaper that they had good quality and prices for Thanksgiving staples. However, many people would find turkey too expensive that year. Photo credit: Washington State Library“The Thanksgiving menu…,” the Morning Olympian newspaper reminded cooks the day before the holiday, “is almost an ideal…meal, if the turkey is stuffed with coarse bread stuffing, and the mince pie is omitted. Turkey is really an economical meat. It may be made the basis of innumerable hashes and soups following its first formal appearance.”

Reflecting wartime inflation, the Olympia Daily Recorder newspaper claimed on November 29 that turkey was retailing at forty cents a pound (about $7.31 cents a pound in 2017 dollars). This was too expensive for many people in an era when workers were lucky to earn five dollars a day ($91.41 in 2017 dollars). Local grocery stores reported that chicken, which was much less expensive, was selling more briskly than turkey.

Although electric and gas ranges were coming into use, many families, especially in the more rural parts of the county, continued to use wood stoves. Also, since electric refrigerators had not been invented yet, cooks used iceboxes to keep some food cold. Thus, most cooks did their shopping right before the holiday. Small grocery stores heavily advertised. Chain supermarkets did not arrive in the area until the 1920s. 

Prices for most Thanksgiving staples in 1917 seem very inexpensive today. Washington cranberries sold at George’s Grocery (4th and Columbia) for seventeen-and-a-half cents per pound. At Eli’s Cash Grocery (4th and Adams) you could buy Sun Maid Raisins (perfect for mince pies) for ten cents a package. Howey’s Cash Grocery (119 East Fourth Avenue) sold pumpkins (for pumpkin pies) for three cents per pound. Less popular today, Reder & Phillips (located in the historic White Building at 211 East Fourth Avenue) advertised canned Mrs. Porter’s Plum Pudding for thirty cents a can.

Due to the war, Thanksgiving celebrations took on a particularly patriotic character in 1917. On November 24, the Chambers Prairie School in Thurston County held a Thanksgiving program and basket social. Following a student program of songs, recitations and dialogues, basket lunches were auctioned off, and the audience went to the basement to eat, sip coffee and dance.

Read more: A Century Ago: Olympia Celebrates Thanksgiving During World War I

Beyond the common knowledge of World War I

By Jeff Stoffer
via the American Legion web site

Dr. Jennifer D. Keene of Chapman UniversityDr. Jennifer D. Keene of Chapman UniversityOne of the nation’s foremost World War I scholars, Dr. Jennifer D. Keene of Chapman University in Orange, Calif., says educators want deeper understanding of a pivotal time in U.S. history too often defined by four long-studied phenomena:

- The 1915 German U-boat sinking of the British cruise ship Lusitania that killed 1,198, including 128 Americans.

- The intercepted and British-decoded prewar “Zimmermann telegram” proposing an alliance between Germany and Mexico against the United States.

- The horrors of trench warfare.

- America’s political impasse over the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles after the war.

“That’s the common knowledge,” Keene said in a recent interview. “Except for that, how do you fill in the gaps? How do you get people to really understand the significance of this period of history?”

Keene is among the scholars and master teachers lined up to address the challenge of filling those gaps as a participant in the United States World War One Centennial Commission Teacher Professional Education Program sponsored in part by an American Legion grant. The program kicked off Oct. 21 in Louisville, Ky., and continued Nov. 4 in Anchorage, Alaska. Dr. Keene is the master scholar presenting at the Albuquerque, N.M., Public Schools City Center on Dec. 4, with master teacher Angelina Moore. Future sessions include San Diego on March 6; Detroit on March 17 at the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency; and a spring date yet to be announced in Providence, R.I.

Author of "Doughboys, the Great War, and the Remaking of America," along with other books and articles on U.S. history, the war and its effects, Dr. Keene recently spoke with The American Legion Magazine.

What drove your interest in World War I?

“I was interested in progressivism and the idea that this group of reformers saw a lot of social problems and wanted to figure out solutions. I did my first project by looking at reformers who went into training camps in the First World War to teach soldiers how to behave appropriately, have good morals and healthy living habits. I got really interested in these soldiers. But I only studied them in the training camp and never knew what happened to them afterward. I thought and thought about them and wanted to understand what they were thinking, what they were going through, what happened to them in France. That was 20 years ago, and nobody was asking those questions then. So, in a sense, I had the field to myself.”

Read more: Beyond the common knowledge of World War I

Traditional ways of working get a technological boost in creation of a Memorial

By Sabin Howard
via sabinhowardsculpture.blogspot.com/

Gipsoteca of Antonio CanovaGipsoteca of Antonio CanovaSeveral years ago, I was on a trip to Possagno in Italy, and we went to the Gipsoteca of the Italian Neoclassical sculptor, Antonio Canova. The museum contains his plaster models and shows his prowess at getting all the major commissions that Europe had to offer at the end of the 1700s and early part of the 1800s. He even made sculptures for America of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Canova drew his inspiration from the past, thinking about how he could play forward the rich tradition of Roman and Greek Sculpture in the present. His work also shows the first symptoms of the experimentation of the modern age.

To achieve this great task, he employed a workshop that helped him to achieve his artistic vision. He hired workers to transfer his plaster models to marble.

Using the latest technology of his time, he perfected a machine called a ‘pointing’ machine. He was able to work extremely quickly and accurately, using this cutting-edge technology. The machine revolutionized sculpture in the late 1700s. The measuring tool used by stone sculptors accurately copies plasters and allows artists to recreate their vision in stone.

I stayed at Canova’s museum/home for close to five hours and revisited it the next day. There was something there that I couldn’t put my finger on, something that I was supposed to take in. Something I was meant to take away with me and play forward.

I was amazed at how prolific he was. I sat in the Neoclassical room letting in this unreal world. The white sculptures are bathed in light that falls from above. There is such a sense of unending peacefulness, and I had the pervasive feeling that I was a visitor to a sacred space.

As my life progressed from that moment, I now know why I was meant to be there that afternoon.

What did I learn and how did I apply that lesson?

Read more: Traditional ways of working get a technological boost in creation of a Memorial

Pow-wow honors Wisconsin WWI Native American veterans

By Capt. Brian Faltinson, USA
Wisconsin National Guard

sm171111 Z NN682 0222Lt. Col. David Sands, former executive officer of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, carries the Descendants of Red Arrow flag at the retiring of the colors dance at the 40th Annual Descendants of Red Arrow Veterans Day Pow-Wow. The Descendants of Red Arrow celebrated their 40th Veterans Day Pow-Wow Nov. 11 at Volk Field in honor of 28 Native Americans who served in the Wisconsin National Guard’s Company D, 128th Infantry, 32nd Division during World War I. Wisconsin National Guard photo by Capt. Brian FaltinsonVOLK FIELD, Wis. — About 200 people gathered on Veterans Day to commemorate 28 Ho-Chunk men – known as Winnebago Indians in 1917 — from the area surrounding this National Guard training base who joined the Wisconsin National Guard 100 years ago for the “Great War” in Europe.

The families of these warriors — known as Descendants of Red Arrow — have met at Volk Field since 1977 to celebrate their service, their memory, and the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division, which continues today as the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered perhaps a mile from the hangar hosting the annual pow-wow.

“This is our 40th anniversary — the pow-wow originally started with my uncle, Bill Miner, Jr.,” said Quentin Thundercloud, a member of Descendants of Red Arrow and long-time coordinator of the event. “We are celebrating 100 years since the 32nd Division formed back in 1917.

“It started out as Daughters of Red Arrow with my mother and her cousins,” Thundercloud continued. “Their fathers were in World War I and they decided to do this so we don’t forget — because the descendants have to know that, without them going to war and surviving, most of us would not be here today.”

Although the group has grown to honor all Ho-Chunk military veterans at the annual pow-wow, this year’s event focused on the original 28 men who joined Mauston’s Company D, 3rd Wisconsin Infantry Regiment 100 years ago — the unit that would become the 32nd Division’s Company D, 128th Infantry Regiment and fight in four major campaigns in France.

“Led by the Miner and DeCorah families, these men came from Camp Douglas, Mauston, Lyndon Station, Wisconsin Dells and Juneau County,” Thundercloud said. “They were not citizens and did not have to serve, but volunteered to do so. They formed up here at the base and headed down to Texas before they shipped out overseas.”

The event began with a rifle salute before family members of those veterans who had passed raised a line of American flags in honor of their service. Drummers from the Ho-Chunk tribe then played a warriors’ song.

“Family members attach the flag that draped their veteran’s coffin during their funeral, and we raise those flags to honor them,” Thundercloud said.

Attaching one of the flags was Delia DeCorah Maisells, daughter of Cpl. Russius DeCorah of Company D.

“I am here today honoring my dad and I thought this is where I belong, to show my respect for him, so I brought my dad’s flag to hang with the others today,” Maisells said.

Read more: Pow-wow honors Wisconsin WWI Native American veterans

History professor tells stories of difficulties African-Americans faced in WWI service

By Seth Abrahamson
via the Spectator (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire student newspaper) web site

Professor Selika Ducksworth LawtonProfessor Selika Ducksworth-Lawton’s presentation was part of the ‘WWI and America’ series to commemorate 100 years since the U.S. entered the war. Photo by Kar Wei Cheng.On Tuesday, November 14, Selika Ducksworth-Lawton, a military historian and history professor at UW-Eau Claire, presented on African-American service in World War I.

The event was part of a two-week series put on by UW-Eau Claire, the McIntyre Library, the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, Student Veterans of America-UWEC Chapter, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and the Chippewa Valley Museum, to commemorate the centennial of the United States’s entrance into World War I.

Ducksworth-Lawton told stories of the difficulties African-Americans faced before the U.S. entered World War I, the environments the soldiers were put under during their time of service and how they were treated when they returned home.

The audience included college students, professors and a Korean War veteran who shared his own war experience with African-Americans.

Only 350,000 African-Americans served in World War I and a majority of those men were in support roles. Sixty thousand of those saw combat, including the famed “Harlem Hellfighters.”

African-Americans before World War I were not allowed to enlist in the military, according to Ducksworth-Lawton, because they were viewed as inferior to everyone else. All that changed in the early 1900s when a law termed “new negro” allowed African-Americans who were born after the Civil War to enlist.

Ducksworth-Lawton said African-Americans sought service to counter the stereotypes against them. They wanted equality, a chance to show to everyone else they belonged but also education, as many of them were not literate.

Read more: History professor tells stories of difficulties African-Americans faced in WWI service

Montana's Female WWI Veterans recognized by U.S. Senate

By Ed Saunders, LTC, USA (Ret.)
Montana World War I Centennial Committee

13466239 GThe discharge papers Regina McIntyre Early of Montana showed she served at multiple Army hospitals in France during and after World War 1. (Photo courtesy of Ed Saunders)This Veterans Day has been when many Americans observed the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I.

Generally, the women World War I veterans of America, and of Montana, haven't received the long-overdue recognition they earned and deserve. Most - but not all - of America's World War I women veterans were members of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

Two known Montana women WWI veterans were cited for heroism under fire, another was cited for distinguished service. Two searched the war-torn battlefields of France to find their brother's graves. One fought for over sixty years to get veterans status for the women of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. All served with high honor and sacrifice.

In October I wrote U.S. Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont, senior senator, U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs committee, and requested he read into the Senate Congressional Record (CR) a commendation for Montana and America's women veterans of World War One.

Based on my previous research on Montana's women WWI veterans, I wrote a draft commendation for him to consider and sent it with my letter.

On Oct 30th, Senator Tester read the commendation on the U.S. senate floor. Officially, the cite is at U.S. Senate Congressional Record, Volume 163, Number 175 (Monday, October 30, 2017).

Read more: Montana's Female WWI Veterans recognized by U.S. Senate

Historic WWI DH4 aircraft will fly again

By Aaron Mudd
via the Bowling Green Daily News web site

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Nearly 100 years after the end of World War I, a team of aviation enthusiasts in Kentucky is hard at work restoring the first warplane built in America — the Dayton-Wright DH4.

image007A total of 4,846 American built DH4s, dubbed the "Liberty Plane", served in thirteen Army Air Service squadrons during WWI."Not many people know about World War I," said Dorian Walker, a member of the Saving Liberty DH4 group. "That doesn't mean it's any less important."

Walker and the group members hope to remind the public of that importance by restoring the DH4 in time for test flights by next spring with plans for airshows across the country and a trip to France.

"It gives you a chance to witness something firsthand," he said, adding the historic, wooden biplane is a symbol for how far American aviation has come in 100 years.

For Blake Henderson, a pilot and aircraft mechanic from Westmoreland, Tennessee, restoring the plane is a way to connect with his own history.

Henderson's grandfather, W.E. Henderson, helped rescue the "Lost Battalion," which was the name given to roughly 500 men who were cut off by German forces over France's Argonne Forest.

Now, nearly a century later, Henderson looks at the DH4 as the plane that got America's servicemen into the air. After the British gave the U.S. the rights to build the plane, Henderson said engineers gave it a bigger engine, a higher-caliber gun and other modifications.

"We didn't have an air force so we had to build this up quickly," he said.

Restoring the DH4 is one way to shed light on what Henderson described as a "forgotten war," along with the sacrifices of veterans who fought under the brutal conditions of trench warfare.

"They need to be remembered," he said.

Read more: Historic WWI DH-4 aircraft will fly again

In nation's capital, ground officially broken for National WWI Memorial 

By C. Todd Lopez
via the Army.mil web site

WASHINGTON -- Descendants of Soldiers and other veterans of World War I will soon be able to visit a national memorial in the nation's capital that commemorates the sacrifices of their great-grandfathers who fought in "the Great War."

army dot mil photo 1The official party, including Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley, fourth from the right, breaks ground for the the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., Nov. 9, 2017. Construction of the memorial is expected to be completed in a year. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by EJ Hersom)An array of politicians, military leaders, veterans and officials from the World War I Centennial Commission officially broke ground for the National World War I Memorial, Nov. 9, at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of U.S. involvement in World War I. It was April 6, 1917, when the United States declared war on Germany. The first American Soldiers would make their way across the Atlantic in June of that year.

The new memorial to those who served in World War I will share a space with an existing memorial dedicated to General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing, who served as commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. The site is a short walk east of the White House.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley attended the groundbreaking as one of more than a dozen officials. He told those in attendance that World War I provided many lessons learned. Along with lessons in strategy, operations, and tactics, the world also learned lessons in politics and government, he said.

"But if there is one lesson most of all to learn, it is the lesson to vow to never let it happen again," Milley said. "The way to prevent war is to maintain your preparedness for war, in the words of George Washington, our first president."

Read more: In nation's capital, ground officially broken for National WWI Memorial

Commission hosts Ceremonial Groundbreaking for WWI Memorial 

IMG 9287United States World War One Centennial Commission Chair Terry Hamby speaks at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the national World War I Memorial at Pershing Park .

Pershing Park event thanks supporters & partners in the development of newest national memorial in the nation's capital

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking for America's World War I Memorial on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at the memorial's site, Pershing Park.

Featured speakers for the event included U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, memorial architect Joseph Weishaar, and Centennial Commission Chair Terry Hamby.

Speakers Three 600(L to r) U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser were among the speakers at the ceremonial groundbreaking November 9 at Pershing Park.Attendees included a host of notable military & veteran leaders, as well as Centennial Commission members, notable members of the historical/cultural community, U.S. and city officials, and major donors.

For the ceremonial groundbreaking, the keynote speakers used presentation-shovels to turn soil that came to the ceremony from the Meuse-Argonne battlefield in France. Meuse-Argonne was the site of the largest military battle in the history of the United States military, and involved over one million service-members. 26,000 Americans were lost in the battle.

Thursday’s event was ceremonial in nature, designed to bring together the Centennial Commission’s partners and supporters. The memorial has been granted unanimous design-concept approval by the regulatory agencies, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the U.S. National Park Service, and the National Capital Planning Commission. However, the development process is still underway, and the Centennial Commission continues to work closely with those agencies to develop the final architecture for the site.

The Centennial Commission used the event to announce that they had received leadership gifts from two of America’s leading veteran service organizations, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Each of the organizations made donations in the amount of $300,000, to be used for the creation of the new national-level memorial.

Read more: Centennial Commission hosts Ceremonial Groundbreaking for America's WWI Memorial

America’s forgotten memorial — the time to honor our WWI warriors has finally come 

By Sandy Pershing
via The Hill web site

Historians and those who teach history have been engaged in a fierce but ultimately academic debate over the nation’s understanding of the root causes and lasting legacies of World War I. Unfortunately, few are listening.

Sandra Sinclair PershingSandra Sinclair PershingEducators rhetorically ask whether we understand that many of our 21st century political borders and contemporary ethnic blood feuds were created by four years of carnage that scarred the world some 100 years ago. Its legacy also includes the birth of modern civil rights, women’s suffrage, contemporary military technology, and a dominant America that became the world’s feared and respected superpower. That long-ago war has lessons for today’s diplomats and generals as well as students in our classrooms, but our national character traditionally declines to be reflective.

Finding consensus on how to teach, much less what to teach, consumes us on topics far less complex than World War I. Common Core, for example, requires educators to teach to the test if they expect their own careers to advance. World War I is left to be taught with catchphrases, abbreviated narratives and summaries designed to “check the box.” What irony, then, when we consider that paying solemn tribute to those who have fallen in the defense of freedom is part of America’s proud legacy, even if it takes more than a generation to recognize that sacrifice.

Since World War I, the conclusion of each conflict that sent our young people off to war has generated a prolonged and inexplicable national debate on where and how and when to honor those who have died in the line of duty. It would take until 1982 for the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., to be dedicated. The Korean War Memorial in the nation’s capital was finally completed in 1995. And it wasn’t until 2004 that the World War II Memorial was opened to the public on the National Mall.

The World War I Memorial to the millions of Americans who served? One hundred years later, it hasn’t been started.

It would be inconceivable to Gen. Jack Pershing that a century ago he would be told the men under his command would not have a memorial to their sacrifice in the nation's capital when the centennial of that conflict would finally arrive. Yet that reality overshadows the programs and retrospectives now underway as we study the cause and effect of America’s entry into “The Great War.”

Read more: America’s forgotten memorial — the time to honor WWI warriors has finally come

 DSC6251 previewCeremonial presentation of donation checks from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign wars:(r to l) Terry Hamby, World War One Centennial Commission Chair; Keith Harman, commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars; and Denise Rohan, National Commander of the American Legion.

The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars make significant donations to help create America's National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission announced Thursday that the commission has received leadership gifts from the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Each of the gifts is in the amount of $300,000, and will be used for the creation of America's World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.

The Centennial Commission was established by Congress in 2013 to provide education programs, public outreach, and commemorative events regarding the American involvement in the war. The Centennial Commission was also authorized by Congress to create a new national-level memorial in the nation's capital, to honor the men and women who served.Legion VFW logos 400

The American Legion was founded by World War I veterans in 1919, as a veteran support organization made up of former and current U.S. military members. It has since become the nation’s largest veterans organization. Throughout its history, The Legion has been committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in America’s communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and support for servicemembers and veterans.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars was founded in 1899 to support all honorably-discharged servicemembers, from any military branch, who served the U.S. in wars, campaigns, expeditions, on foreign soil, or hostile waters. The VFW grew rapidly after World War I, with hundreds of thousands eligible veterans returning from the war. The VFW today is the nation’s oldest and largest major combat veterans organization

While it is a Congressional Commission, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission operates solely through private donation. The founding sponsor for the Centennial Commission is the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, in Chicago. Their continued support, since 2013, has allowed the Centennial Commission to undertake numerous successful education partnerships, memorial restoration grants, and historical/cultural exhibits & symposia.

Read more: American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars make significant donations to Memorial

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