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World War I Centennial News


 

Hamby elected as new U.S. WWI Centennial Commission Chair

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

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has elected a new Chair for the organization. The election took place during the Commission's quarterly meeting on September 13th, in Washington, DC.

Hamby accepting election as ChairCommissioner Terry Hamby Commissioner Terry Hamby was selected to follow Chair Robert J. Dalessandro, who has led the group since 2014.Dalessandro stepped down from the Centennial Commission due to the obligations of his full-time position as Acting Secretary, American Battle Monuments Commission.

"This is a huge honor for me", Chair Hamby said, in his acceptance. "Both my father, and my great uncle served in World War I. My great uncle was lost in the Battle of the Meuse Argonne. I will put my whole heart into this job."

Chair Dalessandro expressed his support for his successor. "Terry Hamby is an excellent choice to be the Commission Chair. He is a leader, he is a veteran, and he is expert in the ways of getting things done."

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission was created by an Act of Congress in 2013. Members of the 12-member Commission are appointed by the President and the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the National World War I Museum. All five living former Presidents have agreed to serve the Commission as Honorary Chairs.

The Commission’s mission is to plan, develop, and execute programs, projects and activities to commemorate the Centennial of World War I to mark American service and sacrifice in the war, via public outreach, education programs, and commemorative events. The Centennial Commission is funded by private donations; the Founding Sponsor is the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago, IL.

Read more: U.S. World War I Centennial Commission elects Hamby new chair

Naval War College hosts WWI period-accurate Army-Navy baseball game

By Ryan Belmore
via the What'sUpNewp web site

The Naval War College has announced that they will host a period-accurate baseball game between Army-Navy on Friday, September 29th at Cardines Field in downtown Newport, RI.

The program is designed as “a fun event” with educational programming to mark the centennial of American involvement in World War I, and is being organized in close collaboration with Naval History and Heritage Command, the Congressional World War Centenary Commission, and the City of Newport.War College WWI Baseball

The Army-Navy baseball game will be played in period-accurate uniforms, and is a precursor to the opening of a new World War I exhibit at the Naval War College Museum this December. The gates to Cardines Field will open at 4:30 pm and all are welcome to attend this free event.

Historical Context

As the United States mobilized for the First World War, baseball loomed large in the American effort on the domestic front and abroad. Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe, issued orders for Navy warships to establish baseball teams to play Army teams on the western front to rally Anglo-American collaboration in Europe.

“Admiral Sims was a very creative strategic thinker,” observed Dr. David Kohnen, Director of the John B. Hattendorf Center for Maritime Historical Research and the Naval War College Museum. “When American forces arrived in Ireland, the Irish disliked the Americans for supporting the British.”

Kohnen also noted that “many British also viewed the American forces with skepticism … because many of the ‘bluejackets’ [sailors] and ‘doughboys’ [soldiers] of the American army and navy were also of Irish and German ancestry.” In the British newspapers of the era, “American troops were sometimes portrayed as an invading force.”

For this reason, Sims used the Anglo-American Baseball League to demonstrate the uniquely American “national pass time” of baseball. “Not only did baseball provide a diversion from the horrors of war,” Kohnen observed, “but baseball also demonstrated a unique American identity … through baseball, Sims attempted to show that our troops and sailors were no longer German, or Irish, or anything other than American.”

Read more: Naval War College hosts World War I period-accurate Army-Navy baseball game

How WWI saved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

By Jeff Kerns
via the Machine Design web site

The eclipse this year reminded me of a couple famous eclipses around 100 years ago that changed the way we view the universe. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was paradigm-shifting, and proving it seemed like a miracle. From cloudy skies to the first World War to a hot jungle, the phrase “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” was true for this universe-altering moment.

EinsteinEinstein's theory had a relatively close call in WWIIn 1914, Erwin Finlay-Freundlich and William Wallace Campbell got onto a train with hundreds of pounds of equipment. Their goal was to photograph a solar eclipse to get evidence of Einstein’s theory. To prove the theory, light (star light) passing by a large mass (the sun) would bend. A photograph of star light passing close to the sun should show to be out of place compared to viewing it when the light didn’t pass by the sun.

To increase their chances of a paradigm-shifting photo, Campbell headed toward Kiev while Freundlich took off to Crimea. Once the equipment was set up, there was nothing to do but wait. Unknown to these scientists was that on June 28,1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia, which essentially started WWI.

Both camps were stopped by Russian soldiers. Freundlich not only was shut down, but since he was German, he was taken as a prisoner of war. Campbell was an American, and at this point, the U.S. was a neutral country. He was permitted to continue. The eclipse came and so did the clouds, thwarting the attempt. Campbell was allowed to return to America, but he had no evidence and no equipment—it was confiscated by the Russian army.

The war killed communication between the scientists and halted scientific development for years. Ties were eventually cut—Campbell now saw his colleagues from Germany as the enemy. With a negative view of the war, Einstein realized there were things bigger than physics. Taking a stand against the war, Einstein wrote a manifesto against it, but no one joined the cause. This alienated Einstein, who used the isolation to focus on his work.

Had this isolation not occurred, Einstein may have never noticed his mistake. If the observations of the eclipse happened, it would have shown that light only bent about half of what was predicted by the theory. This would have discredited Einstein and killed the Theory of Relativity.

Shedding New Light on the Math

There is no wiggle room for the Theory of Relativity. If a photo of an eclipse showed that the light didn’t bend precisely to how the math predicted, it would be wrong and dismissed. The setbacks in proving the theory might have become a good thing for Einstein and the scientific community.

In reworking the math, he noticed everything seemed to be pointing to something he had dismissed years ago. In 1912, Einstein stopped working some equations because they were just too unfamiliar. He realized he might be able to not only fix his equation, but explain something that has confused astronomers for years.

Read more: How WWI Saved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

United Tribes powwow in ND honors tribal WWI vets

BISMARCK — The United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) honored World War I veterans at its powwow in Bismarck, North Dakota, on 9-10 September. The Powwow is one of the largest Native American powwows in the nation, featuring hundreds of drummers and dancers from tribes all around the world.

mhanationveteransFrom left, Albert Little Owl, Dan Chase and Jack Nagel were citizens of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation who served in World War I. Photo courtesy United Tribes Technical CollegeVeterans from the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, the Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians served in the United States military long before most Native people were granted U.S. citizenship. Their sacrifices were recognized at the 48th annual UTTC International Powwow, which took place at  the college's campus in Bismarck.

During a special honor song on Sunday, September 10, the names of more than 350 tribal citizens who served in the World War I era were announced. Their families and descendants took part in the ceremony, along with other veterans.

The commoration comes on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entering World War I in 1917. The representatives of the North Dakota WWI Centennial Committee and the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission participated in the powwow.

Commissioner Terry Hamby addressed the audience with a special message of support for the occasion. Susan Mennenga, from WW1CC's founding sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, also offered her thanks for the remembrance of the veterans of World War I.

Read more: United Tribes powwow in ND honors tribal WWI vets

Exhibit highlights how artists reacted to and represented WWI horrors

via The Metropolitan Museum of Art web site

Organized to commemorate the centennial of World War I, the World War I and the Visual Arts exhibition at the The Met Fifth Avenue in New York City will focus on the impact of the war on the visual arts.

Moving chronologically from its outbreak to the decade after the armistice, World War I and the Visual Arts will highlight the diverse ways in which artists both reacted to and represented the horrors of modern warfare. The works on view will reflect a variety of responses, ranging from nationalist enthusiasm to more somber reflections on the carnage and mass devastation that resulted from the war.

Returning to the TrenchesChristopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889–1946). Returning to the Trenches, 1916. The exhibition is made possible by The Schiff Foundation.

Drawn mainly from the collection of The Met and supplemented with select loans, the exhibition will include prints, drawings, photographs, illustrated books, posters, periodicals, trading cards from the Museum’s celebrated Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, and other materials such as medals, examples of trench art, and helmets designed in the Department of Arms and Armor.

World War I and the Visual Arts will reveal how artists—including Otto Dix, Fernand Léger, George Grosz, Käthe Kollwitz, C.R.W. Nevinson, Gino Severini, and Edward Steichen—reflected a myriad of styles, approaches, ideologies, and mediums in response to the war. Among the styles represented are Cubism, Dada, Futurism, Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit (“New Objectivity”), and Vorticism.

Read more: Exhibit highlights how artists reacted to and represented WWI horrors

Public to see U.S. Mint's WWI commemorative coin design on Oct. 9

By Johnathon Clinkscales
via The American Legion web site

On Oct. 9, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission will unveil the design of the World War I commemorative coin at the Association of the U.S. Army exposition in Washington, D.C.

Struck by the U.S. Mint, the coin will mark the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I and honor the 4 million Americans who served in uniform, including 116,516 who died.Coin design competition

This is the Mint’s first commemorative coin program memorializing the Great War; in the 1990s, coin programs supported the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the 50th anniversary of World War II and preservation of Civil War battlefields.

The World War I coin will be available for purchase early next year. Part of the proceeds from its sale will go toward building the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington.

“These people served 100 years ago, but they faced the same challenges our veterans and military face today,” said Chris Isleib, director of public affairs for the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. “No veteran should be forgotten. No war should be forgotten.”

The design’s unveiling follows a two-phase competition. In 2016, artists were encouraged to submit their work samples for consideration, and an expert jury selected 20 to move on. During the second phase, those artists submitted designs for the obverse and reverse of the coin and plaster models of their design. The winner will receive $10,000 and have his or her initials placed on the coin.

Read more: Public to see U.S. Mint's World War I commemorative coin design Oct. 9

Wentworth alumni fight to save WWI 'Doughboy' statue from auction block

By Jim Finnegan
via The Columbia Missourian web site

The “Doughboy” statue that has stood in front of Wentworth Military Academy since 1923, commemorating the sacrifice of Wentworth cadets in World War I, is at the center of a legal debate pitting alumni against the school they once called home.

Wentworth DoughboyA statue erected in honor of fallen soldiers during World War I, including Wentworth cadets, stands outside Wentworth Military Academy. (Photo courtesy of attorney Jennifer Kerr)Financial troubles forced Wentworth, in Lexington, Missouri, about 50 miles east of Kansas City, to close its doors at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. Bank Midwest holds liens on the school and its property, including memorabilia like old uniforms, badges, photographs — and the doughboy statue, by the American sculptor Ernest Moore Viquesney, one of 139 made.

On Oct. 7, the property is to be sold at auction in Lexington by Oldham Auctions to help pay off the school’s debts to the bank.

The Wentworth Military Academy Alumni Association filed a petition in Lafayette County Circuit Court on Aug. seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the sale of the doughboy, claiming that the alumni, not the school, are its rightful owners.

“The doughboy was dedicated, it was never donated or gifted,” said George Hittner, a Wentworth alumnus who is now the attorney for the alumni association, the plaintiff in the case.

In 1880, Stephen G. Wentworth, a banker from Lexington, founded Wentworth Male Academy after the death of his son. During the 1881-82 school year, the idea of operating the school as a military academy was sparked when an associate principal saw a student marching a group of other boys around, armed with broomsticks, according to the school’s 1963 nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places. The assistant principal proposed holding military classes “and offered to buy guns if the students would buy uniforms.” The uniforms and the guns — Austrian muskets — were ordered, and in 1890 Wentworth Male became Wentworth Military.

Read more: Wentworth alumni fight to save Doughboy statue from auction block

Navy announces plan to survey underwater wreck of WWI cruiser USS San Diego near NYC

By Paul Taylor
U.S. Navy History & Heritage Command

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced plans Sept. 6 to survey the wreck of the World War I U.S. Navy cruiser, on which six American Sailors lost their lives when she was sunk as a result of enemy action off the coast of New York on July 19, 1918.

NY Times San Diego sunkThe New York Times publishes the news of the USS San Diego being sunk the day before off New York.The survey's objective is to assess the condition of the wreck site and determine if the ship, the only major warship lost by the United States in, was sunk as a result of a German submarine-launched torpedo or mine. Ultimately, data gathered will help inform the management of the sunken military craft, which lies only a few miles south of Long Island.

The announcement comes just weeks after the 99th anniversary of the sinking of the ship, and the survey, which is planned for Sept. 11-15, is timed to allow researchers to conduct a thorough examination of the site and prepare, then release, their findings around the date of the 100th anniversary. The U.S. is currently commemorating the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I.

The survey, led by the Naval History and Heritage Command's Underwater Archaeology Branch will be performed in partnership with the Coastal Sediments, Hydrodynamics, and Engineering Laboratory (CSHEL) of the University of Delaware's (UD) College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. Additional research support will be provided by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (NSWCCD), the office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and the Fire Island U.S. Coast Guard Station (USCGSFI) will provide essential logistical support.

Read more: Navy announces plan to survey underwater wreck of WWI cruiser San Diego near NYC

Junior Master Gardener program works to honor WWI veterans

via the Texas A&M AgriLife Today web site

COLLEGE STATION — In honor of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entrance into World War I, the Junior Master Gardener program is partnering with the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission’s Poppy Seed Program to raise money for a new National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Poppy BoxJMG programs across the country can purchase the WW1CC Poppy Seed packets and sell them within their local communities to help honor the 4.7 million Americans who fought during WWI, according to Lisa Whittlesey of College Station, program coordinator for the International Junior Master Gardener Program, administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Poppies grew across the war-torn battlefields of Europe after World War I and became a symbol first of soldiers who died there and later of all fallen veterans. From 2017 to 2019, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission will coordinate events and activities commemorating the Centennial of the war.

The Poppy Seed Program provides an opportunity for local JMG groups or schools to raise funds to honor veterans by supporting the National World War I Memorial while also supporting local youth garden projects, Whittlesey said.

For a donation of $64.99, WW1CC provides “Poppy Seed Kits” of 60 packets. At the recommended selling price of $2 per packet, each kit would generate $55 for the local JMG program, as well as raise funds and awareness for the National World War I Memorial, she said.

“A pillar of the Junior Master Gardener Program certification is for youth to serve others through service learning programs,” Whittlesey said. “This project allows youths to learn about veterans who served their country in WW1, while also honoring them through raising funds to support building the national memorial. Learning by doing in such a personal way makes this such a meaningful project for our youth.”

A Competition Countdown for participating students, schools and community organizations began Sept. 5 with the challenge being to sell the most poppy seed packets by Oct. 20, Whittlesey noted. The announcement of winning groups/schools selling the most poppy seed packets will be Oct. 23.

Representatives from four winning groups/schools will be invited to an all-expense paid trip to attend the groundbreaking of the National WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. in November. To be eligible to win, groups must sell a minimum of 50 WW1-JMG Poppy Seed Kits.

Read more: Junior Master Gardener program works to honor World War I veterans

Four questions Keith Colley

"Give 'The Great War' the Respect that is owed."

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

One of the WWI Centennial Commission's Commemorative Partners is Keith Colley, whose World War I Mobile Museum we profiled last year. His museum has twelve galleries of exhibits, which can be set up & taken down in a matter of hours. True to the name, Keith's Mobile Museum has been traveling across the country, and he sets up the exhibits as part of state fairs, veteran commemorations, living-history activities, and even sporting events. He has been very busy over the past couple of weeks, with a summer schedule that has taken him from Delaware to Texas. We caught up with Keith to get the latest news about the museum, what he is trying to achieve, and what is up ahead for him and the mobile museum.

Why did you feel like you needed to make commemorating WWI your mission?

Colley 300Keith ColleyWell it all began with a visit to my home town in Kansas City Missouri where the National WWI Museum is located which was actually closed all of my childhood. I decided to drive by it for old times’ sake and I was surprised to see that is was not only open, but is now the largest WWI Museum in the world. After spending 2 days touring the Museum (I could have stayed a week) all I could think about were the Senior Citizens I teach back in Dallas and realizing they are probably the last descendants who would have had a parent or grandparent in this war.

I have a non-profit program called “KeepingitrealwithKeith.com” which is a series of classes that I teach with a focus on Seniors and Veterans as they age with topics anywhere from Hydration to Loneliness which helps keep them healthier so they can enjoy their Senior years. That gave me the idea to create a class to promote memory care which I could focus on WWI. I decided I needed one artifact that could represent the entire war and I would take it with me to all my classes. After the visit to the Museum in KC I decided that artifact had to be the entrenching tool aka; trench shovel. With approximately 25,000 miles of Trenches I knew the shovel would best represent "the war to end all wars".

There are many ways to commemorate WWI, why did you decide to make a mobile museum and travel with it?

I so wished I could have taken all my Seniors to KC to see the WWI Museum but knew it was not feasible due to age, costs, etc. So I knew the classes were my best bet. When the Shovel finally arrived I opened it and could finally feel the worn wood for myself. I began to think about whose hands had touched this shovel, how many blisters it caused or how many lives were saved because of this one shovel. So I began researching more intently about the trenches and realized there were so many facets of the trench in the war it blew my mind. So I thought, I need to see if I can find more artifacts about the trenches, and boy did I.

Read more: Four questions Keith Colley

Four Questions for Bernhard Kast, creator of Military History Visualized

"We are hard pressed to give a clear answer to our questions relating to the past."

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

When it comes to military history on the internet, one of the top Producers working today is Bernhard Kast. His YouTube channel, Military History Visualized, took a meteoric route to fame -- garnering over 16 million views of his 160+ video segments, which were all produced just in the past year. Bernhard is the real deal -- an expert in computers/gaming, an expert in history, an expert in teaching, and a gifted storyteller. He was born in 1980, Central Europe, studied Computer Science and History at the University of Salzburg (Europe, Austria) from 2001 to 2008. In his final semester, he had the opportunity to develop and teach a course in rhetoric “Modern Rhetorical Role Models”. Later on, he went to Hamburg to work as a Sales Engineer at a Consulting Firm in the automotive industry and as Junior-Online Marketing Manager at InnoGames a company in browser-based (and now also client-based) gaming. His latest work is a remarkable piece on World War I. Our WW1CC intern Michael Stahler talked to Bernhard about his work, and about how World War I continues to impact us today. 

Your channel has been up for a little over a year, yet you've produced 165 videos that, combined, have 16.3 million views. How do you engage such a wide viewership in technical, academic videos on military history?

bernhard kastBernhard KastWell, I think Military History is one of the most popular genres of History in general. Yet, most people don’t have the time to read about it as much as they would like, but still want information from high-quality sources.

So where do I come in? Well, I love to understand and explain. And I think most people notice this. I believe the strength of my videos is that I present a lot of information from quality sources in a compact manner without overwhelming the audience. I try to keep information that is crucial for an understanding and context, but leave everything else.

From tanks to artillery to aircraft to submarines, much of your coverage on World War 1 has focused on the advances in military technology. What draws you to this subject? Through these topics, what kind of picture emerges about the war?

History is a complicated subject. There are many ways to interpret sources and often there are no easy answers. Especially for times of great change, we are hard pressed to give a clear answer to our questions relating to the past. I assume this is one of the appeals of technology in general, it is rather clear cut and you can see how things developed the way they did with relative certainty.

Another aspect is of course, that we can touch, hear and see military technology, it's very physical to us and thus contrast with the behind-the-scenes politics that seems more like a labyrinth. So, technology allows us in a way to connect in a safe way, we know what we are at.

With World War One, there is the added dimension that it is often portrayed as a very static war. Yet, the improvements in many aspects were quite staggering and often forgotten. It shows the constant cycle of problem and solution. That's one of the things that I want to highlight.

Read more: Questions for Bernhard Kast, creator of Military History Visualized

Governors Island living history event  to mark NYC WWI Centennial

Camp Doughboy 2017 posterNEW YORK, NY – On September 16-17, World War I will be alive, with a full weekend of activities, ceremonies, and living history demonstrations on Governors Island. All activities are free and open to the public.

Camp Doughboy will bring together living history re-enactors, vintage vehicles from a century ago, authors of World War I books, and active duty Army soldiers. They will even have a working World War I-era tank!

“We are taking history out of the classroom, and opening it up to everybody." observed Dr. Libby O’Connell, U.S. World War I Centennial Commissioner. “Camp Doughboy gives people of all ages the opportunity to learn about the Great War”.

Event organizer, noted NYC history author Kevin Fitzpatrick, agreed. "The story of America in World War I is very much a New York/New Jersey-area story. The Lusitania departed from Pier 54 on her last voyage. The Black Tom explosion was right over there. The Rainbow Division, the Fighting 69th, the Harlem Hellfighters, New Jersey's Lightning Division, were all legendary. Most of the U.S. troops left for France from Hoboken. Irving Berlin wrote the great WWI songs from Tin Pan Alley. The 'Lost Battalion' were nearly all Lower East Siders. The big Memorial Day parade at the end of the war went down 5th Avenue. This is our city's heritage".

The Living History site will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM on Saturday and Sunday, September 16-17. Ferries are available from Brooklyn and Manhattan every half hour. https://govisland.com/info/ferry

Read more: Camp Doughboy Living history event on Governors Island to mark WWI Centennial in NYC

The National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council & WWI research competition

national academy of sciences 2 510 320By David A. Hounshell
Roderick Professor of Technology and Social Change, Emeritus, Department of Social & Decision Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University

On the occasion of the centennial of World War I, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are pleased to announce an open competition for scholars under the age of 30 to research and write a scholarly paper on a major aspect of how scientists and engineers in the United States were engaged in the World War I effort.

The focus, drawing on the creation of the National Research Council (NRC) associated with World War I, is on institutional changes (e.g., the charter of the NRC) and the research enterprise in America. In effect, scholars should look at how the war experience shaped long-term relationships among scientists and engineers and U.S. policymakers regarding national security and public welfare.Hounshell David 188x220David Hounshell

(Read a brief account of the NAS and NRC in the context of World War I.)

Qualified scholars should submit, by November 30, 2017, a 500-word concept document that describes the scope of the proposed research. In addition, applicants should provide a list of possible primary sources of evidence to be used in the proposed research.

The five best entries will be chosen by a National Academies’ review committee, and the authors will be invited to submit a fully developed research paper. Upon acceptance of the invitation, invitees will enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to provide a final paper of between 8,000 and 10,000 words by September 10, 2018. They will be provided with a grant of $5,000.00 for research expenses and invited to utilize the NAS' records under the mentorship of the NAS professional archivists. The scholars will be expected to present a 20-minute summary of major research findings at a public conference at the NAS in Washington, DC on October 26, 2018.

Additional discussants and participants will be included in the public event. The review committee will subsequently deliberate and announce the winner of a $10,000.00 first prize.

Read more: World War I and the National Academy of Sciences & National Research Council: A Research...

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