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

World War I Centennial News


Four Questions for The Prima Vista Quartet

"To unveil the Great War through the eyes of the men, women and children who lived though it"

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

Many World War I commemoration events took place last month across the country, marking the April 6th centennial of the U.S. entry into the war. One that stood apart, as a very special and unique tribute, was a concert tour provided by the Prima Vista Quartet. The Prima Vista Quartet is a group of world-class musicians from France. To honor the Americans who served during the war, they employed their incredible musical talent to create a live score for the World War I-themed film WINGS. WINGS was the first film ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, and it was directed by William Wellman, a combat veteran pilot for the American Expeditionary Forces in France during the war. During April, Prima Vista performed their live-accompaniment for audiences in five locations in the United States.Baudime Jam is the founder, composer, artistic director and violist of Prima Vista. We talked to him about World War I, about the tour of the United States, and about Prima Vista's future efforts.

The Prima Vista Quartet performed a special series of World War I-themed shows in the United States. Tell us about them -- the film, the live accompaniment, the tour.

The silent film « Wings », produced in the USA in 1927, commemorates the Saint Mihiel battle which was the first fight on the French battleground of the US Army, placed under the command of General John J. Pershing. The film director, William Wellman, was a veteran himself, member of the famous Lafayette Escadrille, which adds to the historical signification of this film.

220px BaudimeJamBaudime JamThe purpose of this project has been to allow a wide contemporary audience to discover a film which was shot ten years after the end of WWI and that evokes eloquently and dramatically the first US involvement in this war.

We saw a film concert “Wings”, therefore, as a unique occasion to illustrate and evoke a major historical event of WWI, while at the same time offering a rare artistic experience which blends film on screen and live music on stage.

Prima Vista Quartet toured the United States in April, starting in New York at the Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) on April 6. This date marked a historic occasion as on April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered into World War I.

The other cities where Prima Vista performed were: Chicago at the Music Box Theatre, Washington D.C. at the Maison Française at the Embassy of France, Saint Louis at the Winifred Moore Auditorium - Webster University, and Minneapolis at the Landmark's UptownTheatre.

Who is the Prima Vista Quartet? How did the group come together? What was your mission & vision as performing artists?

The Prima Vista Quartet is a French string quartet which was founded in 1997 and therefore celebrates their 20th anniversary this very year. During those two decades, we have had the opportunity to appear in many festivals and prestigious venues in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, England, Russia, Poland, Africa, China, and the USA.

Read more: Four Questions for The Prima Vista Quartet

Planned WWI Memorial in D.C. to use pool concept, restore park

By Michelle Goldchain
via Curbed

SnipView toward the planned commemorative wall of the National World War One Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.On Thursday, May 18, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) evaluated the concept plan for the planned WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.’s Pershing Park, a memorial plaza only blocks from the White House that for years has been neglected.

In the previous meeting in February 2017, there were two design concepts on the table: the Pool and Plaza Concept and the Scrim and Green Concept. At the latest CFA meeting, the WWI Commission revealed that they chose the Pool and Plaza Concept.

This concept proposes replacing the concession gazebo in the park with a ceremonial flag stand, restoring and enlarging the fountain, and inserting a walkway for access to a planned sculpture honoring General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, who commanded U.S. forces during WWI, with inscriptions of text and maps describing his actions in the war. All other areas of the park will be preserved. The design, titled, “The Weight of Sacrifice,” also features a bronze, sunken wall, entitled, "The Wall of Remembrance," decorated with soldiers carved in bas-relief.

Members of the CFA commented that the designs have come a long way and are moving in a good direction.


Read more: Planned WWI Memorial in D.C. to use pool concept, restore park

Commission Vice Chair speaks at NYC "In Flanders Fields" event

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

Fountain NYC event 2017WW1CC Vice Chair Edwin Fountain speaks at the commemoration event in NYC's DeWitt Clinton Park hosted by the Government of Flanders.The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the NYC Parks Department, and the Government of Flanders honored local war heroes this week, as part of a series of events organized by the Government of Flanders, Belgium, through the General Delegation in the U.S., to commemorate the Centennial of World War I.

U.S. WW I Centennial Commission Vice Chair Edwin L. Fountain joined NYC Parks Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro; President of the Flemish Parliament Hon. Jan Peumans; Chair of the Committee on Foreign Policy Hon. Rik Daems; NYC Department of Veterans’ Services Assistant Commissioner Jamal Othman; United War Veterans Council President Dan McSweeney; relatives of sculptor Burt Johnson; and other dignitaries to place wreaths, and provide remarks, at the historic Clinton War Memorial in De Witt Clinton Park.

Located at the southeast corner of the park, the poignant monument is the work of sculptor Burt W. Johnson and architect Harvey Wiley Corbett. It was commissioned by the Clinton District Association as a memorial to a young man from the neighborhood who died in World War I.

The monument, dedicated in 1930, features a pensive infantryman known as a “Doughboy” holding poppies in his right hand and a rifle slung over his left shoulder. The granite pedestal is inscribed with a verse from John M. McCrae’s famous World War I poem, "In Flanders Field".

Every year around Memorial Day, the General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA honors and remembers all those who fought "In Flanders Fields" during World War I at the memorial sculpture.The Government of Flanders is also providing $10,000 annually, for seven years, to support maintenance of the sculpture and its landscaped setting in De Witt Clinton Park.




CFA approves design concept for National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in DC

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

Memorial image 2On May 18, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) approved the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission’s design concept for a national World War I Memorial in the nation’s capital.

The presentation was a significant milestone in the progress toward building the memorial, on a site authorized by Congress in 2014. CFA is one of the two federal agencies with responsibility for design approval of memorials in Washington, D.C., along with the National Capital Planning Commission.

Edwin L. Fountain, Vice Chair of the World War I Centennial Commission, said: "The concept for a national World War I memorial in Washington has been in the making for nine years. We are pleased the CFA endorsed our proposal to honor the service of 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I, and the sacrifice of the 116,516 who gave their lives. We look forward to working with the CFA, the public, and other stakeholders as we continue to develop the final design."

The memorial will be located on Pennsylvania Avenue at Pershing Park, a 2-acre site one block from the White House. The park currently features a statue honoring General John Pershing, the commander of American forces in World War I, and a pool of water set in a modernist landscape design by M. Paul Friedberg. The new memorial – developed by the design team of Joseph Weishaar, who won the design competition for the memorial project, along with John Gregg (GWWO Architecture), and Phoebe Lickwar (Forge Landscape) – will consist primarily of a 65-foot long bronze bas-relief sculpture by acclaimed American sculptor Sabin Howard that will be located along the western edge of the water feature, along with additional commemorative elements in the park.

Read more: CFA approves design concept for National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in DC

NC HighwayThe North Carolina Department of Transportation has planted over 70 acres of Red Poppies along state highways, to honor World War I veterans.


North Carolina DOT plants acres of red poppies to honor WWI veterans

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

Red poppies are blooming along North Carolina highways in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of our nation’s entry into World War I.

To help honor those who served, NCDOT’s Roadside Environmental unit planted 70 acres of red poppies, an internationally recognized remembrance of sacrifice by our military veterans. The poppies are part of the U.S. World War I Commission’s nationwide efforts to raise awareness and give meaning to the events that took place 100 years ago.

“We want to honor those who have served and do it in a way that’s dignified as well as beautiful,” said Jerry Hester, a member of the U.S. World War One Commission. “People ask, ‘Why the poppies?’ It is to honor our servicemen and women, not only North Carolinians, but all over. We’ve had many international visitors who come and see these poppies and remark to us, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this in the world.’”




Read more: North Carolina DOT plants red poppies to honor World War I veterans

FDNY Commemorates 43 World War I and World War II Veterans

Special to the FDNY Honors vetsU.S. World War One Centennial Commission web site

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, May 9, New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro hosted an FDNY Commemoration ceremony for 43 FDNY members who made the Supreme Sacrifice in World War I and World War II at the FDNY Training Academy on Randall’s Island.

Veterans and families were in attendance as the FDNY rededicated a plaque honoring the 43 Veterans during the 100th anniversary of World War I and 75th anniversary of World War II. Of the 43 names on the plaque are eight men who died in 1917-1919 in World War I.

“The 43 heroes we honor today bravely wore the uniforms of the FDNY and the United States military, and shared one mission, protecting our country,” said Commissioner Nigro. “Their selfless acts of protecting life and property in our city, and defending our nation will never be forgotten.”

This year alone, 46 Veterans graduated as new Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics, joining more than 1,300 Veterans who currently serve the Department.




Cape May theater production looks back at NJ in World War I

By Roy Steinberg
Special to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission web site

AtlantusIt was a hundred years ago that President Woodrow Wilson (who campaigned on an isolationist platform of peace) decided to bring the United State to the Great War – the “war to end all wars”. In May of 1917, the Selective Service was created to draft American men into the armed services. At Sunset Beach in Cape May, New Jersey the S.S. Atlantus still sits in the surf as a kind of memorial to the service men and women of World War I. The S.S. Atlantus is the most famous of the twelve concrete ships built by the Liberty Ship Building Company in Brunswick, Georgia and was used to transport American troops back home from Europe. It was later towed to Cape May as part of a ferry dock but a storm hit and the ship broke free of her moorings and ran aground 150 feet off the coast.

What does World War I have to do with New Jersey? In 1916 there were German attacks on a New Jersey munitions dump and a foundry. Our ship, the “Dorothy Barrett” was shelled and sunk by a German U-boat off the shore of Cape May. The decision was made to establish a naval base on the eastern tip of the island to provide defenses for the Delaware Bay. It was a training facility for aircraft and a submarine port.

2ed6d4439c8c123308cfa6e8760b413aIn 1917 the Navy built a base just north of Schellenger’s Landing called Camp Wissahickon. During the war, the war department leased the Hotel Cape May (aka The Christian Admiral Hotel) for use as a military hospital. The first army medical school for the reconstruction of defects of hearing and speech was opened in 1918. It treated soldiers who had lost hearing or the ability to speak during the war. Munitions were stored just outside of Cape May where the jug handle turn for Route 9 currently exists. Cape May has seen its share of conflicts from the very beginnings of this nation.

Cape May Stage exists to act as a catalyst for discussion about the moral, ethical and political issues of the day. There was no question that we would do some sort of recognition of the one hundredth anniversary of such an important event. The question was how to be true to our mission while entertaining our audience. “Billy Bishop Goes to War” is the perfect solution to that question.

Read more: Cape May theater production looks back at NJ in WWI

International League Baseball joins WW1 Centennial Commission to remember WW1 Veterans

International League Poster

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

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (WW1CC) is proud to announce a broad national partnership between the US World War One Centennial Commission and the International League of Minor League Baseball.

The partnership includes a series of special game-nights, honoring local World War I heritage, in the hometowns where the games will be played.

The whole series can be found at ww1cc.org/baseball.

The 10-night series runs between May 20 (Armed Forces Day) on through Memorial Day, and ending on June 4th, in the communities listed below.

There will be give-aways, special presentations, trivia, and opportunities to support local veterans causes.

  • May 20 - Scranton Rail Riders - PA
  • May 20 - Indianapolis Indians - IN
  • May 21 - Louisville Bats - KY
  • May 21 - Durham Bulls - NC
  • May 23 - Charlotte Knights - NC
  • May 27 - Pawtucket Red Sox - RI
  • May 29 - Columbus Clippers - OH
  • May 29 - Gwinnett Braves - GA
  • June 4 - Norfolk Tides - VA
  • TBC - Buffalo Bisons - NY

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I.

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission was created by Congress to mark the anniversary, with public outreach, commemorative events, and education programs.

Read more: International League Baseball joins WW1 Centennial Commission to remember WW1 Veterans

Five Questions for Tanveer Kalo

"We all came together when the call went out for war"

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

Tanveer Kelo 300Tanveer KeloThe U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (WW1CC) is blessed to have a number of remarkable people. One of them is intern Tanveer Kalo, who comes to us from St. Lawrence University. Tanveer is a history buff, and also a talented researcher. During his internship period this spring, he decided to use his talents to create something that really didn't exist -- a collection of information on Asian Indian people who served in the U.S. military during World War I. These stories are being published on the WW1CC web site's Vande Mataram in the USA section, as well as in the Stories of Service section.  We spoke to Tanveer about his project, and his motivations for creating this great new resource.
Tell us about your special WWI project. What information are you collecting?

My project is on Asian Indians who served in the U.S. military during World War One. I am collecting their World War One draft cards, enlistment records, U.S. military passenger lists, photographs, naturalization documents, and any other documents and any other information regarding their military service and life in the United States.

How did the idea come about? Was it through your activity as an intern with the Centennial Commission?
This project developed from a simple conversation for a special side project. The idea came up when I talked with WW1CC web site Publisher Chris Christopher about Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind, an Asian Indian and Sikh who served in the U.S Army during World War One. Mr. Christopher encouraged me to find other Indians served during the war. I dug through the web and found a journal and magazine called Young India on the South Asian American Digital Archive’s website. Young India’s October 1918 and August 1918 issues had images of Asian Indians who were serving overseas or in training camps during this time.
How has the research process worked? What was your plan? Where did you go to find information?

After finding the names of the Indian soldiers from Young India, I used Ancestry Institution to find information on them. Finding information was easier because Dr. Bhagat Thind’s son, David Singh created a website to honor his father’s legacy and life. It was difficult at times to find information because some shared similar names or no information could be found. However, I kept moving forward and tried to find at least one piece of information. In total I have found information on 8 Asian Indians were served in the United States Army during World War One.

Read more: Five Questions for Tanveer Kalo

Dr. Isrea Butler to lead 369th Experience band’s historic re-creation

By Stephany B. Neal
via the 369th Experience

Dr. Isrea ButlerDr. Isrea ButlerThe 369th Experience is pleased to announce Dr. Isrea Butler as band director for the re-creation of The 369th Experience World War I Centennial Band. Dr. Butler will lead the talented group of African American and Puerto Rican male music students who make up this historic tribute band.

369 logo 121616 menu headerThe 369th Experience is part of a series of events endorsed by the World War I Centennial Commission and sponsored in part by The Coca Cola Foundation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. A key component of this celebration is the re-creation of the 369th Regimental Band, which in its original form consisted of 65 African American and Puerto Rican gentlemen who charmed the hearts and minds of Americans and Europeans.

Dr. Butler will lead the band as they retrace the steps of the original band with performances at centennial celebrations in New York City; Brest and Paris, France; and a host of other historic locales. Dr. Butler brings a wealth of experience to the programs. He is currently the Director of Bands and music program coordinator at The University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a position he has held since 2014. He is also a member of the 287th National Guard Band.

Dr. Butler has a stellar repertoire of experience that includes performances in eight Broadway productions, touring and recording with many of the country’s leading jazz orchestras, and playing all four chairs in the world-famous Count Basie Orchestra. While living in New York, Dr. Butler played in the 319th Army Band from 2008 to 2012.

Read more: Dr. Isrea Butler to lead 369th Experience band’s historic re-creation

Cobh commemorates centenary of American Naval forces arrival during WWI

By Sean O’Riordan
via The Irish Examiner

Captain Daniel Dwyer, USNCaptain Daniel Dwyer, USNSome descendants of those who served with the US Navy based in Cork during the First World War gathered in Cobh yesterday, along with a number of American military personnel, to commemorate the centenary of their arrival there on May 4, 1917.

They unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion at the former Admiralty House, which is now a Benedictine priory. The nuns, who are in an enclosed order, seemed to thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of a military remembrance, which included flagbearers, a lone piper, and bugler.

The plaque was unveiled by Elizabeth Helmer, great granddaughter of Commander Joseph Taussig, who led the first six US destroyers into the port.

Tim Forsyth, US deputy chief of mission at the American embassy, said that by the end of the war, 92 of his country’s navy ships had served out of Cork.

For the chief of staff of the US Naval Forces in Europe and Africa, Captain David Dwyer, the event brought back his Irish roots. He said he was very honoured to attend as his great, great, great grandfather emigrated to the US from Cork in 1847.

Read more: Cobh commemorates centenary of American Naval forces arrival during WWI

Remembering World War I

The U.S. Navy arrives in Europe

via The American Battle Monuments Commission

Destroyer USS Wadsworth DD 60 arrives in Queenstown May 1917 NH 331On May 4, 1917 the USS Wadsworth, an American destroyer, arrived in Queenstown, Ireland to support the war effort. Image courtesy Naval History and Heritage Command.Not quite a month after the United States declared war, the first American warships arrived in Europe on May 4, 1917. The Germans had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare in early 1917, leading to more than 800 Allied ships being sunk in a matter of months. Without escorts, these ships served as easy prey for the Germans. This warfare had reduced British grain stores to a critical three week supply. The Royal Navy urgently requested more destroyers for hunting submarines.

The destroyers’ arrival was due in part to the presence in England of an American naval mission headed by Vice Adm. William Sims. A few years before, then Capt. Sims was President of the Naval War College at Newport. Appointed by the first Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), William Benson, together they anticipated a transatlantic naval war involving new challenges and technology. Ashore and in exercises of the “War College Afloat” they studied the role of the Navy in modern war.

By 1917 Benson anticipated a naval campaign in European waters that would require a naval headquarters in England. Sims, with established reputation throughout the Navy, proved the ideal officer for that mission. He traveled to London under an assumed name, in civilian guise, arriving on April 2, 1917 with the intention of establishing direct contact between the United States Chief of Naval Operations, the Royal Navy, and other Allied naval forces.

Read more: Remembering World War I: The U.S. Navy Arrives in Europe

When America joined WWI and became a global power

By Carlos Hamann
via MSN

AFP photoWhen America entered WWI, a century ago, its industrial might and vast manpower tipped the balance of the conflict and marked its own emergence as a global power. (AFP photo)When America entered World War I, a century ago this week, the European powers were bogged down in a grinding trench war that had killed millions and ravaged the European continent.

Swinging its industrial might and vast manpower behind France and Britain against Germany and its allies on April 6, 1917, the United States tipped the balance of the conflict and marked its own emergence as a global power.

"World War I was clearly the turning point for developing a new global role for the United States, ushering in a century of international engagement to promote democracy," said Jennifer Keene, a World War I expert at Chapman University in California.

Americans had been keenly following the war ever since it broke out in August 1914, showing broad support for neutrality.

But public opinion changed with the May 1915 sinking of the Lusitania.

The British ocean liner was en route from New York to Liverpool when a German submarine torpedoed it off the coast of Ireland, killing 1,201 passengers, including 128 Americans.

"It seems inconceivable that we should refrain from taking action on this manner, for we owe it not only to humanity but to our own national self-respect," former president Teddy Roosevelt, an influential pro-allied hawk, told the New York Tribune at the time.

Read more: When America joined WWI and became a global power

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