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

World War I Centennial News


 

Four Questions for Dr. Matt Field, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

"The continued relevance of Congress’s actions during World War I to today"

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

There are a group of new world-class exhibits opening this Spring in Washington DC, to help tell the story of America and World War I. 1917-1918 was a tumultuous time for decision-makers in Washington, and this show shows us what those leaders did, and what the results were. To commemorate the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I in 2017, the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center presents the yearlong exhibition, Congress and the World Wars. Through constituent correspondence, petitions, political cartoons, and posters, visitors will be able to see how Congress responded to the issues facing the nation and how that response impacted the lives of Americans and redefined the nation within the world. Key legislation, such as the Selective Service Act, G.I. Bill of Rights, Marshall Plan, and declarations of war will be highlighted. The first half of the exhibit, on display March 8, 2017, through September 11, 2017, will feature Congress’s actions during World War I and World War II. The second half, on display September 13, 2017, through March 5, 2018, will feature Congress’s actions after the wars. We recently spoke with Dr. Matt Field, from the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center. He is their Exhibits and Education Program Specialist, and is curator of the exhibit. He gave us his insights on the exhibit.

You have a remarkable new exhibit coming up, CONGRESS AND THE WORLD WARS. Tell us about the exhibit overall. What will we see?

Dr Matt Field US Capitol Visitor CenterDr. Matt FieldWe are very excited about our yearlong exhibit, Congress and the World Wars, which will commemorate the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I.

Visitors will see constituent correspondence, petitions, political cartoons, and posters—all examples of how Congress responded to the issues facing the nation and how that response impacted the lives of the American people and redefined the nation within the world. Key legislation, such as the Selective Service Act, G.I. Bill of Rights, Marshall Plan, and declarations of war will be highlighted.

The first half of the exhibit, on display March 8, 2017, through September 11, 2017, will feature Congress’s actions during World War I and World War II. The second half, on display September 13, 2017, through March 5, 2018, will feature Congress’s actions after the wars.

Was there much connection between Congress's actions on 6 April 1917 and on 8 December 1941? How did the national tones compare? Were there new & different players involved? How did the arguments compare? Was there unity between the parties?

There were important connections between Congress’s actions in April 1917 and December 1941. First of all, both declarations of war occurred after long, extended periods of debate, which reflected the country’s clear preference for non-intervention in the conflicts. In our “Debating the Wars” section, you will learn about the Gore-McLemore Resolution in early 1916 and the Neutrality Acts prior to Pearl Harbor. Both topics are examples of Congress’s preference for non-intervention, a policy adhered to for years prior to entry in the conflicts.

Read more: Four Questions for Dr. Matt Field, U.S. Capitol Visitor Center

100 years on, Brooke USA organization honors USA’s million war horses

via horsetalk.co.nz

The USA’s World War One Centennial Commission has made Brooke USA’s Horse Heroes campaign an official Centennial Partner, recognizing the contribution of America’s horses and mules to the war effort.

Horse Heroes textThis year the United States will commemorate the 100th anniversary of its entry into one of bloodiest wars of the century.

The Commission was established by the US Congress under the World War I Centennial Commission Act. The role of the Commission is, among other things, to develop programs to commemorate the historic event and to encourage and facilitate the activities of private, state, and local organizations which are commemorating the centennial. President Obama signed the Act, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush are Honorary Chairs of the Commission.

The Commission believes that Horse Heroes will further the Commission’s goals of educating the American people about the causes, courses and consequences of WW1, commemorating US involvement in that war, and honoring the service and sacrifice of American servicemen and women in the war.

The role of Horse Heroes will be to remember the nearly one million American horses and mules who served alongside their brave soldiers, by raising $1 million to improve equine welfare around the world.

Brooke USA Chairman Dr David Jones said the organization was honored to be named as a partner alongside several highly esteemed organizations. “We’re also grateful for the privilege of bringing the immeasurable impact that American horses and mules had on the war to the public’s attention.”

Read more: 100 years on, USA’s million war horses honored

Three Questions for Dr. Noriko Kawamura

"Slow but steady escalation of invisible conflicts"

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

Dr. Noriko Kawamura is associate professor of history at Washington State University. Kawamura’s research focuses on the history of war, peace, and diplomacy in the Pacific World. She teaches the history of U.S. foreign relations, U.S.-East Asian relations, U.S. military history, and modern Japanese history. She is also the author of Emperor Hirohito and the Pacific War. She also co-edited Building New Pathways to Peace and Toward a Peaceable Future: Redefining Peace, Security, and Kyosei from a Multidisciplinary Perspective. We caught up with Dr. Noriko Kawamura, recently, and talked to her regarding her recent Pritzker Military Museum and Library presentation on Japan's role in WWI.

You recently gave a talk at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on World War I and Japan's role. Tell us about your talk. What is your background, and what did you cover?

I am teaching the history of U.S. foreign relations, U.S. military history, and U.S.-Japanese relations at Washington State University. My talk at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is based on my book, Turbulence in the Pacific: Japanese-U.S. Relations During World War I (Praeger, 2000).KawamuraDr. Noriko Kawamura

My book examines the trajectory of U.S.-Japanese relations and show how World War I impacted these two Pacific powers. I argue that World War I was a contingent factor in the Pacific when it started, but by the end of the war, the balance of power shifted in the Pacific in a fundamental way. Japan who emerged as the leading regional power in Asia challenged the domination of the Western Powers in the Pacific, especially the United States.

The role of Japan -- and the war activity in the Pacific -- was quite significant. There was the confiscation of ships, occupation of colonial 'territories', power plays in Russia, the scuttling of the SMS Comoran. Whole empires were colliding. Tell us about what was happening in/around Japan at this time.

Japan as an ally of Great Britain declared war on Germany and occupied the German leased territory in Shandong in China, and German Pacific islands (the Marianas, the Carolines, and the Marshalls). While European powers were preoccupied with the war in Europe, Japan launched an ambitious assertive policy to establish its supremacy in China, and later in eastern Siberia (which utterly failed). Japan’s relationship with the United Stated rapidly deteriorated because President Woodrow Wilson emerged as a protector of the Open Door and independence of China, and tried to curb Japan’s aggressive policy. The anticlimactic U.S.-Japanese joint military expedition in Siberia caused more tension between the two, and their distrust of each other deepened. President Wilson and the Japanese delegation had a showdown at the Paris Peace Conference.

Read more: Three Questions for Dr. Noriko Kawamura

American Association for State and Local History joins WW1CC Poppy Program

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

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (WW1CC) welcomes the partnership of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in the new WW1 Poppy Program.

Poppy Box AASLHLast week, the WW1CC went live with the program, which is a great new grassroots awareness and fundraising effort. Details can be found at ww1cc.org/poppy

With the program, a partner organization can provide WW1CC with a $64.99 donation and get a poppy seed kit, containing 60 poppy seed packets. The partner organization can, in turn, distribute the poppy seed packets for $2 a piece -- and the partner organization can keep that second dollar. In this way, WW1CC raises money for the National World War I Memorial in Pershing Park, and they also help our partner organizations to raise money for their own group.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) is a national association that provides leadership and support for its members, who preserve and interpret state and local history, in order to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH has over 6,000 members across the country.

John Dichtl, AASLH President/CEO, stated “I am excited to be working with our colleagues at the WW1CC to promote the poppy program. It’s a tangible way to connect the local to the global, to support the work of the Commission in communities across the country, and to help generate funds for state and local history institutions. AASLH will be eager to see how organizations integrate the poppies into innovative programs to mark this important commemoration.”

Read more: American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) joins WW1CC Poppy Program

Monahan sworn as Commissioner on U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

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

John D. Monahan of Essex, Connecticut was sworn in as Commissioner on the United States World War One Centennial Commission during the American Legion’s 57th annual Washington Conference last week. He was appointed to this position by the American Legion. He has served the Legion in the past as commander of La Place-Champlin American Legion Post 18 in Essex, Conn. and in various post, state and national levels.

Monahan swearing in 500John Monahan (left) is sworn in as a Commissioner by U.S. World War One Centennial Commission Chair Robert Dalessandro (right).The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is a Congressional Commission, created to provide public outreach, education programs, and commemorative events for America’s involvement in World War I. Congress also authorized the Commission to create the new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. Centennial Commission members are appointed by Congress, by the President of the United States, and by the American Legion and the VFW.

As representative of the nation’s largest organization of wartime veterans, Monahan joins fellow commissioners Col. Robert J. Dalessandro, chair; Edward L. Fountain, vice chair; Jerry L. Hester; Col. Thomas Moe; Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick; Dr. Libby O’Connell; Dr. Monique Seefried; Maj. Gen. Alfred A. Valenzuela; Debra Anderson; Terry Hamby; and Dr. Matthew Naylor. Monahan replaces the late Commissioner and American Legion representative James Whitfield, who passed away in December 2016.

A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Monahan served in uniform both as an enlisted soldier and as an officer. His military career was wide-ranging, including duties as a rifleman, tank company commander, foreign area expert, staff officer, linguist and arms-control inspector. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in European studies from Cornell University.

Read more: Monahan sworn as Commissioner on U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

World War I exhibits at the National Museum of American History

By Melinda Machado
Director, Office of Communications & Marketing, Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The year 2017 marks the centennial of the official United States involvement in the First World War and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will commemorate this anniversary with a number of displays and programs.

si wwi header 1 400The Museum holds a variety of collections demonstrating the transformative history of World War I and of the United States’ participation in it. The objects and their stories help illuminate civilian participation, civil rights, volunteerism, women’s military service, minority experiences, art and visual culture, medical technological development and new technologies of war and peace.

Read more: World War I exhibits at the National Museum of American History

Flag at Legion HQThe American Legion proudly flies the World War One Centennial flag at their headquarters in Indianapolis.

Commission unfurls new commemorative flag

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

The World War One Centennial Commission has proudly launched a new flag! This 3x5 flag features a single silhouette of the famous Doughboys – the brave American men who served in the Army and Marine Corps – against a backdrop of the front lines of World War One.

Nearly 117,000 American service members gave their lives in support of freedom during World War One. More than 200,000 were injured. Our mission is simple: to honor those American families who served – and sacrificed – to ensure our security and freedoms.

Will you help us in this vital cause by buying a flag or making a tax deductible donation? Proceeds support the World War One Centennial Commission and building the new WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.

To buy your flag, click here. Please connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts comments on WW1 Memorial design at Pershing Park

By Michelle Goldchain
via
dc.curbed.com

Wall from NPSOn February 16, the WWI Commission presented two design concepts to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for the WWI Memorial, proposed for the memorial plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, known as Pershing Park.

While the Commission did not take any action, they did have a few comments to give. While acknowledging the difficulty to balance a new commemorative design with a nationally significant landscape, they emphasized that there should be less of a focus on modifying the park in order to accommodate a new memorial.

In a letter that Commission Secretary Thomas E. Luebke sent to Regional Director of the National Park Service Robert Vogel, Luebke wrote, “Given the intimate scale of the historic park, [the Commission] urged the reconsideration of the commemorative elements proposed, both in typology and location, recommending that a smaller intervention may be more appropriate: perhaps a single sculpture in the round, or multiple elements distributed within or at the perimeter of the site.”

Read more: U.S. Commission of Fine Arts comments on WW1 Memorial design at Pershing Park

Four Questions for Doug Batson

"America had ascended the world stage and our Doughboys knew that they had 'placed' us there."

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

Meet Doug Batson. You have never seen his mix of world-class talents before. He is a living history performer, a former military geographer, and an expert in the geography of World War I. He brings these passions together when he does performances portraying Dr. Isaiah Bowman, then-Director of the American Geographical Society (AGS). In January 1918, President Wilson tapped Dr. Bowman to lead "The Inquiry," a group of distinguished geographers who served as a precursor to today's National Intelligence Council. With its vast collection of maps and reports, The Inquiry propelled America onto the world stage at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference -- and together, they developed President Wilson's Famous "14 Points".

Few people discuss 'WWI geography', but it is considered to one the most impactful elements of the war. Give us the rundown on this topic, especially for during the war, and during the peace afterwards.

Military innovations of WWI famously included aeroplanes and tanks, but these novelties were seldom deployed in combat. Soldiers in the trenches, however, quickly recognized that the game-changing danger was geographic intelligence used in targeting indirect artillery fire. For the first time in warfare, enemy positions on maps were converted to precise geographic coordinates to unleash hellacious barrages, at times laden with poison gas, that none who survived them would ever forget. Former farmer Captain Harry S. Truman attended a French artillery school in order to instruct U.S. Army gun crews to perform these lethal mathematical calculations.

Doug Batson 300Doug BatsonThe Progressive President Woodrow Wilson firmly believed that American-style liberal democracy was the panacea needed by a world gone mad with war. The Bolshevik Revolution and Russian withdrawal from WWI afforded Wilson his chance. When Britain and France failed to articulate revised war aims, looking ahead to the peace process, Wilson set forth his own---the famous 14 Points.

Wilson envisaged a scientific and rational peace undergirded by geographic knowledge backed up by immense and accurate data sets. The State Department clearly lacked the capacity to give the U.S. delegation any such clout at the ensuing Paris Peace Conference. Wilson, the only U.S. President with an earned Ph.D., requested help from academia, and "the Inquiry," a think tank for reconstructing a shattered world in U.S. interests, was immediately formed.

How? The American Geographical Society (AGS) offered its NYC building at 156th Street and Broadway, as well as staff to include its Director, Dr. Isaiah Bowman, to the Inquiry without charge. Its numbers eventually swelled to 150. "Never before had there been gathered together so large a body of men engaged in public service of an international character."

Dr. Bowman's mastery of historical, political, and economic geography steered the research and production of volumes of ethnic maps and human geography reports that not only informed the American commissioners in Paris, but also favorably impressed foreign delegations once skeptical of naive Americans dabbling in world affairs.

Read more: Four Questions for Doug Batson

Four Questions for Monique Seefried about April 6, 2017

"We live to this day in the shadows of the Great War"

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

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is preparing for a major national event on April 6th, 2017, to mark the 100th anniversary of America's entry into the war. The event will take place at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. Monique Brouillet Seefried, Ph.D., is a Commissioner on the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. Seefried has been a regular lecturer on World War I, its causes and its consequences. She talks with us about the event, the significance of the Centennial of WW1, and why the decision by the U.S. to enter the war is so important to commemorate..

How will the Centennial of America’s entry into the war be commemorated during this event?

monique brouillet 200Monique Brouillet Seefried, Ph.D.The Centennial Commemoration of the United States entry in World War I will be held at the World War I Memorial and Museum in Kansas City. The national debate that took place over 100 years ago, and led to the decision by the United States to enter a war hoped to be the war to end all wars, will be captured in an event including visual montages, music, and readings of contemporary letters, poetry, etc. by prominent actors and public figures.

A reading of the declaration of war on April 6, 1917 will be followed by flyovers by U.S. military aircraft and the Patrouille de France, while military bands, color guards, ceremonial units will be standing by.

The artistic director for the event is Edward Bilous, Director of the Center for Innovation in the Arts at the Juilliard School. It will be streamed to classrooms across the country and available to posts, schools and civic groups for rebroadcast.

Why will the event be held in Kansas City? What is the significance of Kansas City to World War I?

After what was then known as the Great War, leading citizens of Kansas City, a railroad center in the center of the United States where veterans from all over the country could easily gather, decided to erect a memorial to the Americans who served during WWI.

Read more: Four Questions for Monique Seefried about April 6, 2017

Four Questions for Robert Laplander of Finding the Lost Battalion and Doughboy MIA

"No man's or woman's sacrifice in the cause of freedom should ever be forgotten"

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

Historian and author Robert Laplander has been very busy. He just released the third edition of his first book on WWI's "Lost Battalion", he is working on a new book about that unit's Commander, Charles Whittlesey, and he has been involved with the highly-anticipated PBS/American Experience series THE GREAT WAR. In addition to all that, Robert has been doing deep research with his "Doughboy MIA" section of the WW1 Centennial Commission web site, working to account for the World War I casualties who are still listed as 'Missing'. We caught up with Robert recently to get a full update.

We have not heard from you in some time. Tell us about your various projects related to The Lost Battalion, Doughboy MIA, etc.

Doughboy MIA is doing well.Robert LaplanderRobert Laplander We've submitted a report late last year to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) on a name that looks to have appeared on the list twice, and the wheels are turning on that right now. It also looks like, thanks to a reader who cares, that we've got a Navy fellow who was lost at sea very early in the war who was never placed on the list or commemorated on any of the Walls of the Missing in the cemeteries overseas or here at home. We're making our double checks now on that case before we submit it to the ABMC for consideration. And we're wrapping up the last bits on the case of a 1st Division sergeant whose remains went unlocated following the war that we've been investigating for about a year now. This is for the 1st Division Museum in Illinois. It looks as if there is the possibility that we might be able to locate him using some of today's technology. The initial report will be submitted on that early next week and at the beginning of April I will be consulting with a soil expert on the use of some of these technologies as per this case and possible others.Doughboy MIA logo

So the wheels are turning at Doughboy MIA, though necessarily slowly. We still have not been able to locate the paperwork relating to the Unknowns buried overseas. Readers are encouraged to contact us if they think they may have an idea where that stuff might be, though be advised that we've combed through the 'low hanging fruit' a long while ago, so what we're looking for isn't going to be in obvious places listed online. Remember: a man is only missing if he is forgotten.

As for the Lost Battalion, many readers know that I am the author of Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America's Famous WW1 Epic. On Saturday, February 18th we released a 3rd edition; an updated version of the book in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of America's entry into the war. This was at Military History Fest in Chicago and it was very well received. As you know, the book is considered 'the bible' of the Lost Battalion and has garnered much success over the last 11 years since it's initial release. The really big news though is that two things tie the book to the Commission - first, we are proud to announce that for every copy of the book sold through the official website (www.findingthelostbattalion.com) or the publisher's website (www.lulu.com) we are donating $2.00 to the fund for building the national WW1 Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC (offer excludes eBooks - sorry!).

Read more: Four Questions for Bob Laplander of Finding the Lost Battalion and Doughboy MIA

Add your centennial commemoration event or activity to the national register

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

Did you know that you can add your own World War I-themed events to our Events Calendar?

Events Page shot 500The WW1CC U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register is a living document of exhibits, commemorations, and events happening around the entire country. It is designed to help people find local things to see & participate in during the centennial period.

The Register is the primary register for nationwide World War I Centennial observances...you can search by dates, states, and locations to see community events are scheduled for this historical observance. These observances are registered by people just like you.

You can take an active role in our national observance by adding events you organize to this register. You develop a plan of action and event to help our nation remember, and you register it, informing millions of Americans to help you bring our nation together to commemorate the centennial.

If you have only one or just a few events, the easiest way to get them into the Register is to go to the Submit An Event page and fill in the interactive form.  Once approved by the moderator, you events will join the hundreds of others already recorded in the Registry, which will be part of the permanent record of the Commission.

Read more: Add your centennial commemoration event or activity to the national register

African-American heroes are a part of a vanishing World War I legacy

By Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun
via Military Times

It is early fall in 1918. Imagine being an American service member crouched down in the shrouded mists of a northeastern French valley, deep in the Argonne Forest.

carol moseley braun and grandfather wwiCarol Moseley Braun and her grandfather, World War I veteran Thomas Davie.German gunfire erupts as mortar rounds land nearby. You inch forward toward the enemy with soldiers from France and Belgium on either side of you. The brutal fighting would last nearly six weeks, until an Armistice was reached between Allied Forces and Germany on Nov. 11, 1918.

Five million Americans served their country in uniform during World War I, including 2 million deployed overseas. Nearly 117,000 Americans would make the ultimate sacrifice in a battle that would change the political, global, and social order of the U.S. and its allies – reasons why this war shouldn’t become a forgotten one.

More than 350,000 African-Americans served during World War I. Overcoming racial hostilities, these brave men demonstrated through their service, love of country, patriotism and the importance of equality. The paradox for African-Americans fighting on the front lines in France was clear; they defended America’s freedoms abroad while being denied those rights at home.

Although the Civil War ended 50 years before World War I began, racial discrimination was common throughout most of America. Jim Crow laws enforced a culture of segregation. African-Americans faced prejudice from their white counterparts in the service and in civilian communities near stateside military bases.

Read more: African-American heroes are a part of a vanishing World War I legacy

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