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

World War I Centennial News


The first woman Marine: In 1918, she couldn’t vote but rushed to serve

By Petula Dvorak
via the Washington Post web site 

The first female Marine?

Not what you may think. Yes, women served as parachute riggers and welders, and eventually became drill sergeants and pilots. But the first woman to join the Marine Corps was the 39-year-old wife of an orchestra conductor.

Opha May JohnsonOpha May Johnson, center, the first woman to join the Marines in 1918, watches as adjustments are made to a World War I uniform being modeled by Pfc. Muriel Albert. (U.S. Marine Corps)Opha May Johnson joined up Aug. 13, 1918 — before she was even allowed to vote.

Almost a century later, the Marines announced Thursday a woman has passed the grueling Infantry Officer Course, long the domain of the toughest male Marines, for the first time.

This still-unidentified woman was tested for 86 days on a course that washes out 25 percent of the men who try it. She hiked for miles in the Mojave Desert and in the mountains, swam laps in all her battle rattle, carried a load of up to 152 pounds for more than nine miles at a three-mile-per-hour pace, and came across a pile of springs, firing bolts, stocks and barrels and — on the spot — assembled them into foreign and American infantry weapons (under an undisclosed time limit). Among other horrors.

Her performance was so jaw-dropping, the Marines announced her halfway point in August.

It was different for the first female Marine 100 years ago — she did not have to hike in the desert. She did take a man’s job.

It was close to the end of World War I when the Marine Corps decided to fill some of the gaps left behind by all the men fighting overseas. In 1918, Johnson was the first of 300 women who showed up to take one of those jobs. They made headlines in newspapers all across the country.

Johnson, born Opha May Jacob in Kokomo, Indiana, was a rapid-fire typist.

Her name is often misspelled, Kara Newcomer, an historian with the Marine Corps History Division, told the Quantico Sentry.

Her middle name usually appears in books and on photos as “Mae,” though it’s spelled like the month, May, Newcomer said.

“We also believe she probably went by her first name alone, based on how she signed her name,” Newcomer said.

A wise decision on her part.

Read more: The first woman Marine: In 1918, she couldn’t vote but rushed to serve

100 Cites/100 Memorials program update

First 50 official “WWI Centennial Memorials” to be announced

By Theo Mayer
100 Cities/100 Memorials Program Manager, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

100C 100M Logo largeCHICAGO—The World War One Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, in partnership with The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, will announce the first 50 memorials officially designated as WWI Centennial Memorials Wednesday, September 27, 2017 10:00am Eastern / 9:00am Central.

This media event will be live streamed from the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago. The announcement will also be live-streamed via the PMML's YouTube channel and Facebook account, as well as via the Centennial Commission's Facebook account. All selected memorials will be posted on the Commission web site after the media event.

Each memorial project will receive $2,000 in matching grant funds towards the restoration and maintenance of these memorials through 100 Cities/100 Memorials.

The 100 Cities/100 Memorials Program was created to help draw attention to WWI memorials across the United States and enables all of America to take part in the WWI Centennial Commemoration. Many of these World War I war memorials have deteriorated due to exposure to the elements, neglect and even vandalism and all require maintenance.

Two-hundred thousand dollars in matching funds have been allocated by the World War One Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, with additional support from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War, to restore these memorials back to their physical beauty and to help actively raise public awareness of those who served and of the effect this global conflict still has on today’s society. These community treasures are a tangible connection to the profound impact this war had on local towns and cities, securing an important place in military history.

“More than 4 million American families sent their sons and daughters to serve in uniform during World War I. 116,516 U.S. soldiers died in the war and another 200,000 were wounded,” said Terry Hamby, commissioner of the United States World War One Centennial Commission. “100 Cities/100 Memorials is a critically important initiative that will have an impact beyond these grants. These memorials represent an important part of remembering our past and preserving our culture.”

Read more: First 50 official “WWI Centennial Memorials” to be announced

'A Soldier's Journey' explored - with US WWI Memorial sculptor Sabin Howard 

By Patrick Gregory
via the web site

The design for America’s proposed new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC has reached another key stage thanks to an innovative collaboration between the memorial’s sculptor and computer artists in New Zealand. Sabin Howard, the leading classical sculptor, has taken designs for the memorial from his studio in New York to Wellington to work with leading 3-D modelling specialists. He’s been talking to Patrick Gregory.

dk6ox1tf3hjhndvyfvdd thumbSabin Howard with his new working model of 'A Soldier's Journey', developed in partnership with digital modellers, Weta Workshop, in Wellington, New Zealand (Image © Weta Workshop/US World War I Centennial Commission)It's over 18 months since the WWI Centennial Commission chose Sabin Howard and architect Joe Weishaar’s design for the new national memorial in Washington, but it has been time busily spent taking the original concept through a number of different design stages. For sculptor Howard that has meant 60-hour weeks in his Bronx studio while discussing and developing the various iterations of his ideas through a detailed committee process; and now he has a new set of partners on the other side of the world. All are helping shape the final design.

Howard's focus has been on the wall of remembrance which will be set in the middle of what is to be a newly-configured Pershing Park, off the National Mall in the capital, not far from the White House. In particular, the centrepiece of that wall, a 65-foot bronze bas-relief.

Entitled A Soldier's Journey, the layout and figurative design of the sculpture has been put together very deliberately and with great precision. It is, explains Howard, constructed in a geometric and mathematically precise manner, but he hopes it manages to achieve something which is "not esoteric and classical but more expressive and emotional".

For that he has developed a 38-figure composition which flows from left to right, moving across the length of the relief, characters overlapping, straining, toiling on the way. The composition seeks to tell different stories within one framework. The main narrative is a two-in-one affair: a soldier’s journey through the Great War as he leaves his family to go to the front, charting his battles there and his ultimate return home; the second is of America’s journey in the war. Together the two form an allegory: the soldier’s personal war representing America’s journey and its coming of age through the conflict.

Read more: 'A Soldier's Journey' explored - with US WWI Memorial sculptor Sabin Howard

Four Questions for Jerolyn Barbee and Paul LaRue

"The role of African Americans in the WWI war effort is often overlooked in the textbooks"

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

There is a remarkable new exhibit at the National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center in Dayton Ohio. The exhibit is called "African Americans Fighting for a Double Victory", and it includes a special section on World War I. The exhibit just opened this past weekend, on Sept. 23, 2017. Further, the museum is also hosting amazing public programs related to the exhibit, to include talks on African American genealogy, as it relates to World War I. We spoke to Jerolyn Barbee, Assistant Director for the museum, along with Paul LaRue, a noted historian and educator, who will give the public presentation on genealogy.

You have great World War I-related efforts going on. The National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center has an amazing long-term exhibit, "African-Americans Fighting for a Double Victory". What is in the exhibit?

Barbee: "African Americans Fighting for a Double Victory" spotlights African American civilian and military service during World War II and explain how African American service during wartime advanced civil rights on the home front.

Jerolyn BarbeeJerolyn BarbeeThe exhibition will present an overview of African American military service abroad, the limitations imposed on them through segregationist policies, as well as the many accomplishments achieved in all of the military branches despite rampant discrimination.

The first section of "African Americans Fighting for a Double Victory" will include an overview of African American military service from the colonial period through World War I.

The exhibition will feature digital images of African American muralist Charles Alston, whose drawings were commissioned by the Office of War Information during World War II. Alston created a series of drawings to promote the war effort at home and abroad. Unlike the many other war propaganda materials produced, Alston’s work features African Americans and sought to motivate and energize the African American community. The goal was to encourage African American support of the war effort at home and abroad.

Through these images, and a wide variety two and three-dimensional materials from the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center (NAAMCC) archives and collections, visitors will learn more about the impact of African American military and civilian service. They will experience what daily life was like on the home front. Like all Americans, Blacks purchased war bonds, grew victory gardens, conserved resources, and supported the troops with letters to family members and friends in uniform.

Read more: Four Questions for Jerolyn Barbee and Paul LaRue

Veterans History Project launches final segment of WWI web series

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

The Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) has launched “A World Overturned,” the final chapter in a three-part, online website series titled “Experiencing War,” dedicated to U.S. veterans of the First World War.

ph0001001b 2Roland NeelA World Overturned” highlights eight digitized veterans’ stories about how World War I forever changed their lives, shared through original photographs, letters, diaries, memoirs and other materials. This series has been presented as a companion site to the Library of Congress exhibit “Echoes of the Great War.”

LOC VMP logosOne of several profiles featured in the series, Roland Neel survived the dangerous early days of aviation as an aerial observer, but his brother, Joseph, was killed in action at the Battle of St. Mihiel.
ph0001001b 1Reese Russell

Before enlisting, Reese Russell was accustomed to the quiet rhythms of rural life. He was gassed during combat and was never the same. Reese’s daughter, who donated his diary posthumously, said her father slept too little and drank too much after the war. He died impoverished at the age of 61.

ph0001001bHubert WesselmanDuring his service with the 89th Division in France and Germany, Hubert Wesselman expressed concerns about the long-term impact of his wartime experiences, but professional support for service members returning from battle was largely unavailable at the time. He struggled to cope with the horrors he suffered. Tragically, after enduring war, the Great Depression and years of strenuous work as a farmer, Hubert took his own life.

Read more: Veterans History Project launches final installment of World War I web series

Web site features: Family Ties and Stories of Service

"Remembering those who served is fundamental to commemoration"

By Ashleigh Shaw
Staff Writer

LOgosDo you have a story about a family member who participated in WWI? The kind of story that is repeated at every holiday dinner; one that tells tales of courage, of battles, of hardship?

The World War One Centennial Commission web site’s Family Ties and Stories of Service sections give you the opportunity to research this family history, share these stories of your forbears, and to remember the sacrifices of those who served.

Family Ties is a collection of information and stories that ensures the memories of veterans and veteran’s families do not vanish overtime. It creates a space to document and preserve these memories. Here, anyone can submit stories of service and artifacts like draft cards or letters. This will help to create a public memory that can be visited and reviewed.

If an individual or an organization find they do not have ancestor who served, you can still use the Family Ties page to research and share others’ stories. Family Ties can connect to you to individuals who do not have anyone to share their story with. You can ensure these stories are not lost.

Together we are creating a cohesive and comprehensive collection of the incredible stories of World War I to ensure an enduring legacy of service continues. You can learn more about those who served and how to share stories, information, and artifacts on the Family Ties page.

Stories of Service, located within Family Ties, is a collection of stories about service members during The Great War. These stories join the permanent collection, and are published on the website. This means that the experiences of servicemen and women will survive for future generations to learn about and commemorate to, and that the anecdotes and accounts are not lost or neglected with time.

Read more: Web site features: Family Ties and Stories of Service

This new World War I Memorial needs your submissions 

By Amy Bushatz
via the SpouseBuzz section of the web site

A new memorial to those who served in World War I is in the works for Washington, D.C. — and officials need your help to complete the design.

Amy BushatzAmy BushatzThe World War I Centennial memorial will feature a commemorative wall and open space for 28 trees, and will be located off the National Mall, about a block from the White House in Pershing Park.

It’s being funded by private donations and will be the first official memorial in D.C. to all who served in the Great War.

A single World War I memorial stands off the mall currently, but it is specifically dedicated to those from Washington, D.C., who died.

So what does the commission need from you?

Quote submissions.

“Apt quotations are often powerful elements of memorials, and we plan to include similar inscriptions at the WWI memorial,” officials said in a recent blog post.

“Hence, this request to you: Could you please identify what you consider to be worthy quotations for inclusion on the memorial,” they wrote. “There are no restrictions on what might be a suitable quotation (other than probably being limited to a paragraph in length).”

Given that troops often come from long lineages of military service, we think you, the military family members, may have access to quotations that others do not.

Read more: This New World War I Memorial Needs Your Submissions

Arizona's broken World War I monument is just sad 

By Laurie Roberts
via The Republic | web site

For years, it has stood there, forlorn and forgotten, just across from the monument to Confederate soldiers.

But while the Wesley Bolin Plaza memorial honoring Confederate soldiers has attracted plenty of attention, there’s been no outrage over the nearby tribute to the more than 4 million Americans who served in World War I.

Arizona world war 1 memorialWorld War I memorial was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1969, at Wesley Bolin Plaza. The plaque has been missing for at least nine years, and perhaps longer.(Photo: Laurie Roberts/The Republic)It was known as "the war to end all wars," but I can't say the same about Arizona’s memorial to mark it. There is nothing inspiring about it or even notable. And the plaque that once adorned this six-foot granite marker has been missing for years.

Memorial went missing years ago

Drop by to contemplate the 116,516 American soldiers who fought and died “over there” and all you’ll see are two holes where a bronze medallion was once mounted.

Laurie RobertsLaurie RobertsIt’s been that way for close to a decade, or perhaps longer.

There was talk in 2009 about fixing up the memorial and adding to it, but nothing came of it.

Now, with the 100-year anniversary of the war’s end coming next year, the state has decided that something needs to be done.

The Departments of Administration and Veterans Services have applied for a grant from the World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials project. The commission is offering up to $2,000 to repair World War I memorials.

DOA spokeswoman Megan Rose told me the state wants to replace the missing brass plaque. After doing some research, a DOA staffer found a replica of the plaque, which featured a poppy -- the flower that came to symbolize the war and remembrance.

We're aren't telling their story

It’s a good thing that the state is finally doing something. Or the beginning of a good thing, at least.

Read more: Arizona's broken World War I monument is just sad

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

Founding Sponsor

PritzkerMML Logo