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World War I Centennial News


 


"In Flanders Fields" ceremony April 30 at Pershing Park in Washington, DC

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

At noon on April 30, 2017, in Washington DC's Pershing Park, there will be a ceremony to commemorate Lt. Col. John McCrae’s timeless poem “In Flanders Fields” and support veterans and their families.

Flanders Field McCrae 500This 3rd Annual event will be sponsored by the "In Flanders Fields" Fund, a non-profit organization created at the centennial of the poem. The Fund hopes to keep the poem's message alive through education and inclusion, while delivering on its directive to continue making the world a better place.

McCrae’s poem immortalized the fear and mystery of a life lived in the face of destruction. His clarion call to carry on in the face of all odds has inspired generations to don a poppy pin, a powerful metaphor for the persistence and beauty of life, in memory of the lost.

In support of the soldiers who continue to defend our great country, commemoration of “In Flanders Fields”, and remembrance of all lives lost in World War One, the public is invited to the future site of the National World War I Memorial on April 30, 2017. Proceedings will begin at noon with a ceremonial remembrance and will conclude by 1:00 p.m. with a recitation of the poem. For more information, visit inflandersfields.org

This participation in the war had huge impact on the USCG afterward. Tell us about how things changed, and what was to come with their role in WWII and beyond.

 Flags at LA ColiseumThe World War I Centennial Commission Flag and the American flag flanking the Olympic Cauldron at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the Centennial Ceremony on April 6, 2017.

Veterans speak at Coliseum WWI LA Coliseum event on April 6

By Catherine Yang
Via The Daily Trojan

Beneath the soaring main arch of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a ceremony commemorating the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I took place on Thursday, 100 years after the April 6, 1917 congressional declaration of war.

The event was free and open to the public and organized by the California World War I Centennial Task Force, a volunteer-led effort of scholars, historians and citizens dedicated to celebrating the Forgotten Generation of World War I.

“The United States World War I Centennial Commission was created by an act of Congress in 2013 to honor and commemorate our involvement in World War I,” California World War I Centennial Task Force co-director and amateur historian Courtland Jindra said. “Finally, near the end of 2016, we decided to create a completely grassroots organization in the hope that the state would give us their blessing once they saw we were forging ahead. And thus, the Centennial Task Force was formed.”

The Coliseum served as a fitting site, as it was originally constructed as a World War I memorial and rededicated in 1968 to all 4.7 million Americans who served in the war.

Read more: Veterans speak at Coliseum WWI LA Coliseum event

AP photoThe sun rises over the nation's official WWI monument, Liberty Memorial, in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, April 6, 2017. Foreign dignitaries from around the world are converging on Kansas City and its towering World War I monument to observe the 100th anniversary of the day the U.S. entered "The Great War." (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Thousands Pause for Global WWI Centennial Observance

By Jim Suhr
Via The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Awed by an eight-plane flyover that left the sky streaked with plumes of red, white and blue contrails, thousands paused Thursday in the shadow of the nation's official World War I monument in remembrance of the day a century ago that the U.S. entered the fight.

Melding equal measures of homage to American sacrifice with patriotism, the commemoration — "In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace" — amounted to a multimedia time warp to April 6, 1917, when America begrudgingly joined the global conflict that President Woodrow Wilson had sought to avoid through neutrality.

With winds fluttering flags amid temperatures in the upper 40s, a few thousand ticketholders and dozens of foreign ambassadors watched a color guard clad as WWI-era "Doughboys" present the colors. Short films — one narrated by Kevin Costner, another by Gary Sinise — displayed on twin screens 25 feet tall offered documentary-style flashbacks. Ragtime music, military pomp and recitations of writings of the period filled voids between speeches, many of them by politicians.

Many who publicly spoke offered a nod to American sacrifice: By the time U.S. troops helped vanquish Germany and the conflict ended in 1918, more than 9 million people were lost to combat, some 116,000 of them Americans killed in what turned out to be a transformational war. A conflict initially fought by horseback and in dank, muddy trenches gave way to carnage by armored vehicles, air combat and German use of mustard gas.

"America entered the war to bring liberty, democracy and peace to the world after almost three years of unprecedented hardship, strife and horror," retired Army Col. Robert Dalessandro, chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission behind the commemoration, told the crowd. "We still live in the long shadow of World War I in every aspect of our lives."

Read more: Thousands Pause for Global WWI Centennial Observance


The unsung equestrian heroes of World War I and the plot to poison them

By Sarah McCammon
Via National Public Radio

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – April 6 marks 100 years since the U.S. Congress voted to declare war on Germany, entering World War I. The war took the lives of 17 million people worldwide. What's not as well-known is the role that animals played at a time when they were still critical to warfare.

Horses U.S. horses were loaded onto transport ships that went from the U.S. to European ports and later to the war front. (Courtesy of U.S. National Archives)Horses, in particular, served alongside troops on both sides, and several million died during the war. The animals were so crucial to the war effort that they also became military targets.

"You need these horses to move, to fight, to exist," says Christopher Kolakowski, director of the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Va. "It would be like maintaining your car today."

Hundreds of thousands of horses and mules were shipped to Europe from Newport News, Va., the largest departure point for horses and mules, during war years. The area around the port on the James River is now full of condos, office buildings, and even today — shipyards.

Standing at the water's edge, Kolakowski says Newport News was ideally situated on the East Coast near rail lines and waterways.

"You can get a sense here of the immensity of the harbor and why this is such a desirable port. ... You're not quite as crowded as New York. So it's a tremendous asset," he says.

Read more: The Unsung Equestrian Heroes Of World War I And The Plot To Poison Them

Anthem overflightTthe French Air Force Patrouille de France flies over the Ceremony site. (Photo by Olivier Ravenel / Armee de l'Air)

Commission ceremony on April 6th, 2017 commemorates Centennial of US Entry into WWI

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

Washington D.C. – The premiere production with moving tributes, compelling imagery and performances brought crowds to tears and to their feet as the United States World War I Centennial Commission hosted “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” yesterday at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.

Invocation 400The Invocation is offered by: Rev. Msgr. Bradley Offutt of the Diocese of Kansas City; Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah; Imam Yahyu H.Furqan of the Muslim American Veterans Association; and Chaplain Colonel Barbara K. Sherer, U.S. Army, Combined Arms Center Chaplain, Ft. Leavenworth, KS. (Photo by Olivier Ravenel / Armee de l'Air)The commemoration events began with a moving prelude that included remarks by descendants of notable Generals John J. Pershing and George S. Patton. Highlights of the landmark day included a long-overdue Purple Heart Reuniting Ceremony with World War I Military Order of the Purple Heart medal recipient Cpl Leo George Rauf’s great nephew Michael Staton and marked his family’s four generations of military service. Native American Muscogee Creek spiritual leader Wotko Long offered a special blessing ceremony in recognition of the day, a reminder of the invaluable service and patriotism of Native Americans in World War l.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II and Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James welcomed a crowd of some 4,000 people from 26 U.S. states and representatives from 28 nations.

“In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I,” produced by artistic director Edward Bilous, began with a spectacular flyover by the French Air Force Patrouille de France, creating trails of red, white and blue smoke, in tribute to the U.S. role in World War l. The stunning air display was followed by the National Anthem, performed by the 1st Infantry Division Band along with baritone John Brancy. The 1st Infantry Division Ft. Riley, Kansas, formed in World War I, and then known as the “Fighting First,” is currently deployed to Iraq.

Actor, director and producer Kevin Costner narrated the opening of the ceremony which took attendees, television and life-stream viewers back to the 1910s as war broke out in Europe, American volunteers signed up to fight, and German submarines sank the RMS Lusitania triggering the Great Debate as the nation headed into the 1916 presidential election.

The crowd honored the sacrifice of the men and women who served in World War I with a solemn moment of silence followed by the tolling of bells. The 1st Infantry Division Color Guard, in World War 1 period uniforms retired the colors. Cannons were fired by the Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment Missouri Army Reserve National Guard to mark the Declaration of War, the start of a turning point in American history that took the country from a developing democracy into a world power.

Read more: Commission Commemorates Centennial of US Entry into WWI with Memorable Ceremony on April 6th, 2017

London event commemorates Centennial of the United States Entry into WWI

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

LONDON – In the UK on April 6th, there was a special commemoration event at the Guildhall, the ceremonial and administrative centre of the City of London. The event was attended by U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Lewis Lukens.

33753263361 22cb2d6e36 zReception and commemorative event held at London's Guildhall, to mark the 100th anniversary of U.S. involvement in World War I, attended by U.S. Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Lewis Lukens (right)The event was linked to a new photographic exhibit called "Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace: The Doughboys 1917 - 1918." "Fields of Battle" is scheduled to show from 7 - 23 April at the Guildhall Yard in London.

Embassy Chargé d'Affaires Lukens stated, "World War I laid the foundation for the close ties between the United States and the United Kingdom. Many people point to the Second World War as the start of the special relationship... but I would argue that the seeds of this incredibly close and important partnership were planted in 1917."

American soldiers, or ‘Doughboys,’ and their entry into the First World War in 1917 provide the focus of this major new exhibition. It portrays the battlefields which, 100 years ago, were places of death and horror, now revealed by the photographer as landscapes of great beauty and tranquility.

Read more: London event commemorating Centennial of US Entry into WWI on April 6th, 2017

 

NYC event at Times Square April 6 2017 800

Wreath laying event in NYC marks WWI Centennial

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

NEW YORK, NY – In crowded heart of New York City on Thursday April 6th, a group of uniformed World War I reenactors and active-duty Army soldiers gathered in Times Square, to mark the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I.

The group mustered together at the life-sized statue of Father Duffy, the chaplain of New York's 'Fighting 69th' Infantry Regiment, the famous World War I unit that was also home to poet Joyce Kilmer, CIA founder William 'Wild Bill' Donovan, and Titanic-sinking survivor Daniel Buckley.

The reenactor group was led by Kevin Fitzpatrick, a noted NYC historian, and member of the NYC World War I Centennial Committee. The group laid a wreath at the statue to honor the 4.7 million American men and women who served during the war, the 2 million who deployed overseas, and the 116,516 Americans who never made it home.

The Fighting 69th was in the thick of combat during World War I, with heavy human cost. Total casualties of the regiment amounted to 644 killed in action and 2,587 wounded (200 of whom would later die of their wounds) during 164 days of front-line combat. Sixty members earned the Distinguished Service Cross and three of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor.

The regiment's chaplain during World War I, Father Francis Duffy, became famous for his courage during combat, where he accompanied litter bearers into the thick of battle to recover wounded soldiers. For his actions in the war, Duffy was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Distinguished Service Medal, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State), the Légion d'Honneur (France), and the Croix de Guerre. Father Duffy is the most highly decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army.

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution guest editorial

WWI centennial: Honoring U.S.’s sacrifice for world

By Commissioner Monique Seefried
via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As a French-born woman, I always felt a debt of gratitude to the United States. It is a gratitude shared by generations of Europeans who still remember the Americans as our liberators in two World Wars. I was raised on stories of American generosity. I read about the American volunteers who served in World War I. I know about the American Hospital in Paris and its ambulance drivers. When I immigrated to Atlanta to begin my new life as an American, I was shocked and dismayed by how little those in the U.S. knew about what their country had achieved during the first of those World Wars. U.S. intervention in World War I is perhaps this country’s greatest contribution to world peace.monique brouillet 200

When President Woodrow Wilson signed the declaration of war on April 6, 1917, Americans united in a way they never had before. In less than two years, the U.S. military grew from less than 200,000 troops to four and a half million. More than two million Americans were serving in France on November 11, 1918. Small-town farmers and Ivy League scholars enlisted. Women joined the ranks for the first time. Native Americans signed up at twice the rate of any other segment of the population. African-Americans comprised storied units such as the 369th Infantry Regiment. And 18 percent of the Americans who served were born in foreign countries.

At the outset of the war, the U.S. had few airplanes or guns, and no tanks or gas masks. Undeterred, the government expended more resources in two years than it had in the country’s first 141 years. Steel production increased by eight times. Two million Americans were put to work in industrial jobs to handle the surge.

America mobilized with an efficiency and effectiveness that surprised the world, helping bring an end to autocratic regimes across Europe. Sadly, it came at a terrible cost. In six months of combat, the U.S. lost more than 116,000 service members, a toll higher than the number of Americans lost in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.

Read more: Honoring U.S.’s sacrifice for world

Pentagon Commemorates 100th Anniversary of US Entering WWI

By Matthew Cox
via Military.com

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Army paid tribute Thursday to the 100th anniversary of the American military entering World War I, a move that would cost the lives of nearly 117,000 Doughboys.

wwi uniforms 1200 ts600Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," dressed in World War I-era uniforms.A modest ceremony at the Pentagon marked the decision by Congress on April 6, 1917, to declare war on Imperial Germany for its campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare.

Period art and recruitment posters flashed on two digital screens, offering such slogans as "The Pep of the Yankee Boy," "We've called the Kaiser's Bluff" and "Berlin or Bust."

Soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard," dressed in World War I-era uniforms. The U.S. Army Chorus sang "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" and "Over There."

The event marked the beginning of a national campaign that will culminate Nov. 11, 2018, when the World War I Centennial Commission is scheduled to dedicate the National World War I Memorial in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C.

Read more: Pentagon Commemorates 100th Anniversary of US Entering WWI on April 6th, 2017

World War I Centennial marked at Maxwell-Gunter AFB with statue dedication, airshow appearance by Patrouille de France

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

Dedication of Daedalus statue at Maxwell AFBOfficial dedication of the Daedalus statue at Maxwell AFB on Thursday, April 6th.Montgomery, Ala. – Air Force Chief of Staff (CSAF) Gen. David. L. Goldfein along with base and civilian leaders from the Montgomery, Alabama area gathered for the official dedication of the Daedalus statue at Maxwell AFB on Thursday, April 6th. That date was the centennial of the U.S. joining into World War I.

The statue is a nod to all USAF aviators, but particularly to the early American aviators who flew with the French military during World War I in the Lafayette Escadrille and other squadrons.

In Greek mythology, Daedalus was the creator of the labyrinth that entrapped the Minotaur and was the first man given wings by the gods. The fraternal order of WWI military pilots established here in 1934, The Order of the Daedalians, chose Daedalus as their namesake.

The statue was commissioned and donated by Montgomery area business leader, Nimrod Frazer. Frazer is the son of a WWI purple heart recipient and a Korean War Army veteran. He is a Silver Star recipient himself.

Read more: World War I Centennial marked at Maxwell-Gunter AFB on April 6th, 2017

Commission announces program participants and Special Guests for April 6 Ceremony

Paulo Sibaja
Special to the World War I Centennial Commission web site

Program CoverWashington, D.C. – The United States Centennial Commission today announced program participants and special guests for “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” on April 6 at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO.

The Commission will welcome some 4,000 attendees from 26 U.S. states, and representatives from 27 nations worldwide. Honorary Hosts for the ceremony include Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, Missouri U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II and Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is the Presenting Sponsor of the event.

Special guests and participants include Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army Robert M. Speer; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul J. Selva; Kansas Governor Sam Brownback; and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer. Descendants of notable World War l leaders and soldiers in attendance include Helen Patton, granddaughter of General George S. Patton; Sandra Pershing, wife of the late Colonel John W. Pershing who is the grandson of General of the Armies John J. Pershing; Colonel Gerald York, USA (Ret.), grandson of Sergeant Alvin York; Deborah York, great-granddaughter of Sergeant Alvin York; and Noble Sissle, Jr. and Cynthia Sissle Hinds, son and daughter of Noble Sissle, a member of New York’s celebrated 369th Infantry Regiment.

Prelude elements include a special Purple Heart presentation to World War I medal recipient Cpl Leo George Rauf’s great nephew Michael Staton; and a special blessing by Muscogee Creek Native American song leader Wotko Long. 

During the Pre-Ceremony, the Honorary Hosts will deliver welcoming remarks, along with World War I Centennial Commission Chair Robert Dalessandro, National World War I Museum and Memorial Executive Director Matt Naylor, and Pritzker Military Museum and Library founder COL (IL) Jennifer Pritzker, IL ARNG (Ret.). A multi-faith invocation will be offered as well.

The ceremony “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” is a multi-media production that illustrates American life in 1917 as the horror of war continued on the battlefields of Europe. It will recall the impassioned arguments from our countrymen and women both for and against involvement in the Great War.

As part of the ceremony, Robert M. Speer, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army, will read a portion of President Calvin Coolidge’s speech delivered on November 11, 1926 at the dedication of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. Other memorable moments from the ceremony will include a flyover by the French Air Force Patrouille de France in tribute to the U.S. role in World War l; a special flyover by the B2 Spirit stealth bomber of the 509th Bomb Wing, located at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri; a performances by the 1st Infantry Division Band and firing of cannons by the Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment Missouri Army Reserve National Guard, President Harry Truman's Field Artillery.

Read more: Commission Announces Program Participants and Special Guests for April 6 Ceremony

Nationwide Events Commemorating U.S. Entry into World War I

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

Washington, D.C. — The United States World War I Centennial Commission has released a list of nationwide events being hosted coast to coast by state-affiliated commissions and partner organizations to commemorate the centennial of the United States entry into World War I.

April 6 MenuThe state-affiliated commissions and partner organizations are hosting 60 events in 30 states, in conjunction with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission's national commemoration ceremony, "In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I," in Kansas City, Mo. on April 6.

Ceremonies and events are taking place from April 1 to 15, with a number taking place on the actual anniversary date of April 6, the date on which the U.S. officially entered the war.Commemoration events at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover and the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines are among those marking the historic day and creating opportunities for public education and a national conversation about the impact of World War I on America then and now.

World War I Centennial Commissioner Dr. Monique Seefried noted the importance of national remembrance of the circumstances and events of World War I because it affects contemporary U.S. society.

“It is so important to understand the debate that was going on within the United States about entering World War l. In reaching that decision, the nation became united for the first time in decades. Our goal was to bring peace to a world that had become inflamed. The subsequent decisions and actions taken 100 years ago helped shape and define the world we live in today.”

The ceremonies and events include panel discussions with leading historians, World War I exhibition openings in Maryland, Missouri, Ohio and Wyoming, musical performances in Virginia, North Carolina and Texas, film screenings in Washington D.C. and Massachusetts and more. Many of the events will feature keynote speakers such as Jesse Williams at the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville,Tennessee and PBS CEO Paula Kerger at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

These events headline an 18-month commemoration period of the United States’ involvement in the Great War, marked by anniversaries of U.S. engagement and significant dates. These events are designed to honor the sacrifice of those who served in WWI by focusing on the shared history and collective perseverance it took to prevail over the horrors of war that unfolded on the battlefields of Europe.

Click here to view the complete National WW1 Centennial Events Register.

Read more: Nationwide Events Commemorating U.S. Entry into World War I

Four Questions for Brion Patrick

"The Belgian people have never forgotten who came to help us"

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

The First World War had a profound impact on the history of Belgium and of the whole world. It is only fitting, therefore, that Belgium will play a central part in the centenary commemorations. These will include a number of national commemorative ceremonies with international scope. In addition, Belgium’s various levels of government will oversee a range of cultural, artistic, historical and scientific initiatives throughout the centennial period. Colonel Brion Patrick is part of Belgium's centennial commission, and he talked to us about how the centennial period will be marked, and what activities the Belgian government is involved with.

Your organization is very similar to ours, as the official Belgian government office for WWI commemoration. Tell us about how you are organized, what your mission is, and what projects you are working on.

The Belgian army holds different massive archives as to the Great War. Unfortunately, they are sometimes hard to access and even harder to go through. Our unit, the Belgian Army Public Affairs was asked by the Belgian government in 2014 to support the federal website regarding the Commemorations around WW1, up to 2018. The website can be found here : http://www.be14-18.be/en

Brion Patrick mugBrion PatrickHowever, we are following a strict path as to the commemorations, due to the historical timeline of events in Belgium and of course the role of the Belgian army during 1914 – 1918.

This means that in 2014, going through 2015, there was a massive amount of commemorations and events in Belgium. As of April 2015, following the commemoration of the first gas attack (1915), things went more quit.

But, we clearly understood that we needed to continue with the communication and established the Facebook page, which allows us to work on themes and specific events.

The Belgian Army Public Affairs unit works closely with other federal institutions, like the Royal Army Museum, the Veterans Institute etc... Our mission is inform the public, even on a global scale, about upcoming events and themes around the Great War. More important even than the communication around it, is now the network that I managed to create. Simple rule : “If I don’t know it, I surely do know someone who does...” And it works very well, resulting in an ongoing exchange of data and archives, supporting each other with assets only the army has.

Our unit also holds a large expertise on the audiovisual level, as we have our own photographers, cameramen, journalists and editors (web and audiovisual). This allows us to really be creative and support the historical time line with great clips. We’ve also started using drones with camera, to show the public how it looks from the air. Those clips receive in average like 60,000 hits when published.

As the historical timeline advances, we move into the third year (1917 – 2017) of the commemorations and this year it will pick up very quickly to continue to go until November 2018. We plan to go beyond that date, up to the signing of the Versailles Treaty and the occupation of the Rhineland Region by the Allied armies, including the US, Belgian, French.

Read more: Four Questions for Brion Patrick

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