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World War I Centennial News


WWI memorial plan draws critics in D.C.; Arkansas designer says it’s ‘evolving’

By Frank E. Lockwood
via the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

WASHINGTON -- Members of the National Capital Planning Commission raised questions about plans for a new World War I memorial Thursday, questioning how the proposal could best complement the existing park's design.

Weishaar on Blog Talk RadioJoseph Weishaar, lead designer for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.The federal planning agency asked numerous questions about a proposed Gulf War memorial that also needs its approval. They focused, primarily, on where to place it.

Discussion of the World War I monument, including public testimony, lasted nearly an hour, with critics objecting to nearly every aspect of the proposal: the topography, the trees, the walkways, the water fountains and the flagpole.

One commissioner also objected to New York City sculptor Sabin Howard's artwork, suggesting the preliminary sketches were insufficiently diverse for a 21st-century audience.

"I just want to say I don't see a lot of women," said Eric Shaw, director of D.C.'s planning office. "If we're thinking about contemporary memorials, we have to have contemporary representation."

Fayetteville native Joe Weishaar, the lead designer of the World War I proposal, sat on the front row and listened calmly as critics repeatedly faulted the project.

Afterward, he said he would work to address the objections raised by the commissioners.

The design is still a work in progress, he said. "It's always evolving."

Weishaar, a graduate of the University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture, was picked to design the project in January 2016 after winning an international competition.

Read more: WWI memorial plan draws critics in D.C.; Arkansas designer says it’s ‘evolving’

WWI: "how human and how preventable this catastrophe was"

Uploading History: interview with Extra Credit's James Portnow

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Engaging a new generation is absolutely vital for any field, history included. Popular history has found new formats in the age of the Internet. Podcasts, such as Dan Carlin's Hardcore History or Mike Duncan's History of Rome, as well as Youtube Channels, such as Extra Credits or Alternate History Hub or The Great War, reach a whole new demographic that television documentaries and books haven't been able to tap. This month we'll be introducing you to some of the dedicated content creators who work hard to create educational but exciting videos and podcasts. The first YouTube outlet we will introduce to you is Extra Credits. We were fortunate to spend some time with Lead Writer James Portnow, who told us about their vision for the show.Portnow 300Extra Credit's James Portnow

First, could you tell us a bit about your channel, Extra Credits, as well as what you do for them?

Of course! My name is James Portnow, I’m the lead writer for the shows. Extra Credits is a channel about making learning engaging. We tackle everything from history to game design. I’m a game designer by trade, my co-founder is an animator who’s worked at places like Pixar, and so we took everything we learnt from making games and films and tried to use that to teach.

Initially, Extra Credits was more about the technical side of gaming. You've since branched out into history, and now create some of the most popular historical content on Youtube. How and why did this change occur?

I had been doing a lot of work with school districts and universities on how to make learning something that everyone wants to do. Often they’d ask for an example, so, finally we just decided to make one. Luckily with help from Creative Assembly (the folks who make games like Rome: Total War) we were able to get it off the ground.

Extra Credits History has been going for 4 years and garnered nearly 11 million views overall. Though your initial video was sponsored by a game company, your first unsponsored video was about the Great War. Why did you select World War 1, and specifically the aspect of trying to prevent it?

Because to me it’s the defining moment of the 20th century. It’s the final break from the old medieval or renaissance world that ushers in the modern age, and yet it’s so often glossed over in our schooling. It felt so important in the world today to reexamine its beginning and to discuss how human and how preventable this catastrophe was.

Read more: Uploading History: Extra Credit's James Portnow

“Treasury Raiders” and empty promises: Bonus Marches erupt across postwar U.S. in 1930's

By Michael Stahler and Paul Burgholzer
Staff Writers

The Bonus Marches that sprung up across the country in the early 1930s pitted the American veterans of World War I against their own government. These servicemen fought abroad against the German Empire in France only to return to empty promises by those that sent them to the front line in the first place. The soldiers were guaranteed financial security for their service but the Federal government reneged on their promise.

At the time, soldiers were paid substantially less than the average factory worker. Therefore, they lobbied Congress for adjusted wages, or “bonuses” as opponents would call them. In 1bonus marchers at CapitolBonus Marchers gathered at the U.S. Capitol924, Congress began to issue certificates promising $1.25 for each day a veteran spent abroad and $1.00 for each day a veteran spent at home. Promised to be fulfilled by 1945, veterans began to demand earlier compensation when the Great Depression hit. A quarter of the country unemployed, and many of these veterans homeless, they took to the streets. 20,000 occupied the nation’s capital in May 1932. This march sparked a national debate. The country was supposed to return to normalcy after the war yet in these attempts it further alienated the veterans that helped to win the war.

Their encampments on the banks of the Anacostia River were reminiscent of the settlements used by the former soldiers during their days in the American Expeditionary Force. This effort was led by Walter Walters, a former cannery worker from Portland, Oregon, who stressed proper conduct among these protestors, including no begging, “drinking, or radicalism”.

Under Walters, the men dug latrines, cleared roads within the camps, and assumed military formations before their marches In these camps as well as abandoned buildings and lots, they would gather scraps of derelict cars, pieces of wood, and chicken cages to craft makeshift houses.

Aside from homes, their shantytown featured a library, a post office, and a barber shop. They even produced their own newspaper, which they called the BEF News. This settlement was the largest of many across the country called “Hoovertowns” in derision of then-president Herbert Hoover.

Read more: “Treasury Raiders” and empty promises: Bonus Marches erupt across postwar United States in 1930's

New York National Guard reported for World War I duty 100 years ago

By Eric Durr
via the army.mil web site

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.-- On July 15, 1917, 24,000 members of the New York National Guard began reporting for duty in what was then known as the World War.

NYNG 2New York National Guard Soldiers assigned to Company G, 1st New York State Infantry gather outside their armory in Oneonta, N.Y. sometime in July , 1917 following their mobilization for duty in World War I. The men not in uniform were new recruits. On July 15, 1917 more than 24,000 New York National Guard Soldiers reported for duty and began the process of heading to France to fight the Germans. (Photo Credit: courtesy of New York State Military History Museum)On July 12, President Woodrow Wilson had ordered all 112,000 National Guard Soldiers across the country to report for duty as part of the National Army which was being built to fight the Germans in France.

The United States had declared war on Imperial Germany and Austria-Hungary on April 6 and now an Army had to be sent to France to fight.

The first step was to mobilize the Army's main reserve, which was the National Guard. Wilson's order specified that National Guard Soldiers begin reporting to their local armories for during between July 12 and July 25.

New York's troops, along with those in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska were instructed to report on July 15. Those Soldiers reported to their armories and began preparing to ship out. The Soldiers were allowed to go home each night and report back to the armory each day to continue training.

Almost 17, 000 New York National Guard Soldiers had been on duty along the Mexican border to prevent incursions from the troops of Revolutionary General Pancho Villa during 1916. Some of them and only returned to New York in the spring.

Other New York Soldiers had been guarding railroad bridges, aqueducts, and the Erie Canal to prevent German sabotage.

Read more: NY World War I History:New York National Guard reported for World War I duty 100 years ago

For France, Trump at Bastille Day was Deeply Symbolic

via The Voice of America

PARIS — U.S. President Donald Trump was the guest of honor Friday at France’s Bastille Day celebrations, an elaborate display that included military bands, flyovers by American jet fighters, and a parade that lasted more than two hours to mark the centennial of the U.S. entry into the First World War.

ParadeFrench Republican Guards ride their horses past the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, July 14, 2017. The annual Bastille Day parade is being opened by American troops with President Donald Trump as the guest of honor to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.The American flag flew along with the French flag on Paris’ famed Champs Elysees, where U.S. troops marched in a parade with thousands of French soldiers, tanks, missile launchers, and armored personnel carriers.

More than 3,500 police took positions along the parade route to guard against potential terrorist attacks.

"We have also found sure allies, friends, who came to help us," Macron said."The United States of America are among them. This is why nothing will separate us, never.The presence today of the U.S. president, Donald Trump, and his wife is the sign of a friendship that lasts through time."

In saying goodbye Friday, the Trumps, President Macron and his wife, Brigitte, walked together before Macron took Trump's hand and shook it firmly for several seconds -- in what has appeared to become a tradition for the two men. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump then went by motorcade to Orly Airport, where they boarded Air Force One for their flight to their next stop in New Jersey.

Read more: For France, Trump at Bastille Day was Deeply Symbolic

"World War I can be said to have 'finished' the French Revolution–and perhaps the American, too."

By Sean Munger
via seanmunger.com

July 14, 2017 – Two hundred and twenty-eight years ago today, on July 14, 1789, a Parisian mob stormed the infamous Bastille prison in an event that is generally marked as the beginning of the French Revolution. One hundred and twenty-eight years later, on July 14, 1917–a century ago today–U.S. troops, newly arrived in France, paraded in Paris on the anniversary of Bastille Day in a show of solidarity for our French allies in World War I. These events are connected by more than just chronology and the celebration of Bastille Day. Indeed, while it doesn’t get much play in history books, the links connecting the French Revolution and the First World War are very strong and important. France’s revolution changed the world in many profound ways, but I think it can be said that the French Revolution was never truly “finished” until France went through the first of its two ultimate trials during the 20th century. It’s a lesson we Americans might want to think about when we consider our own freedoms and the meaning of our own democracy.

doughboys"The arrival of U.S. troops in large numbers in French ports in the summer of 1917 was something of a divine deliverance for the weary armies of France and the other Allies."The French Revolution was both a wonderful and a terrible event. Ideologically it arose out of the same Enlightenment thought that gave rise to our American Revolution of 1776; politically it also was connected to our Revolution, because the economic crisis of the 1780s that provided the tinder for the flame of France’s revolt was caused by France’s crushing debts in her war against Britain, which was partially about the American colonies. But far from being a simple story where democracy-loving Parisians swept through the streets and overthrew a tyrannical king, the French Revolution was an extraordinarily complicated series of events that devolved into considerable bloody chaos in just a few years. By 1794 the Revolution had spun badly out of control, with tens of thousands of people executed by guillotine for political and pretended crimes. The chaos ultimately led to the rise of a military dictator–Napoleon Bonaparte–and a chain of counter-revolutions and counter-counter revolutions that roiled France through most of the rest of the 19th century.

The storming of the Bastille prison in Paris on July 14, 1789 was not really the “beginning” of the French Revolution, but it has become a ceremonial marker as such in historical memory.

By the 20th century, though, France was a democracy, though the road leading to that condition was pretty rocky. In 1870, after having been through autocratic governments by two members of the same family–Napoleon and Louis-Napoleon (Napoleon III)–the Third Republic was proclaimed, and much of the political infrastructure of modern France was established. But even this, I think, was not really enough to cement the ideals that the French people had risen up in 1789 to establish in their society. The real test came in 1914, when France found itself in the midst of an existential military crisis: the French nation was threatened with literal destruction by the forces of imperial Germany, and the center of gravity of World War I, militarily speaking, was happening on French soil.

Read more: "World War I can be said to have 'finished' the French Revolution–and perhaps the American, too."

US Troops Lead Paris Bastille Day Parade for First Time

By Richard Sisk
via Military.com

President Donald Trump was boarding Air Force One for Paris on Wednesday night to attend Bastille Day ceremonies and a military parade down the Champs-Elysees that will be led for the first time by U.S. troops.

donald and melania trump paris 1800 13 jul 2017 ts600U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania arrive on Air Force One at Orly Airport in Paris, Thursday, July 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster via Military.com)About 200 troops from U.S. European Command will have the honor of leading the parade to mark the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I in 1917. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and an F-22 Raptor will also conduct a flyover of the parade.

"France stood with us during the American Revolution, and that strategic partnership endures today," Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, EuCom commander and NATO supreme commander, said in a statement.

"On behalf of the 60,000 service members standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the French to ensure Europe is whole, free and at peace, we are honored to lead the Bastille Day Parade and help celebrate French independence," he said.

"During the centennial of America's entry into World War I, we commemorate America's sons and daughters who defended peace -- many of them descendants of European immigrants who came to America seeking freedom, opportunity and a better life," Scaparrotti said.

"Amidst the horrors of war, over four million Americans served in World War I and more than 100,000 Americans made the ultimate sacrifice," he said.

The troops participating in the parade will include soldiers from the Army's 1st Infantry Division, which was the first unit to enter France in World War I, a senior White House official said in a background briefing Tuesday.

Other units participating will be the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade; the Army's 10th Mountain Division; U.S. Army Europe's 7th Army Training Command; sailors from U.S. Naval Forces Europe; airmen from U.S. Air Forces Europe; and Marines from U.S. Marine Forces Europe.

Read more: US Troops Lead Paris Bastille Day Parade for First Time

Former Commissioner James Nutter dead at 89

james nutterJames B. Nutter, Sr.James B. Nutter, Sr., one of the original 12 Commissioners upon the establishment of the World War I Centennial Commission in 2013, has died at age 89 in Kansas City, MO.

"It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jim Nutter," said Commission Chair Robert J. Dalessandro. "Jim was an original member of our commission, and our first donor, graciously hosting us in KC after our first meeting, and providing the seed money to hire our first staff members. Jim was always there for the WWICC."

Nutter's initial generous donation enabled the Commission to get its start. His helpful guidance and insight further helped the Commission with the Congress and with other donors. Mr. Nutter resigned from the Commission in May of 2016.

James B. Nutter, Sr. of Kansas City, Missouri was a pioneer in mortgage lending, founding his mortgage lending company in 1951. The Army veteran and Midwest native wanted to help his friends purchase their own homes with the comfort of personal touch customer service. Today, the company is one of the largest privately-owned mortgage banking firms in the nation.

The success of his company enabled Nutter to personally donate millions of dollars to a host of non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity, Mayo Clinic, Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital, the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, Kansas City Central Library, Boy Scouts of America (as a boy he made the rank of Eagle Scout), Saint Luke's Hospital, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Wayside Waifs animal rescue. Named for him are the James B. Nutter Sr. Family Information Commons at Ellis Library on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Missouri, and the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center and Park in the urban core of Kansas City.

He was appointed to the Commission by the then-Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.


U.S. troops prepare for Bastille Day parade in Paris

CaptureA U.S soldier stands during a rehearsal for the French Bastille Day parade on Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, Monday, July 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus via the Bulgarian News Agency)via Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Bulgarian News Agency

Scores of United States troops, some wearing World War One-era helmets, marched in formation on the Champs Elysees in the early hours of Monday, July 10 in a rehearsal for the Bastille Day military parade, which will be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Some 190 troops from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force will march on Friday with thousands of French servicemen and women in the parade and U.S. planes will contribute to the grand flypast.

The troops included members of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, which was founded in 1917, the same year that the United States entered World War One.

Trump will be attending the July 14 festivities at the invitation of newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

President Trump accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to visit France on Bastille Day. According to the White House, "President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America’s strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people, and to commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.

"The two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern."


Read more: U.S. troops prepare for Bastille Day parade in Paris

Veterans History Project launches Part Two of web series on World War I Veterans

The Veterans History Project (VHP) has launched “Over There,” the second in a three-part, online “Experiencing War” website series dedicated to United States veterans of the First World War. “Over There” highlights 10 digitized World War I collections found in the Veterans History Project archive. To access Part II and other veterans’ collections featured in “Over There,” visit www.loc.gov/vets/stories/wwi-part2.html. Part III will be available in fall of 2017.Diary Vets History Project

This series is being presented as a companion site to the Library of Congress exhibit, “Echoes of the Great War.” Each veteran’s first-person narrative is shared through their original photographs, letters, diaries, memoirs, maps and other materials.

Veterans History ProjectEarl Covington Smith kept a diary during the war while serving as a gas officer, responsible for ensuring soldiers were equipped with gas masks and able to recognize an impending gas attack. In one of his diary entries, Smith mentions that the smell of death on the battlefield was so strong that it sometimes led to false alarms.

Lucius Byron Nash was a Lieutenant Junior Grade aboard the Navy’s USS Roanoke—a minelayer. Through photographs and letters home, Nash describes his dirty, grueling job, which demanded 12-hour shifts spent on deck in the pouring rain.

Although he experienced many close calls working on the front lines, Louis W. Rosen was fortunate to survive the war uninjured. He later compiled a written memoir, and included in it two lengthy letters he had written to his parents describing in detail what it was like to live under constant threat of attack.

Read more: Veterans History Project Launches Part Two of Web Series on World War I Veterans

Honoring the Prince of the Escadrille

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Before the millions of Americans of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were arriving in France, a handful were soaring through the skies. This group of volunteers became known as the Lafayette Escadrille, named after the French founding father. Their group was composed of adventurers, stunt pilots, and the heirs of billionaires.

Norman Prince Ceremony at the Grand HotelNorman Prince Ceremony at the Grand Hotelprince01aNorman PrinceInitially, this volunteer corps was composed of 7 Americans of different backgrounds. One such volunteer fighter was Norman Prince, a Harvard-educated lawyer, a founder of the Lafayette Escadrille, and first casualty of the squadron. It is this Norman Prince that was recently honored at a dedication ceremony July 5th in Gerardmer, France.

The ceremony took place at the Hôtel de la Poste, a military hospital during the war. The warm summer breeze proudly waved the French flag, the Stars and Stripes, and the La Fayette Memorial Foundation Flag, a Sioux Indian illustrated on it.

In attendance were Amy Westling, French Consul General, Stessy Speissman, Mayor of Gerardmer, and retired French Lt. General Daniel Bastien, who delivered an address at the event when Brig. General Yvon Goutx was unable to attend. Aside from these notable appearances, the crowd gathered was populated by local historians, specialists in the Great War, military aviation researchers, and members of Legion of Honor associates and Medaille Militaire, both medals Prince had been awarded.

Bastien’s speech made mention of Prince’s foundational role in the Lafayette Escadrille, which he stressed be a separate corps instead of Americans scattered across French ranks. He also made mention of how 10 pilots of the 38 members would sacrifice themselves for their beliefs, before their own country would join the fray. Norman Prince would be one of these casualties.

The speech also addressed Prince’s last mission, 3 days after which he passed from injuries sustained from a crash that threw him from his plane. While unconscious, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor. In that town of Gerardmer he was taken to an emergency surgery room, and there he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. After his passage, a squadron flew overhead showering flowers.

Read more: Honoring the Prince of the Escadrille

Four Questions for Kerri Young

"Our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories."

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Historypin is a digital, user-generated archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. The company is one of the World War I Centennial Commission’s Commemorative Partners, and they are contractor for “Remembering WWI”, a National Archives app that makes available the miles of WWI film footage at NARA which was heretofore mostly unavailable. Kerri Young of Historypin worked on this exciting project, and told us about it.

Very soon, a new version of "Remembering WW1" app will be out for people to access. Could you tell us a little bit about what this app does, and in what way you brought this project to fruition?

Kerri YoungKerri YoungThe US National Archives (NARA) has been working with Historypin to develop an engagement strategy that complements a large-scale digitization project on films and photographs from WWI. The creation of the Remembering WWI app is helping us further our goals of greater access and increased reuse of this content. This includes over 100,000 photographs and several hundred reels of film originally shot by the US Signal Corps on behalf of various armed forces units in the 1914–1920 timeframe. In light of the 100-year anniversary of the US entering World War I this year, we wanted to tie into renewed interest in the conflict from local and national efforts focused on the centenary.

We began to imagine a product that could not only bring NARA’s WWI content to light in a dynamic way, but also to create a tool that could help to enable real exchange. We established a target audience of teachers and local institutions who helped to shape the product we created.

Ultimately, our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories. Teachers and institutions such as museums place significant importance on understanding historical documents, constructing theses, and finding documents to help explain those theses. Understanding this helped us to start identifying goals for an app that would speak to both these target audiences and the ways in which they want to engage with the records.

Read more: Four Questions for Kerri Young

Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air:  The World War I aviation exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

Unknown 11The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum currently has an exhibit on display on World War I-era aviation. The exhibit houses planes from America, France, and Germany, and shows medals and other artifacts from both sides of the war.

The theme of the exhibit is the difference between the myth and the reality of fighting in the air during World War I. Most people at the time believed that this entailed fighting high above the trenches and that the combat was full of glory. People thought that when death came to the pilots, it was quick, but the exhibit shows that that was not the case.

Several planes are displayed hanging from the ceiling, and information about each plane is shown on stands. The French SPAD XIII fighter, the most common plane that was flown during World War One, is a centerpiece of the exhibit. The plane has cloth coverings over the wings, and, further in the exhibit, one can see how coverings like those were made. Other panels also show the differences between planes flown by American troops and their allies and planes flown by German troops. Details about different air battles and offenses can be seen in the first half of the exhibit.

Read more: Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air: The World War I aviation exhibit at the Smithsonian...

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