Introducing the new 2016 Summer Interns at the Commission office
By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
The World War I Centennial Commission is pleased to present its first group of interns for the summer! Coming from different corners of the country, and the world, this group of students has been working with the Commission for the past few weeks. They each bring a wide variety of experience and creativity to our team, and we are excited to introduce them.
2016 Summer Interns class at the U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission. (Back row, left to right) Kyle Parks, Adam Bieniek, James Alsberg, Jack Wood, Kate Lyons, Alessandro Burlew, Michael Parks (Front row, left to right) Sarah Pfeiff, Kara Mullin, Mackensie Henn, Sarah Biegelsen, and Elizabeth Rupert.Michael Parks is from Oradell, New Jersey and is a student at the George Washington University. He came in because he never really learned about World War I in all his years of schooling. “It seemed kind of ridiculous that 100 years after WWI, we don’t have a national memorial [in DC].”
Michael is part of the Commission’s Development division, and openly admits that while he is new to the field, he has enjoyed the experience greatly. When asked if he was surprised with the assignment, he responded, “If you told me a month ago, I’d say, ‘no way.’” However, this experience has really opened his eyes to the array of possibilities open to him after college. You can still find things you enjoy doing in an office, even at our age.”
One of our Management & Education interns, Elizabeth Rupert, wants to be a teacher after she graduates. She says, “I want my students to understand that history affects us today.” For her, it is also important to honor those who protected our freedoms, and laid down their lives for the greater good, even though the U.S. was divided on entering the war initially. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, she admits that she came to Washington, D.C. for the summer so that she could be surrounded by history. “I want to educate people on the importance of not forgetting our history, and making sure that it’s not mere words on a page.”
Read more: New Summer Interns at the Commission
WSU professor helps Dayton, WWI exhibit
DAYTON, OH — A 27-foot long, nine-foot high replica war trench complete with sandbags and wood framing greets visitors when they tour a new exhibition on Dayton’s role in World War I.
Paul Lockhart, left, professor of history at Wright State University, and Brady Kress, Carillon Historical Park president and CEO, helped organize “Over There: Dayton and the Great War,” now on display at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton. The idea is to put people in the trenches, said Brady Kress, Carillon Historical Park president and CEO.
“With everything that we do, I always want to create some kind of experiential piece,” said Kress, who graduated from Wright State in 1996.
The trench is one of the unique features in “Over There: Dayton and the Great War,” a new exhibit organized by Carillon Historical Park with assistance by a Wright State history professor. The exhibit is open through November 2018.
Using diaries, letters, documents, photographs and artifacts, “Over There” showcases the essential involvement of Daytonians and local businesses in the war. Thousands enlisted and fought in Europe, businesses made unique and important contributions to the war effort, and the community emerged wealthier and larger.
“This is one of those exhibits that is the story of a city at war. We learned a lot about Dayton,” Kress said.
Dayton’s involvement in the war is greatly representative of middle America during this period, said Paul Lockhart, professor of history and the Brage Golding Distinguished Professor of Research at Wright State.
“All those things that tell the story of the United States in World War I are to be found in Dayton, and in particular Dayton contributed some genuinely unique things” to the war effort, he said. “The war made Dayton.”
Read more: WSU professor helps Dayton, WWI exhibit
Detroit Bomb Squad finds German World War I missiles at construction site
By Sierra Pedraja and Dave Bartkowiak, Jr.
WDIV ClickOnDetroit, June 16, 2016
WW1 German shells found in Detroit building.DETROIT, MI —The Detroit Police Department Bomb Squad responded to a site in Southwest Detroit after a report of possible projectiles found at a construction site.
Police said workers tearing down a building Thursday at 2633 Michigan Avenue found what are described to be military World War I German 17-cm missiles.
"They were prepping a building for demolition," said Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody. "During that time they discovered four of what appear to be World War I 17-cm cannon missiles."
Woody said the missiles are about 2 feet tall and weigh about 150 pounds each.
"The crew was smart enough to pull away and call police," he said.
Woody said one building nearby was evacuated as a precaution.
"We were able to determine that there were no wicks and there was not live ammunition. It's unknown at this time how long (the missiles) have been there," said Woody.
Officers searched the rest of the building to see if anymore missiles are there. Woody said these kind of findings are not uncommon in the city.
"Sometimes it's not uncommon for us to receive phone calls from family members after a loved one or grandfather had passed away saying we've cleared out some items and we've found a hand grenade, an old firearm or some ammunition," he said.
Read more: Detroit Bomb Squad finds German World War I missiles at construction site
Women of World War One honored by U.S. Navy
By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
On June 14th, in Arlington, VA, The U.S. Navy hosted a ceremony to honor women who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. At that ceremony, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the service will honor a World War I hero, Chief Nurse Lenah Higbee, by naming a new Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, DDG 123, after her.
Chief Nurse Lenah Higbee in a portrait taken in uniform during the World War I era. She was the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, from 20 January 1911 to 30 November 1922. “It is a great honor to name this ship in recognition of Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee,” said Mabus. “I have no doubt that all who serve aboard her will carry on the legacy of service and commitment exemplified by this pioneer of U.S. Navy Nurse Corps.” Mabus honored the service and sacrifice of women who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps during a sunset parade on United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial grounds.
Chief Nurse Higbee was a member of “The Sacred Twenty,” the group of the first twenty women to join the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. She became second superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in 1911, went on to manage care for the thousands of casualties from both the First World War and the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Beatrice Bowman, a superintendent of the Nurse Corps, said that those nurses “were assigned to duty at the Naval Hospital, Washington, D.C. There were no quarters for them... [but] they rented a house and ran their own mess. These pioneers were no more welcome to most of the personnel of the Navy than women are when invading what a man calls his domain.”
Chief Nurse Higbee showed her strong sense of duty through her incredible work as a pioneer in the Navy Nurse Corps. It was this sense of duty that earned her the Navy Cross on November 11, 1920, for “distinguished service in the line of her profession and unusual and conspicuous devotion to duty as superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps.” She was the first living woman to be so honored for such an achievement. Two years later, she retired from the Navy after completing a total of 14 years of service. She would later be honored, after her death, with a World War II warship named after her. USS Higbee was the first U.S. Navy warship named after a woman.
Read more: Women of World War One honored by U.S. Navy
Commission builds broad partnership to achieve WWI education objectives
By Elizabeth Rupert, Kate Lyons, Mackensie Henn, and Adam Bieniek
The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, in partnership with the National World War I Museum and Memorial, is working with a broad range of organizations in order to launch an education program. Our partners include the Department of Education, History Channel, Library of Congress, National Archives, College Board, and International Baccalaureate. A pillar of our initiative is to create a country-wide education program for the public on an often overlooked time period in American history. The projected program will cover the entire war, with a particular emphasis on American involvement, and its lasting effect on world affairs.
Commissioner Libby O'ConnellDr. Libby O’Connell, presidentially-appointed Commissioner and Chair of the Education Committee, asserts, “Education is one of the three themes of our mission: to honor, to educate, and to commemorate. It is through education that the Commission creates its legacy, so that Americans of all ages will remember World War I once the centennial is over.”
The first step in our partnership with the National World War I Museum and Memorial is the creation of an educator-targeted newsletter that will be curated by historians, in order to disseminate useful information to teachers nationwide. Dr. O’Connell explains that this newsletter will reach almost 500,000 teachers starting this summer, though anyone interested can sign up for free on the World War One Centennial Commission’s website.
The Commission hopes to ignite interest in the war among younger students.While we hope to reach students and adults, our program will mainly focus on “Generation Z,” children born beginning in the late 1990’s. To provide such a resource, we have partnered with the Great War Channel on YouTube, which uploads videos each week to describe what was happening in the War exactly 100 years ago. By providing access to online visual materials, the Commission is igniting an interest in the War to younger generations. It has also proposed ways of engaging students inside the classroom, such as a lesson plan contest for teachers and an essay contest for students. By the conclusion of the Centennial period, the Commission hopes to have reached over 10 million students across the country.
The Commission’s partnership with the History Channel continues to increase its diverse collection of material on the war. Original educational programing has already started being produced for classrooms that incorporates curriculum resources and teachers guides, in addition to classroom broadcasts, which began in 2014. The Commission’s website currently includes links to a wide variety of educational websites that can be used by anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge or understanding of the War. One of these resources is to the Library of Congress, which houses numerous digital collections from the War and exposes fascinating aspects of its history. One such collection, “World War I Sheet Music,” contains a variety of popular American music that existed during that period. There are also copies of every issue of “The Stars and Stripes,” a newspaper that was distributed to American soldiers overseas to foster a sense of unity and morale.
Read more: Commission builds broad partnership to achieve WWI education objectives
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center wins national award for World War 1 "Remembrance"
By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
On June 1st, the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Mississippi became one of 10 institutions honored with the National Medal for Museum and Library Services. The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center is known for its WINGS Performing Arts Program, which recently went on tour to perform "Remembrance," an original play about the horrors of the First World War. First Lady Michelle Obama presents the National Medal for Museums and Library Services to the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.
The Medal is one of the highest awards in the nation for museums, and was presented by First Lady Michelle Obama, and director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, at the White House. The WINGS program is based at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Mississippi, and focuses on developing leadership skills and community service.
The First Lady recognized its efforts and stated, “In so many communities our libraries and museums don’t just preserve and promote our cultural treasures, they also enrich and enlarge our lives.” WINGS accomplished this through its performances of "Remembrance," which were attended by students and veterans.
Based on real-life accounts and told through the eyes of men and women who witnessed the horrors of World War One, "Remembrance" is a powerful play dedicated to the memory of those who served and gave everything for their nations.
Using an array of media from the era such as poetry and written works, "Remembrance" gives the audience an intimate look at the terrible realities of a world torn apart by conflict.
Read more: Lynn Meadows Discovery Center wins National Medal for World War 1 "Remembrance"
Sargent’s monumental World War I painting “Gassed” begins U.S. tour November 4
By Marissa A. Cruz
John Singer Sargent’s World War I painting “Gassed” will begin a U.S. tour November 4, 2016, coinciding with the centennial of America’s involvement in the war. The work will be on loan from the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London.
John Singer Sargent’s World War I painting “Gassed” being readied for shipment to America. (Photo by Rob Stothard via Getty Images.)“The artwork is one of the most famous in IWM’s collection, and we are delighted to be able to share it during the First World War Centenary,” said Harriet Thompson, Assistant Press Officer at the IWM.
Sargent was commissioned to contribute the central painting for the Hall of Remembrance at the IWM. He was provided the theme of British-American cooperation during the war. Sargent, an American expatriate who had relocated to London, was ideally suited to capture this theme.
When Sargent found himself unable to find suitable subject matter, he chose instead to depict the aftermath of a mustard gas attack he witnessed during a short trip to the Western Front in August 1918.
“Gassed” brings this scene to life. In the painting rows of British soldiers are led by orderlies to a dressing station, their heads wrapped in gauze to protect them from being temporarily blinded by mustard gas. Mustard gas was used as a weapon causing widespread injury and burns during WWI.
The work will begin its tour at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) where it will be on display as part of the upcoming exhibition World War I and American Art. This exhibit will be the first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists, like Sargent, reacted to the First World War.
Read more: Sargent’s monumental World War I painting “Gassed” begins U.S. tour November 4
“Black Death” – Henry Johnson was America’s first World War One hero
By Colin Fraser
WarHistoryOnline.com, June 10, 2016
Henry Johnson was a World War I soldier who singlehandedly beat back a German assault while critically wounded. He was a great American hero and received the highest military honor of two different countries. One of those countries, however, his very own, didn’t bestow that medal until nearly 100 years after his service in WWI.
The honor this man deserved was not awarded by the U.S. government upon his return home, because he was black. But that racism was eventually overcome, if only by the undeniable memory of his heroism.
Henry Johnson wearing his Croix de Guerre in 1918.In 1917, a young man working as a Red Cap porter at an Albany, New York train station joined the 15th New York National Guard Regiment. Due to U.S. segregation policies, it was an all-black regiment. Due to be shipped out to France as the U.S. declared war on Germany and its allies, the 15th New York was renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment and placed within the American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing.
Johnson arrived in France on New Years Day, 1918. The African-American troops of the U.S. Army were harassed, sometimes even killed, by their Caucasian counterparts who would sometimes refuse to fight alongside them. The officers also distrusted them, harassed them, and issued disparaging remarks and pamphlets to French military and civilians about their black soldiers.
Thus, black regiments were very poorly trained and most often assigned to menial labor like carrying supplies and digging ditches and latrines.
The French, however, didn’t nearly conform to the U.S. military’s blind racial prejudice. When their Fourth Army, short on troops, was offered the 369th Infantry Regiment to reinforce their line, they gladly took on the soldiers and put them to use as just that. They were given French rifles and helmets and stationed at Outpost 20 in the Argonne Forest, in France’s Champagne region, just West of the infamous battlefields of Verdun.
Read more: “Black Death” – Henry Johnson was America’s first World War One hero
Native Americans' service in World War 1 honored by United States Mint
WASHINGTON - The United States Mint will begin accepting orders for 2016 American $1 Coin and Currency Set on June 16, 2016 at noon Eastern Time (ET).
Priced at $14.95, the set consists of a tri-fold presentation folder that holds one enhanced uncirculated finish 2016 Native American $1 Coin from the United States Mint at San Francisco and one $1 Series 2013 Note from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. A Certificate of Authenticity is printed on the package.
The reverse (tails) design of the 2016 Native American $1 Coin features two helmets and two feathers that form a "V," symbolizing victory, unity, and the important role that code takers played in World War I and World War II. It includes the inscriptions "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "$1," "WWI," "WWII," and "CODE TALKERS."
The coin's obverse (heads) retains the central figure of the "Sacagawea" design first produced in 2000, with the inscriptions "LIBERTY" and "IN GOD WE TRUST."
Read more: Native Americans' service in World War 1 honored by United States Mint
Air Force Vice Chief pays tribute to the centennial of the Lafayette Escadrille’s Aces
By Nathalie Guibert
Le monde, 04/21/2016
General David Goldfein, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force“For both our countries, everything started here,” said Gen David Goldfein, Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. “We, aviators, come back to our common roots.” While other USAF pilots are bombing the jihadist enemy from Libya as far as Iraq, Gen Goldfein came to pay respect on Wednesday, April 20, at the Memorial of Marnes-la-Coquette (Hauts-de-Seine), where 66 American Airmen rest in peace, during the one-hundredth anniversary celebration of the mighty Lafayette Escadrille.
In the spring of 1916, although the United States had not yet entered the war, 38 volunteers crossed the Atlantic to Paris, promptly enlisted in the Foreign Legion, and joined Luxeuil-les-Bains airbase (Haute-Saone) where they met two French officers, Georges Thenault and Alfred de Laage de Meux, who were ready for battle. Raoul Lufbery, the Lafayette Escadrille’s Ace of Aces, shot down his first German aircraft on July 31st, 1916, in the skies above Etain, on his way to a total of 17 victories. His fellow airman Eugene Bullard was the first African American fighter pilot. He returned to the French military in 1940, after being denied admission to his national military, due to racial discrimination.
Read more: Air Force Vice Chief pays tribute to the centennial of the Lafayette Escadrille’s Aces
President to appoint Tod Sedgwick to World War I Centennial Commission
Washington, DC (June 3, 2016) — President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint several individuals to Administration posts, including Ambassador Tod Sedgwick as a Commissioner on the United States World War One Centennial Commission.Tod Sedgwick
Sedgwick is a Fellow at the Transatlantic Center at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Study and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, positions he has held since 2015. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Slovak Republic from 2010 to 2015.
From 1987 to 2010, Sedgwick was President and CEO of Sedgwick Publishing Co. During that period, he was also President and CEO of Red Hills Lumber Co. from 2000 to 2008 and Director of Sedgwick Land Company from 1992 to 1998. In 2001, he founded IO Energy, an online energy information company covering the natural gas, coal, and electricity industries, and served as its Chairman from 2001 to 2004.
He also founded Pasha Publications, a specialty publisher focused on energy, defense and environment markets, and served as the chief executive from 1978 to 1998.
Since 2015, Sedgwick has served on the Board of Directors for the Slovak American Foundation. He is also a Trustee for the Institute of Current World Affairs. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Folger Shakespeare Library, Shakespeare Theater Co., the Civil War Preservation Trust, and the Wetlands America Trust. Mr. Sedgwick received an A.B. from Harvard College.
Read more: President to appoint Tod Sedgwick to World War I Centennial Commission
World War One to be prominent at World’s Greatest Airshow
By Michael Parks, Adam Bieniek, Jack Wood
The United States World War One Centennial Commission is excited to announce its participation in this year’s Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure air show, which this year will be exhibiting a World War One aviation celebration.
With 700,000 people attending and close to 10,000 planes, this year’s EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin is set to be the largest air show in the world, earning its title as the world’s greatest aviation celebration.
Throughout the duration of the event, the Commission will be holding media events at the main tent with historians to talk about World War One and the role and development of aviation during the war.
As 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War One, the Commission has made education a central part of its mission. This event will be a tremendous opportunity for the Commission to spread information and lessons from this war to the public. Instead of learning about history in a classroom, the EAA airshow allows people of all ages to learn about World War One while standing next to a Sopwith Camel or a Fokker biplane. EAA 2016 will even be presenting a rare, fully restored 1909 Curtiss Pusher.
Read more: World War One to be prominent at World’s Greatest Airshow
Descendants of PA WWI vets remember their sacrifice
By Dan Geringer
Staff Writer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 30, 2016
Some died in 1918 on a French battlefield. Some returned home to eastern Pennsylvania. But all the men of the American Expeditionary Forces' 314th Infantry, 79th Division, who fought in World War I's bloody Meuse-Argonne Offensive, are gone now.
Veterans from American Legion Post No. 901 (from left) David Tomlinson, Joe Patti, Paul Candelori, and J. Robert Wagner salute during the national anthem.The memory of their courage and their sacrifice, kept alive since the Great War's end - first by the veterans themselves, then by the Descendants and Friends of the 314th - was honored Sunday at the Washington Memorial Chapel in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
"Immediately after the war, our ancestors decided on the ship home from France to start an organization to honor the 362 men from the 314th who died on the battlefield," said Nancy Schaff, the group's president. "This will be our 98th year of holding this annual service."
All of the chapel's pews were filled for the memorial program, which included a Color Guard presented by the veterans of American Legion Post No. 901 in Jeffersonville. The day included a display of 79th Division artifacts from World War I, and a talk by historian William T. Walker, whose new book, Betrayal at Little Gibraltar, focuses on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
The Color Guard included Joe Patti, 78, whose father, Antonio Patti, a 314th infantryman, lost his left arm in combat.
Joe Patti was momentarily overcome with emotion as he remembered the many childhood years his father took him to 314th memorial services at Valley Forge. He said he marches in the Color Guard to honor his father and all the men who fought with him.
Read more: Descendants of PA WWI vets remember their sacrifice