Why World War One matters for your Federal agency
By Sarah Herman
I recently asked some friends—a group of intelligent, successful individuals—what they knew about World War One. The responses I received included, “Ummm.....it was in the 1910s?” or “Started in Europe when the archduke was killed?” Beyond this, it’s mostly blank stares and shoulder shrugs. Mobilization parade in 1917People who consider themselves history geeks might mention President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points, or the creation of the League of Nations, but for many Americans, World War One is a forgotten war. It happened thousands of miles away, unlike the battles of the Civil War, and It was too long ago for most Americans to have known a person that served, unlike veterans of World War Two.
Despite these inherent challenges, the role of World War One as part of our nation’s history needs to be communicated to the public. The decisions and actions carried out nearly a century ago still reverberate today in our country. And April 2017 will mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in this global conflict.
At the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), where we manage eight overseas American military cemeteries from World War One, we’re preparing our stories now so we’re ready when the centennial begins. And now is the time for you to start thinking about how you can share your agency’s mission through the lens of this war.
Read more: Why World War One matters for your Federal agency
In the trenches: Research explores WNC’s role in World War One
By Max Hunt
via the Mountain Xpress
Kiffin Rockwell, who lived in Asheville, NC off and on prior to joining the war effort on behalf of France in 1914, is credited with being the first American fighter pilot to shoot down an enemy aircraft.While Americans anxiously followed reports of World War One raging across Europe, Asheville’s first Great War casualty was already receiving a hero’s funeral in France.
Kiffin Rockwell, widely acknowledged as the first American to shoot down a German plane while serving in the Escadrille Lafayette fighter pilot squad, was himself shot down in September 1916, more than six months before the U.S. formally entered the conflict.
To this day, “He’s a well-known, very respected American hero over in France,” says Jeff Futch, curator of North Carolina in the Great War, now on display in East Asheville. The exhibit is a project of the Western Office of the state Department of Natural and Cultural Resources on Riceville Road. “They have a huge monument to the Lafayette Escadrille over there and still lay flowers at his grave.”
And though those battles were fought half a world away, WW1 had a profound and lasting impact on Western North Carolina, both among those who fought in the European theater and on the home front.
As the state gears up for a big centennial retrospective on North Carolina’s involvement in the Great War, local researchers have worked to bring WNC residents’ stories and experiences to contemporary audiences.
Remembering the Great War
Next April, says Futch, the state agency will open an expansive exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, to mark the centennial of America’s entrance into the war.
As a kind of preview, Futch decided to showcase WNC’s involvement in the conflict with a smaller exhibit in the Western Office’s Heritage Room Gallery. Drawing on museums and repositories from around the region, Futch has assembled a small but eclectic collection of artifacts, memorabilia and stories.
Read more: In the trenches: Research explores WNC’s role in World War One