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

World War I Centennial News


Four questions for Commissioner Monique Seefried

"Involve the young generations to perpetuate the French-American legacy"

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Pershing statue 300Doughboy reenactors in front of the General Pershing statue at Versailles during the dedication ceremonies..Earlier this month, the city of Versailles France rededicated a pair of major memorial statues in their city -- one to WWI American General John Pershing, and the other to American Revolutionary War hero, the Marquis de La Fayette. These statues were conceived and started after the close of World War I, as a thank-you and remembrance of the fraternity between the U.S. and France. However, the peace after World War I was imperfect, and the permanent statues were not completed -- until this month. Our Commissioner Monique Seefried attended the re-dedication ceremony at Versailles, and she talked to us from France about the event, the statues, and what they mean.

Thank you for representing us at the ceremony! Tell us about these statues. They have a very interesting history.

In February 1937, a committee is created in France to erect a memorial symbolizing the participation of the Americans in France during the Great War and the participation of the French in the American Revolution.

monique brouillet 200 1Commissioner Monique SeefriedAmong the members of the council of administration of the committee are the president of the Republic Albert Lebrun, Premier (president du conseil des ministres) Leon Blum and Marechal Petain.

The architect Carlu (did the Trocadero) is chosen for the base and the sculptor Joachim Costa for the equestrian statue of Pershing and the one of Lafayette is the work of Paul Wayland Bartlett (did Michel Angelo in the Library of Congress and on façade of NY Public Library). He did the Lafayette now on the Cours la Reine in Paris.

The project has to be realized with great urgency in order to have General Pershing present in France in October attend the inauguration. This takes place on October 6, 1937.

Situated to the Butte de Picardie, at the entrance of the Avenue de Versailles, flanking both sides of the road, the pedestals are 15 m high and list respectively all the major battles fought by the Americans in France in 1918 and those fought by the French during the American Revolution. The pedestals are erected in 36 days and plasters of the two statues are placed atop the columns.

By 1941, the plaster statues are removed, as they are getting damaged, exposed to the elements. The bronze are not made due to the war.

Read more: Four questions for Commissioner Monique Seefried

U.S. Marshals during WWI: Protection of the Home Front

via the web site

CongressOn April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. Congress declared war on April 6, 1917.When President Woodrow Wilson issued the declaration of war against Germany April 6, 1917, he told the American people that "the supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act, and serve together." While American troops fought in the trenches of Europe, United States Marshals protected the home front against enemy aliens, spies, saboteurs, and slackers.

From the declaration of war on April 6, 1917 to the Armistice on November 11, 1918, U.S. Marshals:

  • INVESTIGATED 222,768 violations of the selective service laws;
  • REGISTERED 480,000 German enemy aliens;
  • ISSUED 200,000 permits to enemy aliens;
  • ARRESTED 6,300 enemy aliens under Presidential Arrest Warrants;
  • INTERVIEWED 2,300 enemy aliens in military camps; and
  • GUARDED restricted areas around docks, ammunition factories, military camps, and other sensitive areas.

Read more: The U.S. Marshals during World War I: Protection of the Home Front

Army helps unveil WWI commemorative coin

By Gary Sheftick
Army News Service

WASHINGTON -- Army leaders helped the U.S. Mint unveil a World War I commemorative coin on Oct. 9 that will partially fund a national memorial honoring the 4.7 million U.S. veterans who served in that conflict.

Milley with CoinChief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley stands beside the design for the back of the World War I commemorative coin, dubbed "poppies in the wire," after he unveiled it Oct. 9, 2017 at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition. (Photo Credit: U.S. ARmy photo by Spc. Connor Ryan Kelly)The coin will actually be issued early next year, but its design was revealed at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition by Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.

"No war should be forgotten," McCarthy said, referring to the fact that World War I is the only major American conflict this past century which has no national memorial in the nation's capital. "No military member's service should be forgotten."

Proceeds from the commemorative coin will help fund a WWI national memorial in Pershing Park, in Washington, D.C., along Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, just over a block from the White House. Ground is scheduled to be broken for the memorial Nov. 9.

The design of the coin features a charging WWI "doughboy" on the front with weapon in hand and barbed wire across the bottom. The back of the coin depicts barbed wire behind a field of poppies.

"Poppies in the wire" was designed to remember the sacrifices of WWI veterans, said J.B. Johnson, director of corporate communications for the U.S. Mint. He was at AUSA to help unveil the coin design, along with Terry Hamby, chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.

Sale of the commemorative coin "will be the first step" in memorializing the millions who fought, Hamby said. Proceeds from the coin and accompanying five-piece set of medals will not only fund the memorial, but also outreach and education about WWI conducted by the centennial commission.

The coin will be a commemorative silver dollar, but the metals used to mint it will be worth much more, officials said.

Read more: Army helps unveil WWI commemorative coin

Fake News and Fervent Nationalism Got a Senator Tarred as a Traitor During WWI

By Erick Trickey
via the web site

Robert La FolletteRobert La Follette (Library of Congress)Robert "Fightin' Bob" La Follette was one of the most hated men in America when he took the U.S. Senate floor on October 6, 1917. Vicious caricatures depicted the Wisconsin senator receiving the German Iron Cross medal and holding a German spiked helmet. Theodore Roosevelt, La Follette’s old rival in the Progressive movement, called La Follette “the most sinister foe of democracy in this country” and told an audience that he wished “we could make him a gift to the Kaiser for use in his Reichstag.”

His transgression? Opposing the United States’ entry into World War I.

For years, the stout, stubborn 62-year-old Republican, with a huge shock of brushed-back white hair, had railed against American involvement in the Great War happening overseas. But it was the events of the fall of 1917 that sealed his fate, for better and for worse.

Two weeks earlier, speaking without notes in St. Paul, Minnesota, before 10,000 members of the National Non-Partisan League, a congress of left-of-center farmers and workers, La Follette declared that the nation’s biggest issue had become how to pay for the war he had opposed. Applauded by the crowd, La Follette then ad-libbed a sarcastic attack on the main U.S. justification for war, the German submarine attacks on ships that had killed Americans.

“I don’t mean to say we hadn’t suffered grievances,” La Follette said. “We had, at the hands of Germany. Serious grievances.” He continued, “They had interfered with the right of American citizens to travel on the high seas – on ships loaded with munitions for Great Britain.” This was a partial exaggeration: not all ships the Germans sank had carried military cargoes. But La Follette pointed out – correctly – that the British ocean liner Lusitania had been carrying munitions to England in 1915 when a U-boat sank it, killing 1,193 people, including 123 Americans.

The crowd cheered La Follette, but the next day he found himself facing a nationwide backlash and a classic bit of “fake news.”

Read more: Fake News and Fervent Nationalism Got a Senator Tarred as a Traitor During WWI

5 Key Naval Innovations from WWI for U.S. Navy

By Elizabeth M. Collins
Defense Media Activity

One hundred years ago, convoys of troop ships, protected by U.S. Navy escorts, began to regularly arrive "over there" in France, transporting waves of American ground troops to join the Allies and fight the Kaiser in the churning bloodbath that was trench warfare.

ww1 key naval innovationsAnd while the Great War may not be remembered as a great naval war, it did lead to a number of advancements and innovations that would change warfare and the Navy forever.


The signature naval weapon of World War I was the submarine. Various inventors had experimented with diving boats and underwater boats since at least the 17th century, and they made appearances in both the Revolution and the Civil War. The U.S. Navy then commissioned its first true submarine, USS Holland (SS 1), in 1900. German officials also saw potential in the new technology. They needed a way to counter the naval might of the United Kingdom, said Dennis M. Conrad, a historian with the Navy History and Heritage Command, and seized on the submarine.

In fact, Germany went from one undersea boat in August 1905 to 28 in the first two months of the Great War to 61 by June 1917, according to Fraser M. McKee in "An Explosive Story: The Rise and Fall of the Common Depth Charge." The U-boats proved remarkably successful, sinking nine British warships in only two months early in the war. The Germans also used their submarines to terrorize the Allies and blockade the United Kingdom, attempting to starve the British out of the war. They haunted Allied shipping lanes across the Atlantic, sinking millions of tons of freight and killing thousands. When the U-20 torpedoed the Lusitania in May 1915, for example, some 1,200 people died, including 128 Americans. Germany's avowal of unrestricted submarine warfare, Jan. 31, 1917, finally brought the U.S. into the war.

Read more: 5 Key Naval Innovations from World War I for U.S. Navy

Kiwi sculptor wins US Mint competition to design American World War I centennial coin

By Vaimoana Tapaleao
via the NZ Herald web site

LeRoy Transfield 400LeRoy TransfieldA New Zealand man living in the US has come up with the winning design to appear on a special coin commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

LeRoy Transfield's designs for both the obverse and reverse were picked out of 20 finalists from all over the US.

The profile of a stoic-looking soldier gripping a rifle, with the words "Liberty'', "In God We Trust'' and the dates 1918-2018 can be seen on one side.

On the reverse, several poppies are caught in barbed wire, with the words "United States of America'', "One Dollar'' and "E Pluribus Unum'' (Out of Many, One) complete it.

Transfield, a full-time sculptor and artist based in Utah but born and bred in Lower Hutt, said it was exciting to win the US Mint-run competition and for his designs to be chosen for a WWI centennial silver dollar.

The 52-year-old decided to put an entry in after coming across the competition while surfing the internet one day.

"I wanted to do poppies but it was really hard because it's kind of a boring flower and I didn't know if it'd work in a coin.

"So when I added the barbed wire, it really made it a lot more interesting. But even though the poppies originally are not really recognised in the United States ... but now it's becoming universal as a symbol for remembrance. And a lot of people wear it over here on Memorial Day.

"There's a lot symbolism in it. Having multiple poppies kind of represent that there was a lot of people who died in the war."

Transfield himself has personal links to the Great War also.

Read more: Kiwi sculptor wins US Mint competition to design American World War I centennial coin

"The relief and story that I’ve created are a visual poetry of WW1"

Playing forward the re-humanization of art

By Sabin Howard

(Note: Sabin Howard is the sculptor of the new National world War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.)

When I left my studies in Rome Italy in 1987, I really wasn’t attuned to what was going on in the current state of the post modern movement.

Howard with first bronze 600Sabin Howard with sculpture of Apollo cast in bronze in 2011.I wasn’t aware that a major coup against the rich tradition of the past was in effect, hell bent on the de-humanization of the figure in the art world. And in a move similar to the rebellious tantrum of a pre-pubescent boy, the energy of contemporary “art “ was in a state of complete rebellion. “Art” was proceeding with a grand disillusionment away from what we had held so dear in the past, and proceeding full force towards the leering and sardonic grin of irony.

I came to art late in life at age 19 with the thought that there were three artists to pay attention to and emulate; Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. And in my ignorance, I had no understanding that anything else existed in the art world. So when I answered my call to be an artist on that fall day in October 1982 my sights were on the sacred quality of art that I was all to familiar with from childhood, not on what was going on around me.

From that moment on I worked with life models, drawing and sculpting traditionally 5 to 6 days a week, from 9 to 5 for over 25 years. An obsessive quality drove me forward. I spent years in a boarded up room, blocking out the light of day and regulated my own light and how it fell on those life models. Those life models were my reference for creating a representation of us that spoke of another world. When visitors came into my studio people remarked that you didn't know what time of day it was, nor what the weather was like outside. There were no seasons, nor a sense of time in that room. I wanted to work in an environment where time stood still and there would be no distractions. I just had this driving force to create figures that represented us and spoke of the sacred.

I was after a mythical sublimity with an earth-bound reality. I was after emotional depth, outwardly and inwardly alive. I strove for a psychologically and physically real figure full of weight and bound by gravity. My goal was to create a seamless unity between psyche and soma, mind and body. It is what the art critic and art historian, Donald Kuspit says, "It is what makes Old Master portraiture so convincing--what gives their figures presence, suggesting that we are in their presence.”

I was after the Re-humanization of Art and I was learning.

Read more: Sabin Howard Blog Oct 2017

Four Questions for Rex Passion

"It is human nature to want to forget the horrors of war."

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

MenuJust over one hundred years ago, a young art student in Philadelphia, named Edward Shenton, joined the National Guard. Before he went away to training camp, he stocked up on art supplies, including many canvas-bound sketchbooks. He kept one with him every day for the next two years, and drew in them constantly: portraits of friends, the men building Camp Meade and, his various accommodations, whether a pup tent or a requisitioned chateau. He drew throughout his training and while he was in combat in France, his numerous sketchbooks include pictures of wrecked towns, dead soldiers, cannons, airplanes and warships. After the Armistice, he filled pages with portraits of soldiers and local French citizens. When Shenton returned home, he hoped to share his stories and drawings. But sadly, he found that people only wanted to forget the war, and no one was interested in looking at them. Shelton put his sketchbooks away, and continued his studies. Shenton went on to become one of the premier book and magazine illustrators during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He had a fifty-year-long career, and passed away in 1977. Shelton's son, Ned, inherited many boxes of papers, sketches, journals, and books. As he looked through the pile left him, Ned Shenton discovered the World War I sketchbooks. Ned knew the value of what they were. With the help of editor/historian Rex Passion, they cataloged, researched, digitized, and edited, the sketchbooks, so their stories could be followed and understood. Now -- one hundred years after they were drawn, ninety years after they were stored away, forty years after the artist's passing -- Corporal Edward Shenton’s lost sketchbooks have finally come to light. "The Lost Sketchbooks, A Young Artist in The Great War" is an assemblage book, published by Komatic Press, and a commemorative partner of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The project's new web page on the Commission's website has gone live, and we caught up with Rex Passion to find out more about "The Lost Sketchbooks" in print and online came about. 

Tell us about the Lost Sketchbooks. What are they? Who was the artist?

Rex mugRex PassionNed Shenton is a friend of mine. In 2010 he wanted to put up a website honoring his father, who was a major illustrator of books and magazines in the 1930s and 40s, and I agreed to help him. Ned brought over several boxes of his father's papers: book covers and magazine articles that he had illustrated, stories he had written, poetry and drawings. One box was full of old canvas bound sketchbooks. When I opened the book, I saw an amazing pencil drawing of two soldiers lying sprawled in a ditch with their bayoneted rifles pointing skyward. At the bottom was the caption, "Front line trench, evening. Shell-shocked and exhausted men waiting for darkness to be taken out." I was amazed, as was Ned. Although he had this box of sketchbooks since 1977, he had never looked inside; no one had seen them since his father put them away in 1920.

In the spring of 1917, Edward Shenton was an art student at the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. Days after war was declared, he and fifteen of his high school buddies joined Company B of the 103rd Engineers. They drilled at the armory until the beginning of July, then moved to Camp Meade in Maryland to begin their training. Before they left, Ed stocked up on canvas-bound sketchbooks from Wanamaker’s, along with pencils, graphite sticks and a watercolor set.

He drew the world around him every day in Camp Meade and later in Camp Hancock in Georgia. After they left for France in May of 1918, his schedule was more erratic, and he drew whenever he could, but not as regularly as in camp. He drew the "rest camp" in Calais and their training in Cremarest, and the various billets on their trip to the front. When the engineers were called upon to stop the German advance in mid‐July, he drew the "shell‐shocked and exhausted" men in the shallow trench in front of St. Agnan between artillery barrages. In Fismes, the engineers built bridges over the Vesle River at night, and Ed filled a notebook with sketches of their lives during the day. His drawings became fewer when they were repairing roads in the Meuse Argonne, but once behind the lines at Bettencourt, he drew the men enjoying a feast of eggs and rabbit. After the Armistice, he drew constantly, recording a myriad of portraits of soldiers and civilians and of the engines of war.

Read more: Four Questions for Rex Passion

Orem sculptor designs WWI commemorative coin

By Ashley Stilson
via the Deseret News web site

SALT LAKE CITY — The most common mistake beginners make, contest officials told LeRoy Transfield, is adding too much detail.

LeRoy TransfieldLeRoy TransfieldSo the Orem sculptor meticulously planned every detail of his 8-inch plaster masterpiece: a soldier with a crooked nose clutching a rifle, poppies blooming amid twisted barbed wire, and the words "In God We Trust" square to the soldier's face.

After several weeks of work, Transfield's finishing artwork was chosen as the winning design for the 2018 World War I American Veterans Centennial silver dollar.

Coin only"It was really hard to come up with a design," he said, "but in the end, I came up with something I was really happy with.

"When I sent it off, I didn’t know if it was going to do well or not, but at least it was something I could put my name on."

Although he's never sculpted a coin before, Transfield said U.S. Mint officials unanimously voted for his design among 20 other finalists. The final retail product is only 1 ½ inches wide, featuring Transfield's artwork on both sides of the coin.

The commemorative silver dollar will be released in January, marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The U.S. Mint plans to strike 400,000 silver coins with Transfield's design.

More than 116,500 U.S. soldiers died in combat during WWI. Another 200,000 were wounded, according to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission website.

Transfield had two uncles who served in WWI as members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Native Contingent, he said.

Read more: Orem sculptor designs WWI commemorative coin

WWI’s neglected monuments getting spruced up 

By Jennifer McDermott
via the Associated Press 

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — A World War I monument in Rhode Island no longer bears the names of soldiers who died fighting; the bronze plaques were stolen decades ago. A statue of a WWI soldier in New York City has a dented helmet and missing rifle. The wooden rifle stack on top of a monument in Washington State has rotted away. Trees memorializing soldiers from Worcester, Massachusetts, have died.

AP PhotoIn this Friday, Sept. 29, 2017 photo, Jack Monahan, member of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, left, views a World War I memorial, which was vandalized about 40 years ago, with Bob Cornett, right, and Edith Fletcher, center, at Miantonomi Memorial Park Tower in Newport, R.I. The tower once featured bronze plaques with the names of WWI soldiers from the area who perished. The centennial of America’s involvement in World War I has drawn attention to the state of disrepair of many monuments honoring soldiers, galvanizing efforts to fix them. (AP Photo/Jennifer McDermott) The 100th anniversary this year of America’s involvement in the “Great War” has drawn attention to the state of the monuments to its soldiers and galvanized efforts to fix them.

Many were forgotten about over time, or no one took responsibility for their care. Some were looked after, but they’re in need of repairs, too, after being outside for so long.

“There are some cases of vandalism, but in general it has been time and a lack of maintenance and really nobody paying much attention,” said Theo Mayer, program manager for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials program. “Somehow the war slipped into our historic unconscious, and so did the memorials.”

The Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago are helping communities that are restoring and rescuing their memorials. Fifty matching grants of up to $2,000 each were awarded in late September. They’re accepting applications for another 50 grants, to be awarded in April.

The nation owes it to WWI veterans, “lest we forget,” said Kenneth Clarke, president and CEO of the military museum. “They can’t speak for themselves. There’s none of them left. It’s up to us to carry this legacy forward,” said Clarke. “That’s a responsibility we have as citizens of this great country.”

Read more: World War I’s neglected monuments getting spruced up

Four Questions for Michael Telzrow, Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Wisconsin WWI Symposium features top scholars including Sir Hew Strachan

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is hosting “World War 100: A Centennial Symposium” on October 27-28 in Madison. The event is in partnership with the Wisconsin World War I Centennial Commission, the Wisconsin Historical Society, the War in Society and Culture Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum Foundation. The symposium is open to the public and will honor the centennial observance of World War I, bringing national and international scholars together to examine the Great War and its legacy. To get more information, we connected with one of the hosts for the event, Michael Telzrow, who is Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, which is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.Symposium logo

- This sounds like a remarkable World War I symposium coming up. Tell us about it. Did we see legendary historian Hew Strachan in there? Who else will be talking, what does the full agenda look like? Also -- is it open to the public?

The full agenda is provided below. This symposium is an activity of the Wisconsin WWI Centennial Committee, and three of its member institutions: Wisconsin Veterans Museum, Wisconsin Historical Society and University of Wisconsin, Madison. John Hall, the Ambrose-Hesseltine Professor of Military History at the UW, and his colleagues at the UW, were instrumental in attracting the likes of Sir Hew Strachan, Bruno Cabanes, Holly Case, Jennifer Keene, Michael Neiberg John Cooper and David McDonald.

The Symposium starts on Friday with gallery tours of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum; followed by a reception and roundtable discussion featuring Hew Strachan, John Cooper, David McDonald and Bruno Cabanes at the Overture Center for the Performing Arts. The evening closes out an abbreviated showing of Dawn of the Red Arrow, a video history of the inception of the 32nd Division.

Saturday includes ten (10) panel discussions and three (3) keynote addresses from Cabanes, Neiberg and Keene. The symposium closes with a reception at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Read more: WWI Symposium in Madison, WI features top scholars including Sir Hew Strachan

New state-level WWI Centennial Commission signed into law in Michigan

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

signedMichigan Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan state Senator Rebekah Warren hold the signed Senate Public Act 97 of 2017, creating a new commission within the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs charged with planning, developing and executing programs and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I.  Monday, October 9, 2017 was a great day for the veterans of Michigan, as Governor Rick Snyder signed SB 248 into law, officially forming Michigan's World War I Centennial Commission.

Senate Bill 248, sponsored by state Sen. Rebekah Warren, creates a new commission within the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs charged with planning, developing and executing programs and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War I. It is now Public Act 97 of 2017.

Michigan played a huge role in America's efforts during World War I. Many training camps were created across the state, including the famous Camp Custer, and the manufacturing centers of Detroit, Flint, and Lansing provided mass quantities of everything from tanks, to trucks, to artillery shells.

Some 135,000 men and women from Michigan served in uniform during the war, and some 5,000 lost their lives in the war.

The signing was done by a formal ceremony at the state capital that was attended by representatives from the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.

Read more: New state-level World War I Centennial Commission signed into law in Michigan

Texas "100 Years/100 Schools" Veterans Day Initiative

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

logoTexas has a great new Veterans Day 2017 initiative, "100 Years/100 Schools", that is being co-sponsored by the Texas World War I Centennial Commission (TXWWICC), the Texas Historical Commission (THC), and Texas State Historical Association (TSHA).

"100 Years/100 Schools" aims to connect Texas schools who typically have some kind of annual Veterans Day ceremony. By linking these events together, the sponsors will help them to tell the veterans story, and to be a part of the Centennial of World War I.

Telling the story of Texas and Texans in the Great War to school students is a top priority for the World War I Centennial. Over 190,000 Texans served, and 5,171 of them gave their lives during the war.

Texas schools can be part of "100 Years / 100 Schools" by using these steps and suggestions:

Read more: Texas "100 Years/100 Schools" Veterans Day Initiative

Founding Sponsor

PritzkerMML Logo