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

World War I Centennial News


Four Questions for Dr. Peter Jakab, National Air and Space Museum

"Each soldier had an individual story to tell."

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

The people at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC have been very busy telling the story of World War I. They have created no fewer than five new exhibitions that opened this month. One that we are very excited about is "ARTIST SOLDIERS" at the National Air & Space Museum. This exhibition shows artwork from the "Great Eight" combat artists who served with the American Expeditionary Force. It also showcases photos of remarkable underground artwork & carved graffiti that common soldiers from World War I left behind, while waiting out bombardments in caves and mines. The Smithsonian Air & Space curatorial team have just recently finished the new on-line version of the exhibition. We had the great honor to meet and talk to Dr. Peter Jakab, Ph.D. who is the Chief Curator of the National Air and Space Museum. He took particular interest in creating this exhibition, and took some time to tell us about it.

The new online version of your WWI exhibition, Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War, is now up. What will we find there?

Peter JakabDr. Peter Jakab, Chief Curator of the National Air and Space Museum.The exhibition features never-before-seen material. The first part of the exhibition displays 54 works of art from the AEF Art Program. Eight professional illustrators were commissioned as officers in the American Expeditionary Forces and went to France in 1918 with the American troops. Their mission was to capture the experiences of American soldiers in a realistic, in-the-moment way. They were the first true combat artists. They produced approximately 700 paintings, drawings, and sketches. They were on display as part of a Great War exhibition in the 1920s, but other than one or two shown with other material over the years, they have not been exhibited as a collection in living memory.

The second half of the exhibition displays 29 art photographs of stone carvings left by soldiers in underground shelters that were adjacent to the trenches. These shelters were occupied by solders on all sides and are largely unknown even to WWI historians because they remain on private lands in hard to access places. The carvings range from simple inscriptions to elaborate works of art to religious alters carved in the walls. The photographs of the carvings are on display for the first time. In addition to the artwork, the exhibition also displays examples of “trench art” made by soldiers and other artifacts associated with the WWI soldiers’ experience.

Read more: Four Questions for Dr. Peter Jakab

TampaCrewmen webCrewmen from the USCGC Tampa, a Miami-Class cutter that initially served in the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, followed by service in the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy. USCGC Tampa was sunk in combat during World War I, with the highest American combat casualty loss in the war.

U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I

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

The U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I, both here at home, and overseas. To help tell that story, the Coast Guard has created a remarkable new web page, full of stories, photos, and other resources. To tell us about the web page, we caught up with the Coast Guard's Chief Historian, Scott Price.

The USCG just went live with their new web page for World War I. Tell us about it -- what is the link? What will we see there?

We've recently created a new index page that will highlight our service's history during World War I. It will also include downloadable products as they are created, including illustrated fact sheets, articles, and hopefully soon, some infographics. The URL for the page is

The USCG played a very important role in WWI, and was in the thick of the U.S. wartime activity. Tell us what they did, and what they achieved.

scott priceU.S. Coast Guard Chief Historian Scott PriceThe Coast Guard in its modern iteration had only been formed in 1915, so this “new” organization had barely had time to come to grips with itself before being thrust into the chaos of a World War. What had happened was that in 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the Life-Saving Service to form the Coast Guard. The Revenue Cutter Service, formed originally in 1790, was a sea-going service that had seen action in most of the country’s wars but the members of the Life-Saving Service, who manned hundreds of small surfboat stations around the nation’s coasts, had not. Yet they now belonged to this new Coast Guard, and the attempts to merge the two previously separate organizations had to take a back seat to fulfilling the Coast Guard’s new wartime role in supporting the Navy.

The legislation creating the Coast Guard specifically stated that the Coast Guard was one of the armed forces of the United States and in times of war it would fall under the Navy Department, as during peacetime it was actually under the Treasury Department. The Coast Guard had taken its national defense responsibility seriously and had worked closely with the Navy in developing its mobilization plans and it was ready for the move to the Navy on 6 April 1917.

Cutters were assigned to the local naval districts and reported for duty that very day war was declared. A number of cutters would be assigned to duty overseas and they formed one squadron that they Navy sent overseas to serve as convoy escorts between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom. Our port security responsibilities as we know them today come directly from our service in World War I, particularly after the terrible explosion in Halifax. Officers commanded Navy ships and airstations, attacked U-boats and took significant losses. In fact, our memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, is dedicated to the CGC Tampa which was lost with all hands off Wales along with the lost members of a rescue team off the cutter Seneca. Much of our history during the war is located and highlighted on our website and I would encourage anyone interested in our history to check it out.

Read more: U.S. Coast Guard played key roles in World War I

World War I 102nd Field Artillery Lawrence MAThe World War I 102nd Field Artillery from Lawrence, MA. Some 200 service members from Lawrence died in WWI.

Lawrence, MA honors its WWI casualties in Europe

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

At least 200 people from the small city of Lawrence MA died in World War I – the exact number is not known – and 352 died in World War II. As many as 19,000 men and women from the city may have fought in the two wars. Next month, City Councilor Marc Laplante from Lawrence will fly to France for an eight-day trip through five ABMC cemeteries in France and Luxembourg where 45 of the Lawrencians killed in the two wars are buried. At each of the graves and memorials, Laplante will plant the city of Lawrence's blue and white flag. The city's local newspaper helped raised about $1500 to purchase the city flags and the four wreaths to lay at the walls of the missing. He will also bring a resolution from the city of Lawrence, and resolutions from the Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Governor, and the U.S. Congresswoman representing Lawrence, MA. At the request of the ABMC, Laplante said he also will leave copies of newspaper obituaries and other records about the 51 service members. He'll also leave resolutions the Lawrence City Council is expected to pass on Tuesday commemorating the service members and recognizing the work of the agency, the American Battle Monuments Commission. We talked with Council Member LaPlante about this important effort to honor those veterans.

You have a special Europe trip planned. Tell us about it -- how did the trip come about? What do you hope to see & do?

Marc LaplanteThe trip came about after a conversation with a WW1 buff who visited Europe several times and recommended a book to me about a Lawrence, MA company that fought in the Great War. It intrigued me that when these boys returned home from a brutal war they became the city officials and business leaders whose shoulders I stand on today as a city councilor.

That conversation and book sparked my interested in visiting France. Then using my capacity as a elected official, and with the help of Congresswoman Nicki Tsongas' office, I started making plans to visit France and to acknowledge and pay official tribute to the boys from my city who are buried in the ABMC cemeteries.

Also, being from French/Canadian ancestry and learning about my ancestors migration from France to the United States via Canada, I decided to include my wife and school aged children on the trip so that we can all learn more about our origins and the sacrifices made during the world wars that protected our liberties and freedoms.

A big part of the trip will include visiting five ABMC cemeteries and placing a City of Lawrence flag on the grave sites of each of the 46 WW1 and WW2 soldiers/sailors buried in France and Luxembourg, and remembering those 6 Lawrence soldiers whose names are listed on the Walls of the Missing. I will also present a city resolution to the director and the staff at each cemetery thanking them for their service as the caretakers of these graves. For each day prior to the trip, I prepare and post on Facebook a short bio about a Lawrence soldier/sailor that I will recognize during my time in France. During these 52 days, through the research and photos, it's almost as though my trip has already begun.

Read more: Lawrence, MA honors its WWI casualties in Europe

"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

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

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

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