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World War I Centennial News


Centennial Commission salutes indispensable role of women in WWI

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

NurseWashington, D.C. –- As the nation celebrates Women’s History Month in March, The United States World War I Centennial Commission remembers the indispensable role women played during World War I. The entry of the United States into the Great War had a significant impact on women, their standing in society, and their civil rights.

libby oconnell"We have forgotten the active role American women played in World War I , but we all remember Rosie the Riveter in World War II. Well, Rosie the Riveter had a mother, and she worked in a munitions factory too,” said United States World War I Centennial Commissioner and Chief Historian Emeritus at the History Channel, Dr. Libby O’Connell. “The Great War was transformative for women, it served as a catalyst for women’s suffrage, professionalized women in the military and helped women prove they were capable of doing work typically done by men.”

During World War I, the role of women evolved from a supporting role to taking on assignments and responsibilities that helped expand the war effort. For the first time in American history, women of all economic backgrounds were serving in some capacity.

During the Great War, American civilian women donned uniforms and were officially attached to arms of the military and government agencies for the first time. The government established an advisory committee, the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defense, headed by suffragist Dr. Anna Shaw, to coordinate women’s war efforts. At home, to support the nation and the war efforts, women entered the workforce, performing tasks traditionally done by men who had gone to war.

From the expanded role of women in the workforce to the establishment of the Department of Labor’s Women in Industry Service, women of all economic backgrounds played an important role in World War I making significant contributions to the war effort itself, and creating lasting political and cultural impact as well.

Read more: Centennial Commission Salutes Indispensable Role of Women in WWI

Patrouille de France soars over the Statue of Liberty

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

Patrouille de France over the Statue of LibertyPatrouille de France over the Statue of Liberty. (Photo taken from the One World Observatory.)

On Saturday, 25 March, France’s Patrouille de France aerial demonstration team flew over the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

The eight Alpha Jets flew in tight military formation across New York Harbor, and over New York City, with a trail of red, white and blue display smoke. The jets were accompanied by an A400 airbus and two additional Alpha jets which are supporting their 2017 North American tour.

The Patrouille de France (PAF) jets will be seen in Kansas City on April 6th, flying over the national commemoration of the U.S. entry into World War I, presented by the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission at the National World War I Museum and Memorial..

Saturday’s flyover - and the Patrouille de France’s North American tour - serve as a specific thank-you from France for America’s early aviators, who came to France’s help during the World War I.

The Patrouille de France represents all French Air Force air crew, whether engaged in France on missions to protect and deter or taking part in overseas operations to combat terrorism, to keep and maintain peace or on relief operations to aid people in emergency situations.

All the PAF’s nine pilots and thirty-seven mechanics have been members of French Air Force fighter squadrons, and will return to service after their time with the Patrouille de France.

The Patrouille de France tour of North America includes over twenty stops. This is the first appearance by the Patrouille de France in the United States in 30 years.










America on the Brink of the First World War

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2017 — By April 1917, people were already calling the war between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers the Great War, and they were right to do so.

British GunsBritish soldiers prepare artillery shells and man a gun during World War I. Library of Congress photoMillions of soldiers confronted each other on the battlefields of France and Russia with thousands dying each day, even when there were no big offensives.

And on April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on the German Empire, joining France, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Italy. They were arrayed against Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.

Both sides expected a quick and relatively bloodless victory when the war started in 1914. By the time the U.S. joined the fight, the population of whole nations had dedicated themselves to winning the war. Millions of men were growing ever more proficient at using new technologies to kill each other.

The names of the bloody battles in Europe were already well known to Americans, as a corps of outstanding war reporters from the major newspapers covered combat and sent back daily reports. The Somme, Verdun and Tannenberg resonated in the United States, just as they did in Europe.

France had a long scar running across it where millions of German, Austrian, French and British soldiers lost hundreds of thousands of soldiers for gains measured in yards. Russian soldiers, tired of the war, were joining revolutionaries calling for the end of the war. Russia’s Czar Nicholas II had abdicated in March, and while Russia continued to fight, it was half-hearted. Fighting was ongoing in Italy, the Balkans, Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Palestine and Africa.

Read more: America on the Brink of the First World War

The Centennial is here! Help get out the word about the new National WWI Memorial in DC

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

Video 60 secondThe United States World I Centennial Commission partnered with Loma Media in San Diego to create videos to educate and motivate the American public to support the creation of a Memorial to our World War I veterans.

On this page, you can see & download the videos in formats of 7 minute, 3-minute, 60-second, 30-second.

These videos tell the World War I story in formats of 7 minute, 3-minute, 60-second, 30-second, and they can be applied to a variety of communication uses, to include classroom settings, fundraiser events, TV public service announcements, etc.

Narrated by Oscar nominee Gary Sinise, an unabashed military supporter, whose own grandfather served as an ambulance driver during World War I, the videos were written & directed by award-winning filmmaker John DeBello, who has worked on military film projects for over twenty years.

We invite you to share these videos with your audiences, and to post them to your own website & social media. To do so is to honor those 4.7 million Americans who stepped forward to serve our country 100 years ago.

Please connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.


Norwich University symposium considers centennial legacy of World War I

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

World War I will be commemorated this year at Norwich University’s 1NorwichLogo8th Annual William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium. Titled “Won the War, Lost the Peace: The Centennial Legacy of World War One”, the symposium will discuss World War I and the effects it had on America and the world.

The Symposium will be held on April 12th and April 13th at Norwich University in Vermont. A World War One Centennial Commission member and advisor are part of the symposium.

The Colby Symposium is the only program of its kind to exist at an American university. It has given Norwich University students the opportunity to meet some of the most prominent military, intelligence and international affairs writers and historians of our time. Norwich itself is the oldest private military college in the country, founded in 1819.

The award has been given to books discussing various wars throughout American History, including “Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne”, by Colonel Douglas Mastriano, discussing one of the 92 Medal of Honor recipients of World War I. Colonel Mastriano won the Colby in 2015.

Read more: Norwich University 2017 Military Writers’ Symposium looks at WWI

Four new WW1 exhibits open April 6th at Smithsonian museums

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

Four new exhibits on World War I open April 6th at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, on the day of the centennial of the United States entry into the Great War.

artists headerArtist Soldiers -- Artistic Expression in the First World War

Note: -- Located at the National Air and Space Museum. A collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History.

The First World War remade the world geopolitically and transformed how societies engage and relate to military conflict.

Artistic expression during the war contributed to this transformation. Before World War I, war art largely depicted heroic military leaders and romanticized battles, done long after the fact, far from the battlefield. The First World War marked a turning point with the appearance of artwork intended to capture the moment in a realistic way, by first-hand participants.

portrait 1200This exhibition examines this form of artistic expression from two complementary perspectives: one, professional artists who were recruited by the U.S. Army; the other, soldiers who created artwork. Together they shed light on World War I in a compelling and very human way.

Gen. John J. Pershing and World War I, 1917-1918

Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC

General John J. Pershing insisted the United States military have an independent American army on the ground when the U.S. entered the Great War. By recreating Pershing’s war office, this display will give the visitor a sense of America’s global reach and influence in World War I and reveal how the U.S. fit into a reshaped global community.

Read more: Four new exhibits on World War I open on April 6th at Smithsonian museums

Remembering WWI from the US National Archives

The US National Archives recently launched Remembering WWI, an application that invites audiences to explore, collaborate, and engage with the Archives’ extensive collection of World War I moving and still images.

By Marcus Most
National Archives

Women’s Machine Gun Squad Police Reserves, New York City (165-WW-143B-23)Women’s Machine Gun Squad Police Reserves, New York City (165-WW-143B-23)In preparation for the 100-year anniversary of the United States entering WWI in April, 2017, the US National Archives recently launched Remembering WWI, an iPad and Android application that invites audiences to explore, collaborate, and engage with the Archives’ extensive collection of World War I moving and still images. The app is now available for free in the iTunes and Google Play stores.

The app provides an unprecedented collection of WWI content digitized and preserved as part of the larger Wartime Films Project, much of it never-before-seen by the public. This includes photographs and films originally shot by the US Signal Corps on behalf of various armed forces units during the 1914–1920 timeframe. Using the archival content within the app, you can create your own collections and build and share new narratives around the people, events, and themes you’re exploring. 

Read more: Remembering WWI from the US National Archives

Four Questions for Lou Leto

"The best at secure communications gains a great advantage"

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

Cryptology was a huge part of the World War I effort, yet the story is one that is not widely known. Lou Leto, of DC's National Cryptologic Museum, reached out to us the other day to tell us about the activities that they are planning for the World War I Centennial. These activities include some interesting new exhibits, and fascinating public programs.

The National Cryptologic Museum is a really unique place, and tells a unique story of World War I. Tell us about your mission, your facility, and your World War I-related exhibits.

Leto Reads Zimmerman BookLou Leto of DC's National Cryptologic MuseumThe National Cryptologic Museum is the National Security Agency’s principal gateway to the public. It shares the Nation's, as well as NSA’s, cryptologic legacy and place in world history. Located adjacent to NSA Headquarters at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland, the museum houses a collection of thousands of artifacts that collectively serve to sustain the history of the cryptologic profession. Here visitors can catch a glimpse of some of the most dramatic moments in the history of American cryptology: the people who devoted their lives to cryptology and national defense, the machines and devices they developed, the techniques they used, and the places where they worked. For the visitor, some events in American and world history will take on a new meaning. For the cryptologic professional, it is an opportunity to absorb the heritage of the profession.

Originally designed to house artifacts from the Agency and to give employees a place to reflect on past successes and failures, the museum quickly developed into a priceless collection of the Nation's cryptologic history. The museum opened to the public in December 1993 and quickly became a highlight of the area.

Being the first and only public museum in the Intelligence Community, the National Cryptologic Museum hosts approximately 70,000 visitors annually from all over the country and around the world, allowing them a peek into the secret world of code making and code breaking.

The museum has been featured in a plethora of international TV, print, and radio media and has hosted visitors and dignitaries from around the world.

The museum houses several exhibits and displays dealing with the cryptologic aspects of World War I. They include the Zimmermann Telegram, the World War I Radio Intercept Site, and the Native American Code Talkers. Each has a unique and important story to tell about America’s role in The Great War. The Zimmermann Telegram exhibit, for example, highlights how a decoded message changed the course of history. The exhibit of the intercept site is important in telling the story of radio communications and interception. Signals could be intercepted without being in close proximity to the transmitter or transmission lines and could provide vital information about enemy tactics and strategy. As World War I was the first time messages could be sent using radio, the U.S. Army Radio Intelligence Section used their newfound capabilities to “spy” on enemy conversation.

Read more: Four Questions for Lou Leto

48 Fallen 48 Found Project

"Share with us a part of our past which we have forgotten"

By Jed Dunham

Editor's note: Jed Dunham is a former student & athlete at Kansas State University. He created a remarkable project, 48 FALLEN / 48 FOUND, to honor World War I veterans from his school. His story is unique, and he gave us a rundown on his project, in his own words.

48 Fallen 48 Found Project Roots and Origins:

My name is Jed Dunham and I am a 1996 graduate of Kansas State University. In the fall of 2014 I returned to Manhattan, Kansas to attend a lacrosse reunion and as I entered the stadium where I had played a "thousand times" I took a photograph of the plaque which honors the 48 students from Kansas State who had died in the First World War. The stadium is named Memorial Stadium but I and many, many others simply referred to it as "Old Stadium" after the football team vacated it in 1967 for the new stadium north of campus.The 48 Fallen PlaquePhoto of the plaque attached to Memorial Stadium which started the entire project

With the World War Centennial already happening I was interested in how the war impacted America and in particular how memorials had affected the landscape of the country in the wake of the Armistice. I had become aware of Mark Levitch's WWI Memorial Inventory Project and that was a factor in my renewed interest for the WWI memorial on the KSU campus.

How The Research Was Done:

I returned to New Hampshire where I am from and after looking through the photos from the reunion weekend I stopped at the one with the plaque. I wondered who these men were and thought for certain all my questions would be answered with a simple Google search.

This was not the case.

They had all vanished. Nothing remained of them to describe who they had been and what had happened to them. Each name was dropped into multiple websites and search engines but nothing hit. They were gone. And thus began my odyssey. The plaque itself says "In remembrance of those..." and yet there was nothing to found.

After a "long process" I was able to find a peripheral source through an online archive and the discovery of the 1919 Royal Purple, the college year book, gave me the first clues as to who they may have been. Further searches found the story of how the stadium came to be and in the 1923 edition, dedicated to the Fallen, I found a page with home towns, dates of birth and death and in some cases the military units they belonged to. This broke the case and with these clues I was able to unravel the mystery.

What Was Learned:

What surfaced is the never before told story of the American experience in the First World War told through the eyes of those who saw it. It's a chronological evolution of how the country entered the war and what happened as a result. These men served in all branches, across every front and through every battle. Through them we feel the arrival of the Influenza virus at Camp Funston where many of them trained. And as they died they tell us how the war unfolded. Slowly at first and then with dramatic speed and horror.

Read more: 48 Fallen / 48 Found

French Embassy to host series of World War I-themed events in NYC

17352357 1843755495894654 382491282316296189 nOne hundred years after the United States entered World War One, the French Embassy seeks to shed light on this momentous occasion through a series of exhibitions, talks, concerts, and screenings beginning in New York City and continuing across the US throughout 2017. The program aims to familiarize younger generations with this transformative moment by exploring the ongoing impact of the cultural and aesthetic upheaval of the period and uncovering untold stories of communities that were instrumental to this critical period of history.

Kicking off a major nationwide centennial commemoration this spring, the French Embassy has assembled a series of events in New York City as part of a yearlong program “How 1917 Changed the World”. Centennial activities will continue throughout the year from Boston to Chicago and Atlanta.

As the events of this year demonstrate, the friendship between the United States and France has been both central to the preservation of democracy around the world and a driving force behind a long, remarkable history of cultural and artistic creativity. It is our honor to commemorate the sacrifice made by the American soldiers who participated in the war and to celebrate the enduring bond between France and the United States that has helped shape our world over the last hundred years.

Read more: French Embassy to host a series of World War I-themed events in NYC

Patrouille de France to perform at April 6th event in KC

Patrouille de france éclatement 500

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

The famed aviation demonstration team from France, Patrouille de France, will perform in the skies over Kansas City on April 6th, 2017, as part of the national commemoration event hosted by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the National World War I Museum and Memorial. This show will be part of their 2017 tour the USA.

The Patrouille de France is coming back to the United States for the first time since 2009 to commemorate the U.S. entry in World War One 100 years ago, in April 2017, and to thank the United States for its support of France in time of need.

Since 1915, American volunteers had joined the French Air Service and in 1916, the Lafayette Flying Corps and the Lafayette Escadrille had been formed, in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette whose role had been so significant in America’s War of Independence.

The airplane was the war’s newest weapon and Americans were quick to distinguish themselves alongside their French brothers in arms. Many of these young men joined the American air service by the end of 1917 when American pilots kept arriving from the United States.

To them, and to all the American pilots who fought in the skies of France until the Armistice on November 11, 1918, the Patrouille de France would like to express its gratitude during this USA 2017 tour: "We remember and we thank you."











Read more: Patrouille de France to perform at April 6th event in Kansas City


VFW joins WW1CC Poppy Program

Poppy Box VFW

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

WASHINGTON, DC: One of the largest veterans service organizations in the world, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), has officially partnered with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission for the Commission's innovative new veterans-awareness program.

The WW1CC rolled out the WW1 Poppy Program two weeks ago. Details on it can be found here:

Founded in 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is the oldest major veteran’s organization in the nation, and its membership, combined with that of its Auxiliary, stands at nearly 1.7 million people. They fund and manage programs that support veterans, service members and their families, as well as communities, worldwide.

Poppies are a familiar symbol for VFW members -- since 1922, the VFW has sold its own "Buddy" Poppies, in memory of the America's veterans. The poppy flower became a veterans remembrance symbol during World War I, stemming from the famous poem "In Flanders Field" by Canadian medical officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae.

With this new WWI poppy program, a partner organization can provide WW1CC with a $64.99 donation and get a poppy seed kit, containing 60 poppy seed packets. The partner organization can, in turn, distribute the poppy seed packets for $2 a piece -- and the partner organization can keep that second dollar.

In this way, WW1CC raises money for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC, and we also help our partner organizations to raise money for their own programs.

Read more: Veterans of Foreign Wars joins the new WW1 Poppy Program


Will Smith's Overbrook Tackling Max Brooks' 'Harlem Hellfighters' for History Channel

By Borys Kit and Lesley Goldberg
via Hollywood Reporter

Book CoverHarlem Hellfighters, the fact-based graphic novel by World War Z author Max Brooks, is getting the limited-series treatment from History Channel.

Jeremy Passmore and Andre Fabrizio, who wrote the Dwayne Johnson earthquake adventure movie San Andreas, are on board to pen what is being developed as a six-hour series that will hail from A+E Studios in association with Overbrook Entertainment and Immersive Pictures.

Will SmithWill SmithHellfighters, illustrated by Caanan White, was based on the real-life U.S. Army's 369th infantry division, an African American unit fighting in Europe during World War I. Breaking down racial barriers, the unit spent more time in combat than any other American unit, never losing a foot of ground to the enemy, or a man to capture, and went on to win countless decorations. They faced tremendous discrimination during the war and even when they returned from the front as heroes.

What changed for the men of Harlem was being assigned to a French command whereupon the Hellfighters first experienced something unknown to them in America at that time — racial equality. The unit would eventually be awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government for their distinction in battle in liberating France from the Germans.

Will Smith, James Lassiter and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Overbrook production banner is executive producing with Brooks and Immersive’s Josh Bratman. Fabrizio and Passmore will also executive produce.

Read more: Will Smith's Overbrook Tackling Max Brooks' 'Harlem Hellfighters' for History Channel

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