WWI well-represented on Memorial Day 2017
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
General Pershing would have been proud - our American World War I veterans were well-represented and well-honored this Memorial Day, thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers across the entire country.
U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register on the WW1CC web site showed over 50 Memorial Day Weekend events/exhibits/activities/parades on our Events Calendar, shared by groups and individuals in Arkansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, and Florida.The
The Centennial Events Register is open and interactive, and we welcome the addition of World War I-themed input from all sources.
In Boston, WW1CC Commissioner Tod Sedgwick was a featured speaker at the dedication of this year's Garden of Flags, sponsored by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund. The Garden of Flags was 37,252 individual US flags placed in Boston Common, each symbolizing a Massachusetts resident lost in America's wars since the American Revolution.
The other speakers included Boston's Mayor Martin Walsh, and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
The WW1CC's new partnership with International League Baseball brought a week's worth of World War I-themed ball games across the league, offering giveaways, historical trivia, and honors for local veterans. Commissioner Sedgwick attended the Pawtucket Red Sox baseball game with Dr. David Kohnen, Director of Naval History at the US Naval War College, and Dr. Nathaniel Sims, grandson of ADM William Sims, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe During World War I.
The world-famous Chicago Memorial Day Parade was as great as ever, this year, and included a beautiful float, sponsored by the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. The float was filled with World War I reenactors, Prtizker Library staff members, and volunteer supporters.
Similarly, the National Memorial Day Parade In Washington DC was not to be missed. Our World War I veterans were represented in the event by the Young Marines of Palm Beach County FL, by the Ebony Doughboys living history group, by 'Packard Dave' Lockhart and his beautiful 1918 Packard Liberty Truck, and by our General Pershing, historian Dave Shuey, and his show horse, Aura Lee.
WW1CC volunteer Courtland Jindra produced a touching Memorial Day Ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, which was built in 1930 as a memorial to World War I veterans.
This week was also included the celebrated annual US Navy Fleet Week NYC, which brought dozens of veteran and military events to Manhattan. Among them was a re-dedication of the World War I memorial Eternal Light flagpole, created in 1922 and located in Madison Square Park. The re-dedication ceremony featured a Doughboy color guard, remarks by WW1CC Commissioner Libby O'Connell, and representation by several members of the NYC World War I Centennial Committee.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City hosted special public programs during this special week, which were televised by CSPAN-3, and by local PBS television. Among the expert guests was WW1CC historian, Dr. Mitch Yockelson.
Our friends at CSPAN-3 American History Channel joined the Memorial Day World War I conversation. by providing rebroadcast of the April 6th National WWI Commemoration Event programming. This programming also included historian-led tours of the National WWI Museum in Kansas City, panel discussions, etc. They also provided a rebroadcast of "Men of Bronze," a remarkable 1977 documentary about the WWI "Harlem Hellfighters - the famous all-African-American 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment.