WWI Centennial Reflections: Randy Gaulke
"There remains a lot to be seen on the American battlefields, if one knows where and how to look."
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Note: Our friend Randy Gaulke is a legendary battlefield tour guide, with particular expertise in World War I. He has been providing living history and tour services for several decades, to audiences here in the United States, and in Europe. He spent some time with us, to talk about his background, his efforts -- and about how our followers can best work with professional battlefield tourguides, on their own trips to World War I sites.
2018 was an amazing year for the WWI Battlefield Guides. Tell us about it. What did you do, overall?
Tour guide Randy Gaulke stands in front of a bunker entrance in the Bois de Consenvoye. (Photo by Dave Gaddis.)I lived in Boureuilles, France for two months in 2018, working as a freelance tour guide for the American battlefields. During the 61 days I led thirty days of tours—ten days of small-group tours with two well-known historians and twenty days of personal tours. It does not sound like much, but that was a very aggressive tour schedule, considering reconnaissance and preparation time.
My typical client was an American with traveling partners who wanted to see where his or her relative had fought in WW1. On average, I was hired for two to three days; and we would be “in the field” from 09h00 to about 18h00. Sometimes I would also dine with clients.
We visited the cemeteries, memorials and museums in a sector; but it was also my philosophy to take clients “into the field” as much as possible. There remains a lot to be seen on the American battlefields, if one knows where and how to look. I use the ABMC Summary of Operations, then and now photos, first-person accounts and similar resources to bring the location back to life.
How did you plan your approach to the year? How did you map out & coordinate your efforts related to the various major chronological anniversaries/commemoration events, tours, etc.?
After six months in France in 2017, my amazingly-supportive wife asked me to limit 2018 to two months. Thus, I chose 17 September to 17 November; which covered the entire Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Armistice.
Working with German historian and author, Markus Klauer (http://www.weltkriegsbuch.de/pages/ueber_mich.htm), we designed a small group tour timed around the mid-September ABMC Commemoration at the St. Mihiel American Cemetery and the Luminary Event at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery. This six-day tour included two days in the St. Mihiel Salient and four days in the Meuse-Argonne. The morning portion was a “monuments tour,” while the afternoon portion consisted of one or more hikes. For example, our I Corps (Meuse-Argonne) hikes included: the Pocket (77th Div.), le Chene Tondu (28th Div.) and Underground Vauquois Hill (35th Div.)
Markus and I also hosted a Meet-and-Greet dinner on Friday, 21 September at a local hotel.
Lost Battalion expert, Robert Laplander, and I organized a four-day small group tour covering the Lost Battalion and I Corps from 3 – 7 October. Of course, it was timed to coincide with the Centennial of the Lost Battalion saga. Again, we focused on hikes in the field.
Personal tours were scheduled in the remaining days.
Read more: WWI Centennial Reflections: Randy Gaulke
"The Brand of Brancy" in Classical Singer magazine
"We aligned our performance with the WWICC’s mission of remembrance and recognition of the war that changed the world."
By Mary Claire Curran
via Classical Singer Magazine
Director of Public Affairs Note: Our friend, famed vocalist John Brancy, was featured this month in a new interview article in Classical Singer magazine. In the brilliant piece by interviewer Mary Claire Curran, Brancy opens up about his unique style, his remarkable commitment to World War I material, and his next efforts.
Cover of the Classical Singer magazine cover, featuring John BrancyJohn Brancy’s intense musicality and communicative power places him in the front ranks of baritones of his generation. Hailed by the New York Times as “a vibrant, resonant presence,” Brancy won first prize in the Art Song Division of the 2018 Concours musical international de Montréal, a win that recognizes him as a premiere interpreter of art song repertoire in our time. The New Jersey native also won first prize in the 2018 Lotte Lenya Competition in New York, second prize at the 2017 Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation International Song Competition in London, and prior to that won the media prize in the 2017 Belvedere International Singing Competition in Moscow and first prize in the Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition in 2015. He is also a past winner of the Marilyn Horne Song Competition and the Sullivan Foundation grand prize.
In between his final performances of Opera Frankfurt’s new adaptation of Lost Highway, Brancy found time to write to me about his career since winning the 2007 Classical Singer Vocal Competition in the Classical High School Division.
From September 28 to November 12, 2018, you embarked on a nationwide recital tour entitled “A WWI Memorial in Song.” What are some insights surrounding your creative conception and inspiration for the recital?
It was inspired when pianist Peter Dugan and I were asked to put together our first official recital program for our 2014 Kennedy Center debut, which was our professional debut as a duo. We wanted to perform music that needed to be heard and we decided that since it was the 100th anniversary of World War I, we would consider the repertoire of that time in our history. What we uncovered was a treasure of music in varying styles from composers who fought in the war. We have spent the past four years uncovering more and more of this forgotten music and have grown incredibly close to the stories and themes that are present in this dynamic repertoire.
Read more: "The Brand of Brancy" in Classical Singer magazine
Names on a Wall: Documenting Ohio's World War I Deaths in Service
By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site
Most Ohio counties honor their community's World War I service members with a list of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. My county, Fayette, is no different. On the Fayette County Courthouse lawn is a monument with two plaques containing the names of Fayette County's World War I dead.
The Fayette County, Ohio Court House with World War I Memorial in the foregroundThe United States number of deaths in World War I was approximately 116,000. Ohio's eighty-eight counties contributed more than 260,000 soldiers, sailors, and marines to the war effort. Sadly, more than 6,500 of these service members never made it home. I became curious about the sources available to locate or identify my community’s WWI deaths in service.
These sources and data will vary from state to state, county to county. Here are the sources I used to develop a database of Fayette County's WWI deaths in service.
First, I started with the names on our local WWI memorial. Consult your county's veteran organizations and County Veterans Services for plaques and lists of WWI service members. Your local historical society can be helpful in locating local plaques, and/or memorials. Our local plaques (Fayette County) were dedicated May 27, 1919 and list the names of forty-four service members from our county that died in service. These names would have been collected from available local sources.
Second, local period newspapers are extremely helpful. Your local library or genealogical society can be an excellent source of local newspapers. The Ohio History Connection has an excellent collection of Ohio newspapers (Link: http://catalog.ohiohistory.org/Presto/home/home.aspx?ssid=Newspapers ). I used Fayette County's weekly newspaper of the time, the Ohio State Register. The paper contained an article listing the names of the local deaths in service as of December 6, 1918. The newspaper listed twenty-six names as deaths in WWI service. If you have been following my data, you should quickly see a problem.
There are eighteen more names on the memorial plaques than listed in the newspaper. Following World War I, the United States government went to great lengths to identify and recover the dead in Europe. Initially, a large number of soldiers were classified as missing in action. The December 6, 1918 issue of the Ohio State Register reflects this fact.
Read more: Names on a Wall: Documenting Ohio's World War I Deaths in Service
Pen and ink decorated memory plaque of pen and ink decorated airplane fabric from those who served in the U.S. Air service at Carruthers Field, Texas, 1917-1919.
Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI exhibit coming to WWI Museum
By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial
KANSAS CITY – “Remember Me.” “Souvenir de France.” “Mother Dear.” “Merci!”
These and countless other sentiments are expressed in the fabric art that came from World War I. Romantic and patriotic scenes were created on silk and cotton and wool felt. Many of the objects were made in direct response to those loved ones going to war from every country. Others were made for commercial purposes to serve the clamor for souvenirs.
"Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI" explores expressions of remembrance through striking and moving works from the Museum and Memorial’s collection.
Regardless of initial purpose, the fabric art became a colorful reminder of how deeply the war affected those at home and away. Among others, needlepoint, silk screen, embroidery, quilting, painting and cross-stitch all served an outlet to artistically express love, fear, loss and memory.
Corporal Walter Bullard, Co. F., 603rd Engineers wrote home:
“I am enclosing a handkerchief that I bought for you. It is rather pretty with the French flag and Stars and Stripes together. They sell quite a bunch of them to the boys to send home and there is hardly a town that I have been in that you can’t find hundreds in stores. They have all colors and with different words and such. Some have all the Allied flags worked in the corner.”
Read more: Color of Memory: Fabric Art in WWI exhibit coming to WWI Museum
From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
Kenneth Davis on the Spanish Flu
On the World War I Centennial News Podcast, we're taking a look back at some of our favorite segments from 2018. On Episode 70, which aired on May 4th, author Kenneth Davis joined the show to discuss the deadly pandemic that swept the world in 1918. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer: This week for Remembering Veterans, we're turning our attention away from the battlefield and looking at a phenomena that took more lives than the bullets and shells. With us to explore the story of the flu pandemic from 100 years ago is Kenneth C. Davis, bestselling author of the I Don't Know Much About book series. In fact, during our editorial meeting, when we were discussing the interview, our intern, John, enthused that these books were on his shelf as he was growing up. Well, Kenneth's new book is coming out on May 15th and it's called, More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War. A fascinating subject by a wonderful author. Kenneth, welcome to the podcast.
Kenneth Davis: It is a great pleasure to be with you. Thanks so much for having me.
Read more: Podcast Article - Kenneth Davis Interview
Eighteen Teachers Selected to Study WWI in Europe
By Lynne O'Hara
Special to the United States World War I Centennial Commission web site
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Eighteen educators from across America have been selected to participate in Memorializing the Fallen — a teacher professional development program from National History Day®. Sponsored by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the program takes educators on the journey of a lifetime to rediscover the history of World War I and invigorate its teaching in America’s classrooms.
Throughout the program, teachers attend virtual lectures, participate in discussions, and research a service member who never returned home. The academic portion of the program will be led by Dr. Christopher Hamner, an associate professor at George Mason University, and Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay, a historian with Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
In June 2019, the educators will venture to Europe where they will walk in the footsteps of history, making stops at Somme American Cemetery, St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Suresnes American Cemetery, Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, and battle sites and monuments at Belleau Wood, Verdun, and Meuse Argonne. On the final day of the program, teachers will attend the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles at the Palace of Versailles. This highly competitive program pays for travel to these locations as well as lodging, meals, books and more.
All of these activities support the development of the final products the teachers create: a lesson plan and a Silent Hero® profile. The teachers are developing in-depth lesson plans to focus on the legacy of the conflict. Both the lesson plan and the fallen hero profile will be released during the 2019-2020 academic year.
Read more: Eighteen Teachers Selected to Study World War I in Europe
A photo of the site of the Seicheprey battle 100 years ago.
Program Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on January 20
Connecticut Students to Restore American Trenches in Seicheprey, France
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
The Connecticut Heritage Foundation, on behalf of the Connecticut State Library, is hosting an incredible high school education opportunity, “Digging Into History: Trench Restoration In Seicheprey France”. The project is in cooperation with the Communaute de Communes Mad et Moselle, and aims to restore a section of World War I trenches in Seicheprey, France. Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on January 20, 2019. Click here for more information on the application process. "Digging Into History: World War I Trench Restoration in Seicheprey" will bring 15 Connecticut high school students on a community service trip to France in July 2019. The students will spend two weeks in the village of Seicheprey working with local historians to restore a section of trench from World War I. Seicheprey, in the Toul Sector, was the site of what is considered the first German offensive against American troops, and was fought primarily by Connecticut soldiers of the 102d Infantry Regiment, 26th “Yankee” Division. The goal of this work is to create a historic site where visitors can learn about this important battle, and American (and Connecticut) contributions to the war.
Christine Pittsley“Restoring and preserving historic sites provides a connection to the past that words and images cannot” said Connecticut State Librarian Kendall Wiggin. “Restoring this section of WWI trench honors those brave United States, and especially Connecticut troops, who fought and died in a war synonymous with trench warfare.” This unique opportunity is open to all Connecticut students entering 11th or 12th grade in the 2019/2020 school year. Students will be chosen on a competitive basis after submitting an essay and two letters of recommendations. A limited number of scholarships will be also be available. This opportunity is being sponsored by Connecticut Heritage Foundation, the 501(c)(3) arm of the Connecticut State Library in cooperation with the Communauté de Communes Mad et Moselle, Seicheprey’s regional government. To learn more about this educational project please visit https://ctinworldwar1.org/trenchproject/
This project is being led by Christine Pittsley. Christine is a member of the Connecticut WWI Centennial Committee, she is also a noted historian and educator. Her official title is Project Director, Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories at the Connecticut State Library. Christine took some time to tell us about her vision for this remarkable hands-on education project.
Read more: Connecticut Students to Restore American Trenches in Seicheprey, France
Front page of the Chicago Defender announces the return of the African American 8th Infantry Regiment to Chicago.
"Hidden voices. Buried history."
Collaborative project brings forgotten WWI era stories to a worldwide audience through VR technology
By Joel W. Beeson, Ph.D.
Special to the World War I Centennial Commission web site
Imagine yourself standing on a street corner in the South Side of present day Chicago. There doesn’t seem to be anything extraordinary about this spot—there are buildings, cars driving by. Then suddenly, your surroundings change. You’re in the middle of the 1919 “Red Summer” when post-World War I social and racial tensions boiled over into violence. You’re witnessing a confrontation outside of an old lunch room and cigar shop.
Joel W. Beeson, Ph.D.You’re looking at an old photo of a black WWI veteran and a white militiaman. You’re looking at the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, by the end of which 38 would be dead, more than 500 injured and 1,000 black families left homeless.
Forgotten stories like these are being made available to students nationwide through immersive storytelling technology thanks to a collaborative partnership with Google Expeditions, the Friends of the Victory Memorial and the West Virginia University Reed College of Media Innovation Center.
This project, “WWI Through the Eyes of the Chicago Defender,” brings history to life through virtual reality. The VR project takes viewers on a tour of WWI-era United States as seen through the eyes of the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper at that time.
The project has been commissioned for Google Expeditions, a product that allows teachers to take their classes on virtual field trips, immersing students in experiences that bring abstract concepts to life, brings virtual objects into the classroom, and gives students a deeper understanding of the world beyond the classroom. The “WWI Through the Eyes of the Chicago Defender” expedition became a “pioneer” beta partner in 2016.
Read more: Collaborative project brings forgotten WWI era stories to a worldwide audience through VR technology
Members of the Post 62 American Legion, and Post 62 American Legion Auxiliary of Peoria, Arizona ring Bells of Peace during the ceremony on November 11.
200 Bells -- The Amazing Armistice Centennial Event hosted by the John J Morris American Legion Post 62, of Peoria, AZ
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Although the World War I Armistice Centennial took place a few weeks ago, we continue to be amazed by stories that are coming to us from around the country, on local commemorative events that took place to honor our World War I veterans. One such story came to us from our friends at the John J. Morris American Legion Post 62 of Peoria, Arizona. Public Affairs volunteer Marge Christianson told us about their event.
Two junior members of the John J. Morris American Legion Post 62"The John J Morris American Legion Family in Peoria, AZ holds a flag raising ceremony every Veteran’s Day at 11:00. With total membership of over 3,000, it’s a big day – with many participants, guest speakers, pot luck feast, entertainment.
Keen to “hundred-year anniversaries” -- 2019 is the American Legion’s 100th, and 2020 is the Auxiliary’s -- Post 62 Auxiliary decided to do something special as part of the WW1CC's “Bells of Peace" program.
Post 62's junior members worked through the crowd of attendees, handing out poppies (a WWI symbol) -- and small keepsake bells, for each guest to ring as part of the "Bells of Peace".
Just prior to 11:00, Post Commander, James McCrady, holding a large brass hand bell, gave this speech:
“100 years ago today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War One officially ended—but not before 116, 516 Americans gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.
"Each of you have received a “bell of peace” to ring with others across the country at exactly 11:00 local time.
"Today, we remember the 4.7 million Americans who stepped forward to serve in uniform, the 2 million that were deployed overseas to fight, the 200,000 wounded and the 116, 516 who died.
"Please join me in ringing your bell.”
In a solemn moment, each person, of all ages & backgrounds, rang their bell.
Read more: 200 Bells -- The Amazing Armistice Centennial Event hosted by the John J Morris American Legion...
Captain Ben Davis Locke (Choctaw), in front, with American Indian soldiers at Camp Stanley, 1918. Courtesy of Francine Locke Bray.
"American Indians in World War I" web site now live
By Erin Fehr
Sequoyah National Research Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Little Rock, AR – In commemoration of the centennial of the First World War, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Sequoyah National Research Center (SNRC) published the website “American Indians in World War I” in partnership with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. The website (ww1cc.org/americanindian) was created to commemorate the service of 12,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives who served in the war, mostly as volunteers.
The website content was written by SNRC Director Daniel F. Littlefield and Archivist Erin Fehr, while a special essay on Code Talkers was contributed by Missouri State University professor William C. Meadows, who is currently in the process of publishing a book on WWI code talkers.
The website features articles on all aspects of a soldier’s service and includes a timeline of American Indian history. American Indian women who served as nurses are highlighted in a separate section that includes biographies of each woman. A map of Native American war memorials is also included.
Read more: "American Indians in World War I" web site now live
From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
Dr. Frederick Dickinson on Japan in the Great War
On the World War I Centennial News Podcast, we're taking a look back at some of our favorite segments from 2018. In Episode 84, which aired on August 10th, Professor of Japanese History at the University of Pennsylvania and noted Japan expert Dr. Frederick Dickinson joined the show to elucidate Japan's important but oft-neglected role in the war. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer: August 10th, Episode #84, Japan in World War I, with Dr. Fredrick Dickinson. Now those who've never been exposed to what happened in the far east during World War I are often surprised by the fact that Japan declared war almost as soon as hostilities broke out in 1914, years before America entered the fray, and many of those same people are also surprised to learn that Japan fought on the side of the Allies. And, those who know just a little about Japan in World War I, tend to hold some preconceptions about Japan, and Japan in World War I, including the accepted Western concept that Japan was an isolated nation, and stalked away from the Versailles Treaty, having been seriously insulted by the non-acceptance of their proposal for racial equality for the League Of Nations. Now, I'm one of those people, so it was really great to have some of my ideas realigned by our next guest, Dr. Frederick Dickinson, Professor of Japanese History at the University of Pennsylvania, Co-Director of the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and the Deputy Director for the Penn Forum on Japan. Dr. Dickinson didn't just study Japan, he was born in Tokyo, and raised in Kanazawa and Kyoto. He's written a series of books including War and National Reinvention: Japan and the Great War, 1914-1919. Dr. Dickinson, thank you for joining us.
Dr. Dickinson: Sure, thanks Theo, thanks for having me. Delighted to talk about Japan, delighted to have an audience for Japan.
Read more: Podcast Article - Dr. Dickinson Interview
From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
War in the Sky: PTSD Among the Pilots with Mark Wilkins
On the World War I Centennial News Podcast, we're taking a look back at some of our favorite segments from 2018. On Episode 66, which aired on April 4th, historian and aeronautical expert Mark Wilkins joined the show to discuss the prevalence of PTSD in the ranks of WWI pilots and his recent work on the subject of WWI aviation. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer: April 4, episode number 66, War in The Sky, "PTSD Among the Pilots with Mark Wilkins." This week for War in the Sky, we're turning inward to look at the psychological challenges for those daring warriors in the sky during WWI. Joining us is Mark Wilkins, historian, writer, museum professional, and lecturer. Mark is the author of a recently published article in the Smithsonian Air and Space magazine called "The Dark Side of Glory: An Early Glimpse of PTSD in the Letters of World War I Aces." Welcome to the podcast, Mark.
Mark Wilkins: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Theo Mayer: Mark, to start with, how did you get the trove of letters you used for your research?
Mark Wilkins: Well, research as you know, is a treasure hunt. It is intuitive and sometimes information is found in the most unlikely places. That being said, there's some recent books that have collections of pilots' letters. University and national archives are another great source, as are aviation museums or war museums like the Imperial War Museum in London, local historical societies, sometimes relatives of the pilots, also online newspaper and periodical archives are another fabulous source of information.
Read more: Podcast Article - Mark Wilkins Interview
Scene from They Shall Not Grow Old
Peter Jackson lends an astonishing cinematic intimacy to life during the First World War.
They Shall Not Grow Old Is the Movie of the Year
By Rich Lowry
via the National Review magazine web site
The filmmaker Peter Jackson deserves more than an Oscar; he deserves a medal.
What the director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies has done with his World War I documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old, is more than restore archival film; he has restored the humanity of men caught up in one of history’s great cataclysms. This is an aesthetic achievement of the highest order, and a great service to history.
World War I has always had more than its share of historiography, novels, poems and feature films. Until now what it lacked was video (at least watchable video), the single most powerful medium of the modern era.
It took Jackson and his team five years to make They Shall Not Grow Old. They had to painstakingly remove scratches and other damage from old film belonging to the Imperial War Museum, and slow down the primitive footage. Then it was colorized, with loving accuracy. Forensic lip readers recovered what soldiers were saying on the film, and actors provided the voices. Finally, it was made 3D.
The effect is to transform the men originally caught on choppy black-and-white film to relatable, individual human beings, just like anyone else we watch on a screen today.
World War I was such an industrial-scale event that it tends to become impersonal, the men who fought it reduced in our minds to cannon fodder.
Jackson’s artistic choices open up a new vista. He focuses only on British soldiers on the Western Front and doesn’t retell the events of the war. There is no narrator and no historians. Instead, the voices of vets interviewed by the BBC in the 1960s and ’70s constitute the narration. They tell the story of their personal experiences from enlistment to the end of the war.
Read more: They Shall Not Grow Old Is the Movie of the Year