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Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing Advice, Writing Life

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Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing Advice, Writing Life

Jerri Bell introduces the undiscovered richness of Douglas' long life (she died at 108!) as a prolific writer, Naval servicewoman in WWI, and political activist

Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a young woman (undated). Credit: Marjory Stoneman papers, Special Collections, University of Miami LibrariesMarjory Stoneman Douglas as a young woman (undated). Credit: Marjory Stoneman papers, Special Collections, University of Miami LibrariesHer short stories weren't bad, Marjory Stoneman Douglas said in her autobiography, Voice of the River, "but they weren't the newfangled concise dramatic short stories of the Hemingway school. Though many of the men who'd served in the First World War had been prepared for that kind of Hemingway writing, I was not a part of it. I didn't subscribe to the Hemingway thinking. I was more or less tied into the mainstream from which Hemingway was estranged. I couldn't write in that bare, stark way in which a story begins like a slap in the face."

Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald Marjory Stoneman Douglas in 1987. Credit: Mary Lou Foy/The Miami Herald This may be one of the reasons that Douglas is not counted among the "war writers" of World War I despite a distinguished literary record and her use of characters, settings, and anecdotes from her experiences during the war in her fiction.

Douglas was already living an unconventional life at the beginning of the war. A 1912 graduate of Wellesley, she married a con artist thirty years her senior and divorced him a year later when her father uncovered details of his financial fraud and forgery. In 1915 she moved to the then-small backwater town of Miami, Florida and became the society editor for her father's newspaper, the News Record (later the Miami Herald). Sent to cover the story of the first woman in Miami to become a Yeoman (Female) when the Navy first opened enlistment to women, Douglas ended up taking her place. "I arrived at the ship and the next thing I knew I was sticking up my hand, swearing to protect and defend the United States of America from all enemies whatsoever. I guess they talked me into it." The recruiters, she said, "came on very strong."

Read more: Navy Veteran Jerri Bell Presents WWI Navy Yeoman (F) First Class Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Writing...

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes About WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger Rogers' Mother!)

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U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes about WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (1891-1977)

Writer Tracy Crow links her own experience as a female Marine to the extraordinary yet forgotten history of Lela Leibrand, one of the first ten women to join the Marines in 1918:

Lela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blogLela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blogIn 1977, the same year World War I Marine Corps veteran Lela Leibrand, perhaps better known as the mother of dancer and actress Ginger Rogers, was buried, I joined the Marines and began a career in public affairs, writing press releases for civilian media and articles for military newspapers and magazines, just as Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand had in 1918.

Of course I didn't know this in 1977. I wish I had.

In 1977, I was toiling away on releases and articles under the sexist, watchful direction of a top enlisted man who walked around the press pit striking the side of his leg with a yardstick like a metronome to rush us young Marine reporters toward deadlines. For me, the only enlisted woman reporter in the pit, he meted out special praise such as, "You proved you're more than a good looking pair of legs, after all." In 1977, I was unaware, and no doubt so was he, that I was actually standing metaphorically and historically on the shoulders of Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand.

Read more: U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes About WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger...

March 12th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Tracy Crow, Citizens Create, Indie Film Fest, Trench Coat

News Items from this Week

Lela Leibrand courtesy of Women Marines Association blog pictured with husband and daughter Ginger RogersThis Week's WWrite Featured Post: Tracy Crow and Lela Leibrand In the first post to celebrate and honor Women's History Month, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Tracy Crow Writes about WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand (Ginger Rogers' Mother!) A U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Writer, Tracy Crow, author of critically-acclaimed works about the veteran experience and writing, discusses WWI Female Marine Sergeant Lela Leibrand, one of the first 10 women to join the Marine Corps in 1918. Leibrand was also mother to star Ginger Rogers. A great read! And, as always, please encourage friends to subscribe to the blog! Look out for Jerri Bell's post about Marjory Stoneman Douglas up next! (Photo of Leibrand, her husband, and Ginger Rogers, her daughter. Courtesy of Women Marines Association Blog)

Read more: March 12th WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

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Pritzker Military Writing Prize, Seaside Writer's Conference, Robert Laplander's new book, Darryl Dillard

It's official! Each weekend, the WWrite Blog will post a "WWrite Blog Weekend Update! This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site." In addition to the WWrite featured posts, these weekend posts will highlight all things writerly happening on the Commission's website for the past week. They will also feature various news items about WWrite Bloggers like recent publications, public talks, and conferences. If you have a news item regarding WWI and writing, please contact me at [email protected]

News items from this week

Tim OBrien photoTim O'Brien, Winner of the 2013 Pritzker AwardPritzker Military Museum Library and Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Established in 2007 and sponsored by the Tawani foundation, the Pritzker Literature Award serves to recognize a living author who has made a significant contribution to the understanding of military history including military affairs. These contributions may be academic, non-fiction, or a combination of any of the three. The recipient may be of any nationality and may have written their collective works in any language. The Award includes a citation, medallion, and $100,000. Past winners include Tim O'Brien, Hew Strachan, David Hackett Fischer, Antony Beevor, Sir Max Hastings, Carlo d'Este, Rick Atkinson, Gerhard L. Weinberg, Allan R. Millett, and James McPherson. For details, see Pritzker Award.

Read more: WWrite Blog Weekend Update - This Week's Writerly News from the U.S. WWI Centennial Site

On a Boat Alone: African American Wives Post WWI

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Pilgrim at Suresnes July 26 1930Pilgrim at Suresnes July 26, 1930On a Boat Alone: African American Wives Post WWI​
Black History Month has given the Centennial Commission the opportunity to showcase the achievements of African Americans during WWI. One of WWrite’s latest posts about writer and suffragist Ida B. Well’s influence on Major Jasmine Motupalli’s military career highlighted the increased presence of political activism among African American women in the US during the WWI era (Major Motupalli's Post). WWI Centennial News reposted a Military Times article by former Illinois Senator and Ambassador to New Zealand, Carol Mosely Braun, in which she honors African American combat accomplishments in France. Her own grandfather, Thomas Davie, was posthumously awarded a U.S. Victory medal and fought in the Meuse-Argonne battle (Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun Article Link). This week, I wanted to talk about the wives of African American servicemen killed in combat.

Read more: On a Boat Alone: African American Wives Post WWI

Major Jasmine Walker Motupalli Reveals Historically-Influenced Path: Iraq and Afghanistan Inspired by Ida B. Wells' WWI Fight

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Major Jasmine Walker Motupalli Reveals Historically-Influenced Path: Iraq and Afghanistan Inspired by Ida B. Wells' WWI FightJasmine Montupalli Logar Province PhotoMAJ Jasmine Motupalli in Logar Province, Afghanistan, with civilian children and fellow soldier

*As a veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, where I served as an intelligence officer, I often think about how different my life might have been had I lived in a different period of history. A quick look at most American wars tells me that I would have never been an officer. I would have never been on the front line. But I do know that I would have done whatever I could to fight the fight. As a black woman during World War I, perhaps I might have been supporting the war effort at home by working in factory jobs vacated by men. Perhaps I would have chosen to prove my patriotism by serving as a nurse for the segregated black units in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. Ida B.Wells PhotoIda B.Wells

But, in the face of inequality, I tend to be a bit rebellious and, even in 1914-1918, I’m pretty sure I would have tried to break the ceiling even further. During this time, I would have followed one of my heroes, Ida B. Wells, journalist, suffragist, editor, and activist. She fought for voting rights and equal treatment for women who looked like me. During WWI, she sold Liberty Bonds and distributed care packages to black soldiers. But her fight didn’t stop there. She worked to defend black men falsely accused of crimes throughout the country. Following the Houston Race Riot of 1917, she fiercely protested the hanging of 13 black soldiers hung by a military court without recourse to appeal or review by the president.

Read more: Major Jasmine Walker Motupalli Reveals Historically-Influenced Path: Iraq and Afghanistan Inspired...

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