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

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Not One, But Two Years of WWrite in Review! January 2017 - January 2019. Part 1: WWI and Today's Veteran Writers

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Not One, But Two Years of WWrite in Review! January 2017 - January 2019.

Part 1: WWI and Today's Veteran Writers

By Jennifer Orth-Veillon, Curator 

 

Over the month of January, to prepare for the remaining months of the blog, WWrite will publish a “WWrite Blog: Two Years in Review of WWI and Writing,” a series that will document and synthesize the 100+ blog contributions from January 2017 to January 2019. This first installment of the series will highlight contributions from U.S. veteran writers:

 Review3Before and after adding color in Peter Jackson's They Shall Not Grow Old. Left: colored image from WWI footage. Right: original footage. Image source: The Guardian

They Shall Not Grow Old –  Director Peter Jackson Adds Color and Proximity to WWI

Last Thursday, December 27th, I sat in a packed Regal Cinema theater in Norfolk, Virginia, close to where I grew up in the Tidewater region that William Styron writes about in books such as Lay Down in Darkness, A Tidewater Morning, and The Confessions of Nat Turner. Like Mark Facknitz, a WWrite contributor and member of the World War Centennial Commission’s Historical Advisory Board, I do not normally like colorization of black and white films, but this film offers an exception for me. Facknitz sums up my feeling about the documentary in a recent Facebook post: “I saw this today. Very interesting. Though usually averse to colorization, and inclined to be strict about the need to protect historical evidence and to fully elaborate context, I yield my scruples on this one. It allows an immediacy and sometimes distressing capacity to imagine the lived reality of the soldiers on the Western Front.”

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Not One, But Two Years of WWrite in Review! January 2017 - January 2019. Part 2: African Americans in WWI

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Not One, But Two Years of WWrite in Review! January 2017 - January 2019. 
Part 2: African Americans in WWI

Over the month of January, to prepare for the remaining seven months of the blog (the tentative end date is July 2019), WWrite is publishing  a “WWrite Blog: Two Years in Review of WWI and Writing,” a series that will document and synthesize the 100+ blog contributions from January 2017. The first installment of the series highlighted contributions from U.S. veteran writers. This week features posts about African American involvement in WWI.

 

 The Invisible and the Inaudible in Peter Jackson's Documentary They Shall Not Grow Old

 

CotterJrAfrican American WWI soldier posing in Front of mockup of American flag. Courtesy Stars and Stripes.

 

Last month director Peter Jackson stunned the world with the release of his documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. Jackson parsed 600 hours of WWI black and white film footage to come up with about two hours that he had colored and animated with voices, music, and other sounds. The critical and audience responses have been tremendous. Rich Lowry of the National Review begins his article on They Shall Not Grow Old by announcing “The filmmaker Peter Jackson deserves more than an Oscar; he deserves a medal.” A trip to the Rotten Tomatoes website shows that almost all of the 80+ audience reviews boast a five-star rating. Jim S writes “Wow, just saw this tonight in Los Angeles...how often does a documentary get a round of applause from the audience after a viewing. Pretty amazing to see the realities of WWI close-up and personal. Very powerful film.” Most laud Jackson for humanizing the soldiers and the trench experience as the documentary brings the past into contemporary consciousness with the most modern technological tools. We hear what we thought once inaudible, see what was invisible.

 

JacksonbabyScene from They Shall Not Grow Old

 

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Mediated Memory, Myth, and Legend: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Great War in Modern Thought

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Mediated Memory, Myth, and Legend: The Christmas Truce of 1914 and the Great War in Modern Thought

By Anna Rindfleisch

AR10Lone candles on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street, War Memorial, and the light installation 'Spectra' in London. Image Source: Getty

In the wake of the centenary of the signing of the Armistice, the focus of the lasting legacy of the Great War is shifting to a discussion on the ways in which the European people exited the “War to End all Wars”. The massive outpouring of social media postings and institutional centenary events over the past four years suggests that the 100-year-old trauma attached to the iconic image of the Front Soldier has been transmitted down generations and shaped our contemporary understanding of the Great War. When BBC published a video-short in 2015 "How Much Do Millennials Know About WWI?" the content shocked. What truth these European millennials knew of the Great War seemingly reflected the atmosphere of those who'd lived a hundred years ago. They knew it was fought mainly in Europe, it had been a horrific event, a lot of teenage boys were sent to fight, a lot of them were killed, and Germany lost. As to why the fighting started or what its ultimate purpose was, they had no words.

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1918. The Peace Christmas

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1918. The Peace Christmas


By Connie Ruzich

 

During the last two years of the WWI Centennial, Connie Ruzich and her blog Behind Their Lines, which shares lesser-known poetry of the First World War, have generously teamed up with WWrite with timely posts. Ruzich excels at drawing the past and present together by linking current events with pivotal moments from 1914-1918. Her archival work into the lost poetic voices of WWI has served as an incredible resource, providing discussion and research on international lost voices, poems written by those on the home front, and poetry that has been neglected in modern anthologies. In 2020, Ruzich will go from digital to print as she publishes her anthology, International Poetry of World War I: An Anthology of Lost Voices, with Bloomsbury Academic Press. This week, we have come together once more and WWrite has the pleasure of featuring her important post on "The Peace Christmas." 

 

RuzichCheerio Alls Well WAAC Christmas 1918 by Nora Howard courtesy Tony Allen WWI Postcards

The Peace Christmas: that’s what many called the holiday season of the winter of 1918.  Just weeks earlier, the Armistice ended the world war that had lasted for over four years, involved thirty-two nations, and killed an estimated 16 million.  Yet though the war was over, most of the fighting men and women volunteers had not yet returned home but instead continued to serve overseas. 

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Holding Onto the Silver Greyhounds' Tail

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A First-hand Account of the Silver Greyhounds Overseas Courier Service by Captain Wallace F. Hamilton and His Daughter Felicita Hamilton Trueblood

By Felicita Trueblood

Trueblooed1Drawing of the Ardennes in WWI by Wallace F. Hamilton. Image courtesy of Felicita Trueblood.

The Silver Greyhounds and My Father

During the WWI Centennial year articles have appeared in the media about the Silver Greyhounds, the Overseas Courier Service established in late summer 1918 to speed up the delivery of important communications between Washington, London, and Paris. The archives belonging to the commanding officer, Major Amos Peaslee, were recently donated to the State Department by Major Peaslee’s grandson. A portion of them is on display at the State Department’s Diplomacy Center.

Trueblood31100 Years of Diplomatic Couriers Exhibit at the U.S. Diplomacy Center. Image courtesy of diplomacy.state.gov

My father, Captain Wallace F. Hamilton, happened to be Major Peaslee’s assistant. He had served in the U.S. First Cavalry, the horse cavalry that protected the U.S./Mexican border in Southern California. General John “Black Jack” Pershing was in command of this operation. When it came time to establish the courier service, General Pershing assigned the task to a trusted cavalry officer, General James Harbord, who chose my father to be a part of this special unit. He had been plucked from the front in late August 1918 and told he was needed for special duty. As he made his way from Chateau Thierry to the Services of Supply in Tours, he made drawings of his observations.

Read more: Holding Onto the Silver Greyhounds' Tail

Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War

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Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War
By Susan Werbe

WERBE1Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War performance. Photo credit: Pegeen Rubinstein

November 11, 2018.  The centenary of the Armistice found me attending a concert of commemoration at Harvard University.  Held in the university’s Memorial Church, which was “dedicated on Armistice Day 1932 in memory of those [from Harvard] who died in World War I,” the university’s concert choir of Harvard undergraduates – men and women – performed songs written both 100 years ago and in the recent past.  As I watched the sky slowly darken through the church windows, I was moved by the young voices that soared to the high ceiling, honoring the Harvard alumni and faculty, and Radcliffe alumnae whose lives were lost in The Great War.

Read more: Letters That You Will Not Get: Women’s Voices from the Great War

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