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

California in WW1 - NOW

 

 

A Golden Cross to Bear: A Story of the 33rd Division in World War 1

A California WW1 Centennial Task Force Supported Film

 

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320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

by Courtland Jindra, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 

a golden cross to bear poster result

 

Over two years in the making, A Golden Cross to Bear focuses on the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, the bloodiest battle in the history of the United States military. During the forty-seven day struggle more than twenty-six thousand Doughboys were killed in action with nearly 100 thousand wounded. Kane Farabaugh and Jon Kassell decided to make a documentary series about their friend Roger Amm, whose grandfather Gustave had served in the 131st Infantry Regiment, 33rd Division. The trio realized that there were very few documentaries being produced to coincide with the 100th anniversary of World War I. Roger Amm knew very little of his grandfather's service and traveled throughout Illinois and then overseas to France and Germany to learn what he could about The Great War while his two friends recorded the journey.

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Though the series was officially endorsed by the US World War One Centennial Commission, and local Illinois PBS Station, WTVP, provided assistance, promotion, and technical and broadcast support, the five part series was mostly self funded. Amm and Farabaugh invested about $30,000 of their own money to make this passion project come to life. The program aired Memorial Day weekend of 2018 in the Chicago area and won several awards. However, they hoped a DVD release could really let the story reach a broader audience.

It looked for awhile like they had a sponsor that would help fund making DVDs, unforutnately, that fell through. Farabaugh is a government employee and around the same time the U.S. Government shut down of 2018-2019 forced him go to Indiegogo to crowd source the cost. Believing in the project, I donated a not insignificant sum on behalf of the California World War One Centennial Task Force, and did so without expecting a return. I had hoped my fellow Co-Directors would agree. Later, at a meeting of the Task Force my decision was given their full approval. We were rewarded with our name mentioned in the credits of all five episodes on the DVD issue.

As Farabaugh said in a message at the time to those that helped with the fundraising:

I am personally grateful for your help and assistance, particularly now. It takes a village to produce a documentary series, and I am grateful you have all decided to be a part of this village. Our mission all along as been to ensure that the service and sacrifice of all those who served in World War 1, which includes my own great-grandfather Urban Farabaugh who served in France in the 28th Division, are not forgotten, and we all understand a little bit more about the struggle, sacrifice, and service of those before us.

 

Epilogue by Bill Betten Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 Officially endorsed by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force, as well as the national U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission, A Golden Cross to Bear: A Story of the 33rd Division in World War 1, was nominated for five Midwest Emmy© Awards. The series which explored the previously untold story of a U.S. soldier’s front line experience in World War 1 was nominated in five categories including “Outstanding Achievement for a Historical Documentary.”

The first episode of the series “A New Kind of War,” recently won the Chicago/Midwest Emmy for “Outstanding Achievement - Writing, Short Form.” In Chicago, upon receiving the award, Kane Farabaugh stated, “It’s an honor for me to be up here on November 10th, tomorrow is November 11th. The 11th hour of the 11th month on the 11th day of 1918 is when the war was finally over and it’s an honor to be able to accept this Emmy award for those men we profiled in this series.”

The California WW1 Centennial Task Force congratulates Roger Amm and director-producer Kane Farabaugh for their great work and success. I would also personally like to thank Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra for his diligent attentiveness, generosity, and initiative in supporting this cinematic effort.

 

 

 

 

 

November 10, 2018 - City of Colton Veterans Day - Armistice Centennial Event

Fleming Park - Colton

 

320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

 By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 

dr g & bill Betten at task force booth resultCalifornia WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten and Colton Armistice Centennial Event Master of Ceremonies Dr. Luis Gonzalez at the task force booth.This year’s City of Colton’s Veterans Day celebration was augmented as an officially sponsored California WW1 Centennial Task Force Armistice Centennial Event, or ACE. The commemorations followed the city’s usual Veterans Day program, that of a packed and planned morning starting off with a Prayer Ceremony, followed by the Veterans Parade, continuing with the Honor Ceremony in Fleming Park, and then finalizing the morning’s events with a Veteran’s Showcase across the street.dr g & chs band & auxillary result"Dr. G" and Colton High School Marching Band and Auxillary before the Veterans Parade of 2018.

Once again, Colton City Council Member Dr. Luis S. Gonzalez, or as he is known to the community of Colton, Dr. G, planned and presented one of the finest Veterans Day celebrations available to attend in Southern California. The 8:00 a.m. Prayer Ceremony, held at Pete S. 2018 colton band members & dr g result2018 Colton High School band members & "Dr. G" before the Nov. 11, 2018 Veterans Day Parade.Lugue Community Center at 292 East “O” St. began with an opening prayer by Colton Christian Church Pastor Danny Fuentes. The Colton High School NJROTC presented the colors as VFW Post #6476 Commander Jess Saucedo, assisted by Girl Scout Troup 11 lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and vocalist Scott Hensel sang the National Anthem.

Colton Mayor, Richard DeLaRosa then welcomed all and introduced the guest speaker Colton Joint Unified School District Board Member Dan Flores.2018 chs band formup & warmup resultColton High School band forms up for the parade.

The Colton Faith Collective Ministers Association then lead those assembled through a Veteran’s Dedication and Veteran’s Prayer. Dr. G gave closing remarks reminding everyone to enjoy the refreshments provided by Community Services and then to gather for the Veterans Parade at 9:30 a.m.

colton hs band warming up resultThe Veterans Parade proceeded down La Cadena Drive and then “O” Street heading north to Fleming Park. The NJROTC from Colton High School and the Colton Fire Department shared a pace in the parade with local dignitaries and most importantly, veterans. The Colton High School Marching Band, Dr. G’s former charges, entertained those who viewed the parade with their variety of rousing marches.colton hs band veterans parade result

chs band veterans day parade resultI am sorry to report that I was unable to take any photos of the Prayer Ceremony as I was quite busy setting up the California WW1 Centennial Task Force booth and display at the Woman’s Club, (my faithful right hand, my wife, Joni Betten had travelled out of state to meet our brand new granddaughter,) but I did get to hear the band come down the street in their gallant uniforms.

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As Dr. G, who acted as Master of Ceremonies for all of the morning’s events, took the outdoor stage of Fleming Park’s band shell, the many dignitaries, veterans, and invited guests took their places amongst the audience. Many families had already staked out locations in the shade of the park’s trees and stage benches. Pastor Pete Tasaka of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship offered the opening prayer followed again by the Colton High NJROTC presentation of the colors. American Legion Post 155’s Commander Ken LeBron led the pledge with the Scouts with another singing of the National Anthem by Mr. Hensel.

After the mayor again welcomed everyone there, Dr. G had the audience veterans line up resultVeterans are asked to step up and be recognized for their service.recognize the one hundredth anniversary of the passing of the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month in 1918 and the end of the first great world war and all were invited to participate in the “Bells of Peace” commemorating the final day of WW1 when the last shot was fired ending “the war to end all wars.”

California Assembly Member Eloise Gomez-Reyes gave the keynote address. Dr. G then called forward the dignitaries of Colton to present all Veterans of all wars and conflicts forward one at a time to be recognized for their service and receive a special decoration created for the commemoration.

As the official representative for all those who served in WW1, I was asked to receive the medal for the California WW1 Centennial Task Force and every American who served in WW1. It was a great honor that I hope those in the audience shall not soon forget. I know I never will.

veterans recognized in coltonEach veteran was called by name and each ones service was recognized.Though the presentation was lengthy, as Dr. G made every effort to recognize by name every veteran present, a more fitting finally could not have been planned than that which the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6476 gave. The post’s Honor Guard offered in remembering those who have died in service to their country a twenty-one-gun salute and playing of Taps.

Dr. Gonzalez then thanked all for coming and invited everyone to attend the Veteran’s Showcase being held just across the street at the Colton Women’s Club at 495 N. 7th St. Here they would have the opportunity to view the California WW1 Centennial Task Force’s WW1 display, meet special veterans, and see many artifacts American soldiers calif ww1 task force banner resultCalifornia WW1 Centennial Task Force official banner.had on display of their own service. This reception, in contrast to their daily unpretentious civilian life, these veterans were treated as celebrities whose presence excited the crowd who asked for autographs and were eager to hear their stories.

It was here also that I was besieged at the WW1 Centennial booth with many interested Americans and descendants who would ask about the service of the sailors and Doughboys of WW1.

 bill betten at display  before womens club resultBill Betten at the booth just after the rush of inquisitive participants at Colton's Armistice Centennial Event 2018.

 

Though I was quite committed to attend other Armistice Centennial Events that day and had to pack up and leave the day was not over in Colton and I was informed that the VFW Post 6476 was inviting everyone to an Open House that afternoon from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.

 

 

 

dr g & bill betten enjoy a laugh resultDr. G & Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten enjoy a laugh at the California WW1 Centennial Task Force display at the Colton Armistice Centennial Event I want to thank Dr. Luis Gonzalez and the people of Colton for inviting me and the and the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to their Veterans Day/Armistice Centennial Event. It was a great day, a great event, enjoyed by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 11, 2018 - The Bells of Peace Toll Again

Throughout California Communities Commemorate Anew the End of the War

 

320 pixel Cal TF logo PNGAn event indorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 

 

BOP LogoAt precisely 11 o’ clock, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 the guns fell silent, and the Great War came to an end. On the battlefields of France it was said that the “silence was deafening.”

For four long years the massive guns of WW1 on both sides had poured forth their death, but suddenly they bellowed no more. November 11, 1918, became the day the world would remember as the day of peace, the day the war-to-end-all-wars finally came to an end. “Think of it,” people would say, "war never again.” They would think to themselves, “Could it be true?”

But, WW1 became The-War-We-Forgot and soon enough (not twenty years later) tyrants were at it again dictating the orders for death.

100 years later the United States WW1 Centennial Commission formulated a plan to remind Americans of the service and sacrifice made by that generation a century ago. The Bells of Peace initiative was designed to involve communities across the nation to do just that. Towns and cities from Maine to Hawaii were asked to peal the bells exactly at 11:00 A.M. just as they did 100 years ago.

The word was spread and throughout the nation, California included, the bells did ring twenty-one times symbolizing the nation's highest honor: the 21-gun salute. On that Sunday, November 11, 2018, communities sounded together the reminder. Even cell phones had been set to go off where a real bell could not be found. An app had been made available so that even a singular individual could remember standing alone in the wilderness.

Thus it was, that up and down the State of California, from the smallest town to the largest metropolis the bells did toll at ceremonies open to the public.

sjsu normal school bell in quadSan Jose State University's Normal School BellFor example, as the Sunday morning services came to a close in Woodland, California, Yolo County, at the United Methodist Church, right at 11:00 A.M., the church’s handbell group, The Glory Shakers, rang twenty-one bells in honor of those soldiers and sailors from Yolo who paid the ultimate price in WW1. A half-mile away at the historic Yolo County Courthouse, the American Legion Post 77 sponsored the Sunday Veterans Day services where retired Brigadier Gen. James Combs addressed those assembled to commemorate the end of WW1.

Further to the Southwest in Santa Clara County at the San Jose State University Spartan Rose Garden, another commemoration had started at 10:30. Bells of Peace: A World War I Remembrance also rang the bells at 11:00 tolling the university's 1881 Normal School Bell 21 times.

Toward the middle of the state, the Kern County Museum also participated in the Bells of Peace by tolling the bell in the Beale Memorial Clock Tower twenty-one times. The commemoration began at 10:45 a.m. in Jim Burke Plaza at the Kern County Museum.

bells of peace kern countyThe Armistice Centennial Event was a partnership between the museum, BHS Driller Service Academy, Kern County Historical Society, Kern Veterans Memorial, and the CSUB Public History Institute to remember those who served from Kern County in World War I.

Many joined in remembering those who served during World War I and to honor the fallen from Kern County at the special event.

Lori Wear, Curator of Collections at the Kern County Museum said, “We owe our freedom to the men and women from Kern County who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in service to our country during World War I. It is our responsibility and honor to remember their sacrifice.”

Truxtun Beale, a U.S. foreign diplomat, who had donated the famous Clock Tower to the City of Bakersfield, lost his son Walker Blaine Beale in World War I. Lieutenant Beale, U.S. Army, was killed in action in France September 18, 1918, just two months prior to the war’s end.

Bells were known to have tolled twenty-one times in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties as well.

During the war, 116,516 Americans died and over 200,000 were wounded, many still remain missing. The question, will their sacrifice be forgotten? Will we as a people not recall, not remember? As a Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force I am stunned to hear people, young and old ask, “Were we in WW1?” But, I do not blame teachers, for I know it was taught. I do not blame the texts, for I know the facts are there. The fault lies with each one of us who fail to recall the importance of it.

It is critical that we not forget the words Winston Churchill cited when he reiterated, 'Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 November 11, 2018 - Armistice Centennial Event -

Los Angeles High School Alumni Armistice Centennial Event

Los Angeles High School Memorial Park - 4625 Olympic Blvd

100 Years of Remembrance

First World War - Armistice Centenary

 

 By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

colorguard with la hs in distance resultOn that historic morning of the centenary of the end of WW1, my first Armistice Centennial Event, or ACE, for the day commemorating the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month of 1918 was hosted by the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association. The program explained that in cooperation with the California WWI Centennial Task Force, the Alumni Association had planned a full “day of commemoration.” Additionally, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the L. A. Department of Recreation and Parks, the L. A. Public Library Department, and the Consulate General of France had played a hosting role.

setting up the cww1ctf booth resultEarly morning set up of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force booth.As a Co-Director of the California WWI Centennial Task Force, I had been asked to set up a display and speak that day, as had my fellow Co-Director Courtland Jindra. The program, endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to “commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California” suggested a zenith to the many years of work at which we both had been striving.

The Setting

When I arrived at Los Angeles High School Memorial Park on the morning of Veterans Day, I did not know much about the high school across the street, nor the park for that matter, that sits in the heart of LA on Olympic Boulevard. It is most likely that the majority of Los Angelenos know little about the place's history, but clearly la hs memorial library lahs mem park resultMemorial Library at LA High School Memorial Park.those who live nearby are very familiar with the park’s welcoming atmosphere and well-kept fixtures. A regular flow throughout the morning brought parents of children who delighted on the play equipment, elderly folks who sat peacefully, or read beneath the stately trees, and the occasional dog walker. As it was Sunday, the library was closed,memorial library entrance result but one could peer in the windows to see a world of shelves and books that did not look ignored. The dedication plaque on the outside showed that those who died in WW1 had not been forgotten. This was a key ingredient in discovering the origin of this place.

la hs memorial park ww1 plaque resultLos Angeles High School Memorial Park WW1 Commemoration plaque

Just after WWI, the alumni association from the school just across the road, together with the then Los Angeles High School student body had teamed up to raise funds. The plan, to purchase the land facing the school for use as a park to commemorate fallen classmates of the Great War, was followed up by donating the park to the citizens of Los Angeles. Thus, the park officially bears the name “Los Angeles High School Memorial Park.” It is a point of pride for the alumni that Los Angeles High School Memorial Park is asserted to be the only park in the nation sitting on land purchased by the students and alumni of a public high school. They claim that it is the only park in Los Angeles dedicated to casualties just of World War I.

Over the years, it has served as a Senior Park and the site of a City Library. In fact, the library contains a stained-glass window in which are inscribed the names of the alumni who perished in the war and whose sacrifice the park was dedicated.

In all, 800 Los Angeles High School alumni served in The Great War, among them 100 lieutenants, fifteen captains, eight majors, and one major-general (Alexander Tuthill, class of 1890). Another important Alumni veteran name, William Gwynn was awarded the Croix de guerre for extraordinary bravery.la hs memorial park memorial library resultLos Angeles High School Memorial Library which houses the stained glass WW1 Commemoration window.

Founded in 1881, the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association, boasts being the oldest alumni association in the region and among the area's oldest entities in continuous operation. The association continues to donate to the park and to supervise the maintenance of its historic memorial glass window, the park's memorial arboretum, and other tributes.

Such was the setting of the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association’s Armistice centennial observance, entitled 100 Years of Remembrance.

The Commemorations

la hs rotc colorguard result (1)Los Angeles High School ROTC colorguardAt 11:00 a.m. a flag Raising Ceremony conducted by the Los Angeles High School ROTC Color Guard was led by Eric Fitzpatrick and Betsy Cuevas. The extra tall pole in the center of the park, standing almost higher than the ageless trees there stood as a proud reminder to the color guard of young Americans presenting our Star Spangled Banner to steadfastly support the flag, not only when she flew at her peak, but even when recalling her losses while resting at half-staff.

dr allen courtland bill in front of  booth resultDr. William Allen and fellow California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Directors Courtland Jindra and Bill Betten in front of Task Force booth.Exhibits and presentations followed throughout the day and gave those in attendance the opportunity to become more familiar with the facts of the ones who had served this great nation one hundred years ago.

A special treat was planned for just after noon at 12:30. The organizers were thrilled when a flyover of an antique aircraft came as expected. The flight made by pilot Gabe Lopez in a vintage bi-plane, not too much unlike those cloth and wood chargers of the air World War One biplane appears over the memorial library resultOrganizers cheer as a vintage biplane appears over the park's Memorial Library as scheduled.pilots flew and fought in, gave everyone quite a show with repeated low pstearman flyover resultStearman biplane flown by Gabe Lopez.asses and turns. It caused everyone in the area, not just those in the park, to recall that fragile time in flight history. The sights and sounds brought each person physically that much closer to experiencing the real threats the Doughboys faced in WW1.

The program sheet explained that Mr. Lopez, had been taught how to fly by his father, 1st Lt. Edward J. Lopez, a fighter pilot who flew P-47-Thunderbolts in the Second World War with the 365th Fighter Bomber Group called the Hell Hawks, “and who this morning, by decree of the President of the Republic of France, was appointed a Chevalier (Knight) of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor.” The memoirs of Lt. Lopez, who is also a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart, have been published as Flight of a Hell Hawk.

coming around the strearman at a distance resultComing around the strearman at a distance.On this afternoon’s flight, Gabe was flying a waving to us below resultPilot Gabe Lopez waves to us all below.1940 Boeing Stearman Bi-plane very similar to the first aircraft that his dad learned to fly while in primary training during WWII. The bright yellow bird with U.S. Navy markings was easily spotted even in the park's tall tree tops, unlike the stealthy camouflaged eagles that soared in the skies one hundred years ago.

 

 

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The late-afternoon highlight was the showing of what was likely the most famous of early WW1 films. At 4:30, William Wellman, Jr. introduced his father's film Wings. The film, to start as soon as it got dark enough, was accompanied by pianist and composer Michael Mortilla.

 

courtland helps in taking down the booth resultCo-Director Courtland Jindra helps in taking down the Task Force Booth and Bill Betten's display.As we had other ACE events to attend that day, we had to leave before the program was finished, but were there to witness the extra-large movie screen being erected. The thirty-or-so foot tall screen was large enough to practically remove from the audience’s view the brick library sitting behind it. As we packed up the Task Force booth to head out to other commemorations the park transformed into an outdoor cinema.dr william allen resultDr. William Allen of the LAHS Alumni Association supervises construction of the giant viewing screen.

 

The two hour and twenty-four minute film completed the evening, the conclusion of which was made by an observance by William Allen, Ph.D., Event Coordinator and Secretary of the Los Angeles High School Alumni Association.

 

 

Special acknowledgements also went to:
Hon. Charles Aronberg, M.D., L.A. High School Alumni Assoc. President and Chairman
Marian Kunkel Hope, L.A. High School Alumni Assoc. President Emerita
Randy Haberkamp and Alejandra Espasande of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Darryl Mack (L. A. Department of Recreation and Parks Electrician Supervisor)
Nicole White and Leticia Lopez

 

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November 11, 2018 - Armistice Centennial Event - Victory Memorial Grove

Elysian Park, Los Angeles, California

320 pixel logo w sloganAn event endorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.

victory mem grove overheadLos Angeles' Victory Memorial grove before tree planting and before the landscaping work was finished.At 11 o'clock on Armistice Day, November 11th in a place called Victory Memorial Grove participants in a very special event used cell phones to hear the ringing of the "Bells of Peace." Thus marked the beginning of the Los Angeles Armistice Centennial Event in Elysian Park to remember and commemorate the end of WW1 a century earlier.BOP Header 440

On Armistice Day, November 11th (now referred to as Veteran's Day,) on the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I, the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park (CCSEP) and the Los Angeles Department of Recreations and Parks jointly sponsored a Tree planting ceremony at the historic Victory Memorial Grove. A dozen trees were planted in memory of those lost in the war a century ago. Elysian Park's current Victory Memorial Grove was initially dedicated in 1920, but slowly became "forgotten." Loved ones could plant a tree in memory of those lost in the conflict and several chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution erected a monument to relatives of their organization who died during the struggle.

This year's tree planting was dedicated to restoring the historical WWI Memorial Grove, remembering and honoring veterans and loved ones, & reforesting Elysian Park.

michael o'brienMichael O' Brien, Secretary of the Citizens Committee acted as Master of CeremoniesAs mentioned above, the event began by joining the national commemoration, the "Bells of Peace" being "rung" over a cellphone. The app made available by the United States WW1 Centennial Commission out of Washington DC was a perfect solution for the remote location. Michael O'Brien, Secretary of the Citizens Committee was Master of Ceremonies throughout introducing speakers as well as plans for the site going forward. Opening remarks were given by the Co-President of the CCSEP Phillip Murphy.phillip murphyPhillip Murphy, Co-President of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park addresses the audience. city councilman mitch ofarrellLos Angeles City Councilman Mitch O' Farrell praises the efforts made at Victory Memorial Grove.City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell spoke movingly of his own family's history of military service. The Keynote Speaker was Courtland Jindra, California World War I Centennial Task Force Co-Director who discussed American losses in the war as well as memorial parks that were dedicated in its aftermath.courtland jindra holds the 100cities 100memorials certificateKeynote speaker and California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra displays the 100 Cities/100 Memorials certificate from the US WW1 Centennial Commission for Victory Memorial Grove. Those who sponsored trees were then invited to share their thoughts.

At the close of the "formal" proceedings Jindra invited everyone to take in the monument at the top of the hill. Then Councilman O'Farrell and Murphy planted the last tree (the others being sewn the day before by Parks employees) and attendees were invited to participate in a potluck lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

November 11, 2018 to December 31, 2019 - A WW1 Armistice Centennial Exhibit at the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building 2018-2019

 100 Years of Disruption: The Great War Revealed in San Francisco

 

by Dana Lombardy, Executive Director of the World War One Historical Association
and publisher of World War One Illustrated

 

Americans today know it as World War One. 100 years ago Great Britain named it the Great War. It began as a conflict between Europe’s major powers. Eventually it embroiled more than 30 nations from around the world, including the United States.

The U.S. came out of that war as the world’s greatest industrial and economic power. That power enabled America to help win World War Two. The United States became the world’s only super power after it survived the Cold War rivalry with the now defunct Soviet Union. Today’s War on Terrorism is a consequence of and continuing effect of the Great War that ended in 1918.

America’s story and San Francisco’s role in the Great War inspired a unique display that opened over Memorial Day weekend in 2018. Eight 8-foot square banners were installed in the War Memorial Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, across the street from San Francisco City Hall. An additional exhibit with uniforms, weapons, videos, and dozens of artifacts were unveiled in the Veterans Gallery on November 11 of 2018, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended the Great War.

The War Memorial Veterans Building and War Memorial Opera House opened in 1932 to honor and remember the veterans who served in the Navy and American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) from 1917-1918.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission chose San Francisco’s War Memorial Veterans Building as one of its 100 Cities / 100 Memorials matching grant. The award helps to preserve monuments with the designation as a World War I Centennial Memorial.

GREAT WAR BANNERS DESCRIBED

The eight large banners tell the story of America’s initial desire to stay out of a foreign war in 1914. The banners document the growing sympathy for civilian victims and refugees and horror at the unprecedented numbers of casualties. In 1917 the United States joined as a co-belligerent in that war.

            It was the first war that witnessed the widespread use of submarines, airships and airplanes, huge artillery cannon, machine-guns, and poison gas. It also saw the introduction of a new armored vehicle called the tank. The lethality of these weapons drove armies underground. Soldiers lived for years in systems of trenches. They were separated from their enemy by a desolate “No Man’s Land” of shell holes and barbed wire.

A massive fund raising effort using Liberty bonds helped to finance the war.

            Prosecuting the war required millions of American women to work on farms, in factories, and in many previously traditional male jobs. These women replaced the more than four million American men who were drafted or volunteered for the U.S. Army and Navy. Hundreds of women went “over there” (France). Millions of women supported the home front. Their service provided key political leverage to get Congress to pass the 19th Amendment in 1919. That amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified in 1920.

The research, text, images, and design for the banners were compiled by Ken Maley, Janice Tong, and Dana Lombardy and produced by graphic artist Dan Zillion.

The eight banners tell this story using period posters, archival photos, newspapers and other images. The last banner details how San Francisco veteran Charles Kendrick led the effort to fund and build the War Memorial buildings. These banners’ content can be viewed online here: https://alwmcsf.org/ww1/1914-war-begins-in-europe/

VETERANS GALLERY EXHIBIT

On November 11, 2018 the Veterans Gallery augmented the banners with an exhibit titled

The Great War / World War I — The American Experience 1918-2018

The heart of the exhibit focuses on the men and women who lived through this important and amazing period of history. In every display individuals are spotlighted: soldiers, sailors, airmen, Red Cross workers, etc.

Twelve tall cabinets along two walls present a number of billboards with depictions of posters, newspapers, photographs, etc. Each billboard has a theme:

America enters the war. Two million men volunteered, supported by a patriotic home front.

Training. The Army expanded rapidly, but was rushed into combat.

Food will win the war. Volunteer rationing plus massive agriculture output enabled America to feed its overseas soldiers, its people at home, and its allies.

Learning on the job. American “doughboys” faced a new kind of warfare. Mistakes caused many casualties. After several months they became skilled soldiers.

We are all Americans. Despite racism and prejudice, thousands of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and others volunteered.

The unknown soldiers: African Americans. Despite “Jim Crow” discrimination and violence against them, nearly 400,000 African Americans served. When permitted to fight, they proved to be fierce warriors for a country that often did not appreciate them.

Women support the war. The U.S. Navy was the first service to enlist women. Nurses, ambulance drivers, and other support services “over there” (France) put women at risk. That service and sacrifice helped earn women the right to vote.

The amazing American Red Cross. Millions of women volunteered as nurses or humanitarian workers in more than 25 countries. 400 lost their lives from 1914-1921.

Animals also served. Truly forgotten are the horses, mules, dogs, and pigeons that performed vital roles during the war.

An Armistice ends the war. America helped turn the tide for the Allies. But German propaganda claimed its soldiers were “stabbed in the back” by its politicians. In 20 years another world war began.

A hero’s welcome home. Thousands of doughboys suffered grievous facial wounds and lost limbs. Thousands more suffered from “shell shock” – what today is known as PTSD.

Veterans organize and are memorialized. The American Legion was founded in 1919. San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building are two of the monuments erected to honor and remember their service.

In addition to the above presentation, the exhibit includes videos playing on two separate large monitors. One video is a 10-minute slide show called “Why is World War One Important?” It explains how the war disrupted warfare, politics, economies, and social institutions. It also describes why the war is still important, still relevant today.

The second 4-minute video is part of a longer production created for the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia. It features the Marine Corps’ first major battle at Belleau Wood in 1918.

            Scale models of aeroplanes are shown in an action diorama of an aerial “dogfight” that was constructed for the exhibit. There are also displays of uniforms, weapons, and equipment.

            Civilian artifacts, song sheets, and more describe America’s home front during the war.

            A display of trench art shows examples of artillery shell casings that were turned into works of art by soldiers.

            The legacy of the war is also represented through post-war toys and collectibles.

            The Gallery exhibit covers a huge range of relics and topics in just one room. The artifacts, research, text, images and displays were produced by Ken Maley, Janice Tong, Fred Rutledge, Paul Cox, Dana Lombardy, and graphic artist Dan Zillion.

THE WORLD WAR ONE ARMISTICE CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION COMMITTEE

In late 2017, Ken Maley approached the Trustees of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Foundation about the idea for a World War One Armistice Centennial Commemoration. The Foundation administrates the War Memorial Opera House (where the San Francisco ballet also performs), Davies Symphony Hall, and the Herbst Theatre.

Maley served on Mayor Newsom’s 1906 Centennial Committee in 2006. He had also served on committees for other important San Francisco anniversary events.

            Maley became the Commemoration Project Director. Trustee Major General J. Michael Myatt, USMC (Ret.) agreed to chair the committee. Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.), President of the Korean War Memorial Foundation, became co-chair.

            Other Bay area community leaders joined the committee, including:

LTCOL Wallace I. Levin, California National Guard Reserve (Ret.), a U.S. Army Korean War veteran

COL Fred Rutledge, Director of Museum Operations for the California State Military Reserve

USMC veteran Edgar Flowers, a Director on the Board of the SF Fleet Week Association

USMC veteran Paul Cox, Chair of the American Legion War Memorial Commission

Janice Tong, Special Assistant to the Chair of the American Legion War Memorial Commission

Nelson Lum, Commander, American Legion Cathay Post 384

US Army veteran Sal Compagno, President, World War One Historical Association – an educational non-profit organization

Dana Lombardy, Executive Director, World War One Historical Association – became Project Historical Consultant

            Graphic artist Dan Zillion produced the eight banners and the printed displays in the Veterans Gallery and lobby of the War Memorial Veterans Building.

            In early 2019 the committee was renamed the Veterans Commemoration Committee. Future plans include projects to remember and honor the veterans of the Korean War, World War Two, Vietnam, etc.

VISITING THE BANNERS AND EXHIBIT

            The eight banners are now on permanent display on the second floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building. They can be viewed when the building is open from 8 am to 10 pm Monday-Sunday.

All eight banners can be viewed on the American Legion website: https://alwmcsf.org/ww1/

The Great War / World War One exhibit in the Veterans Gallery is open to the public and admission is free. The days and hours posted can be found online here:

https://alwmcsf.org/gallery/ww1_exhibit2/ The exhibit runs until 31 December 2019.

In early September parts of the exhibit will be removed to make room for a large display that commemorates the 100th anniversary of the American Legion.

A video augmented tour of the exhibit is in production. It should be viewable on the World War One Historical Association YouTube channel later this fall. The exhibit can therefore be “visited” even after it closes at the end of 2019.

A COLLECTIBLE TO REMEMBER THE SAN FRANCISCO EXHIBIT AND HELP CONSTRUCT THE NEW NATIONAL WORLD WAR I MEMORIAL IN WASHINGTON, DC

            A set of eight commemorative cachets was produced by the committee and released on October 2, 2018 during San Francisco Fleet Week. These cachets are collectible envelopes featuring the “Turning the Tide” Forever™ postage stamp issued in 2018 by the U.S. Postal Service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

The cachet team included committee chair and Fleet Week chairman General Myatt, Ed Flowers, a Director of San Francisco Fleet Week and a member of the San Francisco Marines' Memorial Club, Dana Lombardy, and graphic artist Dan Zillion.

Flowers is a stamp aficionado who designed the Buffalo Soldiers cachet (among others) and worked with General Myatt on the 2005 release of the four Distinguished Marine postage stamps on the occasion of the 230th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

These eight “Turning the Tide” cachets feature historical Great War illustrations of the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Service (that eventually became the Air Force), African Americans, Women, Animals, and Charles Kendrick and the San Francisco War Memorial buildings.

Proceeds from the sales of the cachets support the Veterans Commemoration Committee and National World War I Memorial. The cachets can be ordered online here:

https://lombardystudios.com/commemorate-remember-world-war-one/

 

 

 

California WW1 Centennial Task Force

 

Managing Board Co-Directors

Bill Betten
Sal Compagno
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Hugh E. Crooks, Jr.
Mike Hanlon
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.)
Prof. Jennifer Keene, Ph.D
Courtland Jindra
Dennis Matarrese
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Anthony Powell
Lester Probst
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.
Col. Fred Rutledge 

Northern California Committee

Sal Compagno
Mike Hanlon
Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.
Lt. Col. Kenneth Nielsen
Major General Michael J. Myatt USMC (Ret.)

Anthony Powell
Col. Fred Rutledge
Prof. Jonathan Roth, Ph.D.

Southern California Committee

Bill Betten
Maria Carrillo
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Brigadier General R.G. Head, Ph.D. USAF (Ret.) 
Courtland Jindra
Lester Probst
Jeff Sharp

 Education Committee

Bill Betten, Master of Arts in Education, (Retired teacher DUSD, OUSD, AGUSD)
Lauren Weiss Bricker, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture at Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Scott Corbett, Ph.D, Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jennifer Keene, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Chapman University
Michael Powelson, Ph.D., Lecturer, History, CSUCI
Jonathan Roth, Ph.D., Professor of History, SJSU, Burdick Military History Project Director [Committee Chair]
Miriam Raub Vivian, Ph.D.,  Professor of History, CSUB

Website Administrator

Bill Betten

 

Email: courtland.jindra@worldwar1centennial.org

Snail Mail:
     California World War 1Centennial Task Force
     330 Myrtlewood Dr.
     Calimesa, CA 92320

 

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