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

California in WW1 - NOW



May 29, 2017 - Memorial Day Event, Rainbow Division Memorial Grove

Exposition Park, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California


4 memorial day at rainbow memorial grove 2017 everyoneOn Memorial Day, 2017, a small service took place at the "Rainbow Memorial Grove" in Exposition Park. The ceremony, put on by the 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, dates back to two engineer companies that were part of the historic division and led by Lt. Col. Gilbert Roldan.

After repair and clean up of years of deposits and graffiti, the monument to the men of the 42nd Rainbow Division was rededicated during a ceremony that included speakers from the American Legion, and presentation by a prestigious color-guard and honor-guard.

Originally dedicated on May 30, 1935, is was suitable that this re-dedication occur on Memorial Day eighty-two years later.

Read more: May 29, 2017 - Memorial Day Event, Rainbow Division Memorial Grove



May 29, 2017 - Memorial Day Event

Montclair City Hall, Montclair, California


montclair memoria garden memorial day 2017 resultThe City of Montclair has a long-established custom of proudly commemorating Memorial Day that includes the recognition of new names to be added to their Veterans’ Memorial Wall.montclair memorial colorguard salutes 2017 result Annually, each Memorial Day, at the Memorial Garden, (located adjacent to Montclair City Hall,) Montclair remembers the outstanding courage and commitment of her citizens who have “given so much to our great country.”

Guests arrived to a well-planned, and well-attended commemoration. guests and dignataries at montclair memorial day 2017 resultDignitaries included a U.S. Congresswoman, a California State Senator, California Assembly Member, a Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force, an L.A. County Supervisor, distinguished veterans, and city and monclair hs junior rotc color guard awaits memorial day 2017 resultflagraising at memorial day 2017 resultcommunity officers. In an exemplary ceremony, worthy of any city to model, the Montclair Memorial Day Program for May 29, 2017, proceeded with a welcome, an dignateries 2017 montclair memorial day resultinvocation by the Montclair Police Chaplin (Vicki Brobeck,) and a presentation of the colors by Montclair High School’s Junior ROTC. After Retired Master Sergeant Arturo Padilla led the Pledge of Allegiance, a barbershop quartet, The Dudesbarbershop and audience 2017 montclair memorial day result of Four Tunes, sang the National Anthem in wonderful harmony. Montclair Community Action Committee Chair, Laurie Milhiser then introduced Mayor Paul M. Eaton who acknowledged all of the participants and thanked all in attendance after delivering his Memorial Day message.

walkers choral sings 2017 montclair memorial day resultNext, in colorful red and white outfits, the Walkers Choral Group, a collection of senior voices from throughout the city, then sang selections of patriotic songs.


bill betten gives keynote address at 2017 montclair memorial day eventThen the World War 1 Centennial Anniversary Commemoration was delivered by Bill Betten, Co-Director of the WW1 Centennial Task Force, as the keynote address. Bill told the story of a farm boy and his younger brother 100 years ago, who were sent to Fort Riley, Kansas before shipping off to France, first crossing the treacherous submarine infested waters of the Atlantic. Both fought in the same division in the Battle of Belleau Wood where the younger brother was severely wounded, but the farmboy continued on to fight in almost every major battle the Americans were in.

A little more than a month before thebill betten keynote speaker at 2017 montclair memorial day event result Armistice, He was shot in the chest and left for dead. The Germans picked up the body, and threw him on the dead wagon. When he came to, he pulled himself from under the bodies, struggled to escape the Germans, and crawled back across No-Man’s-Land where he was gassed. Co-Director Betten explained that it was near miraculous that he survived to return home to become the speaker’s own grandfather.

keynote address bill betten at 2017 montclair memorial day event resultBill then reminded the audience that WW1 was hardly anything like the average person considers war to be. The numbers were astonishing, considering the few months U.S. soldiers fought. Over 280,000 dead or wounded, with many more who came home with “shellshock,” what we now call PTSD. Maintaining lasting relationships was hard. Both brothers found keeping a job difficult, as many WW1 veterans did, especially those who had been gassed. Decades later their cousin, who had also been gassed, finally died of emphysema. Still, they were all keynote speaker bill betten at 2017 montclair memorial day event resultproud to say they had served their country for the sake of freedom.

Bill closed with a short history of the origins of Memorial Day that began with the decorating of the graves. He then explained how similar to that are the important goals of the United States World War One Centennial Commission and the California World War One Centennial Task Force in finding the lost WW1 memorials across the nation, building a monument to those who served in WW1 on the National Mall in Washington DC, and commemorating their memory in what we do today.

one half of the audience 2017 montclair resultMontclair officials then honored the individuals who had plaques on the city’s Veterans’ Memorial Wall, and paid tribute to deceased Montclair veterans from all branches of service with a ringing of the Fireplacing the wreath memorial day montclair 2017 result Department’s bell at the reading of each name on the wall, including the new names listed this year. The wall remains an ongoing dedication to those citizens of Montclair who served their country during any war or peacetime. This commemoration climaxed with a placing of a glorious wreath presented by Mayor Eaton.

councilman ruh reads flanders fields resultMontclair City Council Member Bill Ruh was supported by Community Action Committee Members in a reading of Lt. Col. John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields followed by the barbershop quartetbarbershop quartet sings patriotic medly 2017 montclair memorial day result singing a medley of patriotic hymns. After closing with a few words, Taps was played by a live trumpeter.taps being played 2017 montclair memorial day result Then all in attendance were invited to the nearby Senior Center Hall to enjoy a BBQ and examine Bill Betten’s World War 1 display.


 While guests enjoyed a lunch of Barbecue, they could peruse the California WW1 Centennial Task Force table with items for sale with proceeds going to support the Task Force and raise funds for the new WW1 monument on the Capitol Mall in Washington DC. The wide variety of artifactsbill and joni betten share artifacts info result on display also triggered countless inquiries. Numerous individuals spent time at the display tables asking many questions of Bill and his wife co director bill betten answers a question resultJoni Betten on the history of the war and the artifacts presented.






enjoying lunch resultmontclair memorial day displays resultlunch is served result


montclair memorial day display tables resultmontclair memorial day display resultbill and joni betten result


montclair memorial day display table 2017 resultmontclair memorial day display table resultmontclair memorial day display tables 2017 result






June 11, 2017 - Springsation Patriotic Musical Event

Bonita Center for the Arts, San Dimas, CA


57 springsation 2017 ww1 commemmorationSpringsation 2017 World War 1 commemoration featuring representatives of all branches of the U.S.military, and re-enators in authentic WW1 uniforms including Doughboys and a Salvation Army Doughnut Dolly.

Official emblem of the California WW1 Centennial Task ForceAn event indorsed and approved by the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to commemorate, honor, and educate the citizens of the Great State of California.


Once again, the musical spectacular that was Springsation, a memorable extravaganza of music and dance, performed by non-professional as well as professional youth and adult artists from many Southern California communities, churches, and schools was presented at the gorgeous new Bonita Center for the Arts in San Dimas on June11.

The two performances of the show’s usual large vocal choirs and three handbell choirs, accompanied by an incredible orchestra were again directed by Martene Craig who gathered the musicians from Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and Ventura counties, along with some from out of state. This year’s gala focused on family encouragement in addition to recognizing the 100th anniversary of World War One.

Read more: June 11, 2017- Springsation Patriotic Musical Event



June 14, 2017 - Flag Day Event, Refurbished WW1 Memorial Unveiling

Elysian Park, Victory Grove, Los Angeles, CA


Cleaning and Planting at Victory Memorial Grove

flag day at victory memorial grove 2017 colorguardOn Flag Day, Wednesday, June 14, 2017, exactly ninety-six years to the day from the original setting of the WW1 Monument at Los Angeles Victory Memorial Grove by the Southern California Daughters of the American Revolution, a passionate re-dedication ceremony was presented by the Los Angeles Eschscholtzia Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.


The Clean-up and Prep

The team of Lester Probst of the American Legion Hollywood Post 43, and Jan Gordon and Kimberly Ables Jindra of Los Angeles—Eschscholtzia Chapter of DAR (LAE-DAR), had met several times with the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department, in preparation for the restroration of the Elysian Park WW1 Monument.

Read more: June 14, 2017 - Flag Day Event, Refurbished WW1 Memorial Unveiling



June 15, 2017 - Grant Narratives & Applications for the 100 Cities/100 Memorials Grant Challenge Due

California Applicants Construct Narratives on the Projects They Envision to Further the Remembrance of Those who Served 100 Years Ago 


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


The opportunity to gain matching funds for WW1 memorials needing restoration across the nation closed on Thursday, June 15th. The United States World War 1 Centennial Commission together with the Pritzker Military Museum is offering the matching grants in what they are calling the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program. Several California organizations have responded with the goal to save the monuments and memorials they identified in need in their communities.

The story of the finding and restoration of one of these WW1 monuments in the Los Angeles area starts with a quest.

Amateur historian Courtland Jindra, an L.A. resident, had been tracking down memorials for Dr. Mark Levitch's nation-wide WWI Memorial Inventory Project for over a year when he discovered an article in the archives of the Los Angeles Times from November 12, 1920, referring to a place called “Victory Memorial Grove.”

In the fascinating narrative submitted to the Commission for consideration we read that Jindra, a future California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director, had succeeded in locating the neglected, vandalized, and finally lost monument referred to in the newspaper article. 

Actually, he found two WW1 memorials there. About the grant application he explained, “(W)e sort of imply the monument and the park are more connected than they were. They both are WWI memorials, but the DAR (monument) is specific to California DAR relatives who died in the war, while the park was supposed to be for all of Los Angeles.  Both ended up commemorating far beyond Los Angeles itself as people in LA bought trees for those beyond the city, which to me is very fitting given this city is full of people not from here.”

In, Save Victory Memorial Grove Project, the narrative submitted to the United States World War 1 Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum in application to be one of the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials Awardees, Courtland explains the trials and tribulations of the Victory Memorial Grove WW1 monument and his finding it.



 In their grant narrative for their submission on the Carmel-by-the-Sea World War I Memorial Arch, Ian Martin and the American Legion Post 512 wrote:

“In 1977, a runaway car nearly obliterated the monument. The City of Carmel-by-the-Sea coordinated its reconstruction effort, bringing together stone anonymously donated from the original quarry, and the son and grandson of one of the original quarrymen to shape that stone into blocks to rebuild the monument.”

They continue to explain that, “Today, this war memorial is in generally good shape. However, the soft, readily-carved sandstone is beginning to flake apart in some places, and needs replacing.”

Read below: To Those Who Served






July 3, 2017 - Re-dedication of World War One Memorial Plaque at Santa Monica High School

Memorial Greek Amphitheater, 601 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, California


by  Jim Yocum


santa monica ww1 monument rededication 2017WW1 Re-enactors are ready to unveil the restored monument plague at the Santa Monica rededication in 2017.Squadron 283 of the Sons of the American Legion of Pacific Palisades has refurbished and re-installed the Memorial plaques that grace the stage front of the Santa Monica High School Memorial Open Air Theater (aka “Memorial Greek Theater”). The original plaque was installed on May 30th, 1921 at the original dedication of the theater. This Memorial Day dedication ceremony was presided over by the Commander of American Legion Post 123 in Santa Monica, Roland Speers, among other local dignitaries, so it is fitting that the Sons of the American Legion lead the re-dedication. Squadron 283 has taken on the project of restoring several WWI memorials in the Los Angeles area and this is the first one of those that has been completed. While the focus of the re-dedication will be on the World War One plaque and those named on it, the Squadron also refurbished the World War Two plaque as both are placed as a facing pair of memorials.

Read more: July 3, 2017 - Re-dedication of Santa Monica High School's World War One Memorial Plaque

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: [email protected]

Snail Mail:
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     330 Myrtlewood Dr.
     Calimesa, CA 92320


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