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

 

Over the course of the Centennial, California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra has developed significant liaisons with numerous foreign dignitaries. The relationship with the Belgian Consul General though has been special. Here, as we approach the one hundredth anniversary of the visit of Belgian King Albert I to California and the United States just after the war, Courtland shares the poignant departing of Henri Vantieghem from his post in our state.

 

July 23, 2019 - Belgian Consul General Recalls His Monarch's Visit and Honors a Century of Friendship

At his departure Consul General Henri Vantieghem shares his gratitude for Americans then and now.

 

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

 

consul general henri vanBelgian Consul General Henri VantieghemOn July 23rd, 2019 the Belgian Consul General Henri Vantieghem had his farewell party. In less than three weeks he will be returning to his native country after eight years abroad. He served in Turkey before he came to LA - unsure if he had a posting before that. He's been in the States for the last three years and even though based out of Los Angeles, his area representing his nation included about twenty states and territories. He was the top diplomat for the entire western part of the US all the way out to Guam and American Samoa. He only reported to the Belgian Ambassador in Washington DC.

In his farewell remarks Henri spoke at length about his appreciation for the United States, our can do pioneer spirit, and our optimism even after getting knocked down. Europeans don't recover as easily from setbacks in his opinion. He also said that we typically plan better than Europe, that they excel in improvising, and we should learn the benefits of each other. I can't hope to do justice to his words, but they were amusing and quite heartfelt.

belgian royals visit hollywood october 1919 resultOn October of 1919 Belgian King and Queen Albert I and Elisabeth visit Hollywood on their round-the-country tour of the United States to thank all Americans for what the US did for Belgium during WW1. (Photo courtesy of Bison Archives.)He recognized Honorary Consuls under his jurisdiction and then awarded about six or seven individuals from the Film community who had ties toward helping promote Belgian film here in Hollywood. After a few City and County Proclamations were read by Assistants to representatives (it seems as if politicians usually send representatives to these rather than attending themselves) Henri actually called me up to the front and said a few words about how important he felt it was that I had spearheaded WWI commemoration locally and if not for me "there would have been nothing done." He then presented me with the book "King Albert's Heroes" about a Belgian Armored Car Unit in the war and their incredible service. It was a very kind thing to do in front of all the other guests. Frankly putting me at the end felt like I was the most important person he meant to recognize even if others got medals and I got a book! The moment felt like my gift was the more meaningful one to him.

Over the last couple of years we've traded books back and forth at some of the events I have put together, so this was a fitting last exchange. Earlier that night we had given him an album of photos my Mom had tracked down from Bison Archives on when King Albert I of Belgium, his Queen, Elisabeth and their son Leopold (future King Leopold III) came to Southern California in 1919 during his tour of the United States after The Great War to say thank you. The 1919 trip was nearly two months long (September-November) as the Royals criss-crossed the United States visiting places large and small. They arrived in the Los Angeles area on October 17th and officials and diplomats from across the area greeted them. School children lined the streets and the 91st courtland jindra and henri vantieghem resultTask Force Co-Director Courtland Jindra receives a special gift from General Consul Henri Vantieghem.Division vets, many of whom had served under the King's command near the end of the war, also participated in formal exercises. It was the first time a European Monarch had visited SoCal, so it was a big deal here. I am SURE the LA Times has way more pictures in their archives somewhere, but they didn't contact us back when we reached out to them. Bison Archives has an extensive collection of early Hollywood photographs and one of the things the Belgian party did on their Southland visit was tour the Ince Studio in Culver City (now it is Culver City Studios) because Leopold was fascinated by the Film Industry. It was a nice little collection and Henri very much appreciated.

After dinner and things started to wind down we got a chance to speak again twice. The first time he said he hoped pointing me out in front of others would bring greater attention to everything I tried to do, as he felt local help was lacking for our efforts. The second time as Mom, Melissa, and I left we all talked about how much we'd all miss each other. Henri said if he was staying long enough, he'd attend my wedding - which would definitely have been touching (as well as something to brag about....how many regular citizens get a Consul General to crash their wedding). I will miss Mr. Vantieghem very much, and I plan to look him up whenever I visit the Kingdom of Belgium.

 

 

 

 

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

 

"Pershing" Donors

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo


Starr Foundation Logo