WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday May 31, 2017 - Episode #22

17 05 31 thumbYoung recruit heads to the training camps

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  • Official Bulletin: War bonds, fake news, prostitutes, shoes, trucks and draft dodgers |@ 01:00

  • Guest: Mike Shuster on the low enthusiasm, Creel, 4 minutes men and arrests for disagreeing with the government. |@ 07:15

  • War In The Sky: Profile Raynal Bolling |@ 11:00

  • Events: Memorial day retrospective |@ 14:00

  • States: NY “Beyond The Trenches”, Eternal Light - relit, IN - Aaron Fisher, PA - Big boom at Eddystone |@ 15:15

  • Guest: Dr. Cathy Gorn - executive director of National History Day |@ 19:00

  • Guest: Donna Crisp National Vice Chair of Commemorative Events for the 100th Anniversary of WWI for the DAR. |@ 25:15

And more...

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War One Centennial News. It’s about WW1 news 100 years ago this week  - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

WW1 Centennial News is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. Today is May 31st, 2017 and I’m Theo Mayer - Chief Technologist for the World War One Centennial Commission and your host.

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week

We have gone - back in time 100 years ago this week….

It is commencement week at universities around the country - and this week in May, 1917, Texas A&M - which  -  for those of you who don’t know - stands for Agricultural and Military - has cancelled their graduation ceremonies.

The Aggies have nixed the ceremonies because most of the 120 students in the graduating class have reported to active duty in the military. This is a first - ever - for Texas A&M.


The Bulletin

The war effort is getting in full swing around the country - for details let’s look at some of the headlines and stories in the “Official Bulletin” America’s government war gazette published by the order of president Wilson.

There are themes that manifest in the paper:

Buy War Bonds - is a clear theme-  as the nation prepares to raise massive amounts of capital for war.

Headlines on that theme - this week include:

  • Appeal To Women Of Nation To Purchase Liberty Bonds

  • Secretary Of Commerce Urges Every Employee To Purchase Liberty Loan Bond

  • Navy Called Upon To Get Behind The Liberty Loan

  • Liberty Loan Success Vital.

  • Farmers And Liberty Loan.

  • Subscribers Can Pay For Liberty Loan Bonds Now

  • Buying A Liberty Bond Is - The Least Sacrifice Americans Must Make, Says George Norris

It goes on in every issue. This is a national fund drive like no other in history. Unlike the wars of the late 20th and early 21st century that are paid for by some magical process (called debt), in 1917 the populace is expected to step up and contribute.

But some things stay incredibly parallel. Here is a headline from Secretary of the Navy Daniels about fake news.

Dateline Saturday May 26, 1917:


" It is with deep regret that I note the daily stream of false reports with regard to the sinking of American ships. Brokerage wires are a particular source for these baseless rumors that cannot but be -  the cause of needless distress to every true American as well as to mothers.

" The reason for these false reports cannot be ascertained. The one hope is that the press will refuse to aid this campaign of vicious rumor that is being carried on so industriously by persons unknown."

Following is an interesting appeal by Secretary of War Baker - sent as a letter to all governors of all states regarding the moral maintenance of young conscripts.

In the training camps already established or soon to be established large bodies of men, selected primarily from the youth of the country, will be gathered together for a period of intensive discipline and training.

The greater proportion of this force probably will be made up of young men who have not yet become accustomed to contact with either the saloon or the prostitute and who will be at that - plastic and generous period of life when questionable modes of indulgence - easily serve as outlets for exuberant physical vitality.

The article goes on in detail about keeping these young men from corruption, gambling, drinking and partying too heartily.

We are also in a war of new technology and America is, if nothing else, incredibly innovative.

Dateline May 28, 1917:


Believed to be First Complete Unit of Horseless Artillery Created  - Early Substitution of Tractors for Animals in Handling Nearly all Forms of Ordnance Predicted.

The story goes on to explain the details but mechanization was a big deal with trucks, tanks, ambulances and even Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Just as with innovation American industry and American entrepreneurship are both also exercised in a big way. A good and simple example is shoes!

Dateline June 2cnd, 1917:


Contracts for shoes, 2,000,000 for the Army and 850,000 for the Navy, have just been awarded, it was announced to-day. These are the largest shoe contracts ever made by the Government and were made under the new system by which the requirements of the Army and Navy are considered jointly and the representatives of practically the entire industry affected are brought together to meet the needs of the Government.

The war effort also upsets the social norms of American Society as the country tries to come to grips with fundamental changes.


The Chief of Staff of the Army issues a brief outlining the provisions made for training camps for colored citizens :

" You are advised that training camps for colored citizens will be established at Fort Des Moines; Iowa, under section 54, National Defense Act, and the regulations prescribed for present training camps, except as modified herein and hereafter. The camp is under the control of the Department Commander, Central Department, who will prepare and conduct the same. “

The story of WW1, the conscription of African Americans, their treatment before, during and after the war - and how this led to the civil rights movement is fundamental - to what made WW1 the War that Changed the World!

Another ongoing theme that continues weekly is the draft, the process of it, the resistance to it and the conflict about it.

Examples this week include the following headlines:

Dateline May 29-June 1, 1917


Eleven arrests have been made and nine Indictments have been returned by Federal grand juries as the result of attempts to hinder registration in accordance with the provisions of the new Army bill.


The article explains that there will be no exemption for married men with families - as rumor had been insinuated.


What does a young man do on registration day? He does his duty to his country, and he will find that the ways and means of doing it are not laborious, involved, or complex.


Department of Justice officials are determined that no man subject to registration under the new Army law shall escape his obligation by leaving the United States before June 5.

Each issue of the official bulletin is now being published daily on the centennial of its original publish date. You can read the current and past issues on our web site. For historians, social anthropologists, and anyone interested in exploring the nuances of America’s transformation in 1917, go to ww1cc.org/bulletin

Link: ww1cc.org/bulletin

Great War Project

Joining us now is former NPR correspondent Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.  Mike - Your story this week also looks at the conflicts in US society over the war. What is the story?

“In the us little enthusiasm for war”



Thank you Mike. That was Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.

War in the Sky

This week in the great war in the sky, we are going to profile US Army Colonel Raynal Bolling.

Bolling, an arkansan who graduates from Harvard Law School and moves to the east coast - is in sympathy with the objectives of the “Preparedness Movement”, a group of influential Americans advocating military preparedness for involvement in World War I and drawn primarily from wealthy lawyers, bankers, academics, and politicians of the Northeast. He is also members of the American Aero Club, and began taking flying lessons on property owned by the Wright Company near Garden City, New York.

By that time the United States was at war with Germany. Bolling was called to active duty as a major in the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps on April 27, 1917,

Quote: "for duty in connection with the organization of the 1st Reserve Aero Squadron," pursuant to authorization of the National Defense Act of 1916.

So on May 26, 1917, 100 years ago this week, he organizes a new 154-man squadron, the first air reserve unit in the United States.

Before Bolling could actually take command of his unit, he is detached in June 1917 for staff duty.

Turns out that French premier Alexandre Ribot has sent U.S. President Woodrow Wilson a telegram at the end of May urging the United States to contribute 4,500 aircraft; 5,000 pilots; and 50,000 mechanics to the war effort.

Because of his legal experience Bolling is assigned to assist in the drafting of legislation to fund the development of military aviation in response to Ribot's proposal.

The subsequent Aviation Act, passes on July 24, 1917 and is the largest single appropriation for a single purpose in US History, $640 million. That is over 13 billion in 2017 dollars!!

In conjunction with that duty, he is also appointed to the advisory Aircraft Production Board of the Council of National Defense to head an aeronautical commission to Europe known as "the Bolling Mission," to represent Secretary of War Newton D. Baker and the Board.

We will hear more about Raynald Bolling in the coming months - he was smart, effective and an influential character in the formation of US military aviation. Especially 100 years ago this week in the great war in the sky!

The Great War Channel

If you’d like to watch interesting and informative videos about WW1, 100 years ago this week -

check out the new posts from our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube.

This week their new episodes include a special about Croatia.

Indie Nydell - the show’s host - points out that most nations involved in WW1 were parts of empires - This special, focuses on one nation inside the Austro-Hungarian Empire - Croatia. The 10 minute retrospective will provide new insight into a country that we hear about in the news occasionally, but don’t really know.

So to learn more about WW1 from a more European perspective we recommend watching the wonderful videos from the Great War Channel on Youtube. The link is in the podcast notes or search for the great war on youtube.



World War One NOW

Activities and Events

WW1 well represented during Memorial Day

We are going to open our story about memorial day with a quote about General Pershing from Sandra Pershing his granddaughter-in-law…  who quotes the general: [sandra quote audio from video]

General Pershing would have been proud - our American World War I veterans were well-remembered and well-honored this Memorial Day! …And that - thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers across the entire country!

The U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at ww1cc.org/events showed over 50 Memorial Day weekend events, exhibits, activities, and parades with a WW1 theme. They were shared by groups and individuals in Arkansas, California, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, Florida and so many more places.

You can read more about the many diverse events that took place on Memorial day at ww1cc.org/news and we encourage you to check out our events register, and to add your upcoming events to it, at ww1cc.org/events - Click on the big red button to put your WW1 related event into the national Register - which will become part of the permanent national archive of the centennial.




Updates From The States

Next, it’s time for some updates from the states and this week we begin with TWO stories about New York!

WW1 beyond the trenches in NY Historical Society

Last week, and exhibit called: World War 1 Beyond the Trenches opened at the New York Historical Society in Manhattan. The exhibit had previously been at the Pennsylvania Academy of the FINE Arts running with great acclaim for several months under the name:  World War 1 and American Art.

Dr. Robin Jaffee Frank, has curated the show for its presentation at the NY Historical Society. There is another chance to hear Dr. Frank speak about the collection as she'll be giving a special gallery tour on June 26th to explore how artists across generations, aesthetic sensibilities, and the political spectrum used their art to depict, memorialize, promote, or oppose the Great War. It is truly an amazing collection - and a MUST SEE if you are going to be in NY between now and September 3rd.



Flagstaff Aglow

Now a story about Flagstaff - Not Arizona but still in New York… Near Madison Square Garden…

Three years ago the star atop the - Eternal Light Flagstaff - A WW1 memorial in Madison Square Park in Manhattan extinguished.

This past week, at the cost of $50,000 - and in time for Memorial Day… the eternal-lit-star shone brightly once again!

The flagpole is a monument to the Veterans of WW1 and to New York’s role in the war, a port city that a vast number of doughboys passed through -

on their way to and from Europe.

Interestingly - It’s also the location of the wreath-laying ceremony which commences New York’s nationally famous annual Veterans Day Parade – the largest in the country.

WW1 Centennial Commissioner Libby O’Connell was a speaker at the relighting ceremony along with representatives from

  • the United War Veterans Council,
  • the Madison Square Park Conservancy,
  • the Manhattan Borough President
  • and the New York City Park’s Manhattan Borough Commissioner.

Thank you NYC for honoring our Doughboy veterans!


Indiana: Aaron R. Fisher

On the Indiana State Centennial Commission website at ww1cc.org/indiana, there is an article about Aaron R. Fisher, the mostly highly decorated African American soldier from Indiana to serve in WW1.

Fisher was the son of a Civil War veteran and was raised in Lyles Station, Indiana. He joined the army in 1911 way prior to the outbreak of the war  -- was promoted to Corporal in 1914 and served under Pershing during the Mexican Punitive Expedition that we talked about last week.  

He was promoted to Lieutenant during his service in WW1 and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross from the U.S. government and the Croix de Guerre from the French government for the bravery and determination he displayed in battle, leading his troops to successfully repel a German raid despite his troops being outnumbered and himself being wounded.

Read more about his life - and service at ww1cc.org/indiana or by following the link in the podcast notes.

link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/indiana-in-wwi-stories/2391-aaron-r-fisher.html



Pennsylvania's nickname is "The Keystone State" because it was the middle colony of the original thirteen colonies, and because Pennsylvania has held a key position in the economic, social, and political development of the United States.

In 1917 it was also home to the Eddystone Munitions plant which produced shrapnel shells and other armaments for the war effort. But on April 10th, 1917, just days after America joined the war, it blew up! 139 people were killed when 18 tons of black powder ignited, setting off an explosion that could be felt for ten miles.

You can learn all about the Eddystone Munitions plant by visiting ww1cc.org/pennsylvania - all lower case.

They have many resources, links and articles there about Pennsylvania during the War including Eddystone, local stories from the era, and much more.





National History Day

In our education section we have a follow up to last week’s introduction to National History day. This year’s theme “Taking a Stand in History”

With us today is the executive director of National History Day,  Dr. Cathy Gorn.

[Hi Cathy ]

[Cathy - Tell us a little about National History Day and how it evolved from a series of contests to a full-fledged, highly acclaimed national academic program.]

[And quite a successful organization to boot!  You mentioned that National History Day has a WW1 themed essay section… How was WW1 represented? How did it go? ]

Thank you - and your organization for making history bright, new and exciting for our kids - That was Dr. Cathy Gorn the executive director of National History Day, who joined the organization in 1982 - and helped shape it into what it is today - thank you for joining us.


International Report

The First World War of Plates

This week in our International Report we return to France… This time not for Jazz but for plates.

Throughout WW1 both sides of the conflict used an unexpected commonplace object to shore up morale for the home front: decorative plates.

A recent article from French website Centenaire.org outlines the history of printed decorative plates and their use as bastions of patriotism during a grueling conflict. The images are compelling and the stories they tell are as well - a sort of patter in the platter.

Follow the links in the podcast notes to read more about these propagandistic domestic objects -


Upcoming WW1 film

Now from New Zealand - A story about filmic recreation. The Victorian section of Oamaru, a city in New Zealand, was recently turned into war-torn France as a set for filming. The film will become part of an installation dedicated to the Anzac forces that will open in the new - Sir John Monash Media Centre, in France, due to be opened on Anzac Day in 2018. You can see footage from the recent shooting in Oamaru and learn more about the project by following the link in the podcast notes.


Spotlight in the Media

Gwinnett Braves Baseball recognizes doughboys

A quick update about WW1 Baseball -

As you may know - the singing of the national anthem at baseball games started as a tradition during WW1.

In a collaboration with Minor League baseball - a growing number of teams are holding WW1 Veteran events in their stadiums - this story shows how this is bringing awareness of “The War That Changed The world” - to local communities.

This past weekend a great article was published in the Gwinnett Daily Post - And for those who may not know - Gwinnett County is a lovely community in Georgia -

The article highlights the Gwinnett Braves game on Memorial Day that honored those who served in World War One. Take a read - to see how more communities are engaging in the national conversation on WW1. We’re looking forward to seeing more articles about these exciting Baseball games as they continue throughout the month of June. Follow the link the the podcast notes.


Interview with Donna Crisp

Next, we would like to welcome another guest who will introduce us to the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution the NSDAR or more often simply referred to as the DAR.

Donna Crisp is the National Vice Chair of Commemorative Events for the 100th Anniversary of WWI and Treaty of Versailles for the DAR.

[Hi Donna - welcome]

[Donna -  That sounds like a really fantastic program - and it also sounds like you and Cathy Gorn should get together and have a chat!

[chuckle] Fantastic :)

Well thank you very much Donna - That was Donna Crisp - the National Vice Chair of Commemorative Events for the 100th Anniversary of WWI and Treaty of Versailles for the DAR. You can learn more by simply going to D-A-R.org -

link: DAR.org

Articles and Posts

In our Articles and Posts where we explore the World War One Centennial Commission’s rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org -

Howard Sabin

Let’s start with a story connected to America’s WW1 Memorial in Pershing park and an article by Sabin Howard - the sculpture for the giant bas-relief wall that is a central part of the design.

This week at ww1cc.org/news we have an interview with the sculptor, where he discusses how he created the design using live actors to model elements for him. Read the story at ww1cc.org/news or follow the link in the podcast notes.



Stories of Service

On ww1cc.org’s Stories of  Service - a section of the web site dedicated to capturing and preserving the stories of the people who served - this week we feature Ladli Prasada Varman. It again shows the immense diversity of those who served one hundred years ago - many of whom were recent immigrants.

Varman was such a man - who immigrated to the US in 1913 from east India, settling in Los Angeles.

When America entered the war, Varman was drafted into the army. In looking at the Stories of service posting, we noticed that his draft card listed him as caucasian. This is notable because of ongoing events at the time involving the East Indian American Community; a wave of arrests of Indian Nationalists and Germans took place in 1917. They were accused of violating the United States neutrality laws by conspiring on American soil with Germany to overthrow the British Raj. The conspiracy charges led to the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial—at the time the longest and most expensive trial ever held in the United States. The story of this this Trial, as well as the lives of Indian Americans who served in WW1, is told on our site at ww1cc.org/vande

A few days after being drafted, Varman declared his allegiance to the United States of America in California. He went on to serve in the Army from June 1918 to January 1919 and was part of Battery D of the 144th Field Artillery in the 40th Division. Read more about his life and legacy at our Stories of Service page by following the link in the podcast notes.

To preserve your own family’s ww1 story in the national archive - we invite you to go to “submit a story of service” at ww1cc.org/stories - all lower case.




WWrite Blog

This Week on the WWrite blog: University of Kansas Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures Associate Professor, Lorie A. Vanchena, discusses - WWI American Immigrant Poetry: A Digital Humanities Project, an impressive and original project about WWI American poetry. The poems discussed are those written in response to World War I by immigrants in the United States and constitute a broad range of commentary on the war—for, against, and much more. Read more about the project by visiting the Wwrite blog at ww1cc.org/w-w-r-i-t-e



The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

That brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine - what do you have for us this week?

Memorial Day events from around the country

We’ve been very busy over the weekend sharing posts on our Facebook page to highlight the many, many different commemorative events that took place this Memorial Day Weekend. If you go to our page and scroll through the timeline you’ll see videos, photos and articles from all across the country.






WW1’s Harlem Hellfighters “Half Moan, Half Hallelujah”

More people across the country are are talking about WW1 and those who served. This week, the Daily Beast published an informative and moving piece about the Harlem Hellfighters and the black regiments of the war.


The memorial that refuses to glorify war (by richard rubin!)

Penned by author Richard Rubin, “The WWI Memorial That Refuses to Glorify War” discusses a WW1 memorial sculpture Les Fantomes, or the Phantoms. It is, according to Rubin, the eeriest war memorial you will ever behold.


Thank you Katherine. A fascinating collection of what’s posted about WW1 in social media - All of Katherine’s stories have links in the podcast notes.


And That’s WW1 Centennial News for this week. Thank you for listening!

We want to thank our guests:

  • Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog
  • Dr. Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day
  • Donna Crisp, National Vice Chair of Commemorative Events for the 100th     Anniversary of WWI for the DAR
  • Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.
  • And I am Theo Mayer - your host.

The US World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress to honor, commemorate and educate about WW1.

Our programs are to--

inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; This show is a part of that effort!

we are bringing the lessons of the 100 years ago into today's classrooms;

We are helping to restore WW1 memorials in communities of all sizes across our country;

and of course we are building America’s National WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.

We rely entirely on your donations. No government appropriations or taxes are being used, so please give what you can by going to ww1cc.org/donate - all lower case

Or if you are listening to the show on your smart phone you can text us a donation - just text  the letters: WW1 to the number 41444.

We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their support.

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes and google play ww1 Centennial News. As of last week you can also find us on TuneIn.

Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.

Thanks for joining us. And don’t forget to share what you are learning here about “The War that Changed the World”.

So long.



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