previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrow
next arrow

WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday June 21, 2017 - Episode #25

The Americans ArriveThe Americans Arrive In France

The player below allows you to share and download the show from here as well. See buttons on the top right. Contact us if you have any questions.


  • Introduction: Espionage and Sedition Acts | @00:45

  • Guest: Mike Shuster “Where Are The Americans?” | @02:15

  • Feature: Going big on the air war | @06:45

  • War In the Sky: the “Flying Circus” | @10:15

  • Feature: The StoryTeller & The Historian - Americans arrive | @12:45

  • Commission: Memorial restoration matching grant deadline extension | @18:45

  • Guest: Courtland Jindra - Victory Memorial Grove project profile | @19:50

  • Q? Who said: “Lafayette We Are Here!” | @27:00

  • Feature: National History Day prize winners | @28:40

  • Media: Cylinder recording archive | @32:30

  • Media: Wonder Woman - Again? | @34:30

  • Honors: Capt. James Miller - Distinguished flying cross 99 years after | @35:45

  • Q? What is the Ghost Fleet? | @36:30

  • Social Media: The 11 soldier sons of Ike Sims | @39:30

And much more…


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 June 21st, 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

[sound transition]

We have gone back in time 100 years and in mid June 1917 one of the key events here in the United States is the passing of the “Espionage Act”.

The law makes it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. armed forces’ prosecution of the war effort.

The convicted spy is subject to a fine of $10,000 - that is the equivalent of 200,000 in 2017 dollars,  plus a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

And within a year, the pendulum swings ever further into autocracy as the espionage act is reinforced by the Sedition act of 1918.

It imposed similarly harsh penalties on anyone found guilty of insulting or abusing the U.S. government, the flag, the Constitution or the military; agitating against the production of necessary war materials; or advocating, teaching or just defending any of these acts.

Both pieces of legislation are aimed at socialists, pacifists and other anti-war activists and are used to punishing effect in the early years and those immediately following the war - It is a chilling attack on the first amendment - that seems incredibly strong and even excessive in today’s terms. We will be following this story and it’s consequences over the coming months.

links about the Espionage act are in the podcast notes:





Great War Project

Looking over at Europe - we have a running theme for this week, 100 years ago… A theme that is very well set up by our first guest this week

We are joined by Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog.  Mike -

“Where ARE the Americans?”


[Mike Shuster]

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

Let’s continue to explore the question of America’s preparations to enter the fray with some articles selected from the “Official Bulletin”, the government war gazette published by George Creel, America’s propaganda chief, under the orders of President Wilson. We are pulling from Volume 1 - Issues 33-38

We’ll begin with follow up on last week’s Liberty Loan bond stories. By Saturday of this week, the tally is in.

[sound effect]

Dateline Saturday June 23

Headline: “$3,035,226,850 IS SUBSCRIBED TO LIBERTY LOAN


Success of this Undertaking, Says Secretary McAdoo, Constitutes An Eloquent Reply to Enemies Who Claimed Heart of America Was Not in the


That’s probably quite true - In the propaganda war - the fact that the liberty bond program raises 50% more than was offered is sure to be un-nerving to the Germans whose intelligence tells them that America is not enthusiastic or prepared to enter the war.

With the ramp up funding for America’s war effort off and running, the government is stimulated into bold thinking.

[sound effect]

Dateline Monday June 18, 1917



Secretary of War Baker states: "We can train thousands of aviators and build thousands of machines without interfering in the slightest with the plans for building up our armies and for supplying the allies with food and munitions.

To train and equip our armies and send them abroad will take time, however, and in the meanwhile we can be devoted to this most important service with vast quantities of productive machinery and skilled labor.

[sound effect]

Dateline: Friday June 22, 1917


In this story - Howard Coffin, the chairman of the aircraft production board comments on a report that Germany plans to bring 3,500 airplanes

into the fighting line in the spring of 1918

Coffin believes that the report is probably accurate -  going on to state that 3,500 planes next spring might well prove discouraging to the allies. The French and British alone MIGHT (maybe) hold their own against Germany's output.

Coffins goes on to state:

“Pitted against America's added resources, properly organized, the situation immediately changes. No matter what desperate efforts she makes, it will be a physical Impossibility for Germany to increase her present rate of output to any dangerous extent.

If we can carry through our program to produce the thousands of machines planned, the permanent supremacy of the allies in the air is assured.

[sound effect]

Dateline: Friday June 22, 1917


The story reads:

The Signal Corps to-day announced the letting of the contract for the fourth new Government flying fields, to be built at Belleville, IL., 23 miles from East St. Louis. It will be a standard, two-squadron field, accommodating 300 student fliers, with the requisite number of officers, instructors, mechanics, and enlisted men, and providing hangers for 72

training planes. Construction of the buildings and the preparation of the field will begin immediately.

That’s just focusing on a small slice of the effort -  airplanes

We did not even touch on the 16 major army training camps or “cantonements” also being built - as one article explains: “It is like building a city with a population of 40,000 from the ground up in weeks.”

Meanwhile there is the production of trucks, food, munitions, draft animals, lumber, clothing, shipping and internal infrastructure - this is creating a challenge and an economic boom unlike anything the country has experienced.

If you are interested in logistics - defined as the detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies… you can follow one of history’s greatest logistics efforts by browsing the daily issues of the Official Bulletin at ww1cc.org/bulletin - explore, exploit, and be amazed as you see how the US geared up to enter the war that changed the world.

Link: ww1cc.org/bulletin

War in the Sky:

For our Great War In the Sky segment… We are going back to the fighting front.

This week 100 years ago, introduces - [aside]  actually “formalizes” -  a new German air strategy.

Earlier in 1917, it becomes apparent to the German High Command that they will always be outnumbered in air operations over the Western Front.

The average Jagdstaffeln or German fighter squadron - could only muster some six or eight aircraft in total for a patrol, and would often face one Allied formation - after another.

In order to maintain some impact and “local” command of the air the german fighter wings began - unofficially at first -  to fly in larger, composite groups.

a new concept in German air strategy.  

This week, 100 years ago the Germany’s Army Air Force brings together four fighter squadrons – Jastas 4, 6, 10, and 11 – to form Germany's Jagd-geschwader eins or better known as JD1 - their first fighter wing.

Manfred von Richthofen - the Red Baron - is promoted from commanding officer of Jasta 11 to the commander of JD1.

This unit becomes known as the "Flying Circus," thanks to the colorful paint schemes on its aircraft  - It’s also often called “Richhoven’s Circus” and some claim it is so named because the entire wing moves from place to place for its operations like a traveling circus.

We put a link in the podcast notes that leads to pictures of this colorful german flying force that came together 100 years ago this week in the great war in the sky.

If you are into the air war - we invite you to explore former fighter pilor and author RG head’s detailed timeline of “the war in the sky” by visiting ww1cc.org/warinthesky all lower case.



Flying Circus Images: https://www.google.com/search?q=richthofen%27s+flying+circus&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjfp-zy6M3UAhUN9WMKHURhC2UQ_AUICigB&biw=1680&bih=926

The Great War Channel

And if you are into learning more about WW1 by watching videos, go visit our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube. This week’s new episodes cover a variety of subjects including:

-Italian Mountain Warfare - The US espionage Act

-Ottoman Soldiers in Europe - Naval Tactics - Officer POWs

The link is in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.



The Storyteller and the Historian

We are going to close out “WW1 - 100 years ago this week” with the Storyteller and the Historian - Richard Rubin and Jonathan Braten are going to wrap up that question for us. So where are the Americans??

[run opening]

[run segment]

That was - the StoryTeller - Richard Rubin and The Historian - Jonathan Bratten talking about the arrival of the first US troops in Europe.

Link:  richardrubinonline.com


World War One NOW

WW1 Centennial News NOW  - News about the centennial and the commemoration.

Commission News

We’ll start with some news from the WW1 Centennial Commission and the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program.

This initiative is a $200,000 matching grant challenge to rescue ailing WW1 memorials and the deadline for grant applications was last week.

We received a number of requests from potential participants for a short extension because some projects just needed a few more days to pull all the pieces together - The projects can involve many parties including city and county bureaus, American Legion posts, VFW posts, DAR chapters, local historical societies and boards and more.

So in a meeting of the program’s executive committee, we decided to extends the submission deadline until midnight - July 10.

Also - that means that anyone who already submitted their application can update any of the files submitted - by simply contacting the program management and requesting that their submission be made editable.

All that is available at ww1cc.org/100memorials.

100 Cities / 100 Memorials project profile

We have a guest with us today who knows all about how these projects come together. Courtland Jindra has been working on a 100 Cities / 100 Memorials project in Los Angeles - the Victory Memorial Grove project, near Dodger Stadium.

Welcome Courtland!

Courtland - really briefly - can you give us an overview of the project?

[courtland reply]

A few weeks ago, you had a cleanup event where you brought a bunch of the stakeholders together for some hands-on time - tell us about that.

[courtland reply]

You held a re-dedication ceremony on Flag day didn’t you?

[courtland reply]

That was Courtland Jindra - a citizen historian, a long time WW1 commemoration advocate and importantly - the co-director of the managing board for the California WW1 Centennial Commission.

Learn all about the program and sign up for the project blog to stay updated on news and events for the 100 cities . 100 memorials project at ww1cc.org/100memorials or by following the links in the podcast notes.



Activities and Events

From the U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events - here is our upcoming “event pick” of the week:

“Families on the WW1 Homefront” is a tour offered at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site in Little Falls, Minnesota - every other Saturday beginning July 1st and ending Sept 2nd.

Historical reenactors portraying the Lindbergh family and neighbors create the tour, providing insights into the daily lives of Minnesotans at home during WW1. Visitors will hear inside stories about farming for the war effort, assist a Red Cross volunteer and learn about the ways Minnesotan life changed during this period.

Check out U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register  for things happening in your area, and while you are there, you’ll find a big red button there so you can submit your own upcoming events - making them part of the national archival record of the WW1 centennial - go to ww1cc.org/events or follow the links in the podcast notes.



Lafayette, we are here:

And if you happen to be in Paris this coming week - we invite you to join The American Battle Monuments Commission at the Cimetière de Picpus for a ceremony in memory of General John J. Pershing's visit to the grave site of the Marquis de Lafayette. The visit was profound 100 years ago

-  as it honored the deep ties between the two nations.

Lafayette, you may remember, was a key connection with France during the revolutionary war against the British. As Pershing came to the resting place of the french general - It is said that he announced. “Lafayette - We are here!”.

Turns out that that’s not actually true. - On the occasion Pershing only made some brief remarks - It was the general’s “designated orator,” Colonel C. E. Stanton.

Quote: “What we have of blood and treasure are yours,” Stanton intoned. “In the presence of the illustrious dead, we pledge our hearts and our honor in carrying the war to a successful conclusion.” And then the final line of his speech: “Lafayette, we are here!”

This from the pages of “Black Jack: The Life and Times of John J. Pershing by Frank E. Vandiver.

Back to the event - Representatives of the ABMC, the French government and American government will lay a wreath at Lafayette's grave, in recognition of both Pershing's visit in 1917 and the Marquis's own work in cementing the relationship between the two nations from the -seventeen seventies - to his death in 1834.



National History Day WW1 Award Winners

A few week ago we were joined by Dr. Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day introducing us to their amazing organization and upcoming national event.

For our education section - we are pleased to report that Caleb O’Mara, Janelyn Geronimo, Julianne Viernes, and Melissa Takahashi won The World War I History Prizes at the national finals of National History Day.

WW1 Centennial Commissioner Dr. Libby O’Connell was on hand in <city> to congratulate these wonderful kids and give them the special award we sponsored.

Caleb, a senior student at Keene High School in Keene New Hampshire, was awarded this prize for his paper titled "Eugene Debs and the Fight for Free Speech" - This ties directly into our story today about the first amendment oppression that came with the espionage and Sedition acts. Debs spent 10 years in prison for his opposition to the war - and Caleb’s paper explores the issue.

Janelyn Geronimo, Julianne Viernes, and Melissa Takahashi are Middle-Schoolers at Waipahu Intermediate School, on Oahu, in Hawaii. They created a Junior Group Exhibit called "Dada: A Major Modern Art Movement" which won them this award. The beginnings of Dada correspond to the outbreak of World War I.

Art is often political and for the Dadaists the birth of the movement was a protest against imperialist, nationalist and colonialist interests, which many Dadaists believed was the root cause of the war.

These special World War I History awards are sponsored by The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, and were given in recognition of excellence in the study of World War I and its impact, nationally, internationally and of course as these kids pointed out - socially.

We’d like to congratulate these students for their outstanding work, and we thank National History Day for all they do - to bring the study of history to life for our kids! Your are awesome.



Updates From The States

Battleship Texas Leaks

Now for our updates from the states.

From Texas - we have an update on last week’s story about flooding aboard the USS Texas.

The battleship USS Texas, ONE -  of only two - US Navy combat ships remaining intact from World War I, had a scare last week. Leaks forced closure of the museum ship - as she began to sink and list - Emergency repairs and fast action stopped the flooding. She is watertight once more, and the 103 year-old ship is again welcoming visitors aboard.

Learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.




International Report

Guildhall exhibition

This week in our International Report, we want to tell you about an exhibit that approaches WW1 in a wholly unique way.

On view at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London is, “Echoes Across the Century”. The show was created by artist and set designer Jane Churchill.

Her influence can be seen in the huge wooden structure that weaves its way between the rooms, creating a trench system which houses the artwork made by local artists and over 240 students.

The show focuses on the human impact of the First World War by combining personal stories from the war with the interpretations of modern day children. It’s totally immersive, totally unique and very powerful.

The “sky” of the installation is full of planes, and cases of paper moths line the walls, acting as a memorial to those who died at the Front.

Apothecaries’ cabinets, tobacco tins and cooks’ matchboxes contain war torn landscapes in miniature, and collaborative collages depict scenes from the trenches.

See the wonderful images from the exhibit and learn more about it by following the links in the podcast notes.




Spotlight in the Media

An Archive of 10,000 Cylinder Recordings Readied for the Spotify Era!

The University of California, Santa Barbara recently launched a new website for its Cylinder Audio Archive that features over 10,000 cylinder recordings — all available to download or to stream online for free.

Before MP3s, before CDs, before cassettes and even before vinyl records …When Thomas Edison first invented the ability to record and play back sound, it was on cylinders.

First made of tinfoil, then wax and plastic, cylinder recordings, commonly the size and shape of a soda can, were the first commercially produced sound recordings in the decades around the turn of the 20th century.”

UCSB has digitized a wonderful collection of these - giving us a real insight into what people heard as they listened to the very influential songs and popular music during WW1.

We’ve included a link in the podcast notes that leads you directly to that collection so you can take a listen for yourself.

More than 2,000 cylinders still await digitization. UCSB has launched the “Adopt a Cylinder” program, which allows you to make donations toward cylinders -  that will then be prioritized for digitization.

Learn more by following the link in the podcast notes.

I personally own a Edison Cylinder player and have a couple of boxes of cylinders  - Now I know what to do with them. Hoorray for the University of California Santa Barbara! Thank you!


UCSB - http://cylinders.library.ucsb.edu/wwi.php



Wonder Woman and Chemical Warfare

Also This week in Popular Mechanics - we saw a great discussion of the history of gas and its use in WW1 -

The headline reads - The Real Story of the World War I Poison Gas in 'Wonder Woman'

The article looks at the use of gas in the new Wonder Woman movie and then compares the film depiction to the actual historical use of the weapon.

It’s a great discussion of “truth in filmmaking”, of the role of entertainment in education and of Wonder Woman in general.

That aside - What caught our attention was that WW1 is being discussed in Popular Mechanics, that Wonder Woman, much like the video game Battlefield 1, is inspiring conversation about WW1 among and between people who previously had forgotten the war - because after all - it IS the war the changed the world!!.

Read the article by visiting Popular Mechanics at the link provided in the podcast notes, but beware of spoilers if you have not seen the movie!



Articles and Posts

Capt. Miller

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

This week in the ww1cc.org/news section is the story of Capt James E Miller, one of the first aviators in the U.S. military and the first U.S. aviation casualty in World War I.

Captain Miller was named recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross recently, more than 99 years after his heroic actions over France in 1918.

On the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Army, which was June 14th, Miller's great-grandson, Byron Derringer was presented with the Captain’s Distinguished Flying Cross. You can read more about his service during the war by following the link in the podcast notes or by visiting ww1cc.org/news



Ghost fleet

Forty miles south of Washington, DC, off of Maryland’s Charles County shoreline  - near a little town named Nanjemoy, the water-beaten remains of more than two hundred ships lie in their final resting places in the shallow waters of the Potomac River’s Mallows Bay.

According to Samuel Orlando, Chesapeake Bay Regional Coordinator at NOA

“Mallows Bay is the richest marine heritage site in the United States,”. “In addition to being reflective of America’s emergence as a naval superpower during World War I, the Ghost Fleet provides the structure for a unique marine ecosystem.”

Read about how the industrial complex and economy that grew out of World War I led to the fleet’s demise by visiting ww1cc.org/news.

I never knew about this site - but having seen the picture - it’s on my list of places to go see on the east coast. It looks amazing.


WWrite Blog

In our WWRITE blog, which explores WWI’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship,

this week's post is:

"Echoes of Sassoon: A Conversation with Matti Friedman". The post is written by Brian Castner, co-editor of The Road Ahead - author of -
All the Ways We Kill and Die - and the book - The Long Walk.

Castner also wrote the foreword for David Chrisinger's book, See Me for Who I Am…

Which we featured last week….

In this post, Castner interviews award-winning author and journalist, Matti Friedman, who is both Israeli and Canadian. He wrote and they discuss his  memoir, Pumpkinflowers.

As Friedman and Castner point out, more Canadian soldiers died in the Great War than in any other conflict, and its influence can be felt throughout Pumpkinflowers.  

This puts Friedman at odds with many contemporary American veteran-authors, who often reach to other conflicts for comparison when writing about their wars. —Vietnam for Iraq, and Korea for Afghanistan,

Don't miss this fascinating post about how and why WWI would color a Canadian’s view of a very different war in Middle East at ww1cc.org/w-w-r-i-t-e

and if WW1’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship is of particular interest to you - sign up for the blog at the same link.

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/articles-posts/2615-echoes-of-sassoon-a-conversation-with-matti-friedman.html



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?

First to Fight: The 5th Marine Regiment sets sail

An image shows the Marines as they set sail for France


Ike Sims

A photo from our Instagram feed proves popular



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 on his post “where are the Americans!?”

  • Richard Rubin, Author, Storyteller and self-proclaimed bon-vivan and Jonathan Bratten, Historian and their StoryTeller and the Historian segment on the US troops arriving in France

  • Courtland Jindra, co-director of the managing board of the California WW1 Centennial Commission and project lead on the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials restoration at Victory Memorial Grove in LA.

  • 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, google play, and tuneIn - search for ww1 Centennial News.

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.




WW1 Centennial News Video Podcast on iTunes

Weekly Dispatch Newsletter

"Pershing" Donors

$5 Million +

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo

The Lilly Endowment