Sync Call for Wednesday May 27 at Noon EST
A General Pershing reenactor at the 2015 Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC.
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1. News and Announcements:

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

  • At the National WWI Museum at Liberty MemorialCommissioner James Whitfield and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver meet at Memorial Day weekend festivities at the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial
    • This last weekend the National WWI Memorial and Museum hosted 10 very successful events. This is the first time for these events to be done as the National WWI Memorial and Museum. This included a Memorial Day ceremony coupled with free admission to the museum with visitors to the memorial numbering in the 10,000 plus. Sunday night the KC symphony also played free and open to the public and was finished with a Firework display the WWI Memorial. What an amazing weekend in Kansas City. The WWI Memorial and Museum did a great job making WWI a focal point for Memorial day while honoring all those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom - we look forward to our commemorative partnership with this great proponent for WWI moving forward.
  • Dave Lockard and Commissioner Edwin Fountain ride in a 15-ton WWI vintage Packard truck during the 2015 Memorial Day Parade in Washington DC.In Washington DC
    • On Saturday and Monday at the US Navy Memorial, the Commission had a booth set up during several wreath laying ceremonies. The booth had a lot of foot traffic and received a lot of attention from attendees.
    • On Monday, Commissioner Fountain rode with Dave Lockard on his WWI vintage Packard truck during the DC Memorial Day in front of approximately 200,000 parade watchers.

 

 

Virginia World War One Centennial Commission Website
We are happy to report that the Virginia WWI Centennial Commission website is live! As you know, Virginia is the first state to take advantage of this opportunity, You can find it here!

Much of the work put into making this latest project a reality was led by Dr. Lynn Rainville, a Research Professor in the Humanities at Sweet Briar College and a member of the Virginia WWI Centennial Committee. Dr. Rainville’s background is in history and anthropology. She has been studying WWI for the past year while documenting and writing a book on WWI memorials in Virginia.

She was then asked to be the webmaster for Virginia's centennial efforts. The page for Virginia's centennial commission can now be found on the national site. Dr. Rainville hopes the site can be used as a template for other states who hope to create a website for their centennial commissions. That being said, she encourages other states to be creative with their websites and to commemorate WWI’s centennial period as they see fit.

Design Competition Details

As you know, last week we officially announced the our competition for the design of the National WWI Memorial at Pershing Park! Details about the competition, as well as the competition manual can be found here.

You can also help make this restoration a reality by making a donation to the Memorial Fund.

They deserve a memorial. We can build it for them. Share this link on social media and on your organization's website--however you can get the word out. We cannot do this without your support. Thank you.

The Devil Dogs
The Commission has recently endorsed a film project entitled: The Devil Dogs. The film is about the remembrance of the Battle of Belleau Wood and of the American Marines who came to France in 1918 to fight for freedom at the cost of 7000 lives. This battle remains a founding element in the history of the Marine Corps and is the Battle in which the Germans nicknamed the Marines “Devil Dogs” for their courage and persistence in battle. The films follows the passionate guide Gilles Lagin, as he leads the descendants of the soldiers of the Great War in the tracks of their ancestors. Here is a link to their Facebook page and their website.

  

2. Shout Outs:

Our volunteers for our DC event were awesome: Dave Lockard with the Packard truck- Special thanks to Steve Kersten for coming in all the way from Wisconsin to help us. Thanks to Scott and Lisa Webb for hauling the Packard Truck with their F 350 from Pennsylvania- Also Major Micheal Gambone at Fort McNair for allowing us to park the hauling rig- it takes a village. Thank you all as the truck truly makes an impact in the parade.

“The Young Marines” are JROTC students from West Palm Beach FL. These students dressed up as doughboys and marched in the parade. At our booth at the Navy Memorial was Terry Walker, Ken Schoppmann, Virginia Dilkes (making the trek up from Georgia!) and bringing out her son and granddaughter to volunteer with us.

 

3. How you can help the WWICC this week:

  1. Help us get a WWI stamps series!
    We need help from all of your organizations. The USPS uses a committee to choose stamps for upcoming years and they take suggestions by letter. We know they are considering a WWI stamp for 2017. We want to not only ensure that this happens but also encourage them to create a series of stamps throughout the centennial period. We have attached a template that you can use to formulate your own letter to the stamp committee here. You can edit as you see fit, place it in your letterhead, even provide suggestions of what you think the stamp should be. You can only pick a subject USPS has their own designers. We just ask that you ask them to do a series of WWI stamps. We are getting ready to send ours off but we want to make sure this happens. Please take this template or just make your own and suggest to the stamp committee to make WWI series of stamps throughout the centennial. You can submit the letter as an organization or as a person. Thank you in advance. Here is a link to to post office stamp selection process. 
  2. If you are interested in helping with state and regional organization, please let Andrew McGreal know and he will send you information on how to get involved.
  3. SHOP AT SMILE.AMAZON.COM! Enter the "United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars" as your charitable organization.

 

4. The Great War Channel

Would you like to see some great videos on YouTube about WWI? Check out The Great War Channel. Posting twice a week, ‘The Great War’ shows you the history of the First World War in the four years from 1914 to 1918. The host, Indy, takes you back week by week and shows you what was going on in the past. Please subscribe to see these great posts. Their last two videos are:

  1. Canada in World War 1: THE GREAT WAR Special
    May 25, 2015. One of the countries that found its identity in the trenches of World War 1 was Canada. During the 2nd Battle of Ypres and the Battle of Vimy Ridge the Canadians and Newfoundlanders proofed their worthiness over and over again. Indy takes a special look on Canada in World War 1 and how they became one one of the feared enemies of the Germans.

  2. Przemyśl Falls Again - Winston Churchill Gets Fired
    May 21, 2015. The big success of the Gallipoli Campaign never came, thousands of soldiers died and so Winston Churchill is forced to resign. At the same time August von Mackensen is pushing back the Russians and forcing them to hide in Przemyśl fortress - the same fortress they just conquered from the Austro-Hungarians a few weeks earlier.

 

5. The Great War 100 Years Ago

Presented by Mr. Mike Hanlon - http://www.worldwar1.com

Lusitania and America's Road to War

America would not enter the war for two more years but the Lusitania incident accelerated the nation's march to the battlefields of Europe in four mutually reinforcing ways:

I. Public Opinion

The preponderance of sentiment regarding the war shifted dramatically in favor of the Allies and against the Kaiser and Germany over the next two Depiction of the sinking of the Lusitaniayears. This trend was intensified by further German heavy-handedness, sabotage and espionage in America, and a superior propaganda effort by the British in particular.

II. Politically:

Initially, a number of Democrats and Republicans, particularly such prominent Middlewestern insurgents as Robert La Follette of Wisconsin and George Norris of Nebraska, declared that they opposed any war-like moves over the sinking. The President's course of action, however, would drive Secretary of State William Jennings Bryant – the only true "Neutral" among his close advisors to resign.

III. Diplomatically:

The Wilson Notes

The year long subsequent correspondence with the German government would seem to win concessions about limiting the use of submarines, but it resulted in "drawing a line in the sand." Three American notes over the Lusitania sinking and subsequent sinkings resulted in a German pledge, which they later abrogated in January of 1917.

In the first Wilson note (13 May 1915), signed by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, Wilson affirmed the right of United States nationals to travel on merchant ships of their choosing, urging Germany to abandon unrestricted submarine warfare against commercial ships of any nation. Notably, Wilson did not warn to the American people against traveling on belligerent ships for their own safety.

In the second Wilson note (9 June), Wilson rejected the German arguments that the British blockade was illegal and an attack on innocent civilians. Wilson also (incorrectly) denied the German accusation that the Lusitania had been carrying munitions. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in protest over this letter, stating that Wilson was being too provocative and that the President’s position was not befitting a leader of a neutral country. Wilson appointed Robert Lansing (an Anglophile) as Bryan’s replacement.

The third Wilson note (21 July 1915) was an ultimatum, where the United States would consider any subsequent sinkings of merchant vessels with Americans aboard as “deliberately unfriendly.” Germany was careful about their submarine attacks for the rest of the year, but a 1916 incident rekindled the controversy.

The Sussex Crisis

On March 24th 1916 a German submarine in the English Channel attacked what it thought was a minelaying ship. It was actually a French passenger steamer named the Sussex and, although it didn't sink and limped into port, fifty people were killed. Several Americans were injured and, on April 19th, President Wilson addressed Congress on the issue. He gave an ultimatum: Germany should end attacks on passenger vessels, or face America 'breaking off' diplomatic relations.

Germany's Response Was the "Sussex Pledge", a promise given to the United States of America on May 4th 1916 in which Germany promised to alter their naval and submarine policy of unrestricted submarine warfare and stop the indiscriminate sinking of non-military ships. Instead, merchant ships would be searched and sunk only if they contained contraband, and then only after safe passage had been provided for the crew and passengers.

At the time, this was considered a diplomatic victory for the President.

IV. Preparedness Movement

The shifting public attitudes led to a bottoms-up surge of interest in getting the nation ready to wage war should it be drawn into the conflict. Eventually, President Wilson joined in supporting the "Preparedness Movement." The events and possibilities for hostilities to break out on the Mexican Border added to the concerns about military capabilities. The Preparedness Movement involved a number of disjointed activities including:

Public Rallies: Parades of 100,000+ in New York City, 50,000 in San Francisco which also had a terrorist bombing. Anti-German, pro-interventionist movies and articles started appearing. Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Wood were the most conspicuous boosters of the movement.

Officer Training: Plattsburgh Movement and similar programs would provide many officers for the AEF

Congressional Action: The National Defense and Naval Acts of 1916 expanded the Army and Navy, organized the National Guard for Federal service, and improved capabilities for mobilizing a larger Army.

Resources:
Book: Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, by Arthur Link
Website: America's Entry Into the War

 

Upcoming Events

If you have an agenda item or calendar event to include, please email Andrew McGreal before next Wednesday.

For a listing of events and exhibits, please visit the Commission Events Page. (We are in the process of transitioning into this calendar--please bear with us if your event does not appear immediately. Thank you.)