Sync Call for Wednesday July 1 at Noon EDT
1. News and Announcements:
We are really turning up our legislative outreach efforts this July- and we’re calling it Operation Doorknock. Our interns have been hand delivering personalized letters and informational packets to every Senate and Congressional office on Capitol Hill. Each letter highlights the contributions and sacrifices of that members’ state during WWI and speaks to why WWI is so important to commemorate. General Barry McCaffrey, special advisor to the WWICC, will meet with key members on the Hill during the week of July 20th on our behalf. Once Operation Doorknock is complete we will ask for volunteers to follow-up on our efforts within their home states during the August recess. Stay tuned for more information on that.
American Legion Magazine
For those of you who are American Legion Magazine subscribers, look out for an article in the July issue, featuring our Commissioner, Jim Whitfield. Pages 38 thru 42. You can also read the article here.
Thank you Commissioner Whitfield for your dedication to veterans for over 70 years and for all of your hard work with our State Outreach plan. We are so lucky to have you on the Commission!
A Centenary of Australian War Art
our friends at the National World War One Museum are opening a new exhibit called A Centenary of Australian Art on July 17. This exhibit will be the most comprehensive collection of Australian war art ever seen outside of Australia. It will consist of 41 artworks from the Australian War Memorial depicting Australian military experience from the First World War to Afghanistan. The exhibition features Australia’s best known war artists, including George Lambert and Arthur Streeton, and the works highlight the crucial role Australians played in some of the most defining moments in modern history.
Centennial Countdown to the Great War
Dennis Cross, one of our fantastic Kansas state outreach volunteers, publishes a monthly blog called Centennial Countdown to the Great War. As the name suggests, this blog covers events that took place a hundred years ago this month. Visit the blog here
Stamp Committee Letter
Thank you David Dorsey and Keith Muchowski for sending in a letter to the US Postal Service Stamp Committee!
Connecticut and the Great War--Call for Papers due July 15
Several Connecticut historical organizations are sponsoring a one-day conference called Connecticut and the Great War on Saturday, November 7th, 2015. The meeting will be held at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT and will feature speakers from diverse backgrounds discussing a wide variety of topics that focus on the any and all aspects of World War I in Connecticut.
Historical society and museum personnel, graduate students, independent scholars, teachers, and members of the academic community are all invited to make presentations. To be considered, you must submit a paper title, abstract, and a short c.v. to the conference organizers. The application deadline is July 15, 2015. Their website can be found here.
Upper Midwest Regional Meeting - Save the Date
The Pritzker Museum and Military Library located in Chicago, Illinois would like to extend an invitation for the volunteer representatives in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Wisconsin which comprise the World War I Centennial Commission’s Upper Midwest Region to a collaborative meeting. The meeting will be held on 16 September, 2015. The purpose of this meeting is to provide updates on the strides each state has made in the planning efforts for the centennial. Reach out to Susan Mennenga with questions or comments.
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.
Next Commission Meeting
We are just one month away from the next Commission Meeting - 15 July 2015 at the National WWI Museum in Kansas City. The Commission Meeting is open to the public and we will provide a call in number for those who can’t make it to Kansas City. We encourage you to join us or listen to the commissioners make decisions about our future. We want to the thank the Museum and great partner for hosting this event. We can’t wait to visit the memorial in its new designation as a NATIONAL WWI Memorial and Museum.
2. Volunteer Spotlight
Dr. Michael Birdwell, professor of history at Tennessee Technological University at Cookeville, curator of the Alvin York papers, and chair of the Tennessee Great War Commission
In November 7th there will be a series of academic speeches at 5 different venues. The culmination of these events will be at the Bi-Centennial mall, with a WW1 reenactment. Tennessee Tech is creating an exhibit with a virtual F-2 Tank, and the Stem Center is going to have artifacts for the kids to be able to interact with. There will also be a focus on the 6 Medal of Honor Recipients from WW1, including 3 of whom were under foreign command. The creation of a War Memorial is currently in progress, and will be the site of the eventual wrap up in 2019.
3. Shout Outs:
Andy Gilmer and Ryan DuKate are two of our summer interns - they both he have been working extremely hard on personalizing letters to each member of congress and coordinating the hand delivery of each.
4. How you can help the WWICC this week:
- Help us get a WWI stamps series!
Help us Get a WWI series of stamps!! We need help from all of your organizations. The USPS uses a committee to choose stamps for the upcoming years and they take suggestions by letter. We know that 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 will send out the template to everyone on our Sync Call roster. 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 please 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.
- 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.
- Shop at SMILE.AMAZON.COM! Enter the "United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars" as your charitable organization.
5. 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:
The Austro-Hungarian Empire Strikes Back: THE GREAT WAR Week 48
June 25, 2015. Just a few weeks ago Austria-Hungary's military laid in shambles. But with German support from August von Mackensen and other German generals, the tide is turning on the Eastern Front. Even Lemberg can be conquered again and the Russians are still on their Big Retreat.
6. The Great War 100 Years Ago
Presented by Mr. Mike Hanlon -http://www.worldwar1.com
99 Years Ago: The First Day of the Somme, 1 July 1916
For more information on the Military Operations see the Wikipedia article-- this article is edited by British military historians and is quite good.
The plan in the British sector proved to be a disaster. The British Armies casualties totaled 30,000 in the first hour, and another 28,000 by nightfall.
The simple phrase “First Day on the Somme” has gathered symbolic, even mythological significance, that almost leaves all discussion of the facts of the day inadequate to explain its lasting importance.
For the British, the First Day on the Somme is WWI
- It's the reason Churchill did not want a cross channel invasion in WWII
- It's the day tradition and idealism died and as Paul Fussell said, irony took its place
The Remembrance of First Day on the Somme Has a Whole Network of Mutually Supporting Legends and Traditions.
Sheffield Park - The Pals Battalions
When war broke out the British Army needed to expand dramatically, groups of men from the same workplaces, villages, churches, trades, and even football teams were encouraged to join the army together. The men were happy to fight with people they knew, and their families were pleased. They knew the friends would be there to look after each other during the war. The flaw in this thinking was that if a Pals unit was devastated, the community back home would bear the consequences long term. At the north end of the Somme battlefield is a concentration of memorials to these volunteer units, most of which were seeing their first action on 1 July.
The Newfound Regiment was part of the 29th Division attack at Beaumont Hamel. In the second wave attack, they were mowed down by machine guns, and became one of several units that day to suffer over 90% casualties July 1st. Today, their battlefield is a commemorative park, staffed by young volunteers from Canada.
36th Ulster Division singularly made their objective that day, Schwaben Redoubt, but no one on their flanks did so, and they became stranded on a high ridge. The few survivors had to crawl back in the dark to their jump-off line. Their memorial is a replica of "Helen's Tower" a castle-like structure on the training ground in Ireland.
Soccer Balls of the Somme
Captain Wilfred "Billie" Nevill of the 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, 18th Division was a former Cambridge student and notable athlete. To buoy his men's spirits (He knew they were in for a tough time) he provided soccer balls for the men and promised a reward for the first man to kick one into a German trench. He was killed at the barbed wire that day. The story embodies the both the high spirits and the innocence of the troops.
This small site encapsulates the collective remembrance of the First Day on the Somme. Two battalions of the Devonshire regiment launched an attack from a front line trench near the village of Fricourt. The commanding officer had warned his superiors that a machine gun in Fricourt needed to be knocked out before attacking since it fully covered the open area in front of the trench. It was not eliminated before the attack and the men were mowed down immediately after going over the top. Casualty teams merely dragged the men back to the trench and buried them there. The trench is now a commonwealth cemetery which has a marking saying: "The Devonshires Held This Trench — the Devonshires Hold It Still."
Alan Seeger's July 4th Rendezvous – An American Dimension
In the French sector, the French Army had been more successful the first few days of the offensive, but by the fourth day German defenses had stiffened. Alan Seeger was an American Volunteer with the French Foreign Legion.
Earlier in the war he had penned a poem that was something of a personal premonition:
I have a rendezvous with death
At some disputed barricade
When Spring trips north again this year,
And apple blossoms fill the air
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
On July 4, 1916 Seeger's unit attacked near the village of Belloy-en-Santerre on the southern part of the Somme offensive. He met his rendezvous with death that day. His poem was published posthumously and became the most famous American War Poem of the struggle.
For more on Seeger see:
The largest British Memorial on the Western Front remembers the full battle, 1 July – 18 November, 1916. Thiepval Memorial lists 74,000 lost British soldiers in the sector After 624,000 British and French casualties, the front line had moved east one to nine miles, depending upon the location. The Germans had lost about 525,000 casualties.
First Day: The First Day on the Somme by Martin Middlebrook
Full battle: Bloody Victory, The Sacrifice on the Somme by William Philpott
Next Week: What happened in Washington DC in 1915?
If you have an agenda item to include, please email Andrew McGreal before next Wednesday.
If you have an event for our calendar, please submit it here.
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.)