Sync Call for Wednesday July 8 at Noon EDT
1. News and Announcements:
Update from the States
June 24 Meeting
Commissioner Hester attended a meeting with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and several of our volunteers in Harrisburg, PA on June 24th. They visited the 28th Division Military Museum in Boalsburg, PA and discussed planning events in May 2017 & 2018.
Bay Area WW1 Historical Association Event
The Bay Area WW1 Historical Association will host “We Were Americans Too: The African American Officer and Enlisted Man during the Great War” presented by historian Anthony Powell at its chapter meeting on July 11 at 10am (PDT) at San Jose University. Powell has spent over thirty years studying, teaching, collecting and writing about the American Buffalo Soldier. He has curated exhibitions, lectured at dozens of universities and museums on the subject of Black Military History, and is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles. In addition to his presentation, Mr. Powell plans to display rare museum exhibits featuring uniforms and artifacts from the African-American experience. Admission to this event is free.
The Virginia WW1 Centennial Committee has connected with the Virginia Secretary of Education - we are happy to report on their behalf that the Virginia Department of Education is working to provide resources and instructional materials to divisions, schools, and teachers of the Commonwealth. The Department looks forward to supporting the Virginia WW1 Centennial Committee and coordinating with the Committee throughout the Centennial period on educational materials and opportunities.
Virginia’s next meeting is Monday, August 31st
We were recently put in touch with American Legion Post 115- he saw the Article on Commissioner Whitfield in the American Legion Magazine and contacted the Commission. We were able to put him in touch with our volunteer Virginia Dilkes and with the burgeoning Georgia WW1 Centennial Commission-- he didn’t know one existed! This is just another example of our grassroots efforts hard at work.
And how YOU CAN HELP:
This Sync Call will aim to share more of these State Outreach highlights each week-- Be sure to let us know about what’s going on in your state so we can report it!
Saving Hallowed Ground Memorial Oak Tree Project
Saving Hallowed Ground, a WW1 Centennial Commission partner, has established a WW1 Centennial Memorial Oak Tree Project to honor the men and women who served our Nation's battle, over here and over there, for freedom during the Great War. Many thousands of oak trees were planted to honor our Nation's fallen during that great conflict and Saving Hallowed Ground would like to carry on that tradition starting with dedication of these living memorials coinciding with the centennial commemoration the end of the war in 2018. For more information on how your community or organization can create their own living memorial please contact Saving Hallowed Ground at email@example.com with Memorial Oak Project in the subject line.
Our interns have hand delivered 39 letters to members of the Senate and 82 to the House for a total of 121 letters! Over the next several weeks, they will deliver 70-80 a day over before Gen. McCaffrey’s visit to the hill. Our State Outreach team and Government Relations office is putting together a state-based advocacy kit that will help our volunteers can reach out to district offices while members are home on recess.
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.
Next Commission Meeting: July 15
We are a week 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 Anyone that wishes to dial in and listen may do so with this number: 712-432-1001, Access Code: 474-845-614# (Note: Commissioners and Ex Officio Members will have a different dial in number. Meredith will send the number later this week. Stay tuned for that. Thanks). We encourage you to join us or listen to the commissioners make decisions about our future! We also want to the thank the Museum, our 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.
Design Competition: July 21 Deadline Approaching!
The deadline for round 1 submissions is Tuesday, July 21st!
Even if we get the perfect design we can’t build it without donations. We encourage everyone on this call to consider donating. Every dollar counts and every dollar is matched by our founding sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. They deserve a memorial. We can build it.
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. 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.
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!
In the article - Commissioner Whitfield calls for Legionnaires to get involved - maybe this will be a call to you too....
“How can American Legion posts and departments support the commission?
We hope they’ll take up the banner and do something locally. The Legion has its own centennial committee, so hopefully we will supplement each other. Some posts are named for World War I veterans; they could do some kind of history. They could take a survey of World War I monuments and memorials in their city, their county, and refurbish them. In the process, they’re going to get recognition, which then tells the public that World War I was important....
If a state has a World War I centennial commission or committee, I’d hope the department is friendly enough with the state government that it would be a part of that commission or committee. Whatever is happening to mark the war’s centennial in their states and their communities, departments should be a part of it.”
2. Volunteer Spotlight
Stuart Irwin, Intern from the Washington Ireland Program
Stuart Irwin is completing an internship at the Centennial Commission for eight weeks this summer. He is a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he currently studies history at Queen’s University, Belfast. Stuart first became interested in the First World War when he was a high school student. He is particularly fascinated by the Great War because of the lasting impact the conflict had on the world in which we live today. Moreover, he noted that the First World War marked turning points in a number of ways: for example, the transition from the age of nineteenth-century empires to the growth of nationalist movements; the beginning of the technological age of warfare; and new methods and means by which states could carry out diplomacy.
Stuart pointed out that he was aware before travelling to the United States of America that the First World War was not commemorated or remembered as strongly as it is back in the United Kingdom. Despite this, he was very surprised to find how little knowledge or attention is given to the Great War in America. Whilst it is true that the U.S. entered the war late, the significance of President Woodrow Wilson in brokering peace and the subsequent formation of the League of Nations etc. should not be forgotten. Furthermore, WWI and its immediate aftermath ultimately resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War, which is far better remembered in America.
Stuart explained that he was so keen to intern at the Centennial Commission because he is very interested in public history and is committed to making good quality, scholarly-based historical research accessible to the general public. He has learnt a lot during his short time at the Centennial Commission. Stuart has been working with the state outreach team and has had the opportunity to carry out research at the Library of Congress and National Archives. He is enjoying his internship very much, and recommends other students to get involved in the work of the United States World War One Centennial Commission.
3. Shout Outs:
CA State Outreach Volunteers - They have been pounding the pavement, meeting with elected officials, historical societies, WWI Memorial Organizations, libraries, museums and much more - and despite consistently running into dead ends they continue to work hard at getting California moving towards a WWI Commission. You guys are awesome!
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:
Socialist and Front Soldier - Louis Barthas: WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?
July 6, 2015. Louis Barthas was a French soldier who served on the Western Front for 54 months. He served in the Battle of Verdun and other major battles of World War 1. His War Diary gave a voice to the senselessness of war. As a socialist, Barthas was a supporter of the French mutinies of 1917 and a vocal enemy of the war. All about Louis Barthas in our biography
On the Move but going Nowhere - Optimism is Failing!: THE GREAT WAR Week 49
July 2, 2015. Two months after landing in Gallipoli the fight has become a trench warfare. In Mesopotamia British troops were losing the optimism, they had felt just a few weeks ago. The change of seasons brought more heat, turning the weather from bearable to excruciating. Heat became a deadly foe. While the German crown prince Wilhelm unsuccessfully tried to break through the Western front in the Ardennes, the Austro-German force managed to drive back the Russians in the East.
6. The Great War 100 Years Ago
Presented by Mr. Mike Hanlon -http://www.worldwar1.com
100 Years Ago: Espionage, Sabotage and Terrorism in America
Another example of how the war touched American even before the nation joined in hostilities involved numerous episodes of espionage, sabotage and terrorism.
Germany ran an extensive spy ring in the U.S. anchored in its diplomatic service. Key leaders included attaches Franz von Pappen, Karl Boy-ed, and the German Consul in San Francisco, Franz von Bopp. An early "smoking gun" was uncovered in July 1915. The head of German propaganda in the US, Dr Heinrich Albert, lost his briefcase on a subway in New York City. It was turned over to the authorities and an examination of its content revealed an extensive network of German espionage and subversion across the US.
Primary objective was to interfere with Ameican efforts to provide arms and munitions to the allies
Black Tom Explosion
On July 30, 1916, German saboteurs targeted the ammunition depot on New Jersey's Black Tom Island, shipping point for three-quarters of U.S. ammunition bound for Allied Europe. Direct by Franz von Rintelen. A few months later in January 1917 a fire at the Kingsland munitions factory in New York destroyed 1.3 million artillery shells. In March there was an explosion at the U.S. Navy Yard at Mare Island, California, involving barges filled with munitions, killing 6 and injuring 31.
The Hindu–German Conspiracy, 1914-1917
The Hindu–German Conspiracy was a series of plans between 1914 and 1917 by radical Indian nationalist groups to attempt Pan-Indian rebellion against the British Raj during World War I, formulated between the Indian revolutionary underground and exiled or self-exiled nationalists who formed in the United States the Ghadar Party and in Germany the Indian independence committee. The conspiracy was drawn up at the beginning of the war, with extensive support from the German Foreign Office, the German consulate in San Francisco, as well as some support from Ottoman Turkey and the Irish republican movement. The activities were world wide, the American dimension mostly involved a gun-running operation, known as the Annie Larsen (a ship name) Plot. In the United States, the conspiracy was successfully infiltrated by British intelligence through Irish and Indian channels. Eventually, 105, including members of the Ghadar Party, the former German Consul-General and Vice-Consul, and other members of staff of the German consulate in San Francisco. The trial itself lasted from 20 November 1917 to 24 April 1918. The last day of the trial was notable for the sensational assassination of the chief accused, Ram Chandra, by a fellow defendant, Ram Singh, in a packed courtroom. Singh himself was immediately shot dead by a US Marshal.
Preparedness Day Bombing, San Francisco, 22 July 1916
A massive parade of 50,000+ held in San Francisco, California, to celebrate Preparedness Day, in anticipation of the United States entrance into World War I, is disrupted by the explosion of a suitcase bomb, which kills 10 bystanders and wounds 40 more. At 2:06 p.m., about a half-hour after the parade began, a bomb concealed in a suitcase exploded on the west side of Steuart Street, just south of Market Street, near the Ferry Building. Ten bystanders were killed by the explosion; 40 more were wounded.
Two radical labor leaders, Thomas Mooney and Warren K. Billings, were subsequently arrested and convicteded for the attack. Investigation into the case continued over the next two decades; by 1939, evidence of perjury and false testimony at the trial had so mounted that Governor Culbert Olson pardoned both men. The true identity of the Preparedness Day bomber (or bombers) remains unknown. One speculative theory suggests German involvement since San Francisco's German Consulate was deeply involved in the Hindu-German conspiracy.
100 Years Ago: A Bomb in the Senate and the Attempted Murder of Financier J.P. Morgan (article from WETA's Blog)
Shortly before midnight on Friday 2 July 1915 police responded to the U.S. Capitol where an explosion had just rocked the Senate wing. Fortunately they found no fatalities – a byproduct of the fact that Congress was not in session and the building was lightly staffed at night. But, there was plenty of destruction and, obviously, great concern about security.
The next evening, Washingtonians opened their Evening Star newspaper to find a peculiar letter under the headline "Letter Received by the Star Thought to Have Bearing on the Explosion." The diatribe began "Unusual times and circumstances call for unusual means" and quickly moved into a critique of American businesses supplying warring European countries with armaments.
Paradoxically, the letter claimed that the attack on the Capitol was a call for peace "Europe needs enough noncontraband material to give us prosperity. Let us not sell her EXPLOSIVES! Let each nation make her own man-killing machines. Sorry I had to use explosives. (Never again.) It is the export kind and ought to make enough noise to be heard above the voices that clamor for blood money. This explosion is the exclamation point to my appeal for Peace!"
The letter was signed, "R. Pearce" and included a postscript: "We would, of course, not sell to the Germans either, if they could buy here." It had been postmarked less than two hours before the bomb went off.
Beside the letter ran an account of the other big news of the day.
The morning after the Capitol explosion, banker J.P. Morgan had been attacked in his summer home on Long Island, New York, by an assailant who carried two revolvers and a briefcase packed with dynamite. Morgan suffered two flesh wounds before house servants overpowered the man and tied him up on the front lawn to await police.
When Glen Cove, New York, detectives arrested him, the gunman identified himself as Cornell University German Professor Frank Holt. He told authorities that he had never intended to hurt Morgan – he just wanted to scare him. In a statement to the Justice of the Peace, Holt claimed, "My motive in coming here was to try to force Mr. Morgan to use his influence with the manufacturers of munitions in the United States and with the millionaires who are financing the war loans to have an embargo put on shipments of war munitions so as to relieve the American people of complicity in the deaths of thousands of our European brothers.
District of Columbia Chief Detective Robert Boardman found the similarities between Pearce's letter and Holt's statement curious. After applying pressure the investigators got Holt to confess. It turned out that his name wasn’t even Frank Holt... or R. Pearce. It was Erich Muenter. And Erich Muenter had quite a past. He was a committed German Nationalist and connected with Germany's network of saboteurs in America. Unfortunately, on 6 July he committed suicide in his jail cell and took many secrets with him.
Dark Invasion by Howard Blum
Next Week: A Naval Battle in Africa
If you have an agenda item to include, please email Andrew McGreal by the Monday before the next Sync Call.
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.)