Riveters pilots in dress uniforms The pilots gas masks African American Soldiers 1 African American Officers doughboys with mules Mule Rearing

World War I Centennial News


USCIS WWI posterEducational Poster Series Tells Story of DHS Agencies in WWI 

By Alison Finkelstein
U.S.Department of Homeland Security

As part of the ongoing commemoration of the World War I (WWI) Centennial, the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services History Office and Library has initiated a collaborative Department of Homeland Security project to create an educational poster series, illustrating the roles of DHS’s legacy agencies during WWI.

The five free posters in the series aim to raise awareness about the significant history and heritage of DHS while honoring the nation’s participation in WWI:

  • USCIS (legacy Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Naturalization)
  • Customs and Border Protection (legacy U.S. Customs Service)
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • U.S. Secret Service
  • DHS (summarizing the roles of several legacy agencies)

These free posters are remarkable resources for educators to help tell the story of our government's role during World War I.

See all the posters on the DHS web site.

External Web Site Notice: This page contains information directly presented from an external source. The terms and conditions of this page may not be the same as those of this website. Click here to read the full disclaimer notice for external web sites. Thank you.


 Five Questions for Mike Grobbel

Honoring “Detroit’s Own”: Polar Bear Memorial Association’s World War I Centennial Commemoration

By Will Kaiser
Staff Writer

Polar bears are known for their ability to survive and thrive in the most adverse conditions, all while being regarded as the tundra's most fierce predator. In a similar fashion, the American North Russia Expeditionary Forces (ANREF) in Russia were revered for being as resilient as polar bears. The men of the ANREF fought the newly formed Red Army while simultaneously battling the Russian winter’s sub-zero temperatures. These men and their stories have nearly been forgotten, but because of the incredible work of the Polar Bear Memorial Association, Americans are beginning to learn more about The United States’ intervention into the Russian Civil War. We spoke to Mike Grobbel, President of the Polar Bear Memorial Association, about the WWI Polar Bear Expedition, about his commemoration organization, and about their activities.

What prompted you and the organization to become involved with these commemorative efforts and what were some of the motivations behind researching, discovering, and showcasing the American Expeditionary Forces in Russia during World War I? How can we best honor these ANREF veterans?

AR 161209863.jpgmaxh400maxw667Mike GrobbelWhen the veterans of the American North Russia Expeditionary Force (ANREF) returned home in 1919, they were concerned that only about half of their war dead had been repatriated, with the remainder still buried in Russian soil. That concern prompted them to form the Polar Bear Association (PBA) in 1922. Holding their reunions on even-numbered years, the PBA continued to meet over the next half century. During the 1920s the PBA lobbied the US government and the State of Michigan to organize a recovery mission to locate and repatriate the remainder of their dead. Because the United States and the Soviet Union did not have official diplomatic relations, a recovery mission was not able to be funded until 1929. This mission, funded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the state of Michigan, was able to successfully acquire the remains of 86 American soldiers for proper burial in the United States. Forty-five of those individuals were able to be reburied at the Polar Bear Monument in White Chapel Memorial Cemetery, located in Troy Michigan. The burials took place during the dedication of the monument on Memorial Day in 1930 [names and diagram] and all who were fallen received their full military honors. Following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1934, a US Army unit went to Russia and recovered another 14 bodies. Approximately two dozen bodies could not be found and remain in unmarked Russian graves to this day.

Because of the timing and circumstances surrounding the ANREF’s deployment to North Russia (a similar force of “Regular Army” infantry regiments was deployed to Siberia at the same time for similar reasons), the soldiers and their families back home felt that they had been forgotten by their country. Family members held petition drives in Feb. 1919 and lobbied Congress to have the ANREF brought home as soon as possible. The Secretary of War announced later that month that the ANREF would be leaving Russia at the earliest possible time, which turned out to be June 1919.

Due to their feelings of past abandonment, which stemmed from their military campaign that was quickly forgotten by both historians and the public, the Polar Bear Association veterans decided to ensure that their casualties were not forgotten. In order to do this the PBA erected the Polar Bear monument and decided to host an annual Memorial Day service in perpetuity for those who had fallen. Over a four-year period in the 1950s, the PBA collected more than $5,000 which was placed in a trust fund that would be used continue the Memorial Day service after the eventual disbanding of the PBA. During the fundraising effort, PBA President John Boran stated, “This is the least that those living who survived the campaign could do for those buddies who made the supreme sacrifice for a cause they never did understand. A cause which has been called ‘America’s greatest diplomatic blunder.’”

Read more: Honoring “Detroit’s Own”: Polar Bear Memorial Association’s World War I Centennial Commemoration

TGW KA FIN 2 DL Landscape WEB Clean resize 2800x0 70

Re-Airing of the PBS/American Experience documentary series THE GREAT WAR

By Carrie Phillips
PBS American Experience

Great news for the World War I community. The ground-breaking documentary series, THE GREAT WAR, will re-air on PBS stations across the country.

  • Episode 1 will air on June 19 at 9/8c
  • Episode 2 on June 26 at 9/8c, and
  • Episode 3 on July 3 at 9/8c.

All three episodes will be available for free streaming starting June 19 at 9 pm EST through July 30.

Here’s the link for more information and to stream the film: http://pbs.org/thegreatwar

Drawing on unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, The Great War tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the American troops who came to be known as “Doughboys.”

The series explores the experiences of African-American and Latino soldiers, suffragists, Native American “code talkers” and others whose participation in the war to “make the world safe for democracy” has been largely forgotten.

Read more: Re-Airing of the PBS/American Experience documentary series THE GREAT WAR

WWI and WWII Tourism Marketing Grants are open again -- Up to $10,000 available 

By Randy Nix
Virginia WWI and WWII Commemoration Commission

Virginia World War I and World War II Tourism Marketing Program Applications are now open! Deadline is Tuesday, August 7, 2018 by 5:00 PM.

33035 WW1 2 VA commission logoThe Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) and the World War I and World War II Commemoration Commission (the Commission) announce that applications are now available for the Virginia World War I and World War II Tourism Marketing Program grants.

These grants, administered by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, will assist Virginia communities and related WWI and WWI sites to market commemorative events, locations, and destinations. VTC will partner with the Commission to execute the program.

The Commission was created by the General Assembly to plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI and the 75th anniversary of WWII.

The program's goal is to market Virginia as a year-round travel destination with historical and cultural attractions for regional and international travelers.

"We are fortunate in Virginia to have so many museums, historic sites, organizations, and communities across the state that are developing programs to mark the anniversaries of World War I and World War II," said Delegate Kirk Cox, Chairman of the Commission. "This is truly a statewide commemoration, and the grants will enable partners to join together to honor those who served and ensure that their inspiring stories live on for generations to come."

"These grants will help facilitate programs and events that will honor WWI and WWII veterans not only from Virginia, but across the country, as well," said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. "Additionally, by connecting travelers to a very significant time in our country's history, we hope to inspire a desire to learn more, while also fostering a new generation of stewards who will help to preserve and protect significant sites in Virginia related to WWI and WWII."

Read more: WWI and WWII Tourism Marketing Grants are open again -- Up to $10,000 available

The Father of Father’s Day: American Celebration of Fatherhood During WWI 

By Joseph Vesper
Staff Writer

pershing4b 1General John J. Pershing and his family before WWI. Have you ever wondered about the history of Father’s Day? Unfortunately, there was no federally recognized Father’s Day in America during the time of World War I. It was not until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation that the third Sunday in June was to be designated as the official holiday.

However, various communities in 1917-1918 did celebrate a day dedicated to fathers, nonetheless.

The exact day varied by community. Some celebrated the holiday in May others in June, still others as late as October. Newspapers in these communities heavily encouraged Father’s Day participation and gave suggestions for honoring fathers including; letting dad sleep in until 10 am, letting him read the entire sports section of the newspaper without interruption, showering him with gifts of scotch and cigars, and taking him to a baseball game.

Even President Woodrow Wilson and Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Force, helped to promote a day where fathers could be celebrated across the vast Atlantic Ocean, that separated families during the war.

President Woodrow Wilson verbally designated Nov. 24, 1918 as Father’s Day and in conjunction with Stars and Stripes a national letter-writing campaign was orchestrated where fathers and their children could reach out to each other. Though the war ended earlier that month, the letters were safely delivered. Some of these letters were even published in local newspapers.

Private Murville Boylan, of Plainfield Missouri, part of Company H, 311th Infantry wrote to his father:

...“Well as today had been set aside as “Father’s Day,” I for one feel very proud to think I have a dad to write to. There are a good many other boys writing to their fathers, also. Of course, there are some who came over here to do their bit for the U.S.A., who have been unfortunate and will never write to any one, so that is why I thank the Lord for sparing my life through this great battle of victory.”
“Some day we can spend many pleasant evenings together at home and I can tell you many funny experiences of my trip and time spent in this country and I can just see how interested you will be.”

Read more: The Father of Father’s Day: American Celebration of Fatherhood During WWI

"Etienne Dufau, My great-great grandfather" 

IMG 0001 001By Margeurite De Joux
translated by Yael Rosen, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Isolation. Despair. Fear. These are each soldier’s true enemy. Vision, hope and connection. These keep each soldier moving forward, even in the face of relentless pain.

Meet Etienne Dufau (1896 -1950), a Sergeant in the U.S. 303rd infantry regiment.

During the war, he corresponded with “an American godmother of war” who lived in Philadelphia, her name was Ms. Eva MacAdoo.

In his unpublished memoirs, he describes the exchange of letters as a connection to the other side of the world that transcends oceans, borders and nations; and the humility and gratitude that filled him knowing that even in this far away place of America, they cared about the soldiers here in France.

This connection gave him hope, a sense of purpose, and a sense of being part of something greater.

Ms. MacAdoo would share about her life and experiences, her joy and her heartaches and how despite it all she was still madly in love with life; which provided him with an escape, and a vision of another, better world.

In August 1917, during a recognition operation in Verdun (cote 304) Etienne Dufau was injured and lost an arm and his eyesight.

He was a talented violin player and after the incident he thought he would never be able to play again. However -- Years later, he created a device that enabled him to play the violin, after all.

This was a powerful testament to his dedication, and incredibly positive outlook on life which became his legacy.

Etienne Dufau, much like his American godmother, was in love with life and held on to hope. A creative at heart, he wrote a memoir, and several poems, that were filled with raw, palpable emotions, and serve as a great reminder that even after all the atrocities, somehow humanity prevailed.

Two of his poems “A mon violon”, a tribute to his violin, and “A ceux qui viennent combattre en France”, a tribute to the American soldiers who came to France to fight the war, were published in the famed literary magazine “The Forge” in Philadelphia in 1918.

Read more: "Etienne Dufau, My great-great grandfather"

Writing "Dad and Dunk in the Great War"

"I knew I wanted to dig deeper into this decades-long relationship."

By Jenifer Burckett-Picker
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

There was a small trunk in our house that my husband kept telling me to clean out as it was “cluttering the basement area” that he wanted to use for his hobbies. My dad had died at age 97 in 1993 and when, after almost a decade, I finally got around to opening this trunk, I found it was a treasure trove of my dad’s WWI memorabilia. In it was the revolver (with no bullets in the barrel), WWI victory medals attesting to my dad’s participation in both the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives, old maps of the Western Front in the area of Verdun, the khaki army hat and shirt, dad’s Army discharge papers, and a small, partially disintegrated, brittle envelope with something inside.

Jenifer Burckett Picker 300Jenifer Burckett PickerI had a feeling that the envelope contained something important. And it did! Inside was a packet of 2.5 inch by 4.5 inch white lined pages with three holes punched at the top. Written mostly in ink but occasionally in pencil was Dad’s diary from November 25, 1917, when he was sworn into service at Ft. Slocum, New York to June 14, 1922 when he left Boston on route to W. Montana. In these miniature pages, in a tiny but very readable script, was my dad’s record of his WWI service.

As I began to read these pages, I was filled with emotion. They told story of my dad’s time in WWI, and what captivated me was friendship he had formed with one of the soldiers he’d met in training camp. George Duncan ‘Dunk’ was from rural Montana and Dad, who had interrupted his studies at MIT to join the war, was from New Jersey. They became fast friends as they spent months in training camps in Maryland and then went overseas together. As I read through the diary I knew I wanted to dig deeper into this decades-long relationship.

How could I get in contact with Dunk’s family to find out more about this WWI friendship? By the early 2000s there was no chance that Dunk and his wife were alive. I knew, however, from my father’s Christmas card list that Dunk and his wife Eileen had had one child, a daughter Margaret, born in 1924. Unfortunately, women change their names when they marry so I was getting nowhere in my search for Margaret, even if she were still alive in her eighties.

Read more: Dad and Dunk in the Great War

Interview with author Andrew Capets 

"I wanted the reader to feel like they too were following their ancestor through the war."

By Will Kasier
Staff Writer

Even though the Great War ended one hundred years ago, families across the country continue to uncover complex military pasts of their families. The World War One Centennial Commission is proud to sponsor author Andrew Capets’ book, Good War, Great Men, which was inspired by his grandfather’s exploits in the 313th Machine Gun Battalion in France. Using the harrowing accounts from letters and diary entries of the 313th Battalion, Mr. Capets’ book immerses readers in the trenches with the men of the 313th. In a recent interview with the author, I had the chance to ask Mr. Capets for more details about his newly released book.

Could you tell us more about the history of the 313th Machine Gun Battalion and the men who served in the battalion? How did you come across this particular battalion?

Andrew CapetsAndrew CapetsSeveral years ago, I was standing next to my father, staring into a display case at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh admiring their exhibition of WWI items, specifically, a 1917 Browning machine gun. My father said, “That’s the kind of machine gun my father shot when he was in France.” This story was completely foreign to me. While I knew my grandfather was a veteran, I never truly contemplated the thoughts of my grandfather fighting on a battlefield. I thought this would be an interesting topic to explore. I had no idea it would lead me to writing a book about the men of his unit, specifically those who served in the 313th Machine Gun Battalion.

While the book briefly mentions my grandfather’s background, it’s not a family history. The subject material is predominantly the writings of men in his command, and other men attached to his battalion. The 313th Machine Gun Battalion was part of the 80th Division. The enlisted men were primarily from Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. This unit had a large contingency of draftees from the Erie County, Pennsylvania region.

Read more: Interview with author Andrew Capets

LA History Museum features exhibition on local families during WWI 

via the Los Altos (CA) Town Crier newspaper web site

img 8632The Los Altos History Museum highlights material seldom on display in its latest exhibition, “Right Here: Our Local Stories,” which runs through July 1.

The display focuses on World War I artifacts and stories of local families affected by the war. The exhibition features personal letters, original newspaper stories and posters promoting patriotic messages that mobilized the nation to war.

“In this exhibition, we want to show the global impact of World War I felt locally not only by families whose fathers and sons served, but also by immigrants and others ostracized by wartime fervor,” said Elisabeth Ward, museum executive director, noting that “Right Here” features a display on the Hindu-German Conspiracy Trial in San Francisco.

The artifacts include Frank Duveneck’s love letters to his wife, Josephine, and his wartime diary, which tell the story of his service with the 322nd Field Signal Battalion, his longing to be home and his joy over his daughter’s birth.

The Duvenecks went on to purchase Hidden Villa in 1924, the Los Altos Hills property that evolved into the nonprofit farm and wilderness preserve promoting environmental education and social justice.

Read more: LA History Museum features exhibition on local families during WWI

DfA60scUEAA0b AChildren visiting the National Museum of the Marine Corps learn about the 2,641 poppies "planted" in honor of all of the Marines killed during World War I. Each poppy includes the name of a Marine, his home of record, and the date and place of death.

National Museum of the Marine Corps hosts special WWI-themed activities

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

This week, the National Museum of the Marine Corps hosted a number of community activities in commemoration of the centennial of the Battle of Belleau Wood, during World War I.

During the week, visitors to the museum "planted" 2,641 poppies in honor of all of the Marines killed during World War I. Each poppy includes the name of a Marine, his home of record, and the date and place of death.

In addition, the Museum hosted a full day of WWI-themed educational activities, on Saturday, that included:

  • Exploring WWI communication methods including semaphore, wig wag, Morse code, and telephones
  • A Special Pre-school Playdate for children under 5: exploring the true story of Winnie the Pooh with story times, play-areas, and crafts.
  • Exploring the WWI and WWII Commemoration Commission Exhibition Bus.
  • Interacting with first-person interpreters.
  • Talking with curators and looking at artifacts from WWI.

The museum also has officially opened their new World War I art exhibit, entitled "A World at War: The Marine Corps and U.S. Navy in World War I".

Read more: National Museum of the Marine Corps hosts special WWI-themed Activities this week

Amazing Collection of Digitized WWI Newspapers at Library of Congress

By Arlene Balkansky
via the Library of Congress web site

There is an amazing new set of World War I newspapers that are now available digitally from the Library of Congress.

This vast online collection of World War I era newspaper clippings is from a single unique source: the 400-volume, 80,000-page set, World War History: Daily Records and Comments as Appeared in American and Foreign Newspapers, 1914-1926.

Arizona newspaperBeginning with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 and extending to the November 11, 1918 armistice and years after, the clippings yield significant information about the political, social, cultural, and economic impact of the war as it is taking place and its aftermath. The clippings cover far beyond the valuable contemporary news reports and contain war-related editorials, features, cartoons, photos, maps, and more.

Front pages and full-page features of New York City newspapers are frequently presented, while many newspapers from around the country and some foreign ones are represented through clipped individual articles and cartoons.

The 400 volumes of World War History were created after the war through the dedicated direction of Otto Spengler, owner of the Argus Press Clipping Bureau. Spengler was particularly qualified to embark on this task, having spent his entire career working in news clipping services. As a teen, he worked at the Argus and Information Bureau of Berlin and, following his immigration to America in 1892, at a clippings bureau in New York for more than 10 years.

By the early 20th century, he had established his own company and understood the importance of his clipping service and how to market it. Ads in 1907 for the company in the magazine, Advocate of Peace, touted press clippings as "an important factor in peace negotiations" ending the Russo-Japanese War. The ads stated that both Russian and Japanese negotiators "were kept posted through newspaper clippings furnished by Argus." The ads then asked "What Interests You" with a cost of $5.00 per hundred clippings and $35.00 per 1,000.

The outbreak of the World War in 1914 presented Spengler with the massive task of documenting the conflict as fully as possible. Throughout the war years and for several years after, Spengler's Argus Bureau acquired and clipped newspapers from around the country, including several foreign language U.S. newspapers, and some from other nations. At a time when German language American newspapers faced newsstand boycotts, declining advertising and subscriptions, and even government raids, inclusion of these newspapers provides a particularly important perspective.

Read more: Amazing Collection of Newly-Digitized WWI Newspapers at Library of Congress

Author Nancy Cramer

"I realized the story of the retreat was a book I must to write"

By Nancy Cramer
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Nancy Cramer, author and long-time volunteer at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, is publishing her 5th book on WWI, "Retreat to Victory," about the Serbian army retreating and not surrendering in WWI. It is a story unknown to most Americans, but worthy by its heroism, courage, determinism, and hardships. Many Serbs died in their efforts to reach safety, with only about half of them surviving. They recuperated, and went to northern Greece, and alongside the Brits and French, defeated the Bulgarians who surrendered in October, 1918. Nancy writes about how the book came to be written and published. 

Nancy CramerNancy CramerIn 2012 I toured the Balkan countries which included Serbia. The night before entering Serbia, I made a quick internet search of that country, because I knew little about it. I found a story about the 20,000 young boys the Army had conscripted in 1915, and the Army’s efforts later in 1916 to send them in 1916 to safety in other countries The Serbians had fought valiantly in 1914 and temporarily defeated the Austrians.

The next year with the mighty guns and soldiers of the German army, Serbia was attacked again. This time, out manned at least six to one and outgunned 12 to one, the Serbs had no chance of defeating the invaders. They could not win, but they would not surrender.

The leaders made an unusual decision. The Army would retreat through Serbia and cross over the 7,000-8,000 feet high roadless mountains to the shores of the Adriatic Sea. It was in mid-winter with unusually high snow falls and low temperatures. Allied ships would be waiting in the Adriatic Sea to rescue them despite attacks by German subs and Austrian airplanes on the helpless refugees on the beaches.

Read more: Author Nancy Cramer "I realized the story of the retreat was a book I must to write"

The Necessity of Intervention: A Foreign Policy Analysis of the U.S. and WWI

By Kyle Amonson
via the Small Wars Journal web site

“International relations is not a constant state of war… it is a state of relentless security competition, with the possibility of war always in the background.”

-- John Mearsheimer

Foreign policy often implores the inquiry, is war necessary to solve foreign policy challenges? It is not; however, the capability to wage, and win, conflict is necessary. War is often the insurance plan in the periphery of successful foreign policy, ready to be called upon when foreign policy no longer suits national interests or effectively ensures security. Prosperity and principles are essential, but security is the ultimate objective of foreign policy, and nations achieve security and peace through power.

House Wilson2President Woodrow Wilson, left, and Col. Edward M. House, who was Wilson's confidant and adviser on foreign affairs.Political and military strength remain the currencies of power. They are crucial to a strong national defense, to credible deterrence and to other effective means of statecraft. As the ancient Greek historian Thucydides wrote in The History of the Peloponnesian War, “the strong do what they have the power to do, and the weak accept what they have to accept.”

While the United States entered into “The Great War” in 1917 for several reasons, this unprecedented act of intervention introduced the international community to the U.S. as a global military and economic power for the first time.

This essay will examine the U.S. transition from unilateral policy and neutrality, to involvement in WWI as a case study to examine war as a tool of foreign policy.

Regardless of geographical displacement, US intervention became a necessity to ensure the progressive concept of American exceptionalism that, eventually, suited both classical realist and liberal internationalist ideologies.

This essay is structured to begin with a short overview of theory applied to foreign policy, a historical context to demonstrate U.S. unilateral polices pre-WWI, transition to U.S. intervention and conclude with an analysis focused on the application of warfare in support of U.S. national interests.

Read more: The Necessity of Intervention: A Foreign Policy Analysis of the United States and World War I

"Pershing" Donors

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo