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World War I Centennial News


Centenary tribute to America's WWI pilots in France - April 20

By Patrick Gregory
from www.centenarynews.com 15 April 2016

Norman PrinceNorman Prince: founder of the Lafayette EscadrilleThe United States & France are preparing to rededicate a memorial honouring American pilots who flew in the First World War. Ahead of the ceremony at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Paris, CN’s Patrick Gregory looks back at the impact of the volunteer airmen on the Allied war effort.

Although the United States had formally entered the war in April 1917 – and although American troops had seen their first combat action that autumn – it was to be nearly a full year before the pilots of the fledgling U.S. Air Service would take to the skies.

The problems the new air arm had encountered along the way were many and varied: challenges of organisation and supply, the tactical considerations of where they were to be deployed and the role they would play when they got there. As it happened, and when the time came, they were assigned the area of Toul in the north-east of France, near Nancy: a comparatively quiet sector in combat terms, where the largely untested American pilots could cut their teeth and make the transition from training school to active units. As a combat zone it would assume greater importance the longer 1918 wore on – as American troops began their ground assaults in earnest – but in that early period of spring 1918, the first of the new squadrons to be assembled used this relatively low-key atmosphere to bed in.

Read more: Centenary tribute to America's WWI pilots in France - April 20

Lafayette Escadrille Re-dedication April 20 in Paris

Mike Williams
Staff Writer

On Wednesday, April 20th, several dignitaries and VIPS from around the world will gather in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille. Though they came from many different backgrounds, from Harvard graduates to ambulance drivers, the volunteer pilots who formed the Escadrille all shared a sense of adventure and a passion for the French cause. Their sacrifice in the war helped to further solidify the strong bonds of friendship and loyalty between France and the United States.
LEM arch
The ceremony will be attended by leading figures of American and French diplomacy and air forces, a symbol of the political and military bonds wrought by the men of the Escadrille. As a part of the ceremony, there will be a flyby consisting of several WWI-era aircraft through to modern day F-22 Raptors and a US B-52 bomber.

Read about the American fliers who made up the Escadrille in the "Stories of the Fliers" pages of the Lafayette Escadrille section of the web site.

Michael Williams is a volunteer at the World War One Centennial Commission. He was a 2015 Intern during the fall semester.

 Homecoming for national WWI Memorial designer coincides with announcement of Arkansas Centennial committee

By Benjamin Desmarais
Staff Writer

On Thursday, March 31, the designer of the planned national World War I Memorial, Mr. Joe Weishaar, met with the governor of his home state of Arkansas. On this occasion, not only did Mr. Weishaar present the plans and meaning of the memorial with the governor and other esteemed guests, but the governor also officially announced the creation of the World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee.Governor Asa Hutchinson 500Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas announces the creation of the state's official World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee on March 31, 2016.

An Arkansas native, Joe Weishaar graduated from the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in 2013. The design that he and sculptor Sabin Howard created won an international competition for designing the national World War I Memorial. The pair titled their design “The Weight of Sacrifice.” An important aspect to the design of the project was Weishaar’s desire for the memorial to stand as a reminder that wars and veterans will not be forgotten.

The designers met with Governor Asa Hutchinson to present the design, and celebrate the 71,000 Arkansans who fought during the First World War with the creation of a centennial committee. This committee will oversee events regarding and honoring the hundredth anniversary of the First World War, which the United States entered in 1917 and saw to its end with the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

Weishaar is preparing to move to Washington D.C. soon to oversee the project, which still needs to raise much of the budgeted $45 million for construction. The hope is that funds can be raised so that construction can be completed on the memorial before the centennial of Armistice Day on November 11, 2018.

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Weishaar’s design or the team behind it, please click here.

Benjamin Desmarais is a Spring 2016 intern at the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. 

Blue Devils, March Madness, and World War OneChasseurs Alpins 1916Parlez-vous March Madness?

When Duke University held off a furious rally by Yale to claim a 71-64 victory on March 19, the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in school history.

But 100 years ago in World War One France, another group of "devils dressed in blue" were the inspiration for the school's mascot.





Read more: Blue Devils, March Madness, and World War One

Lafayette Escadrille Memorial rededication scheduled April 20th at Paris

The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Paris will be rededicated in a head-of-state ceremony on April 20th, 2016. The ceremony will cap a joint France/United States renovation project for the memorial which took place over the past decade.

LEMThe Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Paris.The Lafayette Escadrille was a squadron of the French Air Service during World War I, composed largely of American volunteer pilots. The 38 pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille flew for France beginning in 1916, before the United States officially entered World War I. The squadron was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American and French revolutions. Members participated in all major campaigns of the war and downed numerous enemy aircraft. The Escadrille helped shape the U.S. Army Air Service when it was formed in 1918 and created a culture that still influences combat pilots today.

The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial was built in 1928 with private donations, and is the burial place of 49 Americans who died in the war. The monument commemorates not only the original 38 members of the squadron, but also the 200 or so who succeeded them as volunteers in various French squadrons, together known as the Lafayette Flying Corps.

Read more: Lafayette Escadrille Memorial rededication scheduled April 20th in Paris

A Silent Night honors the sacrifice of WW1 soldiers through classical song

Silent Night 400Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan perform a selection from A Silent Night.Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan have been collaborative musical partners and friends since they met as students at the Juilliard School in 2007. Together they created A Silent Night: A WWI Centenary Tribute in Song which premiered on their first professional tour together as recitalists this past season.

Silent Night is a collection of classical and popular art songs written mostly by composers who lived through, fought, and died in the Great War. They are looking for venues, traditional and non-traditional. They also need help putting together their album.

 This program honors and illuminates the legacy of these composers, many of whom are often forgotten. On a larger scale, A Silent Night is the first program of its kind that uses the intimate art of classical song to the tell the story of the millions of soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War, simultaneously honoring their sacrifice and mourning their loss with a subtlety of expression that only great music and poetry can convey.

Read more: A Silent Night honors the sacrifice of WW1 soldiers

World War I Trench Art Exhibit at the 2016 American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Dallas

TCoin Trench ArtWWI coin trench arthere was a remarkable World War I Trench Art exhibit at the American Numismatic Association's recent 2016 National Money Show in Dallas. The convention took place in March 3-5 at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

The National Money Show is one of the most prestigious coin shows in the country. They feature the largest numismatic inventory anywhere, technical seminars, educational presentations, and a number of rare historical treasures from the ANA Money Museum and private collections.

The World War I Trench Art Exhibit was put together by ANA Money Museum Curator Douglas Mudd. Trench art is defined as any decorative item made by soldiers, prisoners of war, or civilians, where the manufacture is directly linked to armed conflict or its consequences. Douglas Mudd is one of the leading numismatists in the country, employed by the Smithsonian Institution and the International Monetary Fund. Museum.

The American Numismatic Association is committed to setting up World War I historical exhibits through 2018. The Association already started to embark on its exhibit "Money of World War I", to open in 2017 at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs.


Pritzker Military Museum & Library hosts Upper Midwest Region meeting

The World War One Centennial Commission held a meeting of the Upper Midwest Region state organizations on Thursday, March 17, 2016 at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago, IL.  Participants at this meeting consisted of the state-level World War I Centennial Commissions from each of the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

UMW meeting 03172016Speakers at the UMW meeting on March 17, 2016.Attendees at the public meeting discussed their efforts to commemorate WWI and educate people about WWI, so far, and their plans for future activity.

The meeting was livestreamed via the internet, and can be viewed here: http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/events/special-events/wwicc-upper-midwest-regional-meeting-march-2016/.

If you would like to add your comment your opinion on your meeting, go to http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/whats_on/livestream/

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is the Founding Sponsor of the World War I Centennial Commission.

For more information, contact Susan Mennenga at smennenga@pritzkermilitary.org or (630) 212-4887.


Columbus, NM events commemorate centennial of Pancho Villa raid and US response

By Jeff Lowdermilk

COLUMBUS, NM -- Some 200 Columbus Raid descendants and friends were in attendance for ceremonies marking the 100th Anniversary of the Pancho Villa Raid in Columbus on the morning of March 9, 2016.

Poe Patton 300After the presentation of colors by the US Border Patrol Color Guard Team, Richard Dean, President of the Columbus Historical Society, was the first speaker of the morning.  "The caskets were loaded on the train -- one -- by --- one." Dean said in a slow, measured tone. Richard is a native of Columbus and an authority on Pancho Villa's pre-dawn raid on the slumbering little town. He took the audience through the attack, and detailed the killing of each of the ten town residents who died in the raid. He took the attendees back to that morning of one hundred years ago, and we could all deeply feel the town's anguish. There also was a heavy sense that after all these years the wounds had not completed healed.

Dean then introduced the next speaker and honored guest, Helen Patton, granddaughter of the great WWII general. Helen lives in Reims, France and traveled to Columbus for this commemoration. Villa's raid initiated the US Army's response with the Punitive Expedition, commanded by General John J. Pershing. Helen's grandfather, George S. Patton, Jr. had been General Pershing's Aide. She brought life and spirit to the podium when she recited (or rather performed) the poem Marching in Mexico written by her grandfather while in Mexico.  As Helen recited the poem with such energy and spirit - history came alive!

Read more: Events in Columbus, NM commemorate Pancho Villa Raid Centennial

Yockelson book illuminates key period of AEF maturation in 1917

Mitch YockelsonHistorian Mitch Yockelson’s new book, Forty-Seven Days: How Pershing’s Warriors Came of Age to Defeat the German Army, was released March 1 this year, and the author is now going around the country promoting the book.

Telling the story of how the inexperienced American army of World War One under General Pershing became a formidable opponent to the better-trained German army, Yockelson discusses the critical time frame of September 26 to November 11, 1918 and examines major characters of the American narrative - Pershing, MacArthur, Patton, Truman - and in doing so creates a book that elucidates an important chapter of our collective history.

Read more: Yockelson book

Centennial of Pancho Villa raid to be commemorated March 9 at Columbus, NM site of attack

By Jeff Lowdermilk

Pershing and OfficersPancho Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico initiated the Punitive Expedition into Northern Mexico, commanded by Brigadier General John J. Pershing, who was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas, which is just east of Columbus. The General’s aide was a young Second Lieutenant named George S. Patton, Jr., who would come to idealize General Pershing. In fact he would model his entire career after General Pershing. From the swirling dust of this relatively small event in history, would rise two of the greatest military careers in American History.Columbus, NM burns after after the Pancho Villa raid on March 9, 1916.

100 years later, the commemoration of the centennial of the Villa raid and its aftermath in Columbus will include the historic reuniting of the Pershing and Patton families. On March 9, 2016, the Columbus Historical Society will hold a memorial service to remember the citizens who were killed in the raid. The event will take place at the Society's Memorial Garden located directly behind the 1902 E.P.&S.W RR depot at the intersection of Highway 9 and Highway 11 in Columbus. The centennial activities will start at 8:00. The memorial services begin at 10:00 with guest speaker Helen Patton, granddaughter of General George Patton, singing the National Anthem, and making remarks. CAPT David Poe of the Pershing Rifles will read a message from Mrs. Sandra Pershing, step-granddaughter of General John Pershing. Patton will also read a poem her Grandfather wrote while in Mexico on the Punitive Expedition. Other activities will follow the Memorial service.

Read more: Centennial of the Pancho Villa raid March 9

Recalling the American volunteers in the Battle of Verdun

This week marks the centennial of the Battle of Verdun, which began February 21st, 1916, and ran for 303 days. Verdun became one of the longest and costly battles in human history. In the battle, some 800,000 people were killed, wounded, or were declared missing.

American volunteers at Verdun 1The United States did not declare its participation in the Great War until 1917, however some unofficial assistance from was already being provided for the Allies by the start of Verdun. American volunteers played a significant role in the front line of the battle, performing as an ambulance drivers, fighter pilots, soldiers, and other duties.

During the initial stage of the war, several American ambulance organizations were created in France. The American Field Service (AFS) was one of them. In Verdun, nearly 2,500 AFS volunteers helped to evacuate some 400,000 wounded French. Some 127 were killed during the battle. The combat protocols and medical methods established by these American ambulance drivers had a lasting impact on the emergency services during wartime. The model set up by the AFS was used by the American Army for many years as a standard.

Similarly, the American aviators of Verdun also created an important legacy. Like the American ambulance drivers of the AFS, these aviators skirted America's neutrality in the war by going to France and joining locally-created organizations. The Lafayette Escadrille was created in 1916, after Dr. Edmund L. Gros, medical director of the American Field Service, convinced the French government to create air units fighting for France, made up of expatriate American fliers.

Read more: Recalling the American volunteers in the Battle of Verdun

U.S. Mint announces World War I Centennial Commemorative Coin Design Competition

coin design 2To commemorate the centennial of America's involvement in World War I, the United States Mint is calling on American artists to design a coin, to be issued in 2018, that will honor the accomplishments of heroes on the front line and the home front. The coin will serve as a tribute to the bravery, actions and sacrifices of Americans a century ago, while providing a tangible touch point for generations to come.

The competition is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are at least 18 years or older. During Phase One of the competition, which is open from February 29–April 28, 2016, artists are encouraged to submit their contact information and three to five work samples using the online form on the Mint web site.

Up to 20 applicants from Phase One will be selected to participate in Phase Two, where they will create and submit designs and plasters for the final coin. The winner will not only have his or her initials on the final coin, but will also receive a $10,000 prize.

“The World War I American Veterans Centennial Commemorative Coin Design Competition is an exciting opportunity for American artists to design a coin that will preserve an important time in American history and convey a sense of pride,” said Rhett Jeppson, Principal Deputy Director of the Mint. “World War I required the entire nation to get behind their armed forces. This truly is an opportunity to capture the sentiment and patriotism of the time. The coin will help future generations understand and appreciate the impact of what was called “the war to end all wars.”

The Coin Design Competition is an opportunity for American artists to inspire people with the bravery, actions and sacrifices of Americans, as well as encouraging future generations to remember and appreciate the history of World War I.

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