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World War I Centennial News


Winchester, VA man works to reveal history of city’s WWI markers

Associated Press

WINCHESTER, Va. (AP) - On Nov. 11, 1924, there was a ceremony near Handley High School commemorating nearly 50 Winchester and Frederick County soldiers who fought and died during or immediately after World War I.

Winchester markerIn a July 7, 2016 photo, a bronze plate honoring WWI soldier Charles E. Graber is embedded in the concrete curb on Handley Blvd. near Stewart Street in Winchester in Winchester, Va. On Nov. 11, 1924, there was a ceremony near Handley High School commemorating nearly 50 Winchester and Frederick County soldiers who fought and died during or immediately after World War I. Bronze markers were installed beneath about 50 red oak trees standing along what is currently Handley Boulevard. (Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star via AP) / Bronze markers were installed beneath about 50 red oak trees standing along what is currently Handley Boulevard, but at the time was dedicated as Memorial Avenue, according to a past article in The Winchester Star.

Just seven of the 49 bronze plaques that were mounted during the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion ceremony are still known to exist, Gene Schultz, a Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society board member, said Thursday at the organization’s office on South Pleasant Valley Road.

Read more: Winchester man works to reveal history of city’s WWI markers

PBS and American Experience announce “The Great War” to premiere in April 2017

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — At the Summer 2016 Television Critics Association press tour on July 28, PBS and American Experience announced that “The Great War,” a six-hour, three-night event, will premiere in April 2017 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into the war on April 6, 1917.

“The Great War” is executive produced by Mark Samels and directed by award-winning filmmakers Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak and Rob Rapley.

Doughboys 1917Drawing on the latest scholarship, including unpublished diaries, memoirs and letters, “The Great War” tells the rich and complex story of World War I through the voices of nurses, journalists, aviators and the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.

“The Great War” also explores how a brilliant PR man bolstered support for the war in a country hesitant to put lives on the line for a foreign conflict; how President Woodrow Wilson steered the nation through three-and-a-half years of neutrality, only to reluctantly lead America into the bloodiest conflict the world had ever seen, thereby transforming the United States into a dominant player on the international stage; and how the ardent patriotism and determination to support America’s crusade for liberty abroad led to one of the most oppressive crackdowns on civil liberties at home in American history.

It is also a story of little-known heroism and sacrifice (including the deadliest battle in American history) that would leave more than 53,000 men dead on the battlefield and more than 60,000 dead from disease. American fatalities would come at a critical time in the war, but they would be dwarfed by a cataclysm of violence that would ultimately claim 15 million lives.

“On this centennial anniversary, we’re proud to present this in-depth examination of a truly pivotal event in American history from the perspectives of the people who lived through it,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “The Great War transformed America and the world, and this series brings that transformation to life through unexpected personal stories.”

Read more: PBS and American Experience announce “The Great War” to Premiere April 2017

A look at Highland’s Navy veterans of World War I

By Roland Harris
for the Highland News Leader

American Expeditionary Forces would arrive in Europe to reinforce the Allies in early 1918 and would turn the tide on the battlefield, but there was also war being waged on the seas.

Because of America’s late entry into the war, there were few ship-to-ship encounters with the German fleet. Most of the U.S. Navy’s involvement focused on bringing troops and supplies to European allies and countering the German’s unrestricted U-boat (submarine) attacks on merchant ships.

There were a few local men who served in the Navy during World War I.

USS Ohio BB 12USS Ohio (BB-12) in 1918.Robert H. Ammann, the son of Mrs. Anton Ammann of Highland, and Harry C. Breitenbach, the son of Philip Breitenbach, both had enlisted in the Navy in 1907.

Ammann was just 18 and was assigned to the USS Connecticut for active duty. In April 1907, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, had made the Connecticut his flagship, and it would be part of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” a force of 16 battleships that departed New York on Dec. 16, 1907 and would sail around world as a way of demonstrating the naval power of the U.S.

Ammann re-enlisted on Nov. 22, 1911 and assigned to the USS Dixie, a destroyer tender. By 1914, he was sent to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md. He was discharged in 1915, but re-enlisted and remained on active duty.

By May 6, 1917, Ammann was assigned to the USS Ohio as chief gunner’s mate. The Ohio had been recommissioned on April 24, 1917.

Read more: A look at Highland’s Navy veterans of World War I

Four Questions with Kenneth Clarke on 100 Cities /100 Memorials

"This is an opportunity for us to right a historical wrong"

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

Kenneth Clarke is the President & CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago, Illinois. He is one of the architects behind the 100 Cities/100 Memorials Matching Grant Challenge that promotes local restoration and commemoration of World War I memorials in communities across America. The program launched on July 15, 2016.Kenneth Clarke mugKenneth Clarke

Why do you feel the 100 Cities/100 Memorials program is important?

This program gives everyday Americans the chance to discover, rediscover, or draw attention to World War I monuments in their town or city, and then renovate it, refurbish it, and get it into condition to last for the next 100 years.

How did this program come about? Were there any specific events that inspired this idea?

I was inspired by feedback that was provided when the World War I Centennial Commission launched the [design] competition for the [National] World War I Memorial in Washington, the new one. There was feedback in the newspapers that said, “That’s great, that’s in Washington. But I’m likely to never get to Washington.” And I thought, “That’s absolutely right.” And then I started thinking that the monuments in America to World War I were built by everyday people, many of them American Legion members who had served during World War I. They raised monuments to memorialize the men who didn’t come home in town squares across America. The memorialization of World War I after the war happened on a very local level and it wasn’t guided by the government, it wasn’t guided by politicians, or experts, or academics. It was guided by everyday folk who served during the War, and their families who wanted to remember and properly memorialize the fallen of the War and those who served. It’s a long answer, but it wasn’t until later in our country’s history that we started doing the bigger national monuments.

Read more: Four Questions with Kenneth Clarke on 100 Cities/100 Memorials

The National Park Service Brings “Blackjack” Pershing To Life

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

On July 14th, the National Park Service hosted a walking tour of Pershing Park led by Park Ranger Joseph Mohr titled, “World War I, Blackjack Pershing, and American Diplomacy.” This site will be the future home of the National Memorial to World War I in Washington, D.C., making it the ideal setting to discuss how the world is still influenced by the lasting effects of World War I. In order to understand the present, it is important to remember and honor the past. This is precisely what the National Park Service managed to do in the span of forty-five minutes.Mohr 2 500National Park Service Ranger Joseph Mohr uses the information panels at Pershing Park to help explain the challenges that General Pershing faced while leading an American army in France.

The talk was an in-depth and engaging discussion about the circumstances and events that surrounded the outbreak of World War I in 1914. By covering topics such as the rise of Germany and the decisions of various nations in the early days of the conflict, Mr. Mohr was able to bring a tremendous amount of context to America’s forgotten war. "The memorial reminds us of who we were,” stated Mr. Mohr. “There were a lot of diplomatic decisions made, and we are still living with the legacy and consequences of those today." Mr. Mohr displayed his incredible knowledge about American history by drawing from the research of several well-known academics of World War I history, such as Forty-Seven Days by Mitchell Yockelson and the works of Margaret MacMillan.

Read more: The National Park Service Brings “Blackjack” Pershing To Life

World War I: Time to Recall What This War Was About

By Gayle Osterberg
Director of Communications, Library of Congress

PosterNext April begins the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I, from April 6, 1917, when the U.S. Congress formally declared war on the German Empire. It concluded November 11, 1918, with the armistice agreement.

I am going to risk embarrassment by confessing that I have retained very little of what I learned about this war in school. I must have been taught all the basic information – how it started, why we were involved, what its legacies were. But unlike the Civil War and World War II, there is little I can discuss in an informed way about the 19 months America was engaged in this global conflict.

I am told by Library colleagues that this is not unusual. In the United States, what was known as “The Great War” over time has been less widely studied, written about and dramatized on screen than other conflicts.

But consider that during those 19 months, more than 1 million women joined the workforce and momentum built for suffrage; nearly 400,000 African-Americans volunteered and served overseas, along the way popularizing jazz in Europe; the U.S. transitioned from being a debtor nation to a creditor nation, for the first time establishing America as a global power; and the global mobilization and conditions of warfare led to the spread of influenza; between 1918 and 1919, Spanish Influenza, as it was known, killed more people than the war itself.

Read more: World War I: Time to Recall What This War Was About

Nearly 100 years later, Passamaquoddy Army veterans honored for service

By Bill Trotter
Bangor Daily News, July 18, 2016

INDIAN TOWNSHIP, ME — Ninety-nine years after six young men volunteered to fight the Imperial German Army in World War I, their families on Sunday received the official recognition that the soldiers never did.

Maine eventSylvia Polchies holds an American Eagle feather and a folded American flag that she received on behalf of her late father, Henry Sockbeson, during a ceremony to honor six members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe who fought in World War I on Sunday in Indian Township. (BDN photo)

One of them, Charles Lola, was 22 years old when he was killed in the conflict. He later posthumously was awarded the Croix de Guerre medal by the French government for his valor in battle.

Moses Neptune, son of the tribe’s governor at the time, William Neptune, enlisted at the age of 19 and was killed the following year, one of the final soldiers cut down before the Armistice was signed in November 1918.

Samuel J. Dana did not lose his life in the war, but he did lose a leg. Dana, who later would serve as the tribe’s representative to the Maine Legislature, survived his wounds and returned home to the Passamaquoddy lands in eastern Washington County, as did George Stevens Sr., Henry Sockbeson and David Sopiel.

Despite their sacrifices, none of the men received any official recognition or honor during their lifetimes from the country that they served as members of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Regiment. Like all members of Indian tribes nationwide, they were not even considered U.S. citizens until 1924.

On Sunday, amid performances of traditional Passamaquoddy songs and dances, each man’s legacy got what was long overdue. More than 300 people were estimated to have attended the ceremony at the tribe’s community center.

Read more: Nearly 100 years later, Passamaquoddy Army veterans honored for service

"100 Cities/100 Memorials" program to help restore & preserve local World War I Memorials in U.S. has officially launched

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library have announced a new program to help people across the country restore and preserve local World War I memorials.

100C 100M Logo small"100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS" is a fund‐matching program, where groups or individuals can A) identify local World War I memorials in their area, B) put together a conservation treatment proposal for a memorial in distress, C) submit their plan for consideration for matching grant funds, D) have the memorial treated by an accredited conservator, with communication help & possible matching funds.

The details of the program, including guidelines and online application form, can be found here.

The program is designed to foster a sense of heritage in local communities, to recognize local stories & people who were involved in the war, and create a way for community members to participate in the national World War I Centennial.

Kenneth Clarke, President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library stated, "The words 'Lest We Forget' appear on World War I memorials across the nation. Sadly, however, many of these memorials are in need of conservation and restoration, in this, their centennial year."

The 100 CITIES/100 MEMORIALS program is particularly well suited for community service projects hosted by school groups, scout troops, veteran group posts, historical/cultural organizations, faith groups, local sports teams, and others.

Dan Dayton, Executive Director of the Centennial Commission, commented "Doughboys came from every town and village in the US. This program gives the Commission a way to say thank you in a very tangible way."

Read more: "100 Cities/100 Memorials" program announcement

WW1CC unveils air show-themed Merchandise for Oshkosh 2016

By Roger Fisk
Director of Development, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Airshow pinThe U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission and the 2016 Airventures Show have teamed up to bring WW1- themed merchandise to the world's largest aviation show later this month.

700,000 people are expected to attend the Airventures Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the World War One Centennial Commission is partnering with the show to bring WW1 programming, merchandise and commemorative activities to the attendees.Airshow sticker

Commonly referred to simply as "Oshkosh, the air show takes place the last week of July and for seven days it creates the busiest airport in the world, bringing together vintage aircraft, collectors, historians, industry leaders and aficionados of all ages.

This year will feature the theme of World War One commemoration, with Commissioners Edwin Fountain and Libby O'Connell, along with the sculptor for the National World War One Memorial in Pershing Park, Sabin Howard, attending to deliver lectures and master classes on history, the impact and importance of WW1, and the memorial process itself.

For more info on the WW1CC and Airventure partnership, check out the OSH16 page here.

WWI veterans from Passamaquoddy Tribe honored in Maine

By Lora Whelan
The Quoddy Tides

EASTPORT, ME -- The Passamaquoddy Tribe sent 25 men to fight in World War I, some of whom served in the Yankee Division Company I, says Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Donald Soctomah. However, because the Passamaquoddy were not considered United States citizens until 1924, the Company I veterans who were wounded or died in action never received recognition for their service. On Sunday, July 17, that changed.

Passamaquoddy TribeThe “Honoring Ceremony for Six World War 1 Veterans” took place during the Indian Day Ceremonies held in front of the Indian Township Tribal Office. Ceremonies began at noon with the Grand entry of the veterans and the tribal chief, vice chief, tribal council and dancers. The Indian Township Tribal Government and the Smithsonian Film Network partnered to recognize six Passamaquoddy World War 1 veterans who were wounded or died in the War with a Silver Star Medal from the U.S. Government to the veterans' families.

After the military presentation, Chief Nicholas of the Passamaquoddy Tribe presented one painted eagle feather, one of the highest honors a tribal member can receive, to each veteran's family.

Soctomah was approached by the film division of the Smithsonian Institution about the company. While involved in research on an upcoming film, the organization found that a number of Company I recruits came out of the Eastport area. "A lot of Company I members were made up of Passamaquoddy," he says. "They [Smithsonian] wanted to interview family members about their veteran forebears." Three family members of three veterans were found: Genevieve Neptune, John Stevens and John Sockbeson, who are being interviewed by the Smithsonian about their WWI veteran relatives.

Read more: Passamaquoddy Tribe WW1 veterans honored

WW1, Pershing Park, & Pokémon Go

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

Pershing Park in Washington D.C. is home to a statue of World War I General John J. Pershing, although what many people are not aware of is that the Park has recently gained some new residents: Pokémon.

Pershing pokemonAt Pershing Park we were able to catch this Pokémon, known as a Sandshrew.On July 6th, video game developer Niantic released Pokémon Go, an augmented reality app that gives Pokémon fans a chance that they have dreamed about for the last twenty years: the ability to catch Pokémon in real life. This Android and iOS app has taken the world by storm over the last few days, and even became the most-downloaded app in the world during the three days following its release. The game is especially popular in urban areas, as the placement of Pokémon is closely tied to pre-established locations where people can find them, such as parks or even national landmarks.

PokemonThe game itself is an ingenious concept in that it allows users to mix the virtual world of Pokémon with reality. Players who download the app can travel the real world in order to find Pokémon, making this game very different from conventional video games. At certain predetermined locations, known as “Pokéstops,” players can attract Pokémon and attempt to capture them. Pokémon will appear on players’ smartphone screens, making it look as if the Pokémon were actually standing in front of them. Pokéstops are often located at landmarks in communities, such as parks or churches. In major cities, such as Washington D.C., national landmarks can also serve as Pokéstops or Gyms, which allow users to collect or battle Pokémon. For instance, both the White House and the Pentagon are gyms.

A few lucky interns had the recent opportunity to visit Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. to see what it held for the Pokémon Go app. We soon discovered that Pershing Park hosts the “John J. Pershing” and “The Bald Eagle” Pokéstops. Here, users can place down lures to attract Pokémon and catch them. Lures are public and can be seen by anyone who plays the game, so within minutes of placing a lure at John J. Pershing, three people approached us asking about the game at 10:00am on a Wednesday. According to fellow players, Pershing Park is actually an excellent Pokéstop for the aspiring Pokémon master.

Read more: WW1, Pershing Park, & Pokémon Go

WWI tunnels rediscovered in France with carvings in walls by US troops

By James Dunn
for the Daily Mail Online

The haunting momentos of allied soldiers who fought the Germans in World War One have been discovered inside eight miles of secret tunnels deep in the forests of Northern France.

Cave Carving 1The winding tunnels used by the American Expeditionary Force, sent by President Wilson to reinforce Britain and France, were recently discovered by an amateur battlefield explorer.

Pictures show how the raw recruits carved 250 military insignias and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they were holed up in a quarry they used for shelter from the relentless German assault on the Western Front.

Other pictures show shells, bombs, grenades and shrapnel on the floor of the eight miles of tunnels, recently rediscovered by Battlefield explorer Marc Askat, 31, from Paris, who spent eight hours at the site.

Other historical images show the soldiers who would have used the tunnels as they sheltered from the German forces.

Cave Carving 2Discoverer Marc Askat said: 'I have spent a lot of time exploring the limestone quarries used by soldiers during first and second world war and the fact is that very few remains of U.S and Commonwealth soldiers are visible.

'After several months of research on the war diaries and the position of trenches on maps, I found a quarry that was exactly on their target.

'After a long crawl underground, I was lucky enough to see a giant Bold Eagle blaze sculpted by the 26th Yankee Division of the United State Army Infantry was in front of me.

'On the floor were, bombs, mortars, hand grenades and many heavily rusted metal devices that you don't want to touch or even know what they are.

'Many names, nicknames, masonic logos, city names were etched into the walls. This place was very rich with finds, I didn't even check my watch during almost eight hours underground.

Read the whole story in the Daily Mail Online.

Les Américains – Seven U.S. citizens who volunteered to fight for France in WW1

By David Hanna
Military History Now, June 29, 2016

Americans in French forcesIn August, 1914, a small, but committed, group of Americans offered their services to the French army. General Alexander von Kluck’s German troops were then advancing through Belgium and set to descend on Paris. Many of the Americans had lived in the city before the war: aspiring writers, poets, and painters mostly. To a man they felt a strong sense of obligation to help defend France in her hour of greatest need.

However, there were others who booked passage on trans-Atlantic steamers to reach the war. These Americans were motivated by an historical and ideological understanding of America’s responsibilities in the coming struggle – in this, they were far ahead of most of their countrymen. The French Foreign Legion provided a vehicle for the Americans to join the fight without renouncing their U.S. citizenship. Even then la Légion enjoyed a certain dark mystique. The volunteers would eventually see combat in some of the bloodiest battles of World War One in Artios and Champagne in 1915; at Verdun and the Somme in 1916; and also in the skies with the Lafayette Escadrille.

Of these remarkable men that formed the American vanguard in the Great War, seven in particular stand out.

Read more: Les Américains – Seven U.S. citizens who volunteered to fight for France in WW1

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