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World War I Centennial News


“The Family in the Arena”

TR Family 1000By Michael Williams
Staff Writer

“Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life.”

This was just some of the advice that Teddy Roosevelt gave to his children, five of whom served bravely in World War One. On October 27, 2015, President Roosevelt’s 157th birthday, we honor the service of a family that gave so much to the nation.

No stranger to battle, Teddy Roosevelt repeatedly pleaded for American entrance into World War One, despite the government's official stance of neutrality. Roosevelt, already a decorated veteran of the Spanish-American War, was willing to put his money where his mouth was: he wanted to personally raise two divisions of soldiers, and command them in battle, with his four sons as privates. While President Wilson denied this request of the elder Roosevelt, all four sons saw combat in Europe during the Great War, and his daughter Ethel served as a nurse in France.

Quentin Roosevelt 1918

Read more: “The Family in the Arena” 2015

World War I accelerated China's internationalization

By Yanran Xu
Research and Teaching Assistant, International Relations and Latin American Studies
Department of International Studies, University of Miami

World War I has always been primarily associated with Europe. That’s where the conflict began, where the major battles took place, and where the war had its most visible effect–the map of the continent was redrawn in its aftermath. But with more and more historical archives being revealed, more attention is being paid to how non-European countries figured into “the war to end all wars.” China, as one of the biggest countries in the world, became entangled in the war in many different ways. China's attempts to join the war marked its "internationalization," and it was engaged by the international system, ideas, forces and trends. This article attempts to bring details of China’s involvement in WWI to American readers.

I. China enters WWI

At the beginning of the 20th century, China was divided into spheres of influence, with each powerful Western nation trying to exert as much control over it as possible. Sun Yat Sen textThe Qing Dynasty began to fail in the early years of the century. The Chinese people, being resentful of foreigners and dissatisfied with inability of the present government to throw them out, initiated the Revolution of 1911 and replacing China's 2000 year-old imperial system with the Republic of China, headed by Sun Yat-Sen. Though the new government created the Republic of China, it failed to unify the country under its control. The Qing withdrawal led to a power vacuum in certain regions, resulting in the rise of warlords. These warlords often controlled their territories without acknowledging the nationalist government.
In the meantime, European powers’ preoccupation with the war at home also gave Japan an opportunity to obtain a position of supremacy in China. In 1915 Japan presented China with the ‘Twenty-one’ Demands, the terms of which would have reduced China to a virtual Japanese protectorate. Finally, In 1917 China entered World War I on the side of the Allies (which included Britain, France, and the United States) in order to gain a seat at the peace table, hoping for a new chance to halt Japanese ambitions. China expected that the United States, with its Open Door Policy and commitment to the self-determination of all peoples, would offer its support. However, as part of the negotiation process at the peace conference in Versailles, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson withdrew U.S. support for China on the Shandong issue with Germany and the Shandong territory was turned to the hands of Japanese. The indignant Chinese delegation refused to sign the Treaty of Versailles.

Read more: World War I accelerated China's internationalization

Model Soldier Society honors WW1 history through miniature art

By Michael Williams
Staff Writer

World War One commemoration comes in all shapes and sizes. While the United States World War One Centennial Commission is busy trying to develop two acres of downtown Washington into a fitting national memorial, some in the commemoration community are working with less than 2 square inches.

Over the Top 1916 500Every month, members of the National Capital Model Soldier Society, whose motto is “To Honor History Through Art,” meet to swap ideas and tips on creating model soldiers, and, of course, to show off their latest creations to their friends. Many of these models stand at less than 2¼ inches tall, and are painstakingly painted to appear as detailed as a full sized man standing only 15 feet from the observer. A scene (or vignette in modeling parlance) of several figures can take as many as 60 hours to complete.

“It’s very relaxing, I put on some classical music or a book on tape, and time just goes away,” says Joe Bles, the Vice President of NCMSS.

While NCMSS is open to models of all stripes, from Lord of the Rings to Lord Kitchener, the main focus is on historical modeling. “I just get fascinated by the history of it, which is not well known today,” says Mr. Bles, “modeling is a way to bring that history back alive; once the artifact is actually gone, the only thing left is the model.” To that end, the NCMSS has gone into schools around the capital area to display their work, and hope to ignite a passion for both history and modeling among younger generations. Pilot detailAt one school, Mr. Bles says, they received some pushback for the grim nature of their displays, but the aim was not to show the brutality, but rather “the humanity of it- these guys were living in the mud and the trenches, getting shot at and bombed everyday, but they kept their humanity. Kids need to know that.”

Bullets, bombs, and poison gas are not the only challenge facing the miniature soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force. Just like the Allies at the beginning of America’s involvement, there is currently a desperate lack of American WWI soldier models available relative to British and French miniatures. The cause of this is most likely because European countries have been observing the centennial of fighting for over a year now, while the USA still has 18 months to go before public interest piques. “Not too many American figures from World War One yet,” says Mr. Bles, “but 2017, 2018, it’s all going to open up.”

Read more: Model Soldier Society honors WW1 history through art

Countdown to Veterans Day 2015: An Initiative to expand awareness and support of Veterans Day

An ad-hoc group of public and private organizations have gotten together to raise awareness for Veterans Day 2015. The Veterans Day national holiday takes place on November 11th.

By using the simple hashtag #CountdownToVeteransDay, and by linking their social media efforts, the organizations hope to inform people about veterans issues, veterans needs, veterans contributions, and veterans support programs. There are a number of participating organizations, including the Veterans Administration, Arlington National Cemetery, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the World War One Centennial Commission.Veterans Day 026

The "Countdown To Veterans Day" symbolically started on Tuesday, 22 September, 50 days from Veterans Day. The Countdown will culminate in the National Veterans Day event at Arlington National Cemetery.

"We feel that one day is not enough to talk about veterans" said Dan Dayton, executive director of the WWI Centennial Commission. "With the countdown, we want to make people aware. When people are aware of Veterans Day, they can discuss what people do to serve our country, they can see who helps veterans in need, and if they are inclined, they can help these veterans out".

As a holiday, Veterans Day invites people to participate -- to volunteer for veterans-themed projects, to donate to organizations that support military veterans, to share pictures and stories of military service on social media.  For a list of volunteer service opportunities, visit the Countdown to Veterans Day page.

Veterans Day grew out of the original Armistice Day national holiday that commemorated the end of combat in World War I on November 11, 1918.

All living former Presidents join Centennial Commission as Honorary Chairs

jimmy carter george hw bushbill clintongeorge w bush


The United States World War One Centennial Commission has announced that all four living former Presidents of the United States will serve as Honorary Chairs of the Commission.

Former Presidents James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, and George Walker Bush each will lend their name to the centennial commemoration, which will run through July 2019, honoring the participation of the United States and its citizens in the war effort.

While there are no living veterans of World War One, President George H.W. Bush offered the use of his name in honor of his father Prescott Bush who served as a field artillery captain with the American Expeditionary Forces (1917–1919) during World War One, where he came under fire in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.

Remembrance ceremony marks centennial of Pershing Family tragedy at the Presidio

Wreath at Pershing Family EventBy Erin Bradley Macri
Special Report

The U.S World War One Centennial Commission joined the World War One Historical Association to sponsor a wreath-laying event on Thursday, August 27 at the former Army post on the Presidio in San Francisco to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the deaths in a fire there of World War I hero General John Pershing’s family.

Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing’s wife, Helen Frances Warren, and their four children remained at the family’s two-story Victorian house on the Presidio while Pershing made arrangements for them to join him at Fort Bliss, Texas. Plans were almost complete when, after entertaining guests from the World’s Fair late one summer night, hot coals spilled from the family hearth onto the lacquered floor. The house was soon engulfed in flames and Pershing’s wife and three young daughters died of smoke inhalation. The only survivor was their five-year-old son, Warren, who was saved by Pershing’s longtime orderly.

Read more: Remembrance ceremony marks centennial of Pershing Family tragedy at the Presidio

National World War One Memorial Design Competition

Stage II design concept selections announced

0013 Plaza to the Forgotten War0037 World War One Memorial Concept0077 The Weight of Sacrifice0263 An American Family Portrait0329 Heroes Green



WASHINGTON, DC (August 19, 2015) -- Five design concepts for the National World War One Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC  have been selected to proceed to Stage II of the design competition. Robert Dalessandro, Chair of the World War One Centennial Commission, announced the selections today.

"This week I am pleased to announce the five design concepts selected by our jury to go forward to the next stage of development for the new World War One Memorial in Pershing Park," Dalessandro said.  Those selected include: "Plaza to the Forgotten War" submitted by Brian Johnsen, AIA; Sebastian Schmaling, AIA, LEEP AP; and Andrew Cesarz, at Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Milwaukee, WI; "World War One Memorial Concept" submitted by Devin Kimmel, Principal at Kimmel Studio, llc in Annapolis, MD"; "The Weight of Sacrifice" submitted by Joseph Weishaar of Chicago, IL; "An American Family Portrait Wall in the Park" submitted by STL Architects in Chicago, IL; and "Heroes' Green" submitted by Maria Counts, of Counts Studio in Brooklyn, NY.

Robert Dalessandro"Thank you to the each of the participants in Stage I of the design competition," said Dalessandro. "The participants provided us all 350+ works of art. Each design concept is an important tribute to the veterans of WW1. We want these artworks to be lasting tributes, as well, so all Stage I submissions will remain available for viewing on our website. They will also become a part of the permanent record of the Centennial Commission.

"Stage I of the design competition was the first step in a long development process," Dalessandro noted. "That process includes many different reviews, designed to bring forward the best possible plan for all parties. These include reviews for environmental, cultural, historical, engineering, budgetary, and livability concerns.

"We have partnered closely with stakeholder organizations to listen to as many voices as possible, and to bring forward the best possible plan. We will continue to do so. Those stakeholder partners include, but are not limited to, the National Park Service, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Capital Planning Commission," said Dalessandro.

"In Stage II, the Participants will evolve their design concepts for the memorial and present their designs, while fulfilling the requirements set out by our Commission, and by our stakeholder partners. Each design team will be provided with a stipend from the WW1 Centennial Commission, to help with the concept development, and the construction design process.

"We plan to make these developed design concepts public, and to invite the public to make comments on them, as well," said Dalessandro. "We hope to present the final design concept selection of this competition to the full Commission early next year."

The Stage I Report announcing the selections was issued by the Competition Managers in accordance with the Competition Manual. The Report is the official record of Stage I of the Competition describing the competition process to date, the Jury evaluation and analysis, and the Jury recommendation as to those selected to participate in Stage II. The Report also briefly describes how Stage II will be conducted.

Pershing Park overhead with caption2The selected memorial site is Pershing Park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW.

The public is invited to view all of the Stage One submissions that conformed with the Competition Manual.  Go to the Memorial Design Competition page for more information on how to view the submissions.

The competition is a two-stage design competition. Stage I was an open, international competition -- open to any professionals, university-level students, or any other interested participants. In the first stage, participants submitted narrative and graphic descriptions of a design concept responding to the competition’s design goals. Five submissions from Stage I were selected by the competition jury as finalists, and those entries will be further refined and developed in Stage II.

The jury for both stages of the competition is composed of individuals representing the worlds of government, the military, the arts, and the citizens of Washington DC. The Commission selected the jurors and will have final decision on the selected design, based on the recommendation of the jury. For information on the Memorial and the competition, including the Competition Manual, and questions and answers from participants, visit the Memorial Design Competition page.

The Memorial will be built using funds raised from the American public. "Please remember that even if we get the perfect design we can’t build the memorial without support," said Chris Isleib, public affairs officer for the Commission. "We invite you to help us in our goal, to create the new WW1 Memorial using only private donations. The veterans of WW1 earned their own memorial, and we can build it for them." For information on fundraising for the Memorial, or to make a donation, visit the Memorial Fundraising page.

Rags: Dog Hero of World War I

By Kate Kelly
America Comes Alive

Rags and Hickman

Rags, who became a World War I dog hero, was originally just a stray pup picked up by a couple of American soldiers in July of 1918. James Donovan and George Hickman, part of the 1st Infantry Division, had been celebrating Bastille Day in a bar in the famous Montmartre section of Paris, when they stumbled on what they thought was a bundle of rags.

The accidental bump of one of their boots aroused the bundle and it barked, revealing that the men had come upon a dog, not rags.

The men must have stooped to quiet him, and the dog—now fully awake—had the good sense to follow them back to base. Rags cheerfully became the companion of Jimmy Donovan though everyone in the unit enjoyed him and slipped him scraps of whatever they were eating.

Read more: Rags: Dog Hero of World War I

WINGS Performing Arts of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center presents Remembrance at the Kennedy Center, August 6, 2015

Remembrance cast with Dalessandro

Washington, DC - WINGS Performing Arts of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center presented Remembrance, a musical play about World War One, on August 6, 2015 at the Kennedy Center's Millennium stage at 6 PM. Remembrance was nominated to perform by the office of Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Robert Dalessandro, Chair of the World War One Centennial Commission, introduced the performance.  He also met with the cast backstage.  Video of the performance has been posted by the Kennedy Center here.

The original production, created and developed by WINGS Director Tonya Hays and WINGS high school students and alumni toured schools and college campuses and was sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the MGCCC Innovator's Award Grant and funding from the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport. Twenty five members of the WINGS High School Ensemble, the Shooting Stars along with family members will travel to Washington, DC.

Read more: Performance of Remembrance at Kennedy Center

National World War One Memorial Design Competition

Over 350 Stage I Design Entries Received

WASHINGTON, DC - (Updated August 5, 2015) The deadline for entries for Stage I of the Design Competition for the National World War One Memorial in Washington DC passed on Tuesday July 21, at 3:00 p.m. EDT, with over 350 entries submitted.

Pershing Park Satellite View

The selected memorial site is Pershing Park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW.

"Special thank you to those who submitted designs for our WW1 Memorial Design Competition!" said Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. "The support for this open competition has been overwhelming, with over 350 projects sent in.

"The jury review process of the design concepts for our World War One Memorial competition will continue for a few more days. As announced earlier, the response to the competition has been strong, with over 350 people participating, from all over the world, from many different backgrounds. The public comment participation has also been strong, with over 700 comments submitted, for the jury to consider.

"We plan to announce the names of the competition finalist designers in the coming days. These finalists will compete in the second stage, and the winner will be selected from one of those designs."


Read more: Over 350 Entries in World War One Memorial Design Competition

Commission meets with Congress to increase visibility of commemoration

A delegation from the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission visited Capitol Hall July 21-23, meeting with Representatives and Senators to increase Congressional visibility and support of the  Commission's efforts to commemorate and educate the U.S. public about the service and sacrifices of Americans during WWI.

The delegation was led by the Chair of the Commission, Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro, USA (Ret.) and Commissioner Tom Moe, and includes the Commission's senior advisor for development, General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.). The visit to the Hill kicked off with a brief media event on Tuesday, July 21, taking place on the east side grassy area outside the U.S. Senate at 10 a.m. EDT. The event featured remarks by General McCaffrey, Representative Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Dalessandro.

The delegation visited the offices of 34 different Representatives and Senators for meetings. Among those lawmakers hosting with the Commission team were: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio); Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Minority Leader; and Representative Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Read more: Commission meets with Congress

Forgotten Story of American Writers on Front Lines of World War I

Henry James

By Hazel Hutchison
Senior Lecturer at University of Aberdeen
from The Conversation

It was a very public gesture for a very private man. On July 26 1915, the novelist Henry James gave up his American nationality and became a British citizen. He placed a notice in The Times explaining why.

He had lived in England for almost 40 years, he said, and had formed many “long friendships and associations”, but it was the war raging in Europe that had cemented his “desire to throw his weight and personal allegiance, for whatever they may be worth, into the scale of the contending nation’s present and future fortune”.

To intensify public interest, James asked H H Asquith, the British prime minister, to sign as one of his personal sponsors – each of whom had to testify that this celebrated author of some 20 novels and 100 short stories was capable of “speaking and writing English decently”. Even in the dark days of 1915, that must have raised a smile.

James was quite serious, however. For him, as for many Americans, the war in Europe was much more than a local squabble about geopolitical boundaries or a struggle for influence in the colonies. He called it the “crash of civilization”. To a post-evolution generation, brought up to believe that the biological world and social structures were all programmed to progress towards perfection, this vast and brutal conflict meant the collapse of an entire world view.

It was, James wrote to a friend, as if they had all been drifting placidly along to the edge of some “grand Niagara”. He was bewildered that the US government seemed willing to sit back and observe, especially after the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 by a German U-boat with the loss of 124 American lives.

Read more: Forgotten Story of American Writers on Front Lines of World War I

World premiere exhibit of "The Passion of Edith Cavell" in Washington, D.C.


As part of Washington National Cathedral’s commemoration of the start of World War One, the cathedral hosted an exhibit of Brian Whelan’s “Passion of Edith Cavell” on July 24, featuring a talk by the artist, and a discussion of World War One poetry by the Cathedral's Dean. The exhibit remained at theCathedral through September 18.

Cavell (1865–1915) was an International Red Cross nurse, known as a humanitarian who gave her life to the cause of her fellow human beings and who treated British, German, Belgian, and French soldiers alike during World War One. Commissioned to hang at Cavell’s final resting place in Norwich Cathedral, “The Passion of Edith Cavell” will embark on an international tour between its initial showing in Washingto Cathedral and final installation in the UK.

Beyond commemorating the bravery and humanitarian actions of one woman, the work also aims to document the often-forgotten, but highly important, role of women in World War One and other conflicts. Click here for more information on the event and to watch video of the opening remarks and the artist's talk.

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