World War I Centennial News


Former Commissioner James Nutter dead at 89

james nutterJames B. Nutter, Sr.James B. Nutter, Sr., one of the original 12 Commissioners upon the establishment of the World War I Centennial Commission in 2013, has died at age 89 in Kansas City, MO.

"It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jim Nutter," said Commission Chair Robert J. Dalessandro. "Jim was an original member of our commission, and our first donor, graciously hosting us in KC after our first meeting, and providing the seed money to hire our first staff members. Jim was always there for the WWICC."

Nutter's initial generous donation enabled the Commission to get its start. His helpful guidance and insight further helped the Commission with the Congress and with other donors. Mr. Nutter resigned from the Commission in May of 2016.

James B. Nutter, Sr. of Kansas City, Missouri was a pioneer in mortgage lending, founding his mortgage lending company in 1951. The Army veteran and Midwest native wanted to help his friends purchase their own homes with the comfort of personal touch customer service. Today, the company is one of the largest privately-owned mortgage banking firms in the nation.

The success of his company enabled Nutter to personally donate millions of dollars to a host of non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity, Mayo Clinic, Kansas City's Children's Mercy Hospital, the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, Kansas City Central Library, Boy Scouts of America (as a boy he made the rank of Eagle Scout), Saint Luke's Hospital, Little Sisters of the Poor, and Wayside Waifs animal rescue. Named for him are the James B. Nutter Sr. Family Information Commons at Ellis Library on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Missouri, and the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center and Park in the urban core of Kansas City.

He was appointed to the Commission by the then-Majority Leader of the United States Senate, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.


U.S. troops prepare for Bastille Day parade in Paris

CaptureA U.S soldier stands during a rehearsal for the French Bastille Day parade on Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris, Monday, July 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus via the Bulgarian News Agency)via Reuters, the Associated Press, and the Bulgarian News Agency

Scores of United States troops, some wearing World War One-era helmets, marched in formation on the Champs Elysees in the early hours of Monday, July 10 in a rehearsal for the Bastille Day military parade, which will be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Some 190 troops from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force will march on Friday with thousands of French servicemen and women in the parade and U.S. planes will contribute to the grand flypast.

The troops included members of the U.S. Army's 1st Infantry Division, which was founded in 1917, the same year that the United States entered World War One.

Trump will be attending the July 14 festivities at the invitation of newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

President Trump accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to visit France on Bastille Day. According to the White House, "President Trump looks forward to reaffirming America’s strong ties of friendship with France, to celebrating this important day with the French people, and to commemorating the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.

"The two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern."


Read more: U.S. troops prepare for Bastille Day parade in Paris

Veterans History Project launches Part Two of web series on World War I Veterans

The Veterans History Project (VHP) has launched “Over There,” the second in a three-part, online “Experiencing War” website series dedicated to United States veterans of the First World War. “Over There” highlights 10 digitized World War I collections found in the Veterans History Project archive. To access Part II and other veterans’ collections featured in “Over There,” visit www.loc.gov/vets/stories/wwi-part2.html. Part III will be available in fall of 2017.Diary Vets History Project

This series is being presented as a companion site to the Library of Congress exhibit, “Echoes of the Great War.” Each veteran’s first-person narrative is shared through their original photographs, letters, diaries, memoirs, maps and other materials.

Veterans History ProjectEarl Covington Smith kept a diary during the war while serving as a gas officer, responsible for ensuring soldiers were equipped with gas masks and able to recognize an impending gas attack. In one of his diary entries, Smith mentions that the smell of death on the battlefield was so strong that it sometimes led to false alarms.

Lucius Byron Nash was a Lieutenant Junior Grade aboard the Navy’s USS Roanoke—a minelayer. Through photographs and letters home, Nash describes his dirty, grueling job, which demanded 12-hour shifts spent on deck in the pouring rain.

Although he experienced many close calls working on the front lines, Louis W. Rosen was fortunate to survive the war uninjured. He later compiled a written memoir, and included in it two lengthy letters he had written to his parents describing in detail what it was like to live under constant threat of attack.

Read more: Veterans History Project Launches Part Two of Web Series on World War I Veterans

Honoring the Prince of the Escadrille

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Before the millions of Americans of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) were arriving in France, a handful were soaring through the skies. This group of volunteers became known as the Lafayette Escadrille, named after the French founding father. Their group was composed of adventurers, stunt pilots, and the heirs of billionaires.

Norman Prince Ceremony at the Grand HotelNorman Prince Ceremony at the Grand Hotelprince01aNorman PrinceInitially, this volunteer corps was composed of 7 Americans of different backgrounds. One such volunteer fighter was Norman Prince, a Harvard-educated lawyer, a founder of the Lafayette Escadrille, and first casualty of the squadron. It is this Norman Prince that was recently honored at a dedication ceremony July 5th in Gerardmer, France.

The ceremony took place at the Hôtel de la Poste, a military hospital during the war. The warm summer breeze proudly waved the French flag, the Stars and Stripes, and the La Fayette Memorial Foundation Flag, a Sioux Indian illustrated on it.

In attendance were Amy Westling, French Consul General, Stessy Speissman, Mayor of Gerardmer, and retired French Lt. General Daniel Bastien, who delivered an address at the event when Brig. General Yvon Goutx was unable to attend. Aside from these notable appearances, the crowd gathered was populated by local historians, specialists in the Great War, military aviation researchers, and members of Legion of Honor associates and Medaille Militaire, both medals Prince had been awarded.

Bastien’s speech made mention of Prince’s foundational role in the Lafayette Escadrille, which he stressed be a separate corps instead of Americans scattered across French ranks. He also made mention of how 10 pilots of the 38 members would sacrifice themselves for their beliefs, before their own country would join the fray. Norman Prince would be one of these casualties.

The speech also addressed Prince’s last mission, 3 days after which he passed from injuries sustained from a crash that threw him from his plane. While unconscious, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor. In that town of Gerardmer he was taken to an emergency surgery room, and there he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. After his passage, a squadron flew overhead showering flowers.

Read more: Honoring the Prince of the Escadrille

Four Questions for Kerri Young

"Our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories."

By Michael Stahler
Staff Writer

Historypin is a digital, user-generated archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. The company is one of the World War I Centennial Commission’s Commemorative Partners, and they are contractor for “Remembering WWI”, a National Archives app that makes available the miles of WWI film footage at NARA which was heretofore mostly unavailable. Kerri Young of Historypin worked on this exciting project, and told us about it.

Very soon, a new version of "Remembering WW1" app will be out for people to access. Could you tell us a little bit about what this app does, and in what way you brought this project to fruition?

Kerri YoungKerri YoungThe US National Archives (NARA) has been working with Historypin to develop an engagement strategy that complements a large-scale digitization project on films and photographs from WWI. The creation of the Remembering WWI app is helping us further our goals of greater access and increased reuse of this content. This includes over 100,000 photographs and several hundred reels of film originally shot by the US Signal Corps on behalf of various armed forces units in the 1914–1920 timeframe. In light of the 100-year anniversary of the US entering World War I this year, we wanted to tie into renewed interest in the conflict from local and national efforts focused on the centenary.

We began to imagine a product that could not only bring NARA’s WWI content to light in a dynamic way, but also to create a tool that could help to enable real exchange. We established a target audience of teachers and local institutions who helped to shape the product we created.

Ultimately, our priority was to gather collections together in a way that would enable people to tell stories. Teachers and institutions such as museums place significant importance on understanding historical documents, constructing theses, and finding documents to help explain those theses. Understanding this helped us to start identifying goals for an app that would speak to both these target audiences and the ways in which they want to engage with the records.

Read more: Four Questions for Kerri Young

Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air:  The World War I aviation exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

Unknown 11The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum currently has an exhibit on display on World War I-era aviation. The exhibit houses planes from America, France, and Germany, and shows medals and other artifacts from both sides of the war.

The theme of the exhibit is the difference between the myth and the reality of fighting in the air during World War I. Most people at the time believed that this entailed fighting high above the trenches and that the combat was full of glory. People thought that when death came to the pilots, it was quick, but the exhibit shows that that was not the case.

Several planes are displayed hanging from the ceiling, and information about each plane is shown on stands. The French SPAD XIII fighter, the most common plane that was flown during World War One, is a centerpiece of the exhibit. The plane has cloth coverings over the wings, and, further in the exhibit, one can see how coverings like those were made. Other panels also show the differences between planes flown by American troops and their allies and planes flown by German troops. Details about different air battles and offenses can be seen in the first half of the exhibit.

Read more: Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air: The World War I aviation exhibit at the Smithsonian...

Four Questions for Donald Albrecht

New York artists created works to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

There is a great new World War I exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. It is called "Posters and Patriotism", and it explores the effort that the U.S. government made to communicate the war, and to recruit people to join. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, hundreds of New York City's artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort. Many of them worked for the federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examines the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice. Donald Albrecht is the curator of the exhibition, and he took some time to tell us about it.

Tell us a bit about the “Posters and Patriotism” exhibit and the “Culture Goes to War” panel being held at the Museum.

Donald AlbrechtDonald AlbrechtUnknown 17When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, New York City's artists and illustrators were enlisted in the war effort. Many of them worked for the Federal government’s new Division of Pictorial Publicity. Posters and Patriotism: Selling World War I in New York examines the outpouring of posters, flyers, magazine art, sheet music covers, and other mass-produced images created by these New Yorkers to stir the American public to wartime loyalty, duty, and sacrifice. The show merges design, politics, and social history, which many of MCNY's exhibitions do. The "Culture Goes to War" panel will extend the exhibition's reach into art, music, and literature--three fields it only touches on. In addition to presentations by leading scholars, there will be live performances.

The website for the exhibition says that it centers around images created by artists from New York. Who are some of your favorite artists and why?

The exhibition's posters range from examples that are very graphic with flat planes of bold color that have a real visual punch to others that are more illustrative and revel in the artist's hand. There are well known artists featured such as James Montgomery Flagg, known for his “Uncle Sam Wants You” poster, to Howard Chandler Christy. Visitors will also meet lesser known figures, often from the city's advertising industry, such as Herman Roeg.

Read more: Four Questions for Donald Albrecht

Cubs-Red Sox World Series during World War I is key in U.S. love affair with national anthem

By Don Babwin
Associated Press via the Chicago Tribune

On Tuesday afternoon, the crowd at Wrigley Field will be asked to stand and "gentlemen" reminded to remove their caps for the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner." Fans who can recite the words as easily as the alphabet will sing or listen to the story of a flag that continued to wave throughout one of the most famous battles in American history.

comiskey park 1918Comiskey Park in 1918 (Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum)What they may not know is that Francis Scott Key, apparently better at lyrics than melody, put his description of the battle of Fort McHenry to an old English tune that had a lot less to do with patriotism than it did with booze and women. Or that this year marks the 100th season since the song was played for the first time at a World Series game — an event that helped cement it in the national consciousness and become the national anthem that is now simply assumed to be part of game day in American sports, from Little League to the Super Bowl to medal ceremonies at the Olympics.

"Certainly the outpouring of sentiment, enthusiasm, and patriotism at the 1918 World Series went a long way to making the (song) the national anthem," said John Thorn, Major League Baseball's official historian.

On September 5, 1918, newspapers were dominated by news of World War I, including the latest American dead. In Chicago, one of the headlines read, "Chicagoans on the List," and it was a particularly harrowing moment in the city for another reason: Someone, possibly self-proclaimed anarchists and labor activists, had the day before tossed a bomb into a downtown federal building and post office, killing four people and injuring dozens more.

The World Series was in town, with the Cubs hosting Babe Ruth and the Boston Red Sox. The Chicago games were played at Comiskey Park, the home of the White Sox, instead of their new home at Wrigley Field, what was called Weegham Park at the time, because it held more fans. But in a city jittery over the bombing and weary from the war, Game 1 that day attracted fewer than 20,000 fans, the smallest World Series crowd in years.

When they got there, they didn't make much noise, though that could have had something to do with the 1-0 masterpiece Ruth was pitching — yes, pitching — for the Red Sox.

"There was no cheering during the contest, nor was there anything like the usual umpire baiting," reported one Boston newspaper.

Read more: Cubs-Red Sox World Series in 1918 key in U.S. love affair with national anthem

Queen Mary II passes the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor at the end of "The Bridge" race across the Atlantic from France.Queen Mary II passes the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor at the end of "The Bridge" race across the Atlantic from France.

The Bridge has arrived in New York City! Liner wins transatlantic race with top yachts in memory of U.S. troops arriving in France in WWI

Jean Christophe SpinosiJean Christophe Spinosi performs.By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

The Queen Mary II -- the Cunard Cruise Line’s flagship ocean liner -- made port Saturday morning at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, after taking part in The Bridge 2017 -- a trans-Atlantic trip, themed to commemorate the 100th year of World War I, and 100 years of friendship between France and the United States.

The route taken was a reversal of the route taken 100 years ago by the first American troops to join the war, who left the port of New York, and arrived in St. Nazaire, France. During the trip, there were several World War I historical presentations and exhibits for the passengers.

The voyage was also a friendly race to New York City, between Queen Mary 2 and four multi-hull sailboats, some of the fastest sailboats in the world. The Queen Mary 2 won the race, crossing the finish line under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York at 5am local time, before bathing in a flawless dawn in New York Bay. The five vessels left Saint-Nazaire, where the Cunard liner was built, on Sunday, June 25.

As the ship arrived, the passengers sang a moving rendition of "Amazing Grace" in front of Manhattan, and later that day were able to attend at #thebridge2017 concert, organized as part of the SummerStage NYC festival, in Central Park. The concert featured singer Natalie Dessay-Page, as well as Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his Ensemble Matheus Officiel orchestra. The performing artists paid tribute to the two million American soldiers who came to defend freedom in France, 100 years ago.

Read more: The Bridge has arrived in New York City!

President Trump to attend ceremony in Paris marking 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI

By Angelique Chrisafis
via the Guardian (UK) web site

5. 16 IN 4 July 1917 Parade in ParisThe U.S. Army's Sixteenth Infantry Regiment 2nd Battalion colors and band led the regiment on a 5 mile march to Picpus Cemetery in Paris, France on July 4, 1917.Donald Trump will attend France’s Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on 14 July, after accepting an invitation from the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Macron’s office said on Wednesday that the US president would attend the traditional Paris military parade as part of the commemoration marking the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States into the first world war. US troops will join French soldiers in the annual display of military might on the Champs Elysées.

Trump’s Paris visit will be his first trip to France since he became US president. The two men met for the first time in Brussels last month, with a notorious white-knuckle handshake which the French president later said “wasn’t innocent” and was meant to show he wouldn’t “let anything pass”.

The two men were swiftly at odds over climate change after Trump said he would pull the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord and Macron hit back with an English-language appeal to “make our planet great again”, a riff on Trump’s own promise to “make America great again”.

But the two presidents have since spoken by phone about offering a common response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria as well as joint work on counter-terrorism.

Last week, in his first interview since becoming president, Macron told the Guardian he wanted to work with Trump on counter-terrorism and hoped to bring the US president back into the Paris climate accords. Macron said France would be “perfectly aligned with the US” on responding to chemical weapons use in Syria.

Read more: US president to attend ceremony marking 100th anniversary of America’s entry into WWI

President Trump to attend Bastille Day Parade in Paris honoring WWI U.S. soldiers who arrived in France 100 years ago

By Gregory Viscusi
via the Bloomberg Politics web site

2.16th IN in Paris 1The regimental color guard of the U.S. Army's Sixteenth Infantry Regiment prepares to march through Paris, 4 July 1917. The French government requested a contingent of US troops to march through Paris on the 4th of July in order to bolster French morale.U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to attend France’s Bastille day celebrations as the two men put aside differences to pay tribute to the U.S. soldiers who fought in France 100 years ago.

Trump will attend the traditional July 14 military parade where American troops will march alongside French soldiers to commemorate the centenary of the U.S. entry into World War I, the offices of both leaders said.

Aside from the ceremonial aspects of the trip, “the two leaders will further build on the strong counter-terrorism cooperation and economic partnership between the two countries, and they will discuss many other issues of mutual concern,” the White House said in a statement.

While Macron has been spared some of the public criticism Trump has poured on European leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, the two have had some sparring from a distance. Trump went out of his way to say he represented “Pittsburgh, not Paris” when justifying pulling out of the Paris climate accord, even though the mayor of Pittsburgh said he supports the accord to limit carbon emissions.

Macron responded by making a statement in English where he invited U.S. scientists to France to carry out research “to make the planet great again,” hijacking Trump’s campaign slogan.

Read more: President Trump to attend Bastille Day Parade in Paris honoring U.S. soldiers who arrived in...

Four Questions for author Gene Fax

"The episodes of the war speak for themselves in all their tragedy, triumph, irony, and absurdity."

By Paul Burgholzer
Staff Writer

Author Gene Fax spent seventeen years combing archives in Washington, Baltimore, Paris, West Point, and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. to research the story of the U.S. 79th Division in World War I. He specifically wanted to learn about their pivotal role during the Battle for Mountfaucon -- one of the most bloody and fiercely contested battles of the entire war. Part of his drive to learn this story was the fact that Gene Fax's grandfather, Corporal Oscar Lubchansky, served in that division, in that battle, as a member of the division's 313th Infantry Regiment. WW1CC's Paul Burgholzer heard about Gene Fax's remarkable book, and reached out to the author to hear more.

The book focuses around the 79th Division. What about the 79th division intrigued you the most?

Gene Fax 300Gene FaxThe whole project began as an attempt to reconstruct my grandfather’s service history. He fought in the 313th Infantry Regiment, part of the 79th Division. I always remembered the stories he used to tell my brother and me when we were little, and when I was in my 40s I wanted to learn more about him. As you know, the Army Personnel Records Center in St. Louis had a fire in 1973 that destroyed almost all of their World War I files. So as a substitute I started reading about the 313th. I had read military history most of my life and was reasonably conversant with the American role in the war, but I had never heard of the major battle of the 313th, the fight for Montfaucon. When I looked for books on that battle, I found there were none. My wife said, “So you’ll write the book.” And that’s how it started.

As my research unfolded, it became clear that the 79th was of more than personal interest. Every problem that beset the AEF plagued the division, usually in exaggerated form--lack of training, unfamiliar equipment, inexperienced officers, faulty doctrine, miserable roads, poor combat supply, you name it. Their only asset was their incredible determination, and by the end of the war—in less than seven weeks of combat--they had transformed themselves into a competent fighting unit. I figured that was a story to which many people would respond.

General Pershing was an important figure in the war as well as your book. What is your overall opinion of General Pershing?

In the book I spent a lot of time criticizing Pershing’s open warfare doctrine, and I stand by that criticism. But in retrospect I should have given him more credit as a manager, leader, and diplomat. Getting two million men (and several thousand women) off the transports, across France, and into the front lines was a stunning accomplishment. It certainly stunned the Germans. Part of the AEF’s success was due to Pershing’s ability to appoint talented subordinates—Hugh Drum as First Army Chief of Staff, James Harbord as head of the Services of Supply, Charles Dawes as General Purchasing Agent, Dennis Nolan heading Intelligence, George Marshall in Operations, the list goes on and on. But he also knew how to supervise and motivate his subordinates, and his personality and iron will percolated down to the lowest private.

Pershing knew what kind of army he wanted and he stopped at nothing to get it. Others have observed that Pershing had to fight a three-front war: against the enemy, against his allies, and against the War Department. Germany had a continuous military tradition going back to Frederick the Great, while the United States had raised large armies only for immediate crises, and not since the Civil War; Pershing was unimpressed. The French and British wanted their own forces to absorb American battalions as they got off the boat; Pershing insisted on a unified, self-sufficient army of his own and by and large he got it. With the War Department he argued constantly over what training the men should receive, how many divisions to send to France, how to allocate shipping capacity between combat and support units, even what kind of airplane engines to manufacture. In these interchanges he was, as the saying goes, “often wrong but never in doubt.” He could be a pain in the neck, but he was a pain in the neck who got things done. As I did say in the book, it is hard to imagine an American officer of the time who could have been a more effective commander in chief.

Read more: Four Questions for Author Gene Fax

International League baseball games teach sports fans about WWI

By Alyssa Carter
Staff Writer

First PitchWW1CC volunteer reenactor Jeremy Bowles meets with Charlotte Knights pitcher Tyler Danish before the game.Recently, the WW1CC put together a series of “World War I Night at the Park” f baseball games with The International League of Minor League Baseball (MiLB). The series ran for three weeks, and was a big success. The Commission’s head of the baseball program, Roger Fisk, spoke to us about this series of games, and how they helped to tell the World War I story.

The series was focused on commemorating baseball’s part in raising money and awareness for the war effort 100 years ago. Baseball was already popular by the time the war began, and now it provides a way for people to remember the veterans that served in World War I.

The connection between World War I and baseball was displayed most prominently during the events of the 1918 World Series. Officials had thought to cancel the series that year out of respect for the troops serving in France, but when they found out that the soldiers were eager to know the results of the games, they decided to continue. This series is where the Star-Spangled Banner gained its popularity when it was played during the seventh inning stretch and the crowd excitedly joined in.

Mr. Fisk detailed the Commission’s efforts at each game. These included providing each team with packets of poppy seeds to distribute, information about the entwined histories of World War I and baseball, and research on players from their respective state who served in World War I before returning to playing baseball.

The games honored World War I heritage in the cities where they were played with giveaways, special presentations, and other World War I history incorporated into the game.

In Virginia, “Living History” came with their van and were able to do research and teach baseball fans more about World War I. Some of the patrons even had research done on ancestors who served in the war, and these people were able to leave the game with a greater connection to World War I.

Read more: Baseball games teach sports fans about World War I history

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