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World War I Centennial News



Jason DeCrow WWI 0411The Washington DC-based U.S. Navy Honor Guard participated in last Thursday's Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony, held in Brooklyn's Cypress Hills National Cemetery to honor the centennial of World War I and Navy-Marine Corps heroes in advance of Fleet Week 2019. 

Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony at NYC's Cypress Hills National Cemetery 

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

A Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony was held in Brooklyn's Cypress Hills National Cemetery, on Thursday of last week, to honor the centennial of World War I and Navy-Marine Corps heroes in advance of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Week New York,

The U.S. WWI Centennial Commission-sponsored event honored Sailors from France and the U.K. who died in New York City in 1918, along with double Medal of Honor recipients Coxswain John Cooper, USN and Sergeant Major Dan Daly, USMC.

Here are a few of the images that were captured by photographers covering the special event:

Read more: Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony at NYC's Cypress Hills National Cemetery


Mobile Museum May 2019 1Photo from the WWI Mobile Museum's recent setup Newburyport, MA shows how much material that this great historical/cultural resource has to display.

The World War I Mobile Museum is on the Move! 

By Keith Colley
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Note: We have been in touch with our friend Keith Colley, owner of the incredible WWI Mobile Museum (see previous articles here and here). Keith and the museum have been very busy telling the WWI story -- he recently completed a trip to New England, with several stops, and he also has shared with us his upcoming schedule. We talked to Keith for a bit last week, and he filled us in.—Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Keith ColleyKeith Colley on the road with the WWI Mobile MuseumThe WWI Mobile Museum had an amazing trip to the East Coast outside of Boston in the City of Newburyport which was settled in 1635 with guests from all over the east coast including Veterans from the First Massachusetts VFW in the Neighboring town of Haverhill which began in January of 1917.

The Museum was hosted by Avita of Newburyport. The guests were filled with so many stories and tears from their Fathers and Grandfathers time in “The Great War”. I think besides the amazing stories, I love when people bring personal items with them that their loved ones have kept over all the years and share their personal stories that keeps them alive 100 years later.

You will see a couple pics of items people shared with me at the showing. There was one man who brought his grandfathers pic from the war with all his fellow troops and set it up in hopes to find more names of his grandfather's buddies. It became very real as everyone wanted to help!

The goal of the WWI Mobile Museum is to make sure that every pPerson has the opportunity to pay their respects and remember a war from so long ago.

I would love to have the opportunity to bring the Museum to any event you might be having or you can just make the Museum your event. We are about to hit the 200,000 visitors mark and we would like to add you, your family, your friends and their friends to sign our guest book!

Read more: The World War I Mobile Museum is on the Move!


IMG 8473The Nashua-Plainfield High School National History Day group of Drew Moine, Abby Poppe, Tyler Anderson, Jayne Levi, and Lucas Pierce (with advisor Suzan Turner) 

National History Day Students Receive Award from Iowa Governor for WWI Project 

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

Great news from our friends at National History Day in Iowa.

The State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees recently selected the Nashua-Plainfield High School History Club as the winner of the 2019 Loren Horton Community History Award Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Youth Project, for their video "Who They Were: Dedicated to Nashuans Who Served in World War I."

The project was truly a remarkable one. During the fall of 2018, five members of the Nashua-Plainfield National History Day program and their adult advisor, utilized a program sponsored by the World War I Centennial Commission and National History Day, to produce a seven-minute film about their local community's role in the Great War commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the war's armistice on November 11, 2018.

The film,"Who They Were: Dedicated to Nashuans Who Served in World War I," profiled a local fallen hero, a World War I veteran, and included information about the local community's support of the war effort.

Read more: National History Day Student Group Receives Award from Iowa Governor for WWI Project


DSC7586The tarp is lifted to unveil the stones, plaque and WW I USMC Doughboy helmet, dedicating the MARFOREUR/AF parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field.’ (Photos by John Reese, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs)

Marines dedicate Panzer Kaserne parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field’ 

By David S. Jones, U.S. Marine Forces Europe & Africa
via the StuttgartCitizen.com web site

The U.S. Marine Corps has long been associated with the Battle of Belleau Wood and its role in stopping the German advance on Paris in June 1918. But Belleau Wood was only the beginning of the story of the Corps in World War I as it would go on to fight at Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and the Meuse-Argonne, as well as fly bombing and pursuit missions over northern France and Belgium, anti-submarine missions out of the Azores, and serve as ship detachments on the sea lanes.

To commemorate that service and sacrifice across the battlefields of Europe on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Maj. Gen. Russell A. Sanborn, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, dedicated the parade ground in front of the MARFOREUR/AF headquarters as “Devil Dog Field” to recognize the nickname the Marines earned in World War I after their fight at Belleau Wood. Sanborn dedicated a memorial that recognizes the Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers that comprised the units fielded by the Marine Corps in the American Expeditionary Force.

World War I consumed millions of lives and forever changed the world, Sandborn said, adding that the the service and sacrifices of the AEF forces were a decisive factor in ending the war and set the Corps on the path to the modern fighting force that it has become.

“The names Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and Meuse-Argonne will forever be remembered as the Corps’ baptism of fire with modern warfare from which future generations would carry the torch on the battlefields of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Chosin, Hue, Fallujah and many other battlefields around the globe,” Sandborn said.

Read more: Marines dedicate Panzer Kaserne parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field’


Clifford RyanClifford T. Ryan’s mother died when he was 4. His wife died giving birth to their first child. His baby girl died, too. The 24-year-old infantryman from Emerson, Nebraska, was himself killed in action on the final day of World War I, after the war had ended.

The unlucky life of Nebraska's own Private Ryan, killed in action after WWI had already ended 

By Matthew Hansen
via the Omaha World-Herald newspaper web site

Our Private Ryan lived a cursed life, right up till the moment his commanding officer sent the Nebraska boy charging over a bloodied river in France.

Clifford T. Ryan is the full name of the 24-year-old infantryman sprinting through your mind. He’s carrying some serious baggage as he runs on Nov. 11, 1918. Cliff’s mother died when he was 4. He grew into a man and married his first love, Loretta. His wife died giving birth to their first child.

His baby girl died, too.

He enlisted in the Army then, and — just his luck — soon found himself stuck for three months on the brutal front line of The War to End All Wars.

The cursed man from tiny Emerson, Nebraska, is charging across the Meuse River now in our memories. Running hard until he falls and becomes one of the nearly 20 million people killed during World War I.

But even death itself isn’t the cursed part. Not for poor Cliff.

Clifford T. Ryan died 100 years ago Sunday. He died on the war’s final day. He quite likely died as the last Nebraskan to die in World War I.

And that, somehow, is still not the worst part.

Read more: The unlucky life of Nebraska's own Private Ryan, killed in action after WWI had already ended


Maquette detail with logo 1000A detail of the sculptural maquette for the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, which will be on display in New York City during Fleet Week 2019. 

National WWI Memorial sculptural maquette on display at Fleet Week 2019

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

The U.S. Navy's big Fleet Week New York 2019 is coming up 22-27 May. During Fleet Week, there will be Sea Service-related concerts, appearances, tours, and other activities throughout the greater New York area during that time.

This year, the Fleet Week New York will also have an added theme of 'Remembering World War I', in cooperation with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. We will have World War I-themed Living-History Reenactors, special exhibits, and ceremonies, all telling the story of the New York area, and the U.S. armed services, during World War I.

One very special public exhibit that we will have in New York is our new sculptural maquette. Designed and created by sculptor Sabin Howard, the maquette is a scale-model representation of the new National World War I Memorial that is being created in Washington DC.

Our maquette will be available for viewing at the following locations, on the following days. Hours are generally from 10AM to 5PM.

  • Thursday, 5/23 — Pier 88
  • Friday 5/24 — Pier 88
  • Sunday 5/26 — Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
  • Monday 5/27 — Pier 88

The new National World War I Memorial is being built with public support, and will be located at DC's Pershing Park, next to the White House.

Imagery of the Memorial, including computerized video fly-throughs of the site, can be found here



0 16The Hawaii World War One History Conference will open at the Hawaii Pacific University Campus at the Aloha Tower in Honolulu.

Call for Presentations 

Hawaii WWI Symposium June 26-28 & Call for Papers

Colonel Arthur Tulak, Chairman
Hawaii World War I Centennial Task Force

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

The Hawai'i World War I Centennial Task Force will be hosting an WWI academic symposium to mark the end of the WWI Centennial Commemoration Period to be held in downtown Honolulu at the Aloha Tower.

unnamed 21This academic symposium is co-hosted by Hawaii Pacific University, the Arizona Memorial Visitors’ Center, and the Hawaii WWI Centennial Task Force. The symposium will feature speakers with presentations focused on Final military actions of 1918, such as the Siberian Intervention 1918-1922, as well as the major activities associated with the Paris Peace Conference.

Other topics include:

  • Political or social changes caused by the war/peace process/returning soldiers (spread of nationalism, diseases, anti-colonial efforts, etc.)
  • Military demobilization
  • Civilian rebuilding and humanitarian efforts immediately post-conflict
  • Influence on/creation of Veterans or professional organizations (i.e. American Legion, Military Order of World Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Reserve Officers Assn., National Defense Industrial Assn., etc.).
  • History of the Coastal Artillery Branch in Hawaii and its outlook as an operations concept in the aftermath of WWI.

The symposium will run from 0800-1630 26 and 27 June, and a half day on Friday 28 June, which is the final day of the WWI Centennial Commemoration Period.

In addition to the symposium, there will be a special boat tour of Pearl Harbor, narrated by Chief Historian, National Park Service Ranger Daniel Martinez, to recall the events and activities in Pearl Harbor during WWI planned for the afternoon of 27 June at the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center.

Read more: Hawai'i World War I Symposium and Activities May 26-28


Lost Voices Title 1000

New Local WWI documentary from Akron, OH has wide appeal 

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

Toivo Motter is a historian & Education expert, who works as Director of Education at the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, in Akron, Ohio. He and his colleagues were very interested in telling the story of World War I's dramatic impact on their region. Toil, himself, has experience working with public television, so he proposed making a film. They loved the idea, pooled resources, called in favors, and collaborated their efforts -- with great success. Their pinnacle triumph is a full-length television documentary film, LOST VOICES OF THE GREAT WAR, which aired locally, and be found at www.pbs.org/video. Interestingly, even though the film was produced to tell a regional story -- they found that the experiences of the folks from their community reflected those of others around the state, and throughout the entire country. So, in addition to the film, they also created a short video segment on the “archivist’s role” about the creation of the documentary, along with 3 lesson plans that were created to provide teachers and their students an opportunity to explore in greater depth a few of the stories and sources that were touched upon in the film. We had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Motter about the experience of creating this great new film, and how the film & all the materials have been received. 

Tell us about the great new documentary film.

AR 311039164Toivo MotterThe recently Emmy-nominated film, Lost Voices of the Great War: Summit County in the First World War https://www.pbs.org/video/lost-voices-of-the-great-war-summit-county-in-wwi-2hem5i/ recounts the forgotten story of Summit County, Ohio residents’ experiences at home and overseas during the First World War; a period of great change in our community’s history. The story is told mostly through participants’ letters, diaries, and memoirs. An accompanying segment, Finding Lost Voices https://www.pbs.org/video/finding-lost-voices-the-archivists-role-3ltkzd/ touches on the role that local archives play in the collection and preservation of these stories. The film premiered in downtown Akron, Ohio on October 30, 2018 and was screened a second time at the Ohio Statehouse on November 11. It was then broadcasted regionally on Western Reserve PBS https://westernreservepublicmedia.org/lost_voices_of_the_great_war_summit_county_in_the_first_world_war.htm.

Tell us about how the film came to be. What was your research and pre-production process for putting it together?

The project came about as a result of a community partnership, Summit County and the Great War http://summitwwi.org/. And, while some of the resources came from partner collections like Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens https://www.stanhywet.org/ and the University of Akron’s Archival Services, https://www.uakron.edu/libraries/archives/, additional outreach uncovered a wealth of new material that allowed us to tell a more inclusive story.

Once everything was collected, assembled, digitized and/or transcribed, we wove together expert interviews and excerpts of historic letters and memoir entries, later brought to life by voice actors. Both national and locally sourced archival photographs, historic films and recordings gave the film authenticity while modern-day reenactments and contemporary performances of WWI-era songs enhanced the film’s poignancy.

Read more: New Local WWI documentary from Akron, Ohio has wide appeal


remembrance day 2017Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25 holds its annual Remembrance Day service in 2017 in Liberty Cemetery (located in Petaluma). Liberty Cemetery is one of two cemeteries where Canadian and British service men and women are buried, and the Branch helps to maintain both locations.

The San Francisco Bay Area's Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25

"Commemorating those who served, remembering the service of those who have passed on" 

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

The ties between the U.S. and Canada were never stronger than during World War I. Not only did our nations help each other with wartime food and supplies -- but over 35,000 Americans served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914-1918. Some 3,500 of those men and women lost their loves in the war. We were thrilled recently to learn that a very special group of Canadians follow our Centennial Commission's activities. The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit veterans service organization that supports Veterans and their families, remembers the men and women who served our country, and strengthens communities. The Legion has a chapter based in the San Francisco Bay area, U.S. Branch 25, who have been very active in Great War remembrance activities -- they share our weekly Dispatch stories with their members, and they even participated in our Bells of Peace on Nov 11th, 2018. We had a chance to talk to U.S. Branch 25 member Michael Barbour about the Post, about the members, and about his own connection to World War I.

We were thrilled to see that you share our DISPATCH with your Post members! How did you find us?

michael barbour 300Michael Barbour visiting visit C100, a Canadian organization in the Bay Area, to deliver poppies and a poppy box as a part of the Poppy Campaign (an annual activity of all branches of the Royal Canadian Legion). I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure. You guys started showing up in my inbox at some point, and since it was appropriate to our membership I decided to share it on the blog portion of our website.

Tell us about your Legion Post. Who are the members? What is the history? Is there a connection to WWI? How many Royal Legion Posts are there in the US, overall?

Our branch is actually the combination of four or five former branches. As you might imagine, the Bay Area was an attractive location for many Canadians upon retirement. Plus a lot of former role Canadian Air Force members found their way to California as pilots, given the fact that San Francisco was a hub for several airlines. As our membership has aged and passed away, those multiple branches have dwindled into a single branch for the entire Bay Area.

Our branch is actually the combination of four or five former branches. As you might imagine, the bay area was an attractive location for many Canadians upon retirement. Plus a lot of former role Canadian Air Force members found their way to California as pilots, given the fact that San Francisco was a hub for several airlines. As our membership has aged and passed away, those multiple branches have dwindled into a single branch for the entire Bay Area. While this would be well before my time, but we have had branches in the Bay Area for at least four or five decades now - maybe longer.

The San Francisco branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, or US Branch 25, is one of 11 or 12 North American branches that are outside of Canada. All but one of these are in the United States, with one in Chapala, Mexico. Our branch, along with the four others in California, and the one in Mexico, form the US Western Zone. The other US based branches form the US Eastern Zone, and then there are 6 to 8 branches in Europe that are part of the European Zone.

Read more: Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25


Framingham exhibitFramingham History Center curator Stacen Goldman (left) presents a tour of "An American in World War I" . The exhibition runs through April 30 at the Center.

Seven Framingham folks who served during WWI 

By Chris Bergeron
via the MetroWest Daily News (MA) newspaper web site

FRAMINGHAM, MA — As World War I raged, men and women from all walks of life in Framingham served their country and community at home and abroad in ways that revealed the courage and character of small town America. The lives – and sometimes deaths – of seven diverse residents provide personal snapshots of the war’s impact on Framingham in “An American Town in World War I,” a thoughtful and moving exhibit at the Framingham History Center.

“I definitely hope the exhibit makes visitors think about those men and women who served in different ways,” said curator Stacen Goldman, who organized the exhibit. “I hope people reflect critically on the war and what it meant to those people.”

James J. McGrath left his family and job in Saxonville to enlist eight days after the U.S. entered the war to serve and die on the Western Front.

After her sweetheart joined the Army, Kathryn “Cassie” Harrington founded the Military Girls Club with her two sisters to send “comfort boxes” packed with sweets, treats and letters from home to locals serving overseas.

Feisty suffragette Louise Parker Mayo picketed the White House and was arrested for charging President Woodrow Wilson with denying millions of women their democratic right to vote.

Read more: Seven Framingham folks who served during World War I


 Nieuport 28 1000A pilot in his Nieuport 28 fighter aircraft. The Nieuport had great handling at high speed as long as the pilot knew how to nurse the engine and not exceed the tolerances for the wings.

America's first fighter plane blinded pilots and lost its wings 

By Logan Nye
via the We Are The Mighty web site

When America threw its weight behind the Allies in World War I, optimistic politicians and the writers of the day predicted that, soon, tens of thousands of top-tier planes would pour from American factories to the front lines, blackening the skies over the "Huns." In reality, American aviation was too-far behind the combatants to catch up, and so American pilots took to the air with French castoffs that gave them diarrhea and nausea, obscured their vision, and would lose its wings during combat.

World War I plane designs relied on a small selection of engines, and most of them were lubricated with castor oil. As the war wore on and the oil was in short supply, Germany did turn to substitutes. But most engines, especially the rotary designs that gave a better power-to-weight ratio crucial for flight, actually burnt castor oil that escaped in the exhaust.

This oil was horrible for the pilot who, in most designs, was left breathing in his plane's exhaust. Castor oil is used as a laxative, and it can also cause nausea. Pilots were, uh, not into that part of the mission. Worse, the droplets of castor oil would sprinkle on the aviator's goggles, obscuring their vision with a film that masked the battlefield.

America's top ace of the war, Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, was famous around the aerodrome for often running around the corners of buildings after he landed so he could vomit from a combination of airsickness and castor oil exposure. He eventually got control of his stomach and could fly confidently, but it was a significant distraction for a long time.

But the bigger problem for early American pilots was that the U.S. had to buy French planes, and France kept their best models for their own pilots. So America got planes like the Nieuport 28. The manufacturers had little time to test designs before they had to press them into production and service, and the 28 had one of the worst flaws imaginable.

Read more: America's first fighter plane blinded pilots and lost its wings


Nurses aboard ship 1000In 1919, a few months after the end of World War I, Delano (front row, center) sailed to France to check on her remaining Red  Cross nurses. While there, she became ill and passed away on April 15, 1919. She is now buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Jane A. Delano: Pioneer of the Modern Nursing Profession 

By American Red Cross
via the Red Cross Chat web site

This month the American Red Cross celebrated Jane A. Delano’s contributions to the Red Cross and the field of nursing, with a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery.

A pioneer of the modern nursing profession and member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Delano founded the Red Cross nursing service in 1909 creating a vital force that uplifted lives with compassion and professional skill. Under Delano’s guidance and legacy, nurses became a national symbol volunteering for service in war and disaster, creating programs for emergency response and advancing health care programs. 

Read more: Jane A. Delano: Pioneer of the Modern Nursing Profession


Peace banner LOC 1200X480 1024x410Progressive activist Jane Addams, front row second from left, joins other delegates en route to the 1915 International Congress of Women at the Hague. (Library of Congress) 

Jane Addams, Secular Saint, Scorned During WWI 

By J.D. Zahniser
via the HistoryNet.com web site

On Sunday morning, June 10, 1917, well-known activist Jane Addams stood at the podium of First Congregational Church in Evanston, Illinois. The atmosphere was electric. The pacifist sentiments Addams had long espoused had been drawing more and more criticism as the war in Europe ground on. In April, to her dismay, America had thrown in with the Allies against the Central Powers. Addams nonetheless was holding to her path, delivering speeches like the text before her on the rostrum entitled “Pacifism and Patriotism in Time of War.”

Addams had come to First Congregational knowing full well that she would encounter skeptics. This day was no different and yet more intense. As the activist spoke, her listeners, who included longtime friend and ally Orrin N. Carter, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, sat in hostile silence until Addams delivered the line “Opposition to the war is not necessarily cowardice.”

Justice Carter sprang to his feet.

“Anything that may tend to cast doubt on the justice of our cause in the present war is very unfortunate,” the jurist declared. “No pacifist measure, in my opinion, should be taken until the war is over.”

Addams had heard worse, but now she was enduring what may have been the most discomfiting public moment in a life that until recently had been one of fulfillment, accomplishment, and above all popular approval. A staunch progressive, Addams had won Americans’ hearts by founding Hull House, a pioneering social action center in Chicago, by being a force on behalf of woman suffrage, by speaking out against imperialism, and by advocating for workers. Now pacifism had made her a pariah, a role for which nothing in decades of public service and public approbation had readied her.

Read more: Jane Addams, Secular Saint, Scorned During WWI

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