The unsung equestrian heroes of World War I and the plot to poison them
By Sarah McCammon
Via National Public Radio
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – April 6 marks 100 years since the U.S. Congress voted to declare war on Germany, entering World War I. The war took the lives of 17 million people worldwide. What's not as well-known is the role that animals played at a time when they were still critical to warfare.
U.S. horses were loaded onto transport ships that went from the U.S. to European ports and later to the war front. (Courtesy of U.S. National Archives)Horses, in particular, served alongside troops on both sides, and several million died during the war. The animals were so crucial to the war effort that they also became military targets.
"You need these horses to move, to fight, to exist," says Christopher Kolakowski, director of the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Va. "It would be like maintaining your car today."
Hundreds of thousands of horses and mules were shipped to Europe from Newport News, Va., the largest departure point for horses and mules, during war years. The area around the port on the James River is now full of condos, office buildings, and even today — shipyards.
Standing at the water's edge, Kolakowski says Newport News was ideally situated on the East Coast near rail lines and waterways.
"You can get a sense here of the immensity of the harbor and why this is such a desirable port. ... You're not quite as crowded as New York. So it's a tremendous asset," he says.
Read more: The Unsung Equestrian Heroes Of World War I And The Plot To Poison Them
Tthe French Air Force Patrouille de France flies over the Ceremony site. (Photo by Olivier Ravenel / Armee de l'Air)
Commission ceremony on April 6th, 2017 commemorates Centennial of US Entry into WWI
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Washington D.C. – The premiere production with moving tributes, compelling imagery and performances brought crowds to tears and to their feet as the United States World War I Centennial Commission hosted “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I” yesterday at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Invocation is offered by: Rev. Msgr. Bradley Offutt of the Diocese of Kansas City; Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, Senior Rabbi of The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah; Imam Yahyu H.Furqan of the Muslim American Veterans Association; and Chaplain Colonel Barbara K. Sherer, U.S. Army, Combined Arms Center Chaplain, Ft. Leavenworth, KS. (Photo by Olivier Ravenel / Armee de l'Air)The commemoration events began with a moving prelude that included remarks by descendants of notable Generals John J. Pershing and George S. Patton. Highlights of the landmark day included a long-overdue Purple Heart Reuniting Ceremony with World War I Military Order of the Purple Heart medal recipient Cpl Leo George Rauf’s great nephew Michael Staton and marked his family’s four generations of military service. Native American Muscogee Creek spiritual leader Wotko Long offered a special blessing ceremony in recognition of the day, a reminder of the invaluable service and patriotism of Native Americans in World War l.
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II and Kansas City Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James welcomed a crowd of some 4,000 people from 26 U.S. states and representatives from 28 nations.
“In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I,” produced by artistic director Edward Bilous, began with a spectacular flyover by the French Air Force Patrouille de France, creating trails of red, white and blue smoke, in tribute to the U.S. role in World War l. The stunning air display was followed by the National Anthem, performed by the 1st Infantry Division Band along with baritone John Brancy. The 1st Infantry Division Ft. Riley, Kansas, formed in World War I, and then known as the “Fighting First,” is currently deployed to Iraq.
Actor, director and producer Kevin Costner narrated the opening of the ceremony which took attendees, television and life-stream viewers back to the 1910s as war broke out in Europe, American volunteers signed up to fight, and German submarines sank the RMS Lusitania triggering the Great Debate as the nation headed into the 1916 presidential election.
The crowd honored the sacrifice of the men and women who served in World War I with a solemn moment of silence followed by the tolling of bells. The 1st Infantry Division Color Guard, in World War 1 period uniforms retired the colors. Cannons were fired by the Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment Missouri Army Reserve National Guard to mark the Declaration of War, the start of a turning point in American history that took the country from a developing democracy into a world power.
Read more: Commission Commemorates Centennial of US Entry into WWI with Memorable Ceremony on April 6th, 2017