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World War I Centennial News



WI teacher honors local WWI veteran during 100th anniversary 

via the WSAW-TV.com television (WI) web site

PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) -- Joseph Nowinski, a social studies teacher at Almond-Bancroft, was one of 18 teachers nationwide selected to research and deliver a eulogy of a fallen hero in France during the 100th commemoration of World War I this June. 

That hero was Sylvester Machinski who was born in Wisconsin and fought in World War I. To this day relatives of this hero still live in Portage County.

Machinski was born in Wild Rose and lived there for 18 years before moving to Chicago where he started a family. In June of 1917 he was drafted and went to war. He later succumbed to the Spanish Flu and died in 1918. He was buried in France where Nowinski presented his eulogy.

After much of his research Nowinski said he became attached to these forgotten heroes. "What happens when you don't know someone, you can't even see a picture of them but they feel like family," explained Joseph Nowinski.

Nowinski says he will bring this experience back to the classroom to give his students a better understanding of the past and present. "It's that past that helps us understand what brought us here and if we don't have an understanding of that we probably won't have the best future. We can learn a lot from the past and that gives us this present," said Nowinski.

The program Memorializing the Fallen is a teacher professional development program from National History Day and sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission.



Dan Boehmke and Edward BoehmkeDan Boehmke (left) with the ships bell from the SS Tuscania. His father Edward Boehmke (right) survived the sinking of the WWI American troopship in World War I.

AR History Club hears World War I personal story 

By Jeff Meek
via the Hot Springs Village Voice (AR) newspaper web site

Hot Springs Village resident Dan Boehmke gave a detailed, fascinating presentation about his father’s World War I service, taken from personal letters and other research.

His father, Edward C. Boehmke, served in a Wisconsin National Guard unit that eventually was sent to Europe in 1918. Dan put it all in a book titled, “The Unsinkable Edward C. Boehmke: The Story of Waukesha’s WWI Company L and the sinking of the SS Tuscania,” co-authored by John M. Schoenknecht.

Edward Boehmke came to Wisconsin in 1914, settling in Waukesha. In 1917, newspapers in America covered the war raging in Europe and the possibility of U.S. involvement. In Waukesha, a National Guard unit was formed which later evolved into the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, Company L.

They trained with wooden guns at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin, then later went off to Camp Arthur in Waco, Texas to be attached to the 32nd Infantry Division.

In Jan. 1918, the unit traveled by train to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they boarded the SS Tuscania for the trip overseas as part of a convoy beginning on Jan. 28, 1918. As they neared the Scottish coast, the ship was torpedoed. According to a New York Times headline, 2,179 troops were onboard, 260 of which lost their lives.

It was not until March 9 that the family heard from Edward who said he was alive, happy and had lost everything he had with him except for a comb. At the Club meeting it was fascinating to hear Dan read from his father’s letters describing the harrowing experience of surviving the sinking of the Tuscania.

Read more: AR History Club hears World War I personal story


PA teacher creates curriculum in Versailles for treaty’s 100th anniversary

By Michella Drapac
via the ABC 27 news.com WHTM (PA) web site

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Megan Kopp’s passion for teaching is evident. She’s a lifelong learner and a veteran. In fact, there are a lot of veterans in her family.

“My grandmother was in World War II, my grandfather was in World War II, my other grandfather was in the Air Force, my dad was Vietnam, my brothers are both Air Force as well, my husband’s in the Air Force,” said Kopp, a Milton Hershey High School Social Studies teacher.

Kopp was one of just a handful of teachers chosen out of hundreds to travel to France through a program by National History Day (NHD). They celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, and each teacher developed a new lesson plan to be used by teachers across the country.

“My life was changed because of the G.I. Bill, and in World War I, the G.I. Bill didn’t exist, and really there was no plan for the soldiers who came home, so my lesson plan’s all about that,” said Kopp.

The lesson plan will be published by National History Day in the fall. The NHD program is sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission.

“We look at a lot of primary documents, which is a way that historians and history teachers are moving in our classrooms instead of just reading out of a textbook or watching a movie. We’re looking at primary documents and the students have to grapple with what went wrong and how the country changed after that,” said Kopp.

Read more: PA teacher creates curriculum in Versailles for treaty’s 100th anniversary


National History Day's New World War I Webinar -- A Scholarship Opportunity! 

By Lynne O'Hara, National History Day
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

National History Day (NHD) is excited to be offering scholarship for our World War I webinar series in the fall.

Two LogosNational History Day has engaged with several partners to commemorate the World War I Centennial. NHD has created resources to offer different perspectives on the war, engage students with unique primary sources, and remember those who served and sacrificed as part of the war effort.

NHD is excited to be offering scholarships for LEGACIES OF WORLD WAR I, our World War I Webinar series in the fall. Free tuition and credit is available for two teachers from every NHD Affiliate.

Through this program, teachers can earn a certificate of professional development hours or three graduate extension credit units from the University of San Diego.

Applications for a scholarship will be accepted through July 30, 2019. All teachers will be notified by August 16, 2019.

Read more: National History Day's New World War I Webinar -- A Scholarship Opportunity!


UCL podcast participantsUCL podcast participants (left to right) Catriona Elephant, Simon Bendry, Sir Hew Strachan.

New Podcast Series Focused on the WWI Paris Peace Process from University College London 

By Catriona Oliphant, Director, Chrome Radio
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

University College London logoUniversity College London (UCL) Institute of Education, friend and partner to the WW1CC, has a remarkable new WWI-themed podcast series that is worth checking out.

Working with Chrome Radio, Sir Hew Strachan, Simon Bendry and Catriona OliphantI have begun work on a "Peacemaking in Paris" podcast series, in which Hew Strachan reflects on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and its legacy.

The first two podcasts - the first sets the scene and the second looks at the Treaty of Versailles have been released in time for the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, with more podcasts to follow in the autumn.

The PEACEMAKING IN PARIS Podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/chromeradio/sets/peacemaking-in-paris-playlist



Michigan Military Heritage Museum to open special exhibit on the women who served in WWI 

via the Michigan Military Heritage Museum web site

Born exactly 138 years ago, on July 9th 1881, in Painesville, Ohio, Nellie M. Dingley was a friendly and kind-hearted woman. Shortly after graduating, she worked at the Carnegie Library in Kent, Ohio. She remained there about 7 years, and used to love spending time with children. She could spend hours reading stories to them. Convinced by a friend that she would be a perfect nurse, Nellie entered the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and graduated with honours.

Nellie M. Dingley and grave markerNellie M. Dingley and her grave marker at the Suresnes American Cemetery in France.Then came the Great War. When America went in, so did Nellie. She joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and volunteered to serve in France with the New York Roosevelt Hospital's Mobile Operating Unit. Like all the courageous women who served in the Great War, Nellie knew she could die, but the love for her country was stronger than the fear of death.

Nellie arrived in Paris on July 4th 1918 and served at the 4th Camp Hospital where she cared restlessly for the soldiers stricken by the flu epidemic. By doing so, she contracted the virus herself. Sadly, on August 28th 1918, Nellie died of pneumonia. She was buried at the Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris, with full military honors.

To remember the courage and sacrifice of these exceptional women, the Michigan Military Heritage Museum, which has a unique collection of WWI Women artifacts, will be presenting a special WWI Women display at its "2019 World War One Day" event on August 10th 2019.

Information on the Michigan Military Heritage Museum in Grass Lake MI can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/mimilitaryheritagemuseum/



EMR6GQ3NNBBZLCHJD5FBH465AYWorld War I-era wooden ships owned by Western Marine & Salvage tied together in 1925, likely on the Potomac or at Mallows Bay. (Library of Congress: National Photo Company Collection)

‘Ghost Fleet’ cemetery now a national sanctuary 

By the Associated Press, via the Navy Times newspaper web site

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — An area in Maryland that’s home to abandoned World War I-era steamships has been designated a new national marine sanctuary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state of Maryland and Charles County announced the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary on Monday. It contains more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels that were built as part of the nation’s engagement in World War I.

It’s about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., along an 18-mile stretch of Potomac River coast in Charles County. It will be the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000. Maryland nominated the area for sanctuary designation in 2014 to conserve the shipwrecks and increase opportunities for public access, tourism and economic development.

“We look forward to working with the state of Maryland, Charles County and other local partners to foster education and research partnerships as well as support and enhance local recreation and tourism along this historic stretch of the Potomac River,” said Neil Jacobs, NOAA’s acting administrator.

Mallows Bay is known for its “Ghost Fleet,” including partly submerged remains of more than 100 wooden steamships that were built in response to threats from World War I-era German U-boats.

While the ships never saw action during the war, their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states was part of the national wartime effort that fueled the economic development of waterfront communities and maritime services industries.

Read more: ‘Ghost Fleet’ cemetery now a national sanctuary


Canadian cross 1024x682The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice honors citizens of the United States who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces of Canada during World War I.

The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

Honoring Americans who served in Canadian Forces during World War I

By Josh Baker
Staff Writer

The First World War ravaged Europe between the years 1914 until 1918, consuming men and materiel at rates which the modern world had not yet experienced. While European nations and their colonies fought in the trenches, the United States refrained from entering a European conflict as long as they could. It was not until April 1917, did the United States enter the First World War, aside the Allied powers against the Central powers.

Despite America’s delayed entry into the war, young Americans went north of the border to Canada to join the war effort. Canada joined the war in August 1914 as part of the British Empire, and as such, began to mobilize young troops and send them overseas as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.).

During Canada’s war mobilization, Sir Sam Hughes, then Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence, authorized the creation of a battalion comprised partly of American citizens residing in Canada and those who had left America to join the war effort. The battalion, based in Toronto, was designated as the 97th Battalion on December 22, 1915 and in February 1916, four more battalions were established across Canada. These five battalions would become known as the “American Legion.” It is estimated that 40,000 Americans enlisted in the C.E.F., of which 35,000 of them listed the United States as their place of birth.

The American Legion existed until March 1917 when it was officially disbanded. Members of the American Legion were then transferred to other Canadian units across the C.E.F. The disbanding of the American Legion was partly due to pressure from the United States government on Canada to remove “American” title from any Canadian or otherwise foreign formation. This was due to the United States policy of neutrality before the nation officially entered the war in April 1917.

Read more: Canadian Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery


Staircase Memorial(Left) The Baldwin Memorial Stairway, named in commemoration of Morgan Smiley Baldwin, a 1915 Cornell graduate who died during one of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line in France. (Right) The World War I memorial on Cornell's West Campus honors the 237 Cornellians were killed during the war and are commemorated along with 27 other casualties. 

Tompkins County, NY and Cornell University had outsize WWI role

By Cady Hammer
Staff Writer

The first time I drove through Tompkins County, New York was the summer of 2016. On my way back from visiting my great-grandmother at a nursing home in Cortland, I was seeking out Cornell University as part of my college search. Although many people have never even heard of this area of New York besides any knowledge of the city of Ithaca, I felt like I knew this place by heart. Most of my great-grandfather, Nelson’s family grew up in Groton: him, at least eight out of his ten siblings, and my great-grandfather, Frank Cady Blanchard who I take my name from. Fifteen members of the Blanchard clan are buried in Groton Rural Cemetery. My family’s hub began in this area.

I never paid much attention to the history of Tompkins County besides what I knew from family stories. I grew up in an educational environment where history begins and ends with the largest efforts of the most recognizable places. I imagine most of us learned that way. For example, many can cite the harshest winter encampment of the Revolutionary War occurred in Valley Forge. Without my grandfather’s input, I never would have understood that while Valley Forge had the highest death rate, Jockey Hollow near Morristown, New Jersey between 1779-80 was the harshest winter. Because of this, I never truly contemplated how much smaller areas could contribute to larger world events.

What possibly could this rural county have done to contribute to World War I efforts? While spending time as an intern here at the United States World War I Centennial Commission, I decided to answer this very question. Although none of my relatives served, I have two of their draft cards from Groton that I decided to use as a jumping off point.

What I found amazed me.

Read more: Cornell University, Tompkins County, NY had outsize WWI role


Pritzker Military Museum & Library Announces 2019 Literature Award Recipient: John Morrow, Jr. 

via the University of Georgia Department of History web site

CHICAGO — Military historian, professor, and author Dr. John H. Morrow, Jr. is the 13th recipient of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.

John Morrow JrDr. John Morrow, Jr.The Pritzker Literature Award—which includes a gold medallion, citation, and $100,000 honorarium—recognizes and honors the contributions of a living author for a body of work dedicated to enriching the understanding of military history and affairs. Museum & Library Founder & Chair Jennifer N. Pritzker, a retired colonel in the Illinois National Guard, will formally present Morrow with the award at the organization’s annual Liberty Gala on November 2 at the Hilton Chicago, where he will be joined by past recipients.

“I am truly honored to accept the 2019 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing,” said Dr. Morrow. “Receiving the award after nearly fifty years of historical writing, teaching, and consulting constitutes the ultimate affirmation of my career as a scholar of the history of modern war and society.”

Morrow is a member of the Historical Advisory Board of the United States World War I Centennial Commission.

Author or co-author of 8 publications, Morrow is an accomplished military historian and respected professor. His work includes The Great War: An Imperial History, The Great War in the Air, Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War (co-authored with Jeffrey T. Sammons) and German Airpower in World War I, among others. He has gained recognition for his ability to demonstrate how the past and the present intertwine inextricably.

“The screening committee’s recommendations and Colonel Pritzker’s selection speaks to Dr. Morrow’s years of dedication to the field of Military History,” stated Dr. Rob Havers, President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. “For the depth of his writing and research, his years of dedication and service to the field of military history, for his academic achievements including his commitment to shaping the minds of the next generation of military historians, Dr. Morrow stands as a deserving recipient of the 2019 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. We are grateful for his devotion to the field and are proud to shine a light on his exemplary work in military history.”

Read more: Pritzker Military Museum & Library Announces 2019 Literature Award Recipient: John Morrow, Jr.


Albany marks Sgt. Henry Johnson Day, honors pair 

via the Albany Times Union (NY) newspaper web site

ALBANY, NY – City officials marked the third Henry Johnson Day to honor World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson on the 102nd anniversary of his enlistment.

Henry Johnson memorial Albany NYHenry Johnson monument in Henry Johnson Park in Albany, N.Y. (Catherine Rafferty/Times Union)The Albany man was part of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment and his actions in May 1918 posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor in 2015. President Barack Obama bestowed the highest military honor an American soldier can receive on June 2, 2015, in a White House ceremony.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Mayor Kathy Sheehan awarded city School Board Member Tabetha Wilson with the third Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. The award honors those who have "demonstrably given of their time and talent to build a better Albany."

The annual award is a minted silver commemorative Henry Johnson Medal.

Tabetha who works for the state Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, also serves on non-profit boards including as president of AVillage and a member of the Capital District New Leaders Council and Grand Street Community Arts.

The Albany Housing Coalition awarded its second Charles Chandler Memorial Scholarship Award to Irene Nelson, a senior at Albany High School and member of the Junior ROTC Henry Johnson Battalion. The $1,000 college scholarship is given for an essay on Johnson's impact today.

Johnson enlisted in the Army during a time of racial segregation when the U.S. Army refused to allow black soldiers in combat. Members of 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, fought under French command.

Read more: Albany marks Sgt. Henry Johnson Day, honors pair


Austin exhibit'WWI America' at the Bob Bullock Texas state History Museum does cover the European conflict, but it focuses on the impact of World War I on America, which went from a relatively peaceful and prosperous place to a one of pronounced divisions, at times near chaos. (Contributed by the Bullock Texas State History Museum)

Austin WWI exhibit shows how U.S peace turned to near anarchy 

By Michael Barnes
via the Austin American-Statesman newspaper (TX) web site

Wars change nations. Big wars change nations in big ways.

Few were as big as the Great War, otherwise known as World War I, which ended not much more than 100 years ago with the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.

The United States entered the European showdown of doomed empires late but with enormous impact, especially back at home, as a densely organized and visually sharp exhibit, “WWI America,” argues at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The exhibit runs through Aug. 11.

This exhibit, which originated with the highly regarded Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minn., includes a fair share of personal stories, such as ones about “doughboys” like Charles Whittlesey, part of a “Lost Brigade” caught behind German lines, and José de la Luz Saenz, who fought for democracy in France and against racial segregation in the U.S.

Yet pictures and numbers do the heavy lifting in this impressive show that’s squeezed into the Bullock’s special exhibition space downstairs.

Meditate at the entry to the exhibit, for instance, on statistics about the U.S. in 1914, at the start of the war that the country did not join until April 2, 1917. The U.S. population stood at 103 million, less than a third of what it is today. One in seven Americans were foreign born, about the same as today. Ninety percent of Americans were considered white, as opposed to 63 percent these days. A third of American households had telephones, but only one in 10 Americans paid income tax, recently made possible by the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was ratified in 1913.

In 1914, just 16 teams played major league baseball, “America’s pastime,” and manufacturing jobs brought in an average of 53 cents an hour in wages. More Americans lived in rural areas than in cities and towns, and a third of the population was younger than 15 years old. 

Read more: Austin WWI exhibit shows how U.S peace turned to near anarchy


Number, please? 'Hello Girls' answered the call in World War I 

By Richard Cowen
via the North Jersey Record (NJ) newspaper web site

Grace Banker served in some very high places during World War I. For 20 months, she lived like a soldier at a time when the Army didn't allow women in the ranks.

She wore a U.S. Army uniform with three stripes on her sleeve and carried a helmet and a gas mask to the front lines in France. And like any soldier, Banker had to keep her cool under fire, working the switchboard at Gen. John Pershing's headquarters amid the thunder of artillery shelling.Grace BankerGrace BankerPassaic cenotaphThe Cenotaph in Armory Park in Passaic.

In France, she learned to fire a pistol — just in case. And when Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces through a showdown with the Germans at the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne, Banker was with him, keeping the lines of communication open in the closing campaign of the war.

True to the cause, the Passaic resident didn't come home right away when the war ended in November of 1918. Banker went to Paris to operate the switchboard at President Woodrow Wilson's residence during negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, which set down the terms of the new peace.

Banker was one of 223 women who volunteered for the U.S. Army Signal Corps as telephone switchboard operators. The newspapers dubbed them "The Hello Girls" — a moniker that many of them disliked, but one that stuck.

"She was an extraordinary daughter from Passaic who went on the world stage," said Mark Auerbach, the city historian. "The telephone was the cutting-edge technology of its time, and good communications saved many lives."

Five years after the war, on Memorial Day in 1924, Banker donned her Army uniform and stood with Pershing when he came to Passaic to dedicate the Cenotaph in honor of World War I soldiers that stands in Armory Park. Around the same time, Banker married and moved out of Passaic to Scarsdale, New York, packing her uniform, helmet and gas mask into a trunk and taking it with her. 

Banker settled down and raised a family in Scarsdale, and her story seemed all but lost to history.

Recently, Banker's granddaughter, Carolyn Timbie, came to Passaic with her husband, Dustin, to see the house at 227 Van Houten Ave. where Banker grew up. Timbie never met her grandmother, but she has spent much of her time piecing together the story and came to Passaic wanting to know more.

"My grandmother was an amazing woman," said Timbie, who lives in New Hampshire. "She was intelligent, and independent-minded. I think she figured, 'I'm going to do my bit to help win the war.' "

Read more: Number, please? 'Hello Girls' answered the call in World War I

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