History scholar Lucas Rodriguez of Torrington was one of 15 teenagers in the state chosen to participate in an international project in France this summer to help restore trenches built by American soldiers during WWI.
Torrington teen to travel to France to study CT’s role in WWI
By Leslie Hutchison
via the Register Citizen newspaper (CT) web site
TORRINGTON — A soldier from the city who died in WWI will be honored this summer by a local high school student as part of the Connecticut State Library’s “Digging Into History“ project.
Lucas Rodriguez, 16, will join a group of other teenagers from the state who will travel to France where certain American soldiers faced the German army for the first time.
The group will volunteer in the village of Seicheprey where the troops dug trenches into the forest soil in April 1918 as a measure of protection.
As part of the history project, Rodriguez is researching the military history of John Ryan, of Torrington, with the help of the Torrington Historical Society.
He found out that many soldiers from Connecticut died in the attack, including Ryan.
A key find about the local solider was discovered in a July, 1918 newspaper article with the help of the historical society curator, Gail Kruppa. It shows that Ryan “was the first Torrington soldier to be killed with the American army in France.”
Rodriguez will compile the information he’s gathered into a detailed essay about Ryan as part of a requirement for the project.
“Quite a few residents from Torrington served in the war,” Kruppa said. “It was over 1,350 (residents) and 25 percent were immigrants.” She said the city had a population of about 20,000 at the time of the war.
The teen’s interest in military history was kindled by stories he heard from his family.
“Both of my grandfathers served, one in the army and one in the navy. My dad was a marine,” Rodriguez said. “I grew up hearing all of these stories.”
Read more: Torrington teen to travel to France to study CT’s role in WWI
From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
Alan Axelrod on George Creel, America's Chief Propagandist- Part 2
In April 12th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 118, author Alan Axelrod returned to finish an expansive interview on George Creel, the publisher of the government's Official Bulletin and one of the most powerful war-time Americans. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer: So, with us to explore this character is Allen Axelrod, the author of Selling the Great War: The Making of American Propaganda. It's the bio of George Creel, and this is part two of our conversation. You'll find part one in episode 117. Alan, to kick off part two let's talk about the post-armistice period. You know, we've republished every issue of the Official Bulletin on the website at the Commission. And one day, at the end of May, it just stops. So, on April 1st, suddenly there's nothing in the last issue that says we're stopping. It's just all of a sudden it goes away. Did the whole committee just evaporate all of a sudden?
Alan Axelrod is the author of over 150 books on topics such as history, management, and businessAlan Axelrod: It evaporated all of a sudden. Congress cut it off and Congress went after it with almost literally a hatchet. They threw everything away that they could get their hands on, they destroyed all the records they could get their hands on. The only things that were saved were what Creel himself managed to salvage. He rented trucks and men to load them, and took stuff away and stored it at his own expense. And any of this vast amount of material that he didn't save was destroyed. There was a real revulsion in Congress against everything he had done. It was very strange.
Theo Mayer: Well, revulsion of just him, or him and Wilson both?
Alan Axelrod: After the armistice and ultimately after the defeat of the League of Nations in the US and the Treaty of Versailles, there was a real collective political effort at group national amnesia. There was almost an effort to erase most of what the war had been about, and Creel's effort was part of it.
I actually think that part of the animus against Creel was that he had done his job too well, that the propaganda and the mindset it created were considered dangerous, and that the incoming Republican wave that swept in after Wilson, beginning with the midterm elections that transformed the balance of Congress, wanted to disengage the nation from the global orientation that it was shifting to under Wilson. It was the closest thing we ever had to a book burning.
Theo Mayer: So, we get to the end of the war and suddenly all of this just sort of disappears, evaporates, goes away. And over the next number of years, this stuff starts to reemerge as Germany regains power. We've talked about that in the past. Why don't you talk about that a little bit?
Read more: Podcast Article - Alan Axelrod Interview pt 2
Gerald York (center) and Andrew Jackson York (left) attend the opening night of the Turner Classic Film TCM Classic Film Festival at American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, Calif., on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo by Schelly Stone/The American Legion.)
American Legion Post 43 renovation completed
"A culmination of the history of the military in Los Angeles."
By Steven B. Brooks
American Legion Post 43
Note: Our friends at the legendary American Legion Post 43 in Los Angeles have great reason to celebrate. They recently completed a multi-million dollar top-to-bottom renovation of their landmark clubhouse -- not the least of which was their spectacular 1920's era theater space. To kick things off right, they agreed to host, as their first major event, the multi-day annual Turner Classic Movies TCM Classic Film Festival. The film that was picked to introduce this year's film festival was none other that SGT YORK, the classic Gary Cooper film produced in 1941. And of course, to introduce this great film, the film festival picked none other than our friend, Colonel Gerald York, grandson of Sgt Alvin York, and his uncle, Andrew Jackson York -- son of the WWI hero.—Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
As The American Legion project manager, Hollywood Post 43 member Bill Steele saw what was once an aging multipurpose room within the post undergo an amazing transformation into a top-level movie theater.
But the culmination of the multi-million dollar project wasn’t the final product. It came April 11 on the opening night of the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Film Festival, when The Legion Theater served as one of the festival’s six venues.
“This is a dream come to true,” said Steele, who serves in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “To be able to be a part of the Turner Classic (Movies) Film Festival, which is a world-renowned film festival, it’s a very high bar to clear. Just to be considered to be a part of that is really incredible. The fact that we’re doing it is amazing.”
Post 43 is no stranger to Hollywood, able to call Clark Gable, Gene Autry, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston and Stan Lee among its former members. The post has served as a backdrop in movies such as “The Shining” and the J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reboot of “Star Trek,” as well as in television series “Veep” and “Scandal.”
But the renovation of an unused room into a nearly 500-seat theater featuring state-of-the-art digital projection and sound systems, and 35mm and 70mm capabilities, has taken Post 43 to another level.
“It’s really a culmination of the history of the military in Los Angeles,” Post 43 Commander Michael Hjelmstad said. "This (post) was started by filmmakers in 1919, and now we’re kind of back around to that relevance in the entertainment industry that we used to have.
“It makes my heart race and my hair stand up to be a part of something this big now. It’s like the field of dreams: We build it and they come. And they did. They’re here.”
Read more: American Legion Post 43 renovation completed
Major League Baseball's new uniforms for Memorial Day in 2019 evoke World War I with a poppy theme.
Bye, Camo: MLB changes its approach to Memorial Day uniforms
By Mike Oz
via the Yahoo! Sports web site
Major League Baseball has changed the way it is approaching Memorial Day uniforms for 2019, heeding criticism from the past and hoping to strike a subdued tone that’s more in line with the true meaning of the holiday.
Gone are the camouflage caps and camouflage accents on jerseys. Instead, MLB is adding a poppy to its Memorial Day uniforms — a symbol that has been used since the 1920s to honor those who died in war — with the phrase “Lest We Forget.” These will appear on teams’ regular uniforms. The caps will feature a special stars-and-stripes Memorial Day patch.
Neither the Memorial Day jerseys or the caps will be sold at retail stores, another change in MLB’s approach. The camo uniforms fans are used to seeing on Memorial Day will instead be worn May 17-19. The league is shifting that look to Armed Forces Day, the annual holiday that celebrates the military and falls on May 18 this year.
The difference between the two holidays is important: Armed Forces Day is about celebrating the military and its members, while Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to mourn soldiers who died in combat.
“We wanted to make sure we were sticking to the true meaning [of Memorial Day],” Melanie LeGrande, MLB’s vice president of social responsibility, told Yahoo Sports. “It’s really about observing all those who were lost.”
Read more: Bye, Camo: MLB changes its approach to Memorial Day uniforms
Members of the USS Tampa's crew sometime between 1913 and 1915. The Coast Guard cutter served in World War I. On Sept. 26, 1918, a German submarine sank the ship, killing all 130 men on board.
Coast Guard to award Purple Hearts to USS Tampa crew killed during WWI
By Rose L. Thayer
via the Stars and Stripes newspaper web site
Anna Bonaparte was 4 years old when her father James Wilkie died on board the USS Tampa on Sept. 26, 1918. Though she didn’t have many memories of her father, she constantly spoke about him and his service in the Coast Guard, said her son Wallace Bonaparte.
Next month, Bonaparte, a former Army captain, will travel from his home in Charleston, S.C., to Washington to receive a Purple Heart in honor of his grandfather, as part of an initiative to recognize the 115 servicemembers who died more than 100 years ago on board the ship.
Anna Bonaparte died in 2012, and Wallace can only imagine how proud she would have been to see her father receive a medal for his service.
“Being ex-military, I do know that it is an honor to be a recipient and it is an exceptional honor,” said the 77-year-old Vietnam War veteran.
Wilkie was a 29-year-old cook on the Tampa, a Coast Guard cutter, when a German submarine sank it off the coast of England during the final months of World War I. All 131 men aboard died. The event was the single largest loss of life for the service branch during World War I, and accounted for more than half of all Coast Guard deaths during the war.
Read more: Coast Guard to award Purple Hearts to USS Tampa crew killed during WWI
Eagle Scout beautifies spot where iconic Doughboy statue stands
A new look for Petersburg's ‘Old Soldier’
By Kristi K. Higgins
via the Progress Index (Petersburg, VA) newspaper web site
Nicholas Riggs (left) receives a certificate of recognition from Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham for his Eagle Scout work sprucing up the area of the Doughboy monument on South Sycamore Street. PETERSBURG — The road to Nicholas Riggs’ Eagle Scout designation includes a stretch of South Sycamore Street known for its iconic Doughboy statue.
Riggs, a member of Scout Troop 900 in Prince George County, formally unveiled his Eagle Scout project last weekend. It was a makeover of the Doughboy triangle at the intersection of Sycamore and North Boulevard that included reseeding, weeding, and other general maintenance, and was topped off with a new stone bench and 25-foot flagpole.
He hosted a rededication ceremony at the World War I memorial and also presented the city of Petersburg with a check in excess of $1,000 from donations he raised for the project.
“It is with great pride and pleasure that I received more than enough donations for the project to be used for ongoing maintenance of the Doughboy Memorial Park,” Riggs said in handing the check to Mayor Sam Parham.
The copper-colored statue, officially known as “The Spirit of the American Doughboy” but also informally dubbed the “Old Soldier,” has stood its ground since 1928, when it was presented to Petersburg by the American Legion. It honors the memory of World War I soldiers who were called “doughboys” becaise the rain-soaked mud of Europe often covered their uniforms like bread dough.
It is one of a series of doughboy statues in 39 states designed by sculptor E.M. Viquesney. Its last renovation was in 1997.
On the statue’s base are the names of 91 area World War I veterans who died in service.
On the new bench next to the new flag, Riggs had the following inscribed: “This flag and bench have been dedicated in lasting gratitude to all the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during World War I with honor and sacrifice.”
Members of American Legion Post 2 in Petersburg were on hand for Riggs’ ceremony. Post commander Mark Winecoff saluted the young man for his undertaking.
“After 91 years on duty the Old Soldier started showing his age,” Winecoff said. “A young Scout, looking for an Eagle Scout Service Project, took notice and decided to do something about it. Not for personal recognition did he do this, but rather out of a sense of obligation and service to his community."
Read more: A new look for Petersburg's ‘Old Soldier’
Effects of World War I on restaurant-ing in the US
By Jan Whitaker
via the Restaurant-ing Through History web site
Pre-WWI restaurant in New York hotel● The effects of World War I were felt before the US declared war against Germany in spring of 1917. Americans living abroad, such as artists in Paris, returned to the U.S. Some of them returned to Greenwich Village to develop and nurture something quite foreign here, namely café culture.
● In Washington DC, wartime bureaucracy required more office workers, increasing the ranks of working women, a new and lasting restaurant clientele. As the female workforce grew nationwide, women’s restaurant patronage from 1917 to 1927 went from 20% of all customers to 60%, and became foundational to the future growth of modern restaurants. Around the country low-priced restaurants accustomed to male patronage were forced to add women’s restrooms.
● Many foreign nationals who had worked as cooks, kitchen help, and waitstaff in restaurants left to join armies of their native lands. The restaurant labor shortage worsened when the draft began in 1917 and foreign immigration ceased. Immigrants were replaced by Afro-American and white women who migrated to cities. Serving in restaurants became female dominated.
● The war brought women to the forefront of food service. Home economists rallied to the cause by opening restaurants. In Washington DC, a graduate of Cornell’s home economics program began a cafeteria for war workers nicknamed the “Dom Econ Lunchroom.”
● Wartime prohibition followed by national prohibition in 1919 dealt a blow to fine dining. The culinary arts of European-trained chefs fell into disuse as many elite restaurants closed after a few lean years.
● Immigrant tastes were reworked by WWI. Those who served in the US military became accustomed to the American diet of beef and potatoes, white bread, and milk, as did Southerners used to “hogs and hominy.” Meanwhile on the homefront, certain “foreign” foods, such as pasta and tomato sauce, were admitted into the mainstream middle-class diet, in this case because Italy was an ally.
● Wartime also stimulated a more business-like attitude on the part of restaurants which now had to work smarter to produce profits. They adopted principles of scientific management — for example, they began keeping books! And they standardized recipes to turn out consistent food despite changes in personnel.
Read more: Effects of World War I on restaurant-ing in US
Virginia students involved in the “ReSounding the Archives” World War I music project took a a behind-the-scenes tour of the Library of Congress, guided by music librarians, in Washington, DC.
Virginia students bring 100-year-old World War I sheet music back to life
By Caroline Newman
via the University of Virginia UVAToday web site
Note: The University of Virginia was in the national spotlight this month for becoming the National Champions of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. We are thrilled for them -- and we were also thrilled to find out that they have a special World War I-related project underway at their campus!—Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
The World War I-era sheet music housed in the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collection Library should feel old, by most measures.
It was composed more than 100 years ago for a massive war fought not with nuclear power or cyberweapons, but in the trenches, with bullets, bombs and millions of men. It was heard not through earbuds or stereo speakers, but in parlor music concerts and over the radio, a new technology that was only just beginning to make its way into American homes. Some of the music’s themes – including the songs’ characterizations of women and references to white supremacy – now appear out-of-touch, troubling or offensive.
And yet, students in assistant dean and assistant professor of music Elizabeth Ozment’s “ReSounding the Archives” course – most of them born more than 80 years after the war began – found plenty to relate to as they listened to, analyzed and help recreate the century-old songs.
“I was expecting the music to feel a bit foreign to the students, but they really searched out pieces that reflected their own personalities and intellectual interests, and made so many connections to contemporary politics and culture,” Ozment said.
Ozment and her students were part of an ongoing collaborative project, also called “ReSounding the Archives,” between UVA, Virginia Tech and George Mason University, funded by 4-VA, a collaborative partnership among six Virginia universities. Students from each school researched and analyzed World War I songs from UVA’s archives, and George Mason students recorded studio versions and even traveled to UVA to perform in a live “parlor concert” in front of a packed house in UVA’s Garden Room.
Read more: UVA students bring 100-year-old World War I sheet music back to life
Obverse of Blank 1917 Local Pledge Card for National Campaign to Raise $35,000,000 for the Y.M.C.A.'s National War Work Council Via Pelham Campaign Committee. Source: Gift to the Office of the Historian of the Town of Pelham from Ms. Michele Egan.
Pelhamite Finds Important Local WWI National War Work Council Pledge Card Inside Walls of House
By Blake A. Bell
via the Historic Pelham (NY) web site
Pelham mobilized during World War I -- and again during World War II -- to defend the home front and to support the many young men who fought the war in Europe. Part of that mobilization was to provide monetary support to a national campaign to raise $35,000,000 for the Y.M.C.A.'s National War Work Council that funded efforts to provide comfort and support to American troops, Allied troops, and prisoners of war.
Recently, Pelhamite Michele Egan of Young Avenue discovered an unused pledge card issued by the local Pelham Committee in late 1917 to raise money locally for the National War Work Council inside the walls of her home. Ms. Egan has donated the pledge card to the Office of the Historian of the Town of Pelham. Today's Historic Pelham article presents images of the front and back of the card and places its history in context of the trying times faced by Pelham, the United States, and the World in late 1917 as World War I raged.
The Pledge Card
Images of the front and back of the recently-discovered pledge card appear immediately below. Each is followed by a transcription of its text to facilitate search.
Read more: Pelhamite Finds Important Local WWI National War Work Council Pledge Card
Image courtesy UA "The design has always been relatively simple and straightforward, even through its many iterations," architect Joe Weishaar says of the World War I Memorial he's designing in Washington, D.C. "Everything in the design needed to look and feel timeless to help the memorial feel relevant even in 200 years, so we've gone with materials that are very timeless themselves: bronze, granite, water, etc."
Victory in design contest led to elation, despair for WWI project, UA grad says
National WWI Memorial winner tells of fits, starts
By Jaime Adame
via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette newspaper Arkansas Online web site
FAYETTEVILLE -- The elation of winning a design competition for a national World War I memorial at age 25 turned at times to cynicism as unexpected obstacles emerged in the months after, architect Joe Weishaar said Wednesday.
"There were times I thought about leaving this project entirely," said Weishaar, a 2013 graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
The team of Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard was selected from more than 350 entries to design the privately funded National World War I Memorial.
In what is sometimes known as the Great War, 116,516 U.S. soldiers died, a total that includes 53,402 battle deaths, according to data published by the Congressional Research Service. The World War I Centennial Commission offered the design competition.
Weishaar talked at UA about the trials that followed the January 2016 design competition win, including an unanticipated push to preserve Pershing Park in Washington, D.C., where the memorial is expected to be built. Backers hope to have the project complete by November 2021.
About 70 people in attendance saw Weishaar present images of 16 designs that he said were worked up and presented to agencies as part of the lengthy approval process. Ultimately, the updated design was approved in July, Weishaar said.
"From time to time, this design process leaves you sort of incredibly cynical and maybe even a little bit feeling snarky" Weishaar said.
In meetings, groups would "nitpick" aspects of the memorial, Weishaar said. Comments led him to redo the work.
But the result ended up being a kind of "wonderful sort of experimentation process," Weishaar said.
Read more: WWI Memorial winner tells of fits, starts
Veterans History Project Updates Collections Policy and Scope, Includes Gold Star Voices
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Our friends at the Library of Congress have a special Congressional program called the Veterans History Project.
The mission of the Veterans History Project is to collect, preserve, and make accessible, the personal accounts of American veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
They do this by working with organizations and individuals to obtain the first person narratives, in the forms of original unedited audio/video recorded interviews, photographs, letters, diaries, journals, military documents, two-dimensional artwork, maps and unpublished memoirs from U.S. veterans who professionally supported war/conflict efforts.
This past year, the Veterans History Project has made special effort to collect and preserve the stories of World War I - and they have found remarkable success in the form of donated WWI diaries, journals, and letters home.
This effort was so successful, that they have further expanded their materials acceptance policy. In a partnership with our friends at Gold Star Families, the VHP will now also collect, preserve, and make available, the important stories of America’s Gold Star veteran family members.
Read more: Veterans History Project Updates Collections Policy and Scope, Includes Gold Star Voices
Ceremony in advance of Fleet Week New York 2019
Public Invited to Special Wreath Ceremony at Cypress Hills National Cemetery, NYC
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
NEW YORK, NY — The upcoming Navy Fleet Week New York 2019 will come to New York beginning Thursday, May 22nd, and this year, the event will have a theme of ‘Remembering America’s World War I Veterans’.
Gate to Cypress Hills National Cemetery, in New York CityAs Fleet Week approaches, the United States World War I Centennial Commission will host a commemorative event on May 2nd at historic Cypress Hills National Cemetery. There, we will take a moment to remember some heroes, who remain New Yorkers forever.
These heroes specifically include:
- Marine Sergeant Major Dan Daly, World War I hero and Double Recipient of the Medal of Honor
- Navy Coxswain John Cooper, Civil War hero and Double Recipient of the Medal of Honor
- Twenty-One World War I-era sailors of the French Navy, who passed away in New York during the influenza pandemic in 1918
- Three World War I-era sailors of the Royal British Navy, who also passed away in New York during the influenza pandemic in 1918
The public is invited to attend. The Cemetery is located at 625 Jamaica Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Event will take place on Thursday, May 2nd, 2019 at 10:00am.
Ceremonial Color Guards will be provided from the Navy and Marine Corps Honor Guard in Washington DC. Music will be provided courtesy of the Navy Headquarters Ceremonial Band.
Featured guests for this commemoration will include representatives from the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, the Consulate of France, and the Consulate of the United Kingdom.
Other special guests will include members of the New York City Mayor's Office of Veteran Affairs, the New York City World War I Centennial Committee, the United War Veterans Council, professional historians, and many others.
Read more: Public Invited to Special Wreath Ceremony at Cypress Hills National Cemetery, NYC
Five Questions for Lucie Aubert, of the Yonne Historical Association
Remembering the Doughboys of Yonne, France
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
During the course of World War I, the entire nation of France was affected by the arrival of the two million American men and women serving with the American Expeditionary Force. These people not only manned the front lines of the war -- but, very importantly, they also built & operated hospitals, railway lines, roads, training facilities, port facilities, headquarters areas, and many other activities -- some of which remain to this day. Despite the hundred years that has passed, the impacts of these efforts are not forgotten. One place where the memories remain alive is in the Yonne Valley, to the southeast of Paris. Named after the river Yonne, it is one of the eight constituent departments of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and was the site of the AEF's 16th Training Region. The Doughboys who trained there are well remembered. We were very lucky to speak to one of the leaders of the historical efforts in the region, Lucie Aubert. In addition to their various commemorative efforts, Lucie and her friends have created a website that tells the story of every single one of the 175 American service member who lost their lives in the Yonne, one hundred years ago.
This is remarkable vision. Tell us about your organization, and your activities to tell the story of the American Doughboys 100 years ago.
Lucie Aubert, with the flags of the U.S. and of the Yonne Region of FranceWe are a non-profit organization since the March 9, 2019 named Yonne Doughboys. We commemorate and make known the American presence in the department of Yonne (France) during World War 1 we also pay tribute to the 175 Americans who died here. We do this with a website and memorial page for each soldier which contain personal data, military data and pictures (graves and when we have it a portrait).
You have incredible depth to your remembrance -- with stories on every single Sammy who passed away in Yonne. Tell us about your research, and how you got started. Who helped you, who have been your partners?
All start with my WW1 collection and each time I had an item, I tried to discover the story and more specifically the story of the man who had it. That’s why I wanted to know more about the US soldiers who were in my “state”. I asked the city of Tonnerre (city which hosted the 16th training area) and the archivist told me she had a list of soldiers which were buried in the city’s cemetery. I tried to know more about it and that’s the beginning of an incredible adventure. It was the November 30, 2017.
I found other lists in Yonne’s archives and I had the number of deaths with a document from American Battle Commission Monument which told me that we had 175 soldiers. I found a lot of them but few are not on my listing, 45, all buried in Saint Mihiel cemetery. I made a lot of research in France but found nothing. I asked a researcher in NARA to help me. As a student without money, I made a deal with him, we helped each other in our respective researches. Thank to him I had Access to all the documents I needed to have all the soldiers and even an unknown soldier.
Read more: Remembering the Doughboys of Yonne, France