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World War I Centennial News


Easter 1918 bittersweet as WWI was underway 

By Patricia Benoit
via the Temple (TX) Daily Telegram newspaper web site

Easter Sunday, March 31, 1918, was a bittersweet observance, full of dark humor and gas masks on the front lines of World War I.

ChurchThis 1918 poster produced by the Presbyterian Church was part of fund-raising efforts to provide a roving chaplain to American troops overseas during World War I.Soldiers couldn’t help but compare their lives before the war and their current circumstances on the battlefield in a combination of hope and dread. Elmer W. Sherwood (1896-1979) seemed resigned to his situation as he wrote in his diary: “This is Easter Sunday, but instead of wearing a new suit, I have the one I received in the U.S.A., and I look like a tramp. But who cares? Not I. Work as usual until noon.”

In another region of the French battlefront, First Lt. Sylvester Warren of Belton (1886-1945) wrote to his mother, Mary Alice Warren (1867-1951) about Easter services 1918.

Warren, a Santa Fe Railway telegrapher stationed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in France during World War I, was among those from half a dozen U.S. railways who had been dispatched to keep the rails moving. They nicknamed themselves the “Two-Two-Toot regiment” that ran to what Warren called “the skeleton city of Verdun.”

American railroaders were in charge of the rail lines to free French trainmen to other fronts. “It was exciting to see the first locomotive (from the States) give its long scream as it neared the camp,” Warren wrote his mother. “Every man forgot Army restraints for the moment. They jumped and ran to see the big iron beauty roll in.”

Pretty soon, the iron steeds were busy hauling troops, horses and equipment 24 hours daily. Despite the jubilance, an Easter lull forced Warren and his compatriots to face their own mortality and to grasp the full meaning of sacrifice at Easter.

In late 1917 and early 1918, an infusion of fresh troops from the U.S. had swarmed into the French countryside to aid the Allied forces exhausted after several years of the German onslaught. Gradually, the Kaiser’s army had been beaten back somewhat, and the tide of battle seemed to favor entente, according to the Temple Daily Telegram.

That news wasn’t reassuring to soldiers who daily faced disease, bombs and bullets. Warren and other soldiers at his outpost were the fortunate ones despite the dangers. Others had it worse. Beginning at the start of Holy Week, seven days earlier, another contingent marched at night resting 10 minutes every hour. Then, the troops would go sound asleep on the hard-surfaced roads. Beds and sheets were luxuries they could only dream about.

Read more: Easter 1918 bittersweet as WWI was underway

On the centennial of World War I and beyond, striving to keep sacrifices alive 

By Michael S. Darnell
via the STARS AND STRIPES web site

WASHINGTON — There are no soldiers alive who can recall the sound a M1903 Springfield rifle makes as it spits lead across a muddied battlefield.

Likewise, there are no mothers left to cry over sons who died in the trenches in Verdun, France, or in the icy waters off Denmark’s Jutland.

Naylor at National Press ClubWorld War One Centennial Commission member Commissioner Matthew Naylor interviewed by STARS AND STRIPES at the National Press Club event.The generation that, for a time, believed it was fighting the “War to End All Wars,” has long since passed. Their tombstones, memorials and artifacts are scattered across the world — solemn reminders that victory is fleeting.

The World War I Centennial Commission – made up of a dozen historians, educators, artisans and military veterans – and the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo. are doing their to ensure that their sacrifices won’t be forgotten.

Members of the commission and other experts spoke March 29 at the National Press Club about the enduring impact of the war and the parallels between it and the modern political landscape.

“The rapid change in information technology [was] a problem in 1914, as it is today; the beliefs and actions of non-state actors is a problem; terrorism; finance as a coercive tool,” said panelist Michael Neiberg, chairman of war studies at the United States Army War College. Those similarities make education on past conflicts so vital to modern diplomacy.

“There are also ways, I hope, that if we understand what happened 100 years ago, you can at least see the warning signs coming,” he said.

The lessons of historic warfare aren’t lost on the modern military.

“There are many, many lessons to be learned from World War I,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said during November’s groundbreaking for what could become the National World War I Memorial in Washington. “But if there is one lesson most of all to learn (it) is the lesson to vow to never let it happen again.”

That, said commission member Matthew Naylor, is why memorials – like the one proposed for Pershing Park in Washington – and museums are so important.

“We must remember those whose lives were lost,” Naylor said at Thursday’s roundtable. “We must also remember their courage and valor ... it informs us.”

Read more: On the centennial of World War I and beyond, striving to keep sacrifices alive

A Century After WWI, the Weapons of Old Wars Keep Turning Up on Beaches 

By Wayne Parry
Associated Press, via the Popular Mechanics web site

MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — A century after World War I ended, discarded munitions from that and other wars continue to make their way onto beaches around the country.

Items ranging from tiny fuses to full-scale mines are displaced by beach replenishment projects, sucked from the ocean floor and pumped ashore, or by strong storms that uncover them.

fuses on beachThis Feb. 10, 2009 file photo shows some of the more than 1,100 old fuses and small anti-aircraft shells that have been found as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers searches for any remaining World War I era munitions along the Atlantic Ocean in Surf City, N.J. A century after World War I ended, munitions from that and other wars continue to surface on beaches around the United States, usually during beach replenishment projects when they are sucked from the ocean floor and pumped ashore onto the sand, or exposed by strong storms. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)The most recent discovery came in March 2018 when seven WWI rifle grenades were found on the beach in Mantoloking, New Jersey, which is undergoing a beach replenishment project to undo damage from Superstorm Sandy more than five years ago.

Many of the items were simply dumped overboard at the end of World Wars I and II; others remain from military drills or target practice. They've been discovered in at least 16 states from New Jersey to Hawaii.

"Surprisingly or not, this stuff continues to turn up," said Niall Slowey, an oceanography professor at Texas A&M University, who has studied the phenomenon extensively. "They disposed of millions of tons of this stuff."

No one knows how many pieces of munitions remain offshore, partly because the military's own records as to how much was disposed of aren't great. A Defense Department report to Congress in 2009 said more than half of sea disposals of munitions was done in the Atlantic Ocean; the Pacific got another 35 percent, and lesser amounts were dumped off Hawaii, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The material was dumped as near as 5 miles from shore, in water as shallow as 50 feet.

Slowey and a colleague released a 2012 study estimating there are millions of pounds of undersea bombs in the Gulf of Mexico alone.

Disposal of unneeded munitions at sea was commonly accepted practice until 1970.

"They thought it was beyond harm's reach," Slowey said. "People could not envision that there would be any interaction with material that deep on the ocean floor. But there is a lot more on the sea floor than anyone could have envisioned."

New Jersey has been home to some well-publicized discoveries, including more than 1,100 pieces of munitions pumped ashore during beach replenishment work on a mile and a half of sand in Surf City and Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island in 2007. The items, mostly fuses, prompted temporary bans on the use of metal detectors and the digging of holes in the sand more than a foot deep. It also created a cottage industry in T-shirts with slogans like "Our beaches will blow you away!" and "I got bombed on L.B.I.!" 

Read more: A Century After WWI, the Weapons of Old Wars Keep Turning Up on Beaches

The story behind "I Want You"

By Phil Connelly
via the Ravalli Republic web site

Most likely, you’ve never heard of artist James Flagg. But, I bet you are aware of his most famous work of art.

Flagg was born on June 18, 1877, in Pelham Manor, New York. From a young age, he very much into drawing and by the time he was 12 years old, he already had an illustration of his appear in a national magazine.

5abd05138194b.imageTwo years later, he was a regular contributor for Life magazine and by the following year, he was on the staff of Judge, another national magazine. At age 17, he began his formal training at the Art Students League of New York.

After returning from Europe where he studied fine art in both London and Paris, he contributed numerous illustrations for books and magazine covers, as well as producing humorous and political cartoons. He even had a recurring comic strip about a tramp named Nervy Nat that appeared in Judge from 1903 to 1907.

However, his most famous and enduring work would occur shortly after the United States entered World War 1. The U.S. army launched a contest for who could create the most inspiring patriotic poster.

Flagg, then 40, entered the contest with his now iconic drawing that featured a rather stern-faced version of Uncle Sam with an out-stretched finger pointing straight ahead. The caption below loudly declared in bold red and blue letters “I WANT YOU”.

After Flagg’s drawing was selected, over four million copies were produced and distributed throughout the country. Flagg would go on to produce close to 50 wartime drawings and posters for the government’s propaganda department known as the Committee on Public Information.

Interestingly, the army wanted an inspiring poster so quickly that Flagg did not have time to secure a suitable model. So Flagg used his own likeness, sitting in front of a mirror. He later added the goatee, hat, and appropriate wrinkles.

Besides encouraging men to enlist, Flagg’s drawings urged citizens to save money, work harder to help win the war, and plant victory gardens.

So, Flagg came up with a brilliant and lasting image that inspired Americans during the First World War. Well, not exactly. In 1914 in England, another artist had produced a virtual twin of Flagg’s drawing. In this drawing, a grim looking Lord Kitchener (Secretary of State for War) was seen with the same extended arm urging British men to enlist in the army.

Read more: The story behind "I Want You"

Bronze of Sgt. Stubby, one man’s WWI inseparable companion, will soon join CT Trees of Honor 

By Cassandra Day
via the Middletown Press web site

MIDDLETOWN — The city’s tranquil park that honors the 65 Connecticut heroes who lost their lives in service to the country while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will soon include a tribute to a very special service dog.

Some 25 people gathered recently at Veterans Memorial Park to reveal plans for a bronze statue to be erected this spring in the entrance way area of the Connecticut Trees of Honor to memorialize Sgt. Stubby.

Inset CTMayor Dan Drew speaks at the Connecticut Trees of Honor at Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown, CT, announcing plans to erect a bronze sculpture this spring to Sgt. Stubby, America’s most famous war dog, at the Park. Inset: Poster for the animated movie “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” which will premier nationwide on April 13.It took more than 30 years for the Deane family find the perfect resting place for America’s best-known military working dog, said Curt Deane, grandson of Cpl. J. Robert Conroy of New Britain. His grandfather found the stray mixed breed he named Stubby while training near the Yale University campus in New Haven during the spring and summer of 1917.

“They think he’s more Staffordshire Bull Terrier than anything else,” said Deane, a Lyme and New York City resident.

Conroy was there with the 102nd Regiment of the 26th Yankee Division before the unit was shipped off to France at the start of America’s entry into WWI.

The men very quickly became endeared to the canine, designating him Sgt. Stubby.

Very soon, the canine will have another grand tribute — on a national stage — when the animated movie “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” will premier nationwide April 13.

“It really is a fulfillment of promise I made to my grandfather back in the ‘80s. When I realized it was the centennial (of the U.S. involvement in World War I), it was the right time to do it,” said Deane, who met Trees of Honor founder Sue Martucci through “a friend of a friend.”

His family had been trying to find locations in Connecticut to bring Stubby home to, including New Haven and Hartford, but encountered “political resistance.”

No matter, since once he met Martucci, things moved very quickly, Deane said. She soon convinced him Middletown should be Stubby’s forever home.

“I felt like it was absolutely right. Sue is smart. She gets stuff done — she’s really committed to this park. That’s what really drove me, and then when she started talking about wanting to have a plaque for service members with PTSD, to me, that was ideal,” Deane said.

California sculptress Susan Bahary, who has work on view around the world, is creating the piece. She’s best known for the World War II War Dog Memorial “Always Faithful” in Guam, which was dedicated July 21, 1994.

“She just unveiled in New Zealand a tribute to horses sent to WWI,” Deane said. “She has an extraordinary way of capturing animals.”

Read more: Bronze of Sgt. Stubby, one man’s WWI inseparable companion, will soon join Trees of Honor

Animated Film 'Sgt. Stubby' Pays Homage To New Haven's Most Famous Dog

By Susan Dunne
via the Hartford (CT) Daily Courant newspaper web site

In the summer of 1917, a few months after the United States entered World War I, the men of Connecticut’s 102nd Infantry Regiment, 26th division, were training on Yale Field in New Haven. During the drills and exercises, a dock-tailed puppy wandered onto the field and took a liking to one soldier in particular, Robert Conroy of New Britain.

trailer snip"Sgt. Stubby" marches into theaters April 13. Click on the image above to watch the trailer. The film is endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.Conroy named his newfound friend Stubby, after the pup’s stubby tail. Conroy became so attached to Stubby that when the 102nd shipped out to Europe a few weeks later, he smuggled the pup onto the troop ship, concealing him in a long field coat and hiding him in the coal hold. Thus, a legend was born.

On April 13, a movie opens nationwide about Conroy and his pet. “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero,” an animated adventure, tells the story of the plucky mixed-breed who became the most decorated dog in American military history. Logan Lerman voices Conroy and Helena Bonham-Carter narrates the story in the voice of Conroy’s sister, Margaret O’Brien.

On April 8, from 3 to 6 p.m., a street fair will be held in Stubby’s honor on Temple Street between Crown and George streets in New Haven. The fair will feature a World War I-era ambulance, a 1916 Model T Ford, a 1914 French Renault tank, historical re-enactors, National Guard working dogs doing demonstrations and modern military equipment.

The Connecticut State Library worked with the filmmakers for about a year to do research on Stubby’s life. “We showed them photos and documentation to help them with the animation,” says Christine Pittsley, the project director of all World War I commemorations for the library who is organizing the street fair.

The plot is fictionalized but is based on real incidents in Stubby’s military career. The most prominent embellishment is Stubby’s rank; the real Stubby was never made a sergeant. The three lead characters — Stubby, Conroy and O’Brien — are real. The first 20 minutes of the movie takes place in New Haven and the rest on the ship and the battlefields and camps. There’s also a flash of a front page of The Hartford Courant.

Read more: Animated Film 'Sgt. Stubby' Pays Homage To New Haven's Most Famous Dog

'Over Here,' Athletes Gave to World War I Effort 

By Ron Pesch
via the Michigan High School Athletic Association Second Half web site

In a nation at war, the needs of many outweigh the desires of a few.

Among the many noble sacrifices for the greater good was Michigan’s spring high school sports season of 1918.

The United States’ entry into “The Great War” (today commonly known as World War I) came on April 6, 1917, 2½ years after the war had begun. First elected President of the United States in 1912, Woodrow Wilson earned re-election in 1916 under a platform to keep the U.S. out of the war in Europe. The sinking of the British passenger ships Arabic and Lusitania in 1915 caused the death of 131 America citizens, but did not invoke entry into the conflict. However, continued aggressive German actions forced a reversal in policy.

MHSAA 500“The present German submarine warfare against commerce is a warfare against mankind,” stated Wilson in an April 2 special session of Congress, in requesting action to enter the war.

A huge baseball fan, President Wilson recognized the value of entertainment and athletics during a time of crisis. Major league baseball, America’s pastime, completed a full schedule in 1917. A former president at Princeton University, on May 21, 1917, Wilson addressed the value of school athletics in a letter to the New York Evening Post.

“I would be sincerely sorry to see the men and boys in our colleges and schools give up their athletic sports and I hope most sincerely that the normal courses of college sports will be continued so far as possible, not only to afford a diversion to the American people in the days to come when we shall no doubt have our share of mental depression, but as a real contribution to the national defense. Our young men must be made physically fit in order that later they may take the place of those who are now of military age and exhibit the vigor and alertness which we are proud to believe to be characteristic of our young men.”

Despite the highest of hopes, the requirements and realities of war deeply impacted life in the U.S. soon after.

In February of 1918, a proposal was circulated by Dr. John Remsen Bishop, principal of Detroit Eastern High School and president of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Association, to abolish spring athletics at Michigan high schools. Due to a labor shortage brought on by the war, the states, including Michigan, needed help on farms, harvesting crops from spring until late fall. The action might also affect the football season of 1918.

The Boys’ Working Reserve, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor, was organized in the spring of 1917 and designed to tap into an underutilized resource to help address that labor deficiency. “Its object was the organization of the boy-power of the nation for work on the farms during the school vacation months.”

While the idea was popular among schools around Detroit, due to the lack of public commentary from outstate school administration, it was expected that the proposal would meet at least some opposition when the M.I.A.A. gathered on Thursday, March 28 in Ann Arbor during a meeting of the state’s Schoolmasters Club.

Read more: 'Over Here,' Athletes Gave to WWI Effort

stubby production still 11 previewProduction still from “Sgt Stubby: An American Hero” which opens nationwide on April 13, 2018. The film is endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

A Soldier and His Dog: Review of “Sgt Stubby: An American Hero”

via the Angry Staff Officer blog

As some of you know, I don’t really do movie reviews on this site. But this spring I have had to break my own rule because of the animated film that combines two of my favorite things: dogs and the First World War. I am speaking of the movie “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.”

For those unfamiliar with the story, Stubby was a stray mutt who joined up with the Connecticut National Guard’s 102nd Infantry Regiment in New Haven during the early months of America’s involvement in World War I. He and a Guardsman formed a special friendship and Stubby ended up going overseas with the regiment. This unit formed one of four infantry regiments in the 26th Division, which was nicknamed the “Yankee Division” because it was made up of the National Guard units of the New England states.

The Yankee Division ended up being the first full division to reach France (parts of the U.S. Army’s 1st and 2nd Divisions were already there but they were not yet at full strength) in October, 1917 and it would take part in some of the fiercest combat of the Western Front in 1918. The division would spend from February to November on the front lines, with only one two week break in August. Most of the infantry units of the division took fifty percent casualties. It was termed one of the “old reliable” divisions of the American Expeditionary Force.

The story of Stubby is in some sense the story of the Yankee Division, since the scrappy pup embodied the fighting spirit of the newly arrived Yanks. Brash, bold, and not yet worn down by years of fighting, the Doughboys exhibited a spirit that was a wonderment to their British and French comrades in arms – although their bravery often came at the cost of heavy casualties.

Stubby himself did more than his part for the cause, as the film shows. From his actions in combat to the general goodwill that his mere presence as a doggy on the front lines brought to the men around him, Stubby was a remarkable animal. Decorated for bravery and promoted to sergeant, he remains one of the most fascinating dogs in the annals of animals in war. All the more distinguished as he was not a trained war dog; much like the men he accompanied, he was a volunteer.

The film is not a full-on documentary and not all the little details are what one would term historically accurate. However, what the film does is capture the spirit of Sergeant Stubby, the Yankee Division, and the American experience of World War I as a whole. It is a story of a man and his dog and the strong bond that people develop with their pets. It perfectly captures the unique understanding that dogs have for their humans and the lengths they will go to out of loyalty and love.

Read more: A Soldier and His Dog: Review of “Sgt Stubby: An American Hero”

'Side by Side' - America’s WWI war effort remembered in Britain

By Patrick Gregory
via the Centenary News web site

A new exhibition marking the centenary of the United States’ role in the Great War is opening this week at the American Museum in Bath. 'Side by Side: America and World War I' seeks to tell the stories of ordinary Americans as the country joined the conflict in Europe. Patrick Gregory reports from Bath:

Perched on gentle hills looking out over the Somerset and Wiltshire countryside, the American Museum at Claverton Manor outside Bath is, curiously, the only dedicated American museum to be found in Britain; and it enjoys its distinction of being the site, in 1897, of Winston Churchill’s first official political speech. The young cavalry officer, as he then was, was home on leave from India and running for elected office when he spoke at the old manor house.

tank 600The American Museum's model of the French light tank used by US forces on the Western Front ready to roll out of the workshops (Photo: American Museum in Britain)But in 1961 Claverton was to become home to a new form of enterprise when an Anglo-American quartet of collectors and curators set out to celebrate the decorative arts and folk culture of America.

Over the years the museum has continued its mission to place people and their stories at the centre of their themed displays and permanent collection, and it is something again in evidence as it prepares to open Side by Side: America and World War I, a snapshot of the country and its people at the beginning of what was to become the American Century.

Each visitor to this year’s centennial exhibition will be given a personnel file detailing the experience of a real person at the time. Head of Visitor Experience, Jon Ducker says that he wants those attending to try to feel the personal impact of the war and hear the experiences of those who have often been forgotten in narratives of the war including women, African-Americans and native Americans.

Among those whose stories and artefacts are included are: American ambulance volunteer-turned playwright Preston Gibson; recipient of the Purple Heart Capt. Alexander Pratt (the father of one of the museum’s founders); social reformer and activist Jane Addams; artist and Harlem Hellfighters’ serviceman Horace Pippin; and US Air Service pilot Arthur Clifford Kimber.

Some rare artefacts are on display including a watch recovered from the wreck of the liner RMS Lusitania, torpedoed in 1915 with the loss of nearly 1,200 passengers including 128 American citizens; and there will be interactive spaces, including a field hospital and a life size model of the most common light tank used by the American Expeditionary Force in France during 1918, the French FT-17.

Read more: 'Side by Side' - America’s WWI war effort remembered in Britain

New Free WWI Battlefield Travel Guide created by Ronald Snip

By Betsy Sheppard
Staff Writer, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Ronald Snip is the author of an illustrated travel guide about World War I, which describes the area between the city Reims (Marne) to Saint-Mihiel (Meuse) as well as Moselle and Haut-Rhin.

gangAuthor Ronald Snip and his free English language WWI battlefield travel guide.It is the only up-to-date, English travel guide that clearly describes the remnants of the First World War in these regions. Each topic covers two pages, with the GPS coordinates, address, location information and a detailed map in addition to images of the location, as well as a web page where additional information can be found.

To create this guide, Snip contacted museums, tourist information offices, the French army, the German Volksbund, the ABMC and American Memorials Overseas and the center of World Peace in Verdun for input. This collaboration helped his guide become so comprehensive.

Snip discovered his interest in World War I through history books. His father was interested in war history, so they had many books about war and watched many war history documentaries. In 2011 Snip visited the Belgium Ardennes, wanting to know more about the 1944 Battle of the Bulge. His accommodations were close to the French border, so he decided to visit Verdun one day to see if anything was left regarding World War I.

He was amazed by much was left. Trenches, Forts, Museums and ruined villages were in such a good state that it looked like the battle had taken place yesterday. From that day on, Snip decided to learn more about World War I, to visit all the Western Front, from the Belgium coast to the Swiss border.

From these travels, Snip created a travel guide of the regions Marne, Argonne, Meuse (Verdun and Saint-Mihiel), Moselle, the Vosges, and Haut-Rhin. The remains of World War I in those areas are very well preserved. There are several forts which are open to the public which partially withstood the terrible bombing during the Battle of Verdun (1916). Snip finds the various mine craters and trenches to be incredibly impressive because they show how violent the war could be, as entire hills with villages and enemy positions have been blown away.

Read more: New Free WWI Battlefield Travel Guide created by Ronald Snip

Burdick Military History Symposium on Culture and WWI at San Jose State April 15th

By Dr. Jonathan Roth
Professor of History, San Jose State University

https images 41363085 237799640298 1 originalThe Annual Burdick Military History Symposium, on Culture and WW1, will be held Sunday April 15th on the San Jose State University Campus.

The California State Military Reserve Band will bring to life the fascinating and forgotten tale of Jim Europe. Attendance is free, and open to the public.

A leading African-American musician and soldier, Europe's enormous talents helped shape the transition from ragtime to jazz and consequently broke down color barriers.

All of the music performed are historically accurate compositions and scores as played by Jim Europe’s ensembles, using instruments common to the period to accurately reproduce the music as it sounded 100 years ago.

There will also be panel discussion to explore the legacy of James Reese Europe, by leading historians.

As part of the upcoming exhibit and Armistice Day event at the San Francisco Veterans Building, we are leading an effort to identify family members of those Bay Area soldiers and sailors who gave their life for their country in World War One.

Read more: Burdick Military History Symposium on Culture and WWI

The Largest WWI Public Reenactment in the Country at Midway Village Museum April 7-8 

By Alyssa McGhghy
Midway Village Museum, Rockford, IL

unnamed 111Midway Village Museum will host the 6th annual Great War event, a WWI military event that features over 225 re-enactors portraying soldiers and civilians from the United States and Europe in the museum’s historic village.

Visitors engage in this unique historic, immersive experience with the opportunity to enter encampments, tour a reproduction 150 yard trench system, and watch large-scale narrated battle reenactments. For a complete listing of scheduled activities log onto

Read more: The Largest WWI Public Reenactment in the Country at Midway Village Museum April 7-8

Sabin Howard visits New York Academy of Art, exhibits World War I Memorial Maquette

By Angharad Coates
New York Academy of Art Public Affairs

This past week, the New York Academy of Art exhibited the designs and model for the new National World War I Memorial, designed by Academy graduate Sabin Howard. Sabin Howard also gave a public talk on March 22nd at the Academy, discussing his design, his training as a sculptor, and winning the commission for the memorial.

qiiWIDqM 400x400Sabin HowardIn 2013, an Act of Congress created the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, and it sponsored a global design competition. In January 2016, out of 350 entries, sculptor Sabin Howard was awarded the commission to create the National World War I Memorial out of 350 entries, alongside architect Joe Weishaar.

The New York Academy of Art displayed the newly-created 10-foot scale model of the memorial, along with reference photographs by Howard of reenactors, and drawings and sketches created for the sculpture.

Howard took over 12,000 pictures of actors in authentic World War I uniforms and period costumes and developed a storyline for the memorial, ultimately creating a narrative entitled “A Soldier’s Journey.”

The final memorial, when completed in Washington, D.C. will be 65 feet long, with 38 distinct figures and multiple tableaux, and will be the largest bronze sculpture of its kind in the world. The March exhibition was among the first chances for the American public to view the models for its newest national memorial.

The 10-foot scale model going on view at the New York Academy of Art was created at the New Zealand special effects company WETA Workshop, best known for their work on the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Through the use of digital technology, WETA used Howard’s drawings as a blueprint to create three-dimensional models, which Howard then turned into fine art sculpture. This creative process represents the first usage of digitization for a national memorial of this size, and accomplished in 7 months a process that previously would have taken 3 to 4 years.

Read more: Sabin Howard visits New York Academy of Art, exhibits WWI Memorial Maquette

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