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World War I Centennial News



MemorialA rendering of the planned National World War I Memorial in Washington's Pershing Park 

More Than A Century Later, The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have A National World War I Memorial In Washington 

By Tom Russo
via the Bisnow web site

As the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles approaches this Friday — a pact that effectively ended “the war to end all wars” — the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission in Washington will watch another centurial commemoration march by.

Five years ago, it was one century since World War I broke out in Europe. Last year, it was the centennial of the creation of Armistice Day. The new target date is Nov. 11, 2021, which will mark 100 years since the interment for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a World War I veteran, at Arlington National Cemetery.

All of those centenaries were targeted by the commission for one purpose: to erect America’s first-ever national monument to all 116,708 Americans who fought and died in Europe’s first total war. But more than a century after the war, construction has not yet begun.

“In the best of all worlds, we would dedicate this in November 2021,” said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the Centennial Commission.

The prolonged effort to erect a memorial to the men who died in trenches and on battlefields in places like Somme, Belleau Wood and Gallipoli goes back decades, and has been hampered by politics, complicated legislative efforts, a meandering site-selection process, a cumbersome design review and disagreements on what the memorial’s mission ought to be.

The memorial, called "A Soldier’s Journey," was designed by Joe Weishaar and is being sculpted by Sabin Howard. It will stand nearly 60 feet long on 1.8 acres in Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW. The memorial will sit a block away from the White House with a direct view of the U.S. Capitol building. The estimated total cost is $40M.

“We’ve had targets, and you set targets ambitiously to keep people focused,” Fountain said. “But the project takes as long as the project takes. We have a goal. We have an aspiration.” 

Read more: More Than A Century Later, The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have A National World War I Memorial In Washington


signing2 page.elementFrench President Clemenceau signs the Treaty in 1919.

Events in France, Online Exhibition to Mark the Treaty of Versailles Centennial 

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

WASHINGTON, DC — On June 28th, in honor of the Centennial Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, a day of remembrance, commemoration, and education, will take place in Versailles, France.

The first of The Paris Peace Treaties, this treaty officially ended the state of war between the European Allied Nations and Germany.

Presenting Sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, along with National WWI Museum and Memorial, and the Doughboy Foundation, will support the activities hosted by the legendary Palace of Versailles.

Read more: Events in France, Online Exhibition to Mark the Treaty of Versailles Centennial

s20UbQewView of the sports arena, where the Inter-Allied Games games were played.

June 22-July 6 Marks Centennial of the Inter-Allied Games

National WWI Museum and Memorial offers exclusive video, images of “forgotten” international competition from 1919 featuring world-renowned athletes

By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, MO – The scheduled Olympics in 1916 were canceled due to World War I. While the Olympics resumed in 1920, a seminal event featuring renowned athletes from across the world took place in 1919 in the aftermath of the first truly global conflict in human history.

The sudden end to the fighting in France on Nov. 11, 1918 took American military officials by surprise. Leadership had given very little thought to the difficulties of demobilizing a mass army in an efficient and equitable manner, particularly for soldiers stationed overseas. Authorities, concerned that peace negotiations might break down and the military would be forced to fight again, imposed a steady diet of daily drills, target practice and tactical exercises. Low morale over the continued training and the slow pace of demobilization reached near crisis proportions just as a third wave of influenza hit the debarkation camps in France. This created tremendous bitterness among troops who watched their comrades fall ill and die while awaiting transport home. Clearly, something voluntary and enjoyable was needed to unite the troops and occupy their time until the War Department could get them all home.

Sports competitions offered the ideal solution. And, thus, the Inter-Allied Games was born.

Held from June 22 – July 6, 1919 outside of Paris near the site of the 1900 Olympics, the Inter-Allied Games featured hundreds of male athletes from nations across the world aligned with the Allies during World War I competing in 13 sports. During the course of the completion, more than 500,000 spectators witnessed some of the globe’s best athletes – past, present and future.

“The passage of time has led to lapse in familiarity with the Inter-Allied Games,” said National WWI Museum and Memorial Senior Curator Doran Cart. “This was a world-class competition featuring some of the best athletes in the world. Perhaps more importantly, the Inter-Allied Games served as a vehicle for healing the wounds from the most catastrophic war to that time in human history.”

Read more: June 22-July 6 Marks Centennial of the Inter-Allied Games


Aiden Coleman memorial 1000Overview of the site where the World War I Memorial (right of flagpole) created by Eagle Scout Aiden Coleman at Gibson Cemetery in Bright, IN.

Eagle Scout Aiden Coleman's WWI Memorial Project

"I truly cared about those who served and wanted to make that known."

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

Aiden Coleman is a Superstar. He is a hardworking Boy Scout, a talented leader, and a conscientious history buff. Aiden was recently promoted to the rare rank of Eagle Scout, and to do so, he decided that his required Eagle Scout Service Project would honor his community's World War I veterans. We were thrilled to hear about this project, and were able to discuss it with him.

Tell us about your Eagle Scout project - What were the Requirements? What did you decide to do? Why? How did your family & troop leaders react?

Aiden Coleman 300Aiden ColemanThe only real requirements for my Eagle Project were to demonstrate my ability to plan, develop, and provide leadership in a new role of completing a project. There aren't any requirements on how big the project had to be, but I wanted to do something more meaningful. I knew that I wanted to do something based around WW1, and originally I was going to do a memorial for the US entrance into the war. But other aspects of life got in the way and I put it off. I wanted to do a project based around WW1 because the war had always been such an interesting period of time to me. And of course it was the 100th year anniversary of the war, so a perfect time to plan a project in commemoration. My parents were totally on board with the project idea and were there to help me the entire way. My troop leaders weren't so enthusiastic, I think they thought it might be "too ambitious." And in some ways they were correct it wasn't and easy thing to do. Not only the amount of information I had to gather but it was a very expensive project, and I had to find a way to raise enough money for the memorial.

How did the research for your project work? Who helped you with this aspect? How did you connect with them? Where did you find information?

The first thing I had to do was find a local location to place my memorial. I was turned down from a few places and finally I got in contact with the Gibson Cemetery in my hometown of Bright, Indiana. They immediately were happy to help and granted me a spot right next to their flag pole for the memorial. The idea was brought to me that I should include the local First World War veterans who served and are buried at Gibson in some way. I had to gather up all of the veterans names by going around the entire cemetery and finding which graves were marked as WW1 veterans. Thankfully the cemetery had a refined list of each veteran buried in the cemetery. I of course had to do research about the war itself so that I had an idea of what I was talking about. I needed to know dates, times, and important people. I did most of the research on my own, but I got help at the cemetery from a few friends. I found Information from family members of the WW1 veterans, the local VFW, American Legion, Gibson Cemetery, and of course the internet.

Read more: Aiden Coleman's Eagle Scout Project


Service marks 100 years since Scapa Flow navy scuttling 

via the BBC (UK) web site

A poignant service has been held to commemorate the centenary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow.

 107490736 servicenew976A service was held above the sunken wreck of the warship Dresden More than 50 German ships were sunk in the waters off Orkney to prevent them becoming spoils of war on 21 June 1919.

A service was held above the sunken wreck of the warship Dresden.

During the service a bell recovered from the wreck of the Von der Tann was rung by the grandson of German commander Admiral Ludwig von Reuter.

The mass scuttling was the single greatest loss of warships in history.

The nine German sailors killed that day were the last to die during World War One.

The final peace treaty was signed a week later. 

On Friday, wreaths were laid by the two most senior naval officers present - Rear Admiral Stephen Haisch, from the German Navy, and Captain Chris Smith, Royal Navy Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Navy divers from Britain and Germany then laid wreaths on the hull of the Dresden.

Read more: Service marks 100 years since Scapa Flow navy scuttling

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Making Peace: Harder Than Making War? A Roundtable Discussion

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In June 21st's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 128, we convened an expert panel of historians and subject matter experts for a lively discussion of the complicated and consequential peace process that followed the war. The participants come from three countries and have different academic, literary, and professional credentials. Read on for a fascinating look at an extraordinary time in world history, as told by the people who study it. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Theo Mayer: Welcome to the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 128. The podcast is about then, what was happening 100 years ago in the aftermath of World War I, and it's also about now: how World War I is being remembered, commemorated, discussed, taught, and learned. But most importantly, the podcast is about why and how we'll never let those events fall back into the mists of obscurity. So, join us as we explore the many facets of World War I, both then and now.

As we come up on the centennial of one of the most significant and consequential events, World War I, we've put together this special edition of World War I Centennial News. Instead of a series of segments and stories, this week, we've dedicated the entire episode to reviewing, exploring, and discussing the Paris Peace Conference and the resultant Treaty of Versailles. To do this, we've gathered a special group of experts, noted historians, authors, and to represent the listeners, a citizen historian to explore this very significant process and treaty. What happened? Why? Is what we learned in schools what happened 100 years ago? And what are some of the consequences? It's going to be a very informative experience this week on World War I Centennial News, the Doughboy Podcast, brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the Starr Foundation, and the Doughboy Foundation. I'm Theo Mayer, the chief technologist for the commission and your host. Welcome to our Treaty of Versailles special.

Since this past February, a century after a global peace conference was convened in Paris, we've been presenting, exploring, and discussing the events that transpired. This has been especially true with a series of reports presented by Mike Shuster, former NPR correspondent and the curator for the Great War Project blog. Mike's exploration of these past weeks has been fascinating, horrifying, confusing, and generally, pretty amazing. His reports have inspired us to put together today's show to explore, summarize, and maybe clarify what happened 100 years ago. As the host of this show and not a historian, just a guy who's had the privilege of exploring World War I with some of the smartest subject matter experts in the world for a nonstop 127 weeks, seeing the process of making peace has been more befuddling than following the process of making war. Granted, the war was total madness and insanity, but what is inconceivable to me is that the process of making peace seems even stranger. So, let me set this up.

Read more: Podcast Article - Historian Roundtable on the Peacemaking Process


As the GI Bill turns 75, WWI veteran Arizona's Sen. Ernest McFarland is remembered for key role 

By Ronald J. Hansen
via the Kitsap Sun newspaper (AZ) web site

Don't expect much fanfare to mark the occasion, but on Saturday one of the nation's most transformational pieces of legislation, the GI Bill of Rights, turned 75.

Ernest McFarland in Navy during WWIArizona Sen. Ernest McFarland, who was known for his role in passing the GI Bill, served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Even more lost to the passage of time is the central role that Sen. Ernest McFarland, an Arizona Democrat, played in shaping what is widely credited with helping fuel America’s post-war economic boom.

McFarland, who later rose to the position of Senate majority leader, helped stitch together competing ideas for the 1944 plan to help World War II's veterans when they returned from service.

McFarland was known to many as "Mac" and had the distinction of serving not only as U.S. senator, but as Arizona governor and chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

But the native Oklahoman also quietly carried another nickname: "father of the GI Bill."

"It was an amazing, amazing investment in human capital in this country at a time when this country desperately needed human capital, and continues to thrive to this day," said David Lucier, founder of the nonprofit Arizona Veterans and Military Leadership Alliance.

"The GI Bill of 1944 was one of the most significant and impactful pieces of legislation in American history," said Glenn Altschuler, a professor of American studies at Cornell University and co-author of "The GI Bill: A New Deal for Veterans."

"It had an immense impact on the transition from war to peace, a tremendous impact on the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s, and produced among the Greatest Generation a wonderful and important sense of pride and citizenship. If ever there was a piece of legislation that showed government can work in behalf of the American people, it was the GI Bill."

McFarland was a World War I veteran

Like much of World War II itself, the seeds for the GI Bill grew out of World War I.

McFarland graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1917 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as the nation joined the fighting in World War I.

Read more: As the GI Bill turns 75, WWI veteran Arizona's Sen. Ernest McFarland is remembered for key role


Court Rules Bladensburg WWI Peace Cross Can Stand On Public Land 

By Richard Wolf
via the USA Today newspaper web site

World War I Memorial Bladensburg Maryland 400World War I Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland.WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a gigantic Latin cross on government land in Bladensburg, Maryland, does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.

The justices reasoned that the 40-foot cross was erected nearly a century ago as a World War I memorial, not an endorsement of Christianity. Although their verdict could extend to other existing monuments, it does not offer a blank check to new ones.

The opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito concluded that the display does not violate the Constitution's establishment clause because of its longevity and multiple messages. The vote was 7-2; Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

"The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent," Alito said. "A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine, will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion."

The ruling protects what Alito called similar "ceremonial, celebratory or commemorative" monuments.

"Where monuments, symbols, and practices with a longstanding history follow in the tradition of the First Congress in respecting and tolerating different views, endeavoring to achieve inclusivity and nondiscrimination, and recognizing the important role religion plays in the lives of many Americans, they are likewise constitutional," he said.

Ginsburg dissented from the bench and in writing. "Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation," she wrote.

It was another in a series of high court decisions defending religious freedom, from allowing public prayer and allocating public funds to exempting religious objectors from laws regarding contraception and same-sex marriage. 

The question before the court was simple: Does the 93-year-old "Peace Cross" violate the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion?

Even if the answer was yes, few of the justices who heard the case in February wanted to see it moved, altered or demolished. Conceived in 1919 by bereaved mothers of the fallen and completed by the American Legion six years later, the war memorial has become part of the town's landscape.

Read more: Supreme Court Rules Bladensburg WWI Peace Cross Can Stand On Public Land


Vandals spray-paint WWI Memorial in KC 

By Robert A. Cronkleton
via the Kansas City Star newspaper (MO) web site

graffitiSpray-painted graffiti on the dedication wall of the Liberty MemorialPolice are looking for two people who vandalized the Dedication Wall of the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City early Tuesday, June 18.

The vandals struck about 1 a.m. at the Liberty Memorial at 2 Memorial Drive, when two people were seen spray-painting graffiti on the wall, which is located on the northern edge of the Museum and Memorial Grounds near Pershing Road.

A witness told police that the vandals sprayed in red paint the words “Glory to the fallen martyrs . . .” before running away. The graffiti appears to reference the June 1986 prison revolts in Peru where 250 inmates died.

The Dedication Wall holds the bronze busts of the five Allied leaders — Gen. Baron Jacques of Belgium, Gen. Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, Gen. John J. Pershing of the United States, and Sir Admiral Earl David Beatty of Great Britain — present during the site dedication on Nov. 1, 1921.

In addition to the words, the vandals also spray-painted “Xs” across the leaders’ faces.

Read more: Vandals spray-paint WWI Memorial in KC


Eva Crowell plaqueLyons native Eva Crowell served as a nurse in World War I. Above is the tile commemorating her service on the Lyons Veterans Memorial on Main Street. 

The story of Eva Crowell 

By Mary Fritts
via the Lyons Mirror-Sun newspaper (NB) web site

My story began with noticing three log-shaped monuments with World War I and the same last name on them. One inscription read Eva Crowell, WWI nurse. Being the only woman from Lyons to serve in WWI, I wanted to learn her story.

I accessed Lyons newspapers back to the late 1800's through the Lyons Public Library website, and found that Eva graduated from Lyons High School. She trained to be a teacher, and after teaching for four years, got her nursing degree in Lincoln, followed by post-graduate nursing in Los Angeles, CA. She enlisted, as did her brother, Ralph. While they were in different military training camps awaiting transport to France, their sister Clara died of influenza.

I thought that might have bearing on the three log monuments, arranged in advance, with two heading to war, and losing another to influenza.

The Mirror-Sun articles identify Eva as a Red Cross nurse. When she got overseas, her first months were spent working in an Evacuation Hospital in Treves (now known as Trier), Germany. She also worked in France. Articles upon her return encouraged local individuals to offer her their appreciation for all that she had done for the troops overseas. It was suggested that she deserved a gold medal.

I thought, why not get a tile for Eva on the new Lyons Veterans Plaza memorial? So I did, and since the information I had identified her as a Red Cross nurse, we added that symbol for her tile. Even before America entered the war, Red Cross nurses had been serving and helping in other European countries.

Then, a few weeks later, I found an article including information her family shared with the paper. 

In September of 1945, Eva had been invited to a reception for General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, who was the highest ranking officer held as a prisoner of war by the Japanese, of which he was for three years.  Upon his release, he was welcomed at the Veterans Hospital in his hometown of Walla Walla, WA.  Eva said that it was one of her most memorable experiences to have met and shaken hands with him.  He had been in the Argonne offense when she was a nurse at Hospital Base 49 during WWI.

Now I had a solid clue. I found Eva's name on the list of 100 nurses at Base Hospital 49, near Allerey, France.  

Read more: The story of Eva Crowell

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Education: Toolkits for WWI Educators with Dr. Jennifer Zoebelein

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In June 7th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 126, host Theo Mayer interviewed historian Dr. Jennifer Zoebelein from the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Continue reading to learn more about her new project creating WWI-focused Toolkits for educators. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Theo Mayer: Each year nearly three thousand students with their families and teachers gather at the University of Maryland College Park for a week-long event. It's the finals of National History Day. In 2019, the finals are running from June 9 to June 13 as these enthusiastic groups gather from all 50 United States, Washington DC, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico; and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia. Last year the US World War I Centennial Commission brought together an education partnership or consortium that includes the Commission, National History Day, the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Our next two guests are part of that initiative, as we're first joined by Dr. Jennifer Zoebelein, who's a special projects historian at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and recently took on directing a Commission project to create a series of World War I focused Educators' Toolkits generally sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Then, we're also going to speak with Ron Nash, who's a senior education fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, to explore their part in the education initiative, but first, Dr. Zoebelein. Jennifer, welcome to the podcast.

Dr. Jennifer Z.: Thank you, Theo, thank you for having me.

jennifer zoebeleinDr. Jennifer ZoebeleinTheo Mayer: Jennifer, let me start with a moment of reflecting on your career and your work. Now, you've done some really interesting project with the museum with the National Parks Service, with the New York Historical Society. What inspired you to become so involved with history and what are some of your favorite projects that you've done?

Dr. Jennifer Z.: I was very fortunate growing up as a junior high and high school student to have really great history teachers, and I really credit them with making me the historian that I am today. They just instilled in me a passion for history and enthusiasm for history, and I've always carried that forward with me regardless of the subject matter. I truly enjoy sharing that history with people, with the public, with students, with an array of audiences. Probably my favorite project that I've ever worked on was while I was with the National Park Service at Fort Sumter in Charleston. I was very fortunate to be there during the sesquicentennial of the firing on Fort Sumter in 2011. To be part of something like that, to be at a site like that exactly 150 years after that momentous event was truly something wonderful. I don't know that I'll ever be able to repeat something like that throughout the rest of my career.

Theo Mayer: That's great. Bringing history to life.

Dr. Jennifer Z.: Yes, absolutely. It's very important and it makes it relevant for people today.

Read more: Podcast Article - Dr. Zeobelein Interview


KC bugle player will help honor veterans and fallen soldiers 

By Jordan Betts
via the KSHB Kansas City television station (MO) web site

John GreenJohn GreenFor the next week, there will be a special ceremony held at the National WWI Museum and Memorial each night.

The event will focus on honoring those who have served or currently serving, as well as those who gave their lives in the line of duty.

It's called "Taps at the Tower" and will happen at sunset each evening.

"We have a presentation of colors, a wreath is laid, a reading from the great frieze on the north side of the memorial and then Taps is played," Dr. Matt Naylor, President and CEO of the museum and memorial said.

One of the people playing Taps is John Green. He plays it the traditional way by playing the bugle.

"I started playing in the eighth grade, about 1955," Green said.

He said there are not many bugle players left in the nation.

"Originally, they didn't have radios and telephones. So, the only way they could signal troops to do what they wanted them to do was to use a bugle," Green said.

He wears a replica WWI uniform while he plays the funeral and remembrance song.

Read more: KC bugle player will help honor veterans and fallen soldiers


WWI home front featured at Lindbergh site for one more summer 

By Tyler Jensen
via the Morrison County Record newspaper (MN) web site

Over the last several summers, visitors to the Charles Lindbergh Historical Site have had the chance to take a look into the lives of people on the home front of World War I, thanks to volunteers and staff reenacting life on the Lindbergh property at the time.

5cfe9c9de1d63.imageVolunteer Margaret Lundberg portrays Mrs. Stevenson at the Lindbergh Historical Site and shows a wartime meal schedule including meatless and wheatless days.That will come to an end after this summer.

In its final year, visitors can come enjoy the program Saturday June 15, July 6, July 20, Aug. 3, Aug. 17 and Aug. 31.

Among the people guests will run into is Margaret Lundberg, who among other characters, has acted as area resident Mrs. Stevenson.

Through a tour of the Lindbergh home, Lundberg shows some of the things people went through during the war.

For instance, due to rationing, food schedules were developed where families planned for days when there would be no wheat and/or meat served, Lundberg said.

This led to eating habits that continue to today, she said.

“This is when they started serving potatoes at breakfast. You wouldn’t have eggs and toast because you were going wheatless,” Lundberg said.

Another food trend that developed from the war was eating chicken. At the time, chickens were scrawny and viewed as only good for laying eggs, Lundberg said.

“We did not eat chicken in 1917,” she said.

Read more: WWI home front featured at Lindbergh site for one more summer

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