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World War I Centennial News



Group 1 NYC ParksWorld War I Memorials restored by NYC Parks (left to right): Bronx Victory Memorial, Ridgewood War Memorial; Greenpoint War Memorial.

Kudos to the NYC Parks Conservation Team for their work on World War I Memorials

By Jonathan Kuhn
Director, Art & Antiquities, NYC Parks

The World War I Centennial may be over, but the NYC Parks continue our mission and mandate to preserve our touchstones of the past, including all of the 102 World War I monuments in our city’s parks.

In the run up to Memorial Day, the NYC Parks' small but dedicated field staff were engaged in ongoing care of many World War I memorials. This work included detailed cleaning, waxing, and minor repairs.

Leading this team of professionals was Steven Drago, Monuments Conservation Technician, Victor Riddick, Monuments Conservation Technician, and John Saunders, Monuments Conservation Manager.

Attached are a few representative photos of relevant sites where this amazing team made special effort. As you can see, the special care given to these historic treasures is clearly evident.

Of special note -- the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s sculpture of the Washington Heights-Inwood War Memorial was repaired last fall (we replaced the missing bayonet) with support from various donors, including the Centennial Commission's 100 Cities/100 Memorials program.

Read more: Kudos to the NYC Parks Conservation Team for their work on World War I Memorials


 Riverdale Memorial Belltower 1345 replica door 300Detail of the new entryway to the Riverdale Memorial Bell Tower

One Door Closes and another Opens: Historic Riverdale, NY Memorial Bell Tower Entryway Refurbished with Replica Portal 

By Jonathan Kuhn
Director, Art & Antiquities, NYC Parks

NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program (CMCP), a public-private partnership, recently commissioned a precise replica of the severely deteriorated oak door at this landmark monument.

The new door was fashioned by master carpenter Tim Fagin, and reuses the original forged decorative ironwork. The project was supported in part by a $2,000 award from the US World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials Grant Program, with oversight by NYC Parks Art & Antiquities.

The Riverdale Bell Tower, a 500-ton rustic Collegiate Gothic-styled stone tower designed by Dwight James Baum (1886-1939), features nine bronze honor rolls that list the names of more than 700 local residents of Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil and Kingsbridge who served and 29 who died in World War I.

The tower dates to 1930, resembles an Ivy League campanile and houses a historic bell, which was cast in Spain in 1762 and captured by General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War.

In 2007 CMCP restored the lower portion of the monument and conserved the honor rolls. In 2011 the bell tower was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. 

Read more: One Door Closes and another Opens: Historic Riverdale, NY Memorial Bell Tower Entryway Refurbished...


New Online Exhibition "The Volunteers: Americans Join WWI"

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

recuriting poster for the American Field ServiceRecruiting poster for the American Field ServiceIn Europe alone, World War I displaced approximately 10 million people. In 2017, an unprecedented 68.5 million people worldwide were forced to leave their homes, including more than 25 million by war and violence.

Now available online, "The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I" examines the stories of the young men and women who transformed the meaning of volunteerism. Prompted by altruism, personal ambition, a search for adventure or hope for an Allied-led redemption of a devastated Europe, these American volunteers engaged in the war before the United States entered the conflict. This digital exhibition, produced in collaboration with AFS Intercultural Programs, shares their inspirational stories.

The online exhibition can be found here:!/

Individual Americans immediately volunteered for humanitarian and military service primarily with the Allies after World War I broke out in 1914. They volunteered as ambulance and truck drivers, as hospital workers, as flyers, as doctors and nurses. They crossed into Canada and received military training and were sent to Europe to fight under Allied flags. Americans joined the French Foreign Legion.

They volunteered for adventure. They volunteered to see the world even one torn by war. They volunteered for the better good. They volunteered because their friends did. They volunteered because they wanted to make a difference.

All volunteers’ contributions were without bounds and absolutely necessary. Some gave their lives. Their contributions are often shown through individual accounts and documents in this special exhibition produced by the National World War I Museum and Memorial in collaboration with AFS Intercultural Programs.

American volunteer organizations contributed immensely to the well-being and welfare of the American men and women serving the American military, but also to peoples in the war-torn countries around the globe. Volunteers from such widely varied organizations such as the American Field Service, YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association), YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association), American Library Association and countless other local, regional and national groups provided labor, food, entertainment, physical and emotional support and respite from the war.

Read more: New Online Exhibition "The Volunteers: Americans Join WWI"



Park University to Host Valor Medals Review Program at National WWI Museum and Memorial 

By Dr. Timothy Westcott

In mid-April, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and Park University announced that they were spearheading the effort of a Congress-led systematic review of minority veterans who served in World War I who may have been denied the Medal of Honor due to race.

Information on that effort can be found on the Centennial Commission's web site at

On Wednesday, June 19, the University will host a program “From Kansas City to Washington, D.C.: World War I Valor Medals Review,” at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Mo., starting at 6:30 p.m. Admission to the event is free and open to the public, but attendees should RSVP at

A Park University Spencer Cave Black History Month lecture in February 2016 that featured a discussion about the role a white Park alumnus and World War I hero played as the leader of the mostly black 369th Regiment of New York (known as the “Harlem Hellfighters”) served as the inspiration of a multi-partner initiative to undertake this review. The Valor Medals Review is being conducted by the University’s George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War and the Valor Medals Review Task Force which was formed in August 2018 in conjunction with the Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars on behalf of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The Robb Centre’s namesake was a 1912 Park University graduate and a 1919 Medal of Honor recipient.

The interactive program will include Park University panelists Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., director of the Robb Centre and associate professor of history, and Bridget Locke, director of strategic communications. Both are members of the Valor Medals Review Task Force, of which Westcott is the co-chair. The discussion will be moderated by Kimberlee Ried, public affairs specialist, National Archives at Kansas City. The event will describe the three-year journey of the effort thus far, some of the stories that have been uncovered along the way and the intense research work which lies ahead, which will take five to seven years to complete.

Read more: Park University to Host Valor Medals Review Program at National WWI Museum and Memorial


AR 190609364Dedication ceremonies in Jefferson County, Georgia for a new memorial honoring 26 County men who gave their lives in service to their country during WWI

They will not be forgotten 

By Parish Howard
via the Augusta Chronicle newspaper (GA) web site

The names of 26 Jefferson County men who gave their lives in service to their country during WWI were revealed, etched in granite, on a new monument in the newly redesigned veterans plaza on the county courthouse lawn Thursday, June 6.

The previous monuments to service men and women who served in other United States wars were removed, cleaned and replaced around the flagpole in a design inspired by a military star, Commission Chair Mitchell McGraw explained.

“This veterans plaza originally started last year with Dr. Lamar Veatch, a Jefferson County native and member of the WWI Commission who brought the idea of a WWI memorial to the board of commissioners and historical society,” McGraw said. “The commissioners tasked the historical society with raising funds from private donors for the memorial.”

The Louisville Garden Club helped redesign the placement of all of the memorials on the grounds.

This was all done to honor the memories of fallen heroes, McGraw said.

Dr. Lamar Veatch, who works with both the United States and Georgia WWI Centennial Commissions called WWI “the war that changed everything, the war that changed the world.” He told those gathered on the courthouse lawn Thursday that these organizations have been working to help Georgians remember all of the sacrifices that were made during that conflict.

Veatch personally has worked on both a photo inventory of all WWI monuments in the state and a list of all Georgian WWI soldiers they could identify who died in combat.

“We have a database online of about 4,069 names, 1,400 of which are African American names and that particular part of our community got a pretty short shrift when it came to recognition after WWI so we were particularly interested in making sure we recognize contributions of the African American community from Georgia,” Veatch said. “We brought this to the commissioners’ attention, the Jefferson County Historical Society jumped onboard and now we will have a monument out here that has 26 names on it to represent the soldiers from Jefferson County who died in service.”

Read more: They will not be forgotten

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Events: "Votes for Women" Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. with Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay  

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In May 24th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 124, host Theo Mayer interviewed Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay, a historian at the National Portrait Gallery in downtown Washington, D.C. Dr. Lemay curated the new "Votes for Women: Portrait of Persistence" exhibit at the Portrait Gallery. Read on to learn more about the exhibit, the history of the women's suffrage movement, and how the movement intersected with World War I. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Theo Mayer: We're coming up on another a very important centennial, in large part affected by the war that changed the world. That's the centennial of the American woman's right to vote. In the coming weeks, we're going to be covering this in much more detail. But to get us going, today, we're joined by Dr. Kate Clarke Lemay, a historian at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery where she directs its scholarly center portal. The Gallery has a new exhibit that opened on March 29th that will run through the end of the year called "Votes for Women: Portrait of Persistence." The exhibit will outline the more than 80-year movement for women to obtain the right to vote as a part of the larger struggle for equality that continues through the 1965 Civil Rights Act and up through the present day. Kate, welcome to the podcast.

staff katelDr. Kate Clarke LemayKate Clark-Lemay: Thank you for having me.

Theo Mayer: Kate, before we get into the exhibit itself, could you give us a quick profile of the National Portrait Gallery, its history, mission, what it offers the public?

Kate C. Lemay: The National Portrait Gallery endeavors to tell the story of America through biography, so we are a history museum and an art museum, and in that sense, we use portraiture to demonstrate the impact of individuals in American history.

Theo Mayer: Now, onto the exhibit, "Votes for Women, a Portrait of Persistence." Can you tell us about it and how it came to be?

Kate C. Lemay: Sure. I'd be happy to. I proposed this exhibition way back in late 2015, so I was working on it for almost four years. I knew that the 2020 centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment was a golden opportunity to really focus on American women's history and put it in the spotlight in a way that has not been done before. I jumped at the chance to put this exhibition together. It has 124 objects, and it features more than 60 portraits, so more than 60 different women.

Read more: Podcast Article - Votes for Women Exhibit with Dr. Clarke Lemay

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

100 Years Ago This Week: The Middle East   

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From May 24th's edition of the WWI Centennial News Podcast, Episode 124:  

Let's jump into our centennial time machine and look at the Middle East 100 years ago with a report from podcast researcher and writer, David Kramer. A major challenge, and one that frustrates President Wilson time after time, comes from the wartime agreements between nations, oftentimes secret, that addressed short-term war needs but created long-term headaches. With that in mind, let's take a look at the Middle East.

sykes picotThe Sykes-Picot treaty divided the post-war Middle East into French and British ruled areasA prime example of what we're talking about is a 1916 secret agreement between the United Kingdom and France called the Sykes-Picot treaty. Under Sykes-Picot, France and England decide that France is going to control the Syrian coast in much of today's Lebanon. Meanwhile, England takes control of a large part of what was then called Mesopotamia. That's today's southern and central Iraq. Palestine is to become home to both Palestinians and Jews and by French and British agreement will be under international control. In addition, the inland portion of Syria, northern Iraq and Jordan are to be given some limited local rule but will be under the watchful eye of the French. Meanwhile, regardless of that treaty, as World War I wraps up, Britain, who already holds a lot of influence in Persia, today's Iran, decides to seize a big hunk of the new oil-producing region of Mesopotamia for their kingdom. Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, now believes not only that the French shouldn't have oversight of such a large region, but that the international control of Palestine isn't really necessary. Britain can handle that on her own. In other words, Sykes-Picot is trashed.

The British now propose only a small area go to France and honor the 1917 pledge to reserve an area for the Jewish homeland in Palestine. Greece is at the center of two important secret agreements. The Allies reward Italy for entering the war on their side by giving them an island group currently belonging to Greece. At the same time, Greece is to gain the largely Greek-populated region of Smyrna on the Turkish coast.

Read more: Podcast Article - The Middle East 100 Years ago


A “Special” Memorial Day…

WWI Memorial in Covington, Ohio honors over 250 men who served 

 via the and web sites

The 2019 Memorial Day festivities were like no other as the Village of Covington honored those residents who fought in Word War I with a monument. Nearly 300 Covington servicemen fought in Word War I with the United States Army’s 148th Infantry Regiment in the battles to liberate Belgium in 1918. On hand to represent Belgium in paying respects for the sacrifices of the Covington servicemen who sacrificed on behalf of freedom was Lieutenant Colonel Heidi Libert of the Belgian Armed Forces.

Covington’s World War I Centennial Monument was made possible thanks to generous donations that raised over $40,000 – a project spearheaded by Jay Wackler, a 1961 Covington graduate and David Frank, a 1967 Covington graduate.

WORLD WAR 1; Company A left El Paso, Texas and entered Fort Benjamin Harrison to be mustered out but as world war was imminent, the order was recalled. After a short stay at Fort Benjamin Harrison, they were sent to Ohio on guard duty. On August 14, 1917 they were ordered to Camp Sherman near Chillicothe and later became part of the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, U. S. Army. They were also stationed at Camp Sheriden (Montgomery, Ala.) and Camp Lee at Petersburgh, Virginia. On June 23, 1918, they embarked for overseas service on the U. S. S. Susquehanna and on July 5, 1918 landed at Brest, France and a short time later were detailed for. service on the Alsace- Lorraine front. They also served at Vosges Mountains, Robert- Espange, Verdun, Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel, St. Jean, Weltje, Belgium, Olsene, Bellow Wood and Ypres. They returned to the United States March 28, 1919 and were discharged in April of that year.

Read more: WWI Memorial in Covington, OH honors over 250 men who served


369th homecomingThe 369th Infantry Division Band forms up to participate in an American Expeditionary Force homecoming parade in New York City in 1919.

 Lawmakers push for a World War I medal review to ensure minorities get the recognition they deserve

By Haley Britzky
via the web site

House lawmakers are pushing for a Pentagon review of valor awards given out for service in World War I to ensure that minorities are getting the recognition they deserve.

Draft language of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act from the House Armed Services Committee, unveiled on Monday, pushes for the Defense Department to "review the service records of certain African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, Jewish American, and Native American war veterans to ensure that minority service members are appropriately recognized for their valorous service."

In the Senate, a standalone bill was introduced in April by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), which calls for service secretaries to conduct a similar review of veterans of their branch. It has received bipartisan support, though a spokesperson for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who is a cosponsor, told Task & Purpose that the language is not yet in the Senate's version of the NDAA, but could be added later.

Communications director for Van Hollen, Bridgett Frey, told Task & Purpose that the senator "continues to work with Senate leadership to push for passage of this important bipartisan legislation."

To be eligible for the review, according to the Senate's legislation, the veteran must have been awarded either the Distinguished Service Cross or the Navy Cross for action; the Croix de Guerre with Palm by the French government; or been recommended for a Medal of Honor for action taken between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918.

The House Armed Services Committee's draft language lays out the same eligibility requirements, and says the service secretaries should consult with the Valor Medals Review Task Force, and other veteran organizations that the Secretary deems appropriate.

Read more: Lawmakers push for a WWI medal review to ensure minorities get the recognition they deserve


extra large 1558694788 cover imageWalter Reed Hospital flu ward during the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1919. Despite its name, it's been long established that the World War I  pandemic didn’t start in Spain.

How vaccines and vigilance could have stopped the World War I pandemic 

By Tom Hale
via the web site

Just one century ago, the world was in the grips of one of the deadliest pandemics in history. At least 50 million people – 3 percent of the world's population – were killed by the Spanish influenza pandemic that swept across the planet, considerably more lives lost than in World War I, which was also occurring at the time.

While much has changed since this chapter of the 20th century ended, the story of Spanish flu still holds a valuable lesson in not underestimating the pathogens we share Earth with. As a new study has detailed, the outbreak sharply highlights the importance of vaccination programs and the risks of complacency when it comes to communicable diseases in the globalized world.

Writing in the journal Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, a virologist and historian have detailed how the Spanish flu emerged from humble beginnings and took over the world in a matter of years. They argue that the Spanish flu may have emerged in Europe two years earlier than previously thought at sometime around 1915. For these two years, the virus was largely ignored and brushed off as a “minor respiratory infection”.

By the time it was taken seriously, around 1918, the virus had mutated into a whole other kind of beast and it was too late to roll out effective vaccination programs.

"In essence, the virus must have mutated. It lost a great deal of its virulence but gained a marked ability to spread," study author Professor John S. Oxford, the UK's top expert on influenza, said in a press release. "Recent experiments with a pre-pandemic 'bird flu' called H5N1, deliberately mutated in the laboratory, have shown that as few as five mutations could have permitted this change to take place."

"Once the virus is able to spread from human to human, disaster strikes. With a generation time of two to three days, from just three patients who were infected originally, a million infections can be caused in around 40 days, and this is probably exactly what happened in 1918-1919," Professor Oxford and Douglas Gill, a military historian, conclude in their paper.

Read more: How Vaccines And Vigilance Could Have Stopped The Worst Pandemic Of Modern Times


61273959 10156324641797546 469996364235800576 oStaff members and volunteers of the United States World War I Centennial Commission helped spread the word about the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC during Fleet Week NY 2019. (from left) Margaret Frontera, NJ American Legion Post 136; Kathy Abbott, WWICC staff; Lindsey Mulholland & Alex Hasni, United War Veterans Council (UWVC)' Ernesto G Diaz USMC 1st SGT (Ret.) & War Veterans Council.

2019 Fleet Week New York is a Wrap! 

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

2019 Fleet Week New York is one for the books. Now in its 31st year, FWNY is the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.

This year was unique in that Fleet Week New York was also a celebration of a tradition of service. Fleet Week 2019 had a special World War I theme, an as such, included a number of activities -- concerts, exhibits, events, ceremonies, etc. -- to tell the story of World War I, and remember its heroes.

Five U.S. Navy ships, one Royal Canadian Navy vessel and one Military Sealift Command ship participated in 2019 Fleet Week New York, and more than 51,000 people visited the Navy and Coast Guard ships during the weeklong event.

There, they were treated to displays and interactions with teams of Centennial Commission Living History experts, in World War I period uniforms, with period gear. They also learned about World War I genealogy, and were given free opportunities to start their research. Visitors to the ships' piers also learned about our new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC, and how to support it.

Read more: 2019 Fleet Week New York is a Wrap!


USSSanDiego1 Eureka Times StandardThe U.S WWI Centennial Commission unveils a new memorial plaque honoring the crew of the U.S. Navy WWI heavy cruiser USS San Diego during Fleet Week New York. The plaque honors the USS San Diego, which was sunk by enemy action off the coast of New York’s Fire Island over a hundred years ago, and the six U.S. Navy sailors who were lost in the tragedy. A Blue Lake resident was among those honored. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for U.S. WWI Centennial Commission)  

Blue Lake man who died in World War I honored in New York’s Fleet Week 

By Dan Squier
via the Eureka Times-Standard newspaper (CA) web site

The story of how a Humboldt County native’s name, alongside those of five other U.S. Navy sailors, ended up on a memorial plaque in New York City on Tuesday begins in 1918 — the final year of World War I.

In July of that year a mine laid by a German U-boat off the coast of Fire Island, New York, detonated against the hull of the USS San Diego. Within 30 minutes, the armored cruiser launched from the Union Iron Works shipyard in San Francisco in 1904 under its original name, the USS California, had flipped over and sunk beneath the Atlantic waves. The ship came to rest upside down on the seafloor.

One of the sailors who perished that summer day in 1918 was 24-year-old Blue Lake native James F. Rochat, born in 1894 to George and Catharine Rochat in Humboldt County. According to historical records from the Naval History and Heritage Command, Rochat died instantly in the explosion. The cruiser was the only capital ship the Navy lost in WWI.

“The ship was a heavy armored cruiser and it still only took 28 minutes for her to go down,” said Chris Isleib, director of public affairs for the WWI Centennial Commission, the organization that organized the commemoration of the San Diego at Fleet Week in New York City. “One of the first things the San Diego was involved in was the mission of the Navy to transport troops to Europe in convoys. In less than a year, the Americans were able to deliver nearly two million troops from our eastern shores to France. You’re talking about U-boat infested waters. The Germans had almost 400 U-boats out there.”

Read more: Blue Lake man who died in World War I honored in New York’s Fleet Week


NE corner entrySet within a historic modern urban park, the memorial will activate an underutilized space in downtown D.C.

National WWI Memorial moves ahead with Pershing Park plan

By Sydney Franklin
via the The Architect's Newspaper (NY) web site

Years ago, Frank Gehry asked sculptor Sabin Howard to help him design a memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. Though the job didn’t pan out for “stylistic reasons,” Howard said, it planted the seed that grew his interest in creating commemorative spaces.

“I proved to have too much of an opinion,” Howard told AN. “I said to Frank, ‘Look, do you want me to be your in-house sculptor or you want me to tell you what I really think?’ He goes, ‘Shoot,” and I said, “Well it looks like you designed the Natural History Museum here.”

Had he taken the job, Howard would have been engulfed in what’s turned out to be a two-decade-long controversial battle to get the memorial built ahead of the 2020 Victory in Europe Day. While he didn’t end up on this monumental project in the nation’s capital, he did venture into the complexities of another.

This spring, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) approved Howard’s sculptural contribution to the upcoming National WWI Memorial in Pershing Park, a 1.76-acre landscape set along Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C. Designed by Joseph Weishaar, “The Weight of Sacrifice” is the result of another two-decade controversial effort to pay tribute to an often overlooked period of history. A Soldier’s Journey, Howard’s massive, 60-foot-long, 10-foot-high bronze figure sculpture, will be the centerpiece of the renovated landscape, and a major component of the project that took years for preservationists and the U.S. government to sign off on.

“As an entire team, we struggled with the urban context at the beginning,” said Weishaar, who was selected for the project just a few years after graduating from the University of Arkansas’s Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in 2013. “Where do you draw the boundaries between urban park and memorial?”

Read more: National WWI Memorial moves ahead with Pershing Park plan

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