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World War I Centennial News


 

National World War One Memorial Design Competition

Over 350 Stage I Design Entries Received

WASHINGTON, DC - (Updated August 5, 2015) The deadline for entries for Stage I of the Design Competition for the National World War One Memorial in Washington DC passed on Tuesday July 21, at 3:00 p.m. EDT, with over 350 entries submitted.

Pershing Park Satellite View

The selected memorial site is Pershing Park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW.

"Special thank you to those who submitted designs for our WW1 Memorial Design Competition!" said Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. "The support for this open competition has been overwhelming, with over 350 projects sent in.

"The jury review process of the design concepts for our World War One Memorial competition will continue for a few more days. As announced earlier, the response to the competition has been strong, with over 350 people participating, from all over the world, from many different backgrounds. The public comment participation has also been strong, with over 700 comments submitted, for the jury to consider.

"We plan to announce the names of the competition finalist designers in the coming days. These finalists will compete in the second stage, and the winner will be selected from one of those designs."

 

Read more: Over 350 Entries in World War One Memorial Design Competition

Commission meets with Congress to increase visibility of commemoration

A delegation from the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission visited Capitol Hall July 21-23, meeting with Representatives and Senators to increase Congressional visibility and support of the  Commission's efforts to commemorate and educate the U.S. public about the service and sacrifices of Americans during WWI.

The delegation was led by the Chair of the Commission, Colonel Robert J. Dalessandro, USA (Ret.) and Commissioner Tom Moe, and includes the Commission's senior advisor for development, General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.). The visit to the Hill kicked off with a brief media event on Tuesday, July 21, taking place on the east side grassy area outside the U.S. Senate at 10 a.m. EDT. The event featured remarks by General McCaffrey, Representative Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Dalessandro.

The delegation visited the offices of 34 different Representatives and Senators for meetings. Among those lawmakers hosting with the Commission team were: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio); Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Minority Leader; and Representative Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Read more: Commission meets with Congress

Forgotten Story of American Writers on Front Lines of World War I

Henry James

By Hazel Hutchison
Senior Lecturer at University of Aberdeen
from The Conversation

It was a very public gesture for a very private man. On July 26 1915, the novelist Henry James gave up his American nationality and became a British citizen. He placed a notice in The Times explaining why.

He had lived in England for almost 40 years, he said, and had formed many “long friendships and associations”, but it was the war raging in Europe that had cemented his “desire to throw his weight and personal allegiance, for whatever they may be worth, into the scale of the contending nation’s present and future fortune”.

To intensify public interest, James asked H H Asquith, the British prime minister, to sign as one of his personal sponsors – each of whom had to testify that this celebrated author of some 20 novels and 100 short stories was capable of “speaking and writing English decently”. Even in the dark days of 1915, that must have raised a smile.

James was quite serious, however. For him, as for many Americans, the war in Europe was much more than a local squabble about geopolitical boundaries or a struggle for influence in the colonies. He called it the “crash of civilization”. To a post-evolution generation, brought up to believe that the biological world and social structures were all programmed to progress towards perfection, this vast and brutal conflict meant the collapse of an entire world view.

It was, James wrote to a friend, as if they had all been drifting placidly along to the edge of some “grand Niagara”. He was bewildered that the US government seemed willing to sit back and observe, especially after the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 by a German U-boat with the loss of 124 American lives.

Read more: Forgotten Story of American Writers on Front Lines of World War I

World premiere exhibit of "The Passion of Edith Cavell" in Washington, D.C.

Whelan

As part of Washington National Cathedral’s commemoration of the start of World War One, the cathedral hosted an exhibit of Brian Whelan’s “Passion of Edith Cavell” on July 24, featuring a talk by the artist, and a discussion of World War One poetry by the Cathedral's Dean. The exhibit remained at theCathedral through September 18.

Cavell (1865–1915) was an International Red Cross nurse, known as a humanitarian who gave her life to the cause of her fellow human beings and who treated British, German, Belgian, and French soldiers alike during World War One. Commissioned to hang at Cavell’s final resting place in Norwich Cathedral, “The Passion of Edith Cavell” will embark on an international tour between its initial showing in Washingto Cathedral and final installation in the UK.

Beyond commemorating the bravery and humanitarian actions of one woman, the work also aims to document the often-forgotten, but highly important, role of women in World War One and other conflicts. Click here for more information on the event and to watch video of the opening remarks and the artist's talk.

Celebrating the 4th of July during World War I

The day the Stars and Stripes flew from Victoria tower 

US Troops in Perth Scotland 1918 cutlineBy Stuart Irwin

The Fourth of July holiday is an occasion for the United States of America to celebrate and commemorate the birth of the nation. It is interesting to recall how this holiday was celebrated during the years America participated in World War One. The entry of the United States into the war provided a massive boost to the Allied powers and marked a significant moment in the conflict.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the July 4 holiday excited much interest among the Allied powers. In 1917, The Times newspaper, in London, claimed that ‘[t]here have been many memorable Fourths of July in the past one hundred and forty-one years, but never one so pregnant with the drama of great events as this’. For example, by the order of the King, the stars and stripes flew from Victoria tower.

Read more: How they celebrated July 4th During WWI

The day the Stars and Stripes flew from Victoria tower 

Celebrating the 4th of July during World War I

US Troops in Perth Scotland 1918 cutlineBy Stuart Irwin

The Fourth of July holiday is an occasion for the United States of America to celebrate and commemorate the birth of the nation. It is interesting to recall how this holiday was celebrated during the years America participated in World War One. The entry of the United States into the war provided a massive boost to the Allied powers and marked a significant moment in the conflict.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the July 4 holiday excited much interest among the Allied powers. In 1917, The Times newspaper, in London, claimed that ‘[t]here have been many memorable Fourths of July in the past one hundred and forty-one years, but never one so pregnant with the drama of great events as this’. For example, by the order of the King, the stars and stripes flew from Victoria tower.

The celebrations in France were even more extravagant. The New York Times reported on July 4, 1918 that ‘Paris turned out today as almost never in its history to celebrate the Fourth of July. The French capital not only extended a royal welcome to the Americans here, but made a thorough holiday of the day on its own account.’ The events included American troops marching through the city, where they were welcomed by ‘[c]rowds of people that jammed every available inch of space and every window in the buildings along the line of march, on roofs, and even in trees, cheered themselves hoarse’. Most notably, a ceremony was held to mark the renaming of Avenue du President Wilson.

Read more: The Day the Stars and Stripes flew from Victoria Tower

Centennial of RMS Lusitania sinking marked by Commission with May 7 events in New York and Washington, DC

On Thursday, May 7th, 2015, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission will host two commemorative events to honor the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915. Both events are free and open to the public.

In New York City, at 10 a.m. EDT, there will be a wreath-laying ceremony at Pier A in Battery Park, with honored guests and descendants of Lusitania passengers. The location is symbolic, as it houses the first dedicated memorial to World War One in the United States. Further, the location overlooks the Statue of Liberty, and is not far from Pier 54, where the RMS Lusitania departed on her final voyage one hundred years ago.

In Washington, DC, at 6:30 p.m. EDT, the Commission will host a panel discussion with noted historians at the National Press Club. The panel will include: John Maxwell Hamilton from Louisiana State University, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Professor Richard Striner from Washington College, an expert on President Wilson; and RADM Samuel Cox (USN, Retired), the Director of the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command. The panel will be moderated by noted national correspondent Gil Klein. Discussion will focus on the wartime role of Lusitania, the worldwide reaction to her tragedy, and the impact of Lusitania's sinking on public opinion in the United States.

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Memorial Competition: A chance to keep World War I history alive

Pershing Monument

By Ashley Wright

The iconic wall for Vietnam, the fountains for WWII and the rows upon rows of white stones in Arlington hold tribute to those who perished for freedom from the Civil War to today. But there is something missing from the familiar landscape of our nation’s capital, and now is your chance to remedy that and pay tribute to the heroes of the Great War.

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission opened a design competition for a National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, May 21. The site approved by Congress for the monument is Pershing Park in Washington, DC.

While the nation erected monuments for other conflicts over the years, WWI remained unnoticed, despite costing more American lives than Vietnam and Korea combined and shifting the world in ways still evident today.

The two-stage design competition is an open, international contest for professionals, university-level students or any other interested participants.

In the first stage, participants will submit narrative and graphic descriptions of a design concept responding to the competition’s design goals. Submissions from Stage I selected as finalists will be further refined and developed in Stage II.

Read more: Memorial Competition: A chance to keep World War I history alive

World War I Memorial's Backers seek World Class Design

Pershing Statue

By Terri Yinmeng Liu
Medill News Service via Military Times

In the near future, American parents bringing their kids to the nation's capital for Memorial Day weekend to see the city's military memorials will be able to add another attraction to their sightseeing list.

Not far from the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the National World War II Memorial, the United States World War I Centennial Commission plans to properly recognize a conflict once thought of as "the war to end all wars." The nonprofit has launched a design competition to redevelop Pershing Square Park into a designated national monument.

"It was a war that brought on an American century. It was a war that changed the world for Americans. I think it's so important for so many reasons that we honor these people," said Rob Dalessandro, chairman of the centennial commission, who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2009.

The Great War, as it was called, began after fighting broke out in Europe in 1914. The U.S. entered the conflict in 1917. It came to an end with Germany's surrender on Nov. 11, 1918.

Pershing Square Park is in a plaza just off Pennsylvania Avenue between the Department of Commerce and the historic Willard Hotel, on the edge of downtown Washington. It was erected in 1981 with a statue honoring Gen. John J. Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.

Read more: World War I Memorial's Backers seek World Class Design

July 21 is deadline for Stage I design entries

Less than one week remains for competitors to submit entries for Stage I of the Design Competition for the National World War One Memorial in Washington DC. The deadline for entries is Tuesday July 21.

The selected memorial site is Pershing Park, located on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th Streets NW.

The competition is a two-stage design competition, and is an open, international competition -- open to any professionals, university-level students, or any other interested participants.

In the first stage, participants will submit narrative and graphic descriptions of a design concept responding to the competition’s design goals.

Three to five submissions from Stage I will be selected as finalists, and those entries will be further refined and developed in Stage II.

Both stages of the competition will be evaluated by a jury of individuals representing the worlds of government, the military, the arts, and the citizens of Washington DC. The Commission selected the jurors and will have final decision on the selected design, based on the recommendation of the jury.

Documenting the First Modern War 100 Years Ago

Sturtevant and Read

By Darroch Greer

In 2007, a friend of mine from college called me after seeing a photograph of his grandfather on a cover of a book about World War One aviation. He asked me how to make a documentary. Ron King is the grandson of First Yale Unit member John Vorys (Yale 1918, ten-term congressman from Ohio), and his grandfather was sitting next to six classmates in Palm Beach Florida on the cover of a book called The Millionaires' Unit by Marc Wortman (Public Affairs, 2006). The photo was taken in April 1917, and the Yale students had left school to train as pilots in more hospitable weather ten days before the United States declared war on Germany. The Yale Unit became the founding squadron of the U.S. Navy Air Reserve.

Having done most of my documentary work in 19th century American history, I didn't have a strong frame of reference for the Great War. It wasn't touched on at all in secondary school, and my college degree had been in fine arts. Ron attended a talk by the book's author at the Yale Club in Manhattan, and it seemed there might be some unique photos in private family collections. The story was a good one: young, dynamic personalities tackling a new and dangerous technology, running off to war at a time when it seemed romantic.

Several questions raised themselves immediately: how important were these young men to the war effort and to naval aviation in particular? What part did naval aviation play in the War? What can we claim as the Unit's legitimate accomplishments, and how can those accomplishments be communicated in a dramatic and accurate way? Is there enough footage and photos to cover the story? And, how can we pay for what looks to be an ambitious film?

Read more: Documenting the First Modern War 100 Years Ago

Lusitania commemoration events in NYC and DC

On Thursday, May 7th, 2015, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission hosted two commemorative events to honor the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915.

In New York City, at 10 a.m. EDT, there was a wreath-laying ceremony at Pier A in Battery Park, with honored guests and descendants of Lusitania passengers. The location is symbolic, as it houses the first dedicated memorial to World War One in the United States. Further, the location overlooks the Statue of Liberty, and is not far from Pier 54, where the RMS Lusitania departed on her final voyage one hundred years ago.

In Washington, DC, at 6:30 p.m. EDT, the Commission hosted a panel discussion with noted historians at the National Press Club. The panel included: John Maxwell Hamilton from Louisiana State University, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Professor Richard Striner from Washington College, an expert on President Wilson; and RADM Samuel Cox (USN, Retired), the Director of the U.S. Navy History and Heritage Command. The panel was moderated by noted national correspondent Gil Klein. Discussion focused on the wartime role of Lusitania, the worldwide reaction to her tragedy, and the impact of Lusitania's sinking on public opinion in the United States. (Click here for more information on the Washington, DC event.

Commisioner O'Connell has family link to Lusitania tragedy

Libby O'Connell

World War One Centennial Commissioner Dr. Libby O’Connell had always heard that an ancestor of hers died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland May 7, 1915.

Her father taught European History so she was raised on stories from the continent, including the sinking of the Lusitania. Still, she found it difficult to believe that a relative of hers had been aboard the ill-fated ship, since she could never verify the story.

As the 100th anniversary of the historic sinking approached, O’Connell, now Chief Historian for the History Channel, was finally able to piece together the fascinating details of her great-great grandmother’s life.

Catherine Sterrit was a singer and pianist in Pennsylvania when she divorced her first husband and remarried. It was this second marriage to Cameron Willey, unknown to O’Connell during her initial archives search, which finally led her to discover the truth.

When her second marriage also ended in divorce—an almost unheard of circumstance in the early part of the 20th century--Catherine Willey left the country. “Like so many other women of her time who had the means, she left America and went to Paris,” O’Connell said. At the outbreak of war in Europe, Willey returned to the United States to visit family and raise money for those in need. “She collected money and jewelry and planned to use the proceeds to set up a home for penniless war widows,” O’Connell said.

Despite German warnings that any ship flying the flag of Great Britain would be sunk upon entering the war zone, Willey was one of more than 1,900 passengers aboard the Lusitania when it sailed from New York’s Pier 54 on May 1, 1915.

The Lusitania was sunk by a single torpedo, killing more than 1,100 passengers and crew, including Catherine Willey.

The sinking of the Lusitania was “one of the pivotal moments of World War I,” O’Connell said. “The United States was neutral at the time, but the sinking brought us much closer to joining the war.” Still, it would be nearly two years before the U.S. officially entered the conflict.

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