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World War I Centennial News


Memorial Day Events - 2016

Below is the listing of Memorial Day Events as published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. We invite you to use it to locate events in your area.

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Vice Chair Edwin Fountain addresses 2nd Annual “In Flanders Fields” Commemoration

Edwin speakingVice Chair Edwin FountainWASHINGTON, DC – On Sunday, May 1st, the In Flanders Field Fund presented the second of its annual commemoration events marking the anniversary of the famous World War One poem “In Flanders Fields”.

The commemoration honored the poem’s author, Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. as well as all those who gave and lost their lives in WWI.

The event was held at the DC War Memorial at noon, starting with a ceremonial remembrance. The Color Guard from the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Hoya Battalion from Georgetown University presented the colors.

After welcoming remarks by Matthew Carnovale, President of the In Flanders Fields Fund, Executive Director Thomas Florczak updated attendees on the Fund's activities over the last year.

The Vice Chair of the U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission, Edwin Fountain, then delivered remarks providing historical context for the ceremony, and updates on the WWI Centennial Commemoration in the United States.

Following Fountain's remarks, Commander William Brooks, USN,  recited In Flanders Field and also discussed America's reaction to the poem during World War 1.  He spoke about Moina Michael's popularization of the poppy, and read her poem We Shall Keep the Faith.

Closing remarks by Carnovale ended the event.

The In Flanders Field Fund supports the Lt. Col. John McCrae M.D. Fellowship for Veterans in the Arts. The fellowship will support retired servicemen and servicewomen in their pursuit of work in the arts, and the curation of their art in and around Washington D.C. More information is available at the organization's web site,

 Annual “In Flanders Fields”
Annual “In Flanders Fields”
Annual “In Flanders Fields”

Commission website wins Communicator Awards

Communicator Award of DistinctionWASHINGTON, DC: Last week, the website for the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission garnered national-level recognition from the world of public affairs.

The website was honored by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) in their 22nd Annual Communicator Awards. The Communicator Awards are the world's largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals.

websites silver 22The Centennial Commission's website received two 'Awards of Distinction' -- one in the 'Government' category, and the other in the 'Non-Profit' category. The site provides a clearinghouse for education resources, public awareness, and event information, regarding the centennial of America's involvement in World War I. The site also provides progress updates on the new national World War I Memorial in Washington DC.


Read more: Commission website wins "Awards Of Distinction"

Commission meeting scheduled April 4, 2016 in Kansas City

WW1 logo v2 circulargraphic 100X100The United States World War 1 Centennial Commission will hold a public meeting on May 4, 2016, in Kansas City, MO, at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT), and is open to the public. The National World War I Museum and Memorial is located at 100 W 26th Street, Kansas City, MO 64108. Persons wishing to listen to the proceedings may dial 712-432-1001 and enter access code 474845614. Note this is not a toll-free number.

For more information on the meeting, check out the full official announcement in the Federal Register.

Commission signs partnership agreement with Government of Flanders

LEUVEN, Flanders, April 26, 2016 -- The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission today signed a partnership of mutual support with the Government of Flanders regarding the commemoration of the Centennial of World War I in a ceremony here.

Flanders agreement signing 04262016Koen Verlaeckt (left), Secretary General of the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, and Daniel Dayton, Executive Director of the U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission, sign the partnership agreement of mutual support for the commemoration of the Centennial of World War I. Behind them are U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium Denise Bauer (right), and Danny Pieters, Vice Rector for International Policy at KU Leuven, where the signing took place. The Government of Flanders, which represents the Northern Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, has set up special programs to provide public education and commemoration for the war. Flanders, and Belgium as a whole, saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, in particular from the three battles of Ypres.

This new agreement calls for the two organizations to share their experience, knowledge, and technical means as they prepare for the commemoration of the American intervention in World War One. Specifically, it identifies four areas for particular cooperation: 1) the identification and planning of the main events, 2) communication, digital and cultural cooperation, 3) education, and 4) remembrance tourism.

Daniel Dayton, Executive Director of the Centennial Commission, and Koen Verlaeckt, Secretary General of the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, signed the document in a small ceremony at the University Library of Leuven, a 15th century building which was destroyed in World War I, but was restored with American assistance.


Read more: Commission signs partnership agreement with Flanders

USAF pilot honors grandfather's service in Lafayette Escadrille

By Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, USAF

Nick Rutgers

PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ore. - Growing up in Hawaii, Lt. Col. Nick Rutgers discovered, like most children, the deeper meaning of "The Aloha Spirit" -- the gift of interacting in the natural world with boundless possibilities. This aptitude only nurtured his biggest childhood dream to a grander significance.

"I can't remember wanting to do anything else besides being a pilot," said Rutgers, "and if given the chance, to fly fighter jets."

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in May of 2000, the trajectory of his flying career first took him to Okinawa, Japan, and later to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, then eventually landing him here in Portland in 2012 with the 142nd Fighter Wing; all the while flying the F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in May of 2000, the trajectory of his flying career first took him to Okinawa, Japan, and later to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, then eventually landing him here in Portland in 2012 with the 142nd Fighter Wing; all the while flying the F-15 Eagle fighter jet.

Prior to graduating from high school, Rutgers had already obtained his private pilot's license and got his first taste of military life at Camp Pendleton, California, with the Marine Corps "Devil Pups" program. The summer youth camp allows teenagers a chance to gain insight into the military lifestyle while learning citizenship skills in personal responsibilities, self-respect and other valuable life experiences.

Yet Rutgers' path toward becoming a military pilot did not inevitably begin at Camp Pendleton or the Air Force Academy. His family lineage is rich in service and sacrifice. Rutgers' grandfather fought in World War II as a member of the Marine Corps, and his father with the Army in Vietnam and later serving in the Hawaii National Guard. The love of flying and sense of service can be traced even further back, nearly 100 years ago when his great-grandfather, James Norman Hall, flew with the Lafayette Escadrille during World War I.

Read more: USAF pilot honors grandfather's service in Lafayette Escadrille

Centenary tribute to America's WWI pilots in France - April 20

By Patrick Gregory
from 15 April 2016

Norman PrinceNorman Prince: founder of the Lafayette EscadrilleThe United States & France are preparing to rededicate a memorial honouring American pilots who flew in the First World War. Ahead of the ceremony at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Paris, CN’s Patrick Gregory looks back at the impact of the volunteer airmen on the Allied war effort.

Although the United States had formally entered the war in April 1917 – and although American troops had seen their first combat action that autumn – it was to be nearly a full year before the pilots of the fledgling U.S. Air Service would take to the skies.

The problems the new air arm had encountered along the way were many and varied: challenges of organisation and supply, the tactical considerations of where they were to be deployed and the role they would play when they got there. As it happened, and when the time came, they were assigned the area of Toul in the north-east of France, near Nancy: a comparatively quiet sector in combat terms, where the largely untested American pilots could cut their teeth and make the transition from training school to active units. As a combat zone it would assume greater importance the longer 1918 wore on – as American troops began their ground assaults in earnest – but in that early period of spring 1918, the first of the new squadrons to be assembled used this relatively low-key atmosphere to bed in.

Read more: Centenary tribute to America's WWI pilots in France - April 20

Lafayette Escadrille Re-dedication April 20 in Paris

Mike Williams
Staff Writer

On Wednesday, April 20th, several dignitaries and VIPS from around the world will gather in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Lafayette Escadrille. Though they came from many different backgrounds, from Harvard graduates to ambulance drivers, the volunteer pilots who formed the Escadrille all shared a sense of adventure and a passion for the French cause. Their sacrifice in the war helped to further solidify the strong bonds of friendship and loyalty between France and the United States.
LEM arch
The ceremony will be attended by leading figures of American and French diplomacy and air forces, a symbol of the political and military bonds wrought by the men of the Escadrille. As a part of the ceremony, there will be a flyby consisting of several WWI-era aircraft through to modern day F-22 Raptors and a US B-52 bomber.

Read about the American fliers who made up the Escadrille in the "Stories of the Fliers" pages of the Lafayette Escadrille section of the web site.

Michael Williams is a volunteer at the World War One Centennial Commission. He was a 2015 Intern during the fall semester.

 Homecoming for national WWI Memorial designer coincides with announcement of Arkansas Centennial committee

By Benjamin Desmarais
Staff Writer

On Thursday, March 31, the designer of the planned national World War I Memorial, Mr. Joe Weishaar, met with the governor of his home state of Arkansas. On this occasion, not only did Mr. Weishaar present the plans and meaning of the memorial with the governor and other esteemed guests, but the governor also officially announced the creation of the World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee.Governor Asa Hutchinson 500Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas announces the creation of the state's official World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee on March 31, 2016.

An Arkansas native, Joe Weishaar graduated from the University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design in 2013. The design that he and sculptor Sabin Howard created won an international competition for designing the national World War I Memorial. The pair titled their design “The Weight of Sacrifice.” An important aspect to the design of the project was Weishaar’s desire for the memorial to stand as a reminder that wars and veterans will not be forgotten.

The designers met with Governor Asa Hutchinson to present the design, and celebrate the 71,000 Arkansans who fought during the First World War with the creation of a centennial committee. This committee will oversee events regarding and honoring the hundredth anniversary of the First World War, which the United States entered in 1917 and saw to its end with the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

Weishaar is preparing to move to Washington D.C. soon to oversee the project, which still needs to raise much of the budgeted $45 million for construction. The hope is that funds can be raised so that construction can be completed on the memorial before the centennial of Armistice Day on November 11, 2018.

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Weishaar’s design or the team behind it, please click here.

Benjamin Desmarais is a Spring 2016 intern at the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission. 

Blue Devils, March Madness, and World War OneChasseurs Alpins 1916Parlez-vous March Madness?

When Duke University held off a furious rally by Yale to claim a 71-64 victory on March 19, the Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in school history.

But 100 years ago in World War One France, another group of "devils dressed in blue" were the inspiration for the school's mascot.





Read more: Blue Devils, March Madness, and World War One

Lafayette Escadrille Memorial rededication scheduled April 20th at Paris

The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Paris will be rededicated in a head-of-state ceremony on April 20th, 2016. The ceremony will cap a joint France/United States renovation project for the memorial which took place over the past decade.

LEMThe Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Paris.The Lafayette Escadrille was a squadron of the French Air Service during World War I, composed largely of American volunteer pilots. The 38 pilots of the Lafayette Escadrille flew for France beginning in 1916, before the United States officially entered World War I. The squadron was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American and French revolutions. Members participated in all major campaigns of the war and downed numerous enemy aircraft. The Escadrille helped shape the U.S. Army Air Service when it was formed in 1918 and created a culture that still influences combat pilots today.

The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial was built in 1928 with private donations, and is the burial place of 49 Americans who died in the war. The monument commemorates not only the original 38 members of the squadron, but also the 200 or so who succeeded them as volunteers in various French squadrons, together known as the Lafayette Flying Corps.

Read more: Lafayette Escadrille Memorial rededication scheduled April 20th in Paris

A Silent Night honors the sacrifice of WW1 soldiers through classical song

Silent Night 400Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan perform a selection from A Silent Night.Baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan have been collaborative musical partners and friends since they met as students at the Juilliard School in 2007. Together they created A Silent Night: A WWI Centenary Tribute in Song which premiered on their first professional tour together as recitalists this past season.

Silent Night is a collection of classical and popular art songs written mostly by composers who lived through, fought, and died in the Great War. They are looking for venues, traditional and non-traditional. They also need help putting together their album.

 This program honors and illuminates the legacy of these composers, many of whom are often forgotten. On a larger scale, A Silent Night is the first program of its kind that uses the intimate art of classical song to the tell the story of the millions of soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War, simultaneously honoring their sacrifice and mourning their loss with a subtlety of expression that only great music and poetry can convey.

Read more: A Silent Night honors the sacrifice of WW1 soldiers

World War I Trench Art Exhibit at the 2016 American Numismatic Association National Money Show in Dallas

TCoin Trench ArtWWI coin trench arthere was a remarkable World War I Trench Art exhibit at the American Numismatic Association's recent 2016 National Money Show in Dallas. The convention took place in March 3-5 at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas.

The National Money Show is one of the most prestigious coin shows in the country. They feature the largest numismatic inventory anywhere, technical seminars, educational presentations, and a number of rare historical treasures from the ANA Money Museum and private collections.

The World War I Trench Art Exhibit was put together by ANA Money Museum Curator Douglas Mudd. Trench art is defined as any decorative item made by soldiers, prisoners of war, or civilians, where the manufacture is directly linked to armed conflict or its consequences. Douglas Mudd is one of the leading numismatists in the country, employed by the Smithsonian Institution and the International Monetary Fund. Museum.

The American Numismatic Association is committed to setting up World War I historical exhibits through 2018. The Association already started to embark on its exhibit "Money of World War I", to open in 2017 at ANA headquarters in Colorado Springs.


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