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World War I Centennial News


WW1CC unveils air show-themed Merchandise for Oshkosh 2016

By Roger Fisk
Director of Development, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission

Airshow pinThe U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission and the 2016 Airventures Show have teamed up to bring WW1- themed merchandise to the world's largest aviation show later this month.

700,000 people are expected to attend the Airventures Airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the World War One Centennial Commission is partnering with the show to bring WW1 programming, merchandise and commemorative activities to the attendees.Airshow sticker

Commonly referred to simply as "Oshkosh, the air show takes place the last week of July and for seven days it creates the busiest airport in the world, bringing together vintage aircraft, collectors, historians, industry leaders and aficionados of all ages.

This year will feature the theme of World War One commemoration, with Commissioners Edwin Fountain and Libby O'Connell, along with the sculptor for the National World War One Memorial in Pershing Park, Sabin Howard, attending to deliver lectures and master classes on history, the impact and importance of WW1, and the memorial process itself.

For more info on the WW1CC and Airventure partnership, check out the OSH16 page here.

WWI veterans from Passamaquoddy Tribe honored in Maine

By Lora Whelan
The Quoddy Tides

EASTPORT, ME -- The Passamaquoddy Tribe sent 25 men to fight in World War I, some of whom served in the Yankee Division Company I, says Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Donald Soctomah. However, because the Passamaquoddy were not considered United States citizens until 1924, the Company I veterans who were wounded or died in action never received recognition for their service. On Sunday, July 17, that changed.

Passamaquoddy TribeThe “Honoring Ceremony for Six World War 1 Veterans” took place during the Indian Day Ceremonies held in front of the Indian Township Tribal Office. Ceremonies began at noon with the Grand entry of the veterans and the tribal chief, vice chief, tribal council and dancers. The Indian Township Tribal Government and the Smithsonian Film Network partnered to recognize six Passamaquoddy World War 1 veterans who were wounded or died in the War with a Silver Star Medal from the U.S. Government to the veterans' families.

After the military presentation, Chief Nicholas of the Passamaquoddy Tribe presented one painted eagle feather, one of the highest honors a tribal member can receive, to each veteran's family.

Soctomah was approached by the film division of the Smithsonian Institution about the company. While involved in research on an upcoming film, the organization found that a number of Company I recruits came out of the Eastport area. "A lot of Company I members were made up of Passamaquoddy," he says. "They [Smithsonian] wanted to interview family members about their veteran forebears." Three family members of three veterans were found: Genevieve Neptune, John Stevens and John Sockbeson, who are being interviewed by the Smithsonian about their WWI veteran relatives.

Read more: Passamaquoddy Tribe WW1 veterans honored

WW1, Pershing Park, & Pokémon Go

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

Pershing Park in Washington D.C. is home to a statue of World War I General John J. Pershing, although what many people are not aware of is that the Park has recently gained some new residents: Pokémon.

Pershing pokemonAt Pershing Park we were able to catch this Pokémon, known as a Sandshrew.On July 6th, video game developer Niantic released Pokémon Go, an augmented reality app that gives Pokémon fans a chance that they have dreamed about for the last twenty years: the ability to catch Pokémon in real life. This Android and iOS app has taken the world by storm over the last few days, and even became the most-downloaded app in the world during the three days following its release. The game is especially popular in urban areas, as the placement of Pokémon is closely tied to pre-established locations where people can find them, such as parks or even national landmarks.

PokemonThe game itself is an ingenious concept in that it allows users to mix the virtual world of Pokémon with reality. Players who download the app can travel the real world in order to find Pokémon, making this game very different from conventional video games. At certain predetermined locations, known as “Pokéstops,” players can attract Pokémon and attempt to capture them. Pokémon will appear on players’ smartphone screens, making it look as if the Pokémon were actually standing in front of them. Pokéstops are often located at landmarks in communities, such as parks or churches. In major cities, such as Washington D.C., national landmarks can also serve as Pokéstops or Gyms, which allow users to collect or battle Pokémon. For instance, both the White House and the Pentagon are gyms.

A few lucky interns had the recent opportunity to visit Pershing Park in Washington, D.C. to see what it held for the Pokémon Go app. We soon discovered that Pershing Park hosts the “John J. Pershing” and “The Bald Eagle” Pokéstops. Here, users can place down lures to attract Pokémon and catch them. Lures are public and can be seen by anyone who plays the game, so within minutes of placing a lure at John J. Pershing, three people approached us asking about the game at 10:00am on a Wednesday. According to fellow players, Pershing Park is actually an excellent Pokéstop for the aspiring Pokémon master.

Read more: WW1, Pershing Park, & Pokémon Go

WWI tunnels rediscovered in France with carvings in walls by US troops

By James Dunn
for the Daily Mail Online

The haunting momentos of allied soldiers who fought the Germans in World War One have been discovered inside eight miles of secret tunnels deep in the forests of Northern France.

Cave Carving 1The winding tunnels used by the American Expeditionary Force, sent by President Wilson to reinforce Britain and France, were recently discovered by an amateur battlefield explorer.

Pictures show how the raw recruits carved 250 military insignias and portraits of themselves and their horses into the stone as they were holed up in a quarry they used for shelter from the relentless German assault on the Western Front.

Other pictures show shells, bombs, grenades and shrapnel on the floor of the eight miles of tunnels, recently rediscovered by Battlefield explorer Marc Askat, 31, from Paris, who spent eight hours at the site.

Other historical images show the soldiers who would have used the tunnels as they sheltered from the German forces.

Cave Carving 2Discoverer Marc Askat said: 'I have spent a lot of time exploring the limestone quarries used by soldiers during first and second world war and the fact is that very few remains of U.S and Commonwealth soldiers are visible.

'After several months of research on the war diaries and the position of trenches on maps, I found a quarry that was exactly on their target.

'After a long crawl underground, I was lucky enough to see a giant Bold Eagle blaze sculpted by the 26th Yankee Division of the United State Army Infantry was in front of me.

'On the floor were, bombs, mortars, hand grenades and many heavily rusted metal devices that you don't want to touch or even know what they are.

'Many names, nicknames, masonic logos, city names were etched into the walls. This place was very rich with finds, I didn't even check my watch during almost eight hours underground.

Read the whole story in the Daily Mail Online.

Les Américains – Seven U.S. citizens who volunteered to fight for France in WW1

By David Hanna
Military History Now, June 29, 2016

Americans in French forcesIn August, 1914, a small, but committed, group of Americans offered their services to the French army. General Alexander von Kluck’s German troops were then advancing through Belgium and set to descend on Paris. Many of the Americans had lived in the city before the war: aspiring writers, poets, and painters mostly. To a man they felt a strong sense of obligation to help defend France in her hour of greatest need.

However, there were others who booked passage on trans-Atlantic steamers to reach the war. These Americans were motivated by an historical and ideological understanding of America’s responsibilities in the coming struggle – in this, they were far ahead of most of their countrymen. The French Foreign Legion provided a vehicle for the Americans to join the fight without renouncing their U.S. citizenship. Even then la Légion enjoyed a certain dark mystique. The volunteers would eventually see combat in some of the bloodiest battles of World War One in Artios and Champagne in 1915; at Verdun and the Somme in 1916; and also in the skies with the Lafayette Escadrille.

Of these remarkable men that formed the American vanguard in the Great War, seven in particular stand out.

Read more: Les Américains – Seven U.S. citizens who volunteered to fight for France in WW1

An American Dies in the Battle of the Somme 100 Years Ago

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff WritersseegerAlan Seeger was one of 24 American soldiers who died in the French Foreign Legion during World War I

One hundred years ago this month, one of the bloodiest battles in history began near the Somme River in France. In July of 1916, the United States had not yet officially entered World War I, but that did not stop some Americans from joining the Allied cause. One such volunteer, Alan Seeger, would pay the ultimate price during the first week of this carnage.

Alan Seeger was born on June 22nd, 1888, in New York, although he and his family moved frequently. He was accepted to Harvard University in 1906, where he was classmates with several well-known American poets and authors such as T.S. Elliott and Walter Lippman. After graduating from Harvard, Seeger moved to Paris in 1912 and fell in love with his new home. This love eventually roused him to join the French Foreign Legion on August 24, 1914, soon after the outbreak of World War I.seeger monument cropArtist Jean Boucher used Alan Seeger’s photograph as inspiration for the French monument to all American volunteers.

Seeger was an advocate for American involvement in the War, and even wrote to his mother on one occasion, “there should really be no neutrals in a conflict like this, where there is not a people whose interests are not involved.” He wrote the famous poem, “Rendezvous with Death” during his time in the French Foreign Legion. This poem would decades later become one of President John F. Kennedy’s favorites.

By the time he put pen to paper for these immortal verses, his unit had already participated in one major offensive in Champagne, France, in September 1915. This poem shows Seeger’s desire for a glorious death in service of the home he had come to love so much. This attitude was further echoed in his letters home, one of which reads, “I expect to march right up the Aisne borne on an irresistible [spirit]. It will be the greatest moment of my life.”

Read more: An American Dies in the Battle of the Somme 100 Years Ago

100 Cities / 100 Memorials restoration program launches on July 15

At the end of World War I, thousands of war memorials of every size were built in local communities across the country. Over the decades, under exposure to the elements, these memorials have aged. We must act now – to restore both their physical beauty and our awareness of the men and women they memorialize.

140820 blog photo wwi memorials york paThe York County World War I Fairground Memorial (1921) in York, PATo help motivate and support this restoration, the 100 Cities / 100 Memorials program is launching on July 15, 2016 with $200,000 in initial funding provided by the World War One Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum & Library for matching grants. These two organizations continue to seek other major funding partners nationwide to expand the funds available to encourage and match the fundraising efforts of the awardees.

The purpose of 100 Cities/ 100 Memorials is to motivate and support the efforts of local organizations across the country to honor the memory of their hometown war heroes, to build awareness of the war’s impact on their local communities, and to restore and provide for the ongoing upkeep of their local World War I memorials, all in time for the nation’s centennial celebrations scheduled for November 2018 – celebrations that will also include the unveiling of the new national World War I Memorial in the nation’s capital.

Read more: 100 Cities / 100 Memorials restoration program launches on July 15

Six Questions with R.G. Head

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

Brigadier General R.G. Head, USAF (Ret.) is the author of “A Chronology of World War I Aviation Events,” a truly immersive and enthralling timeline of the history and development of aviation in World War I.

Q: What inspired you to produce the complete World War I aviation timeline?

rg head 350Brigadier General R.G. Head, USAF (Ret.), author of the "A Chronology of World War I Events in the Air" timelineFirst, I was educated at the US Air Force Academy, so my interest is in aviation. I was inspired to develop a chronology of aviation events in World War One by the work of the Centennial Commission and the fact that I was working on WWI research for a book at the time and had been for about four years. Four years ago I built a five-foot wingspan model of the Fokker Dr. I flown by Manfred Von Richthofen, the Red Baron, which now hangs in the Coronado, CA, Public Library. Two years ago I built a six-foot model of Oswald Boelcke’s Albatros D. II, to museum quality, and it now resides in a beautiful case in the San Diego Air & Space Museum, along with the Blue Max and others of his medals. I made several public presentations with each of these two models. After completion of the Albatros, my wife suggested putting much of the research material I had gathered on Oswald Boelcke into a book. I had previously connected with the Commander of the German Tactical Fighter Wing 31 that was named after Oswald Boelcke. I also had the assistance of a German archivist who was a member of the Boelcke Tradition Association, in Eschweiler, Germany, and he helped me gather a whole host of memorabilia and literature about this famous pilot. Finally, I was just then writing a Chronology of Oswald Boelcke’s life to include in the book, so when I got in contact with the WWI Commission, it was a natural step to volunteer to expand the Boelcke Chronology more broadly to WWI aviation events. I turned the Chronology over to the Commission, and Theo Mayer and Chris Christopher, with the brilliant work of two interns, transformed the Chronology into the Excel Timeline and made it accessible on the Internet.

One of my professional beliefs is that writers of 20th Century military history have traditionally focused on the ground or sea war and neglected the role of aviation. Maybe this is because they are not familiar with it. Regardless of the reason, once the airplane was invented, it immediately created not only the Air Combat role between opposing air forces, but the contribution to the ground or sea battle by reconnaissance or direct attack. My hope is that the Great War in the Air Timeline will provide to historians and the public some air events for their consideration.

Read more: Six Questions with R.G. Head

One-woman show on World War 1 nurses premieres in DC

"Tap" leads to story ideas, details make stories come alive

By Ellouise Schoettler

Ready to ServeI started my storytelling career in the 1970’s, mostly telling family stories gathered by asking relatives and through genealogy research. More recently I am drawn to American women’s military history, particularly World War One stories.

In the first years after my husband was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, I spent many hours visiting his grave site, often meeting others visiting their family grave sites. While my husband and I had been coming to the cemetery together since the mid-1960’s to visit the grave site of our youngest child, visiting the site my husband now shared with her brought to focus that Arlington would one day be my “home”, too.

I channeled that reality check into a popular one-woman show - "Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home" – that also led me to focus on other military history programs.

I first heard about the American women switchboard operators who served in France during WWI as members of the Signal Corps, at the Women in Military Service Foundation archives (WIMSA) which is an amazing resource.

Read more: Ellouise Schoettler "Ready to Serve" stories of WW1 nurses

WWI video game may raise awareness of Great War in younger audience

By Adam Bieniek
Staff Writer

When it comes to computer video games, World War I is not a common setting. Most popular games, such as those of the acclaimed CALL OF DUTY franchise, tend be set in futuristic worlds, World War II, or in the wars of modern day. However, in October, the video game company DICE will release a World War I-themed video game called BATTLEFIELD1, the latest of their popular Battlefield series, which will be published by Electronic Arts (EA).

Battlefield 1 cover artBATTLEFIELD1 is expected to bring significant attention to the Great War from a largely new, young audience. The first trailer for the game was released on May 6th, 2016 on YouTube and quickly garnered some 41.4 million views within its first two months online.

EA DICE took a risk with this game. There were concerns that younger audiences would not have enough background knowledge about World War I to be interested. An earlier video game, VERDUN, was launched in 2015 by M2H and Blackmill Games, to very modest results. Yet, somehow, EA and DICE were able to capture imaginations among their followers, to such an extent that BATTLEFIELD1 is predicted to be one of the most anticipated games of 2016.

Read more: WWI video game may raise awareness of Great War in younger audience

Partnership formalized between Oshkosh Airshow and the World War One Centennial Commission

By Roger Fisk
Staff Writer

A formal partnership has been established between the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) annual Oshkosh Airshow, also known as OSH16, and the World War One Centennial Commission (WW1CC), which serves as the official commemorative commission for this country’s recognition of the 4.7 million young men and women who served in uniform during the Great War.

Fokker and Pup in tandemThe Sopwith Scout “Pup” and Fokker DrI flying in tandem. Both aircraft will be at EAA AirVenture 2016 as part of its World War I aviation centennial. (Golden Age Air Museum photo)The partnership reflects the World War One theme that this year’s Oshkosh visitors will see at the iconic air show in late July, as well as the increase in awareness and appreciation of World War One across the country as the 100th anniversary of American mobilization approaches.

In addition to the vintage aircraft, historical re-enactors and other WW1 displays at Oshkosh, this new partnership will bring historians and authors from the WW1CC to the speaking venues throughout the air show. Attendees can visit the WW1CC camp and access educational materials, free packets of Flanders Poppy Seeds, take a WW1 helmet selfie and support the National World War One Memorial that is being designed for construction in Washington DC’s Pershing Park.

“World War I was the first time aviation attracted the interest and investment by governments as military resources, moving from individual inventors, with remarkable advancements in technology within a short period time,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member benefits, who coordinates the features and attractions at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. “The World War One Centennial Commission brings context and depth to our commemoration of aviation of that time, and we’re excited to have them as part of the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration.”

WW1CC Executive Director Dan Dayton is thrilled as well. “OSH16 attracts passionate, patriotic people from all over the country and we are thrilled to partner with them as we engage the American people in the 100th anniversary of World War One.”

Roger Fisk is Director of Development at the World War One Centennial Commission.

French visit B 06222016 400 French officials visit Centennial Commission offices in DC

By Kate Lyons
Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2016) -- Senior officials of the French government visited WWI Centennial Headquarters in Washington today for a working session on international plans for the centennial. The delegation was welcomed by Commission Vice Chair Edwin Fountain and Executive Director Dan Dayton.

← Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance Jean-Marc Todeschini of France (center) is given a tour of Pershing Park by national World War 1 Memorial architect Joe Weishaar (right) and U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission Vice Chair Edwin Fountain (left).On November 19, 2015 France and the United States entered into a bilateral agreement of cooperation regarding centennial efforts in the coming years. Jean-Marc Todeschini, Secretary for Veterans Affairs of France, noted the success of the cooperation so far, citing the re-dedication of the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial earlier this year.

Discussions included process, education efforts, and fundraising initiatives. Vice Chair Fountain who serves as general counsel for the American Battle Monuments Commission [AMBC], also discussed joint AMBC projects regarding World War I cemeteries, as well as future centennial events in various former Allied nations.

Deputy Chief of Mission for the French Embassy Nathalie Broadhurst also reiterated the Embassy’s interest in providing direct assistance with commemorative events during 2017.

Read more: French government officials visit WWI Centennial Commission offices in DC

Four Questions for Sabin Howard

By Adam Bieniek and Kate Lyons
Staff Writers

Sabin Howard is the sculptor half of the partnership that is developing the design for the National World War I Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C. during the centennial period of America’s involvement in World War I.

Q: You recently visited the home of Daniel Chester French, who is known for sculpting the famous statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial. What was that experience like? What did you take away from it?

Sabin in studioHoward says visiting French’s studio and seeing his maquettes got him excited about the next steps of the design process.“It was really interesting, because I’m not a modernist in this way of thinking, that you have to reinvent the wheel. I see it as there are a certain amount of art forms out there, one of them being classicism, so I’m playing it forward, and it’s my responsibility to play it forward. So I went to his studio and of course I had a tremendous amount of kinship looking at the plasters and [his] work. The last piece he did was, “Andromeda,” the female reclining figure, and there is such a high level of energy and you can see it in how all of the pieces are put together, thinking about two really big elements: great attention to the structure of the figure, or how the skeleton is gestured. The poses are very calculated carefully. There’s a lot of rhythm - meaning curves, which is a lot of how muscle inserts can go from an origin to an insertion. So you can see how he’s manipulating to his knowledge on the body put together, and that’s the kinship that I felt. Here’s a man 100 years ago who was doing something to serve his country using his art form, and I think that’s something that I didn’t understand until I got into this process, that drives you to a higher level artistically. It’s a kinship because I’m working the same way, translating it into sculpture and that form of translation is classical.”

Q: So how would you compare or contrast your style with French’s?

“I think it’s different style because we live in a different time. Now there’s a tremendous amount of visual input in our society. Back then the photo was just coming into effect, now it’s pervasive. So you have come up with this hyper-realism, that we’re involved with today. It’s like amping it to the next level. That’s why I’m saying I’m playing it forward. So I’m doing that same thing he’s doing, but the things that I’m seeing are amplified because of the circumstances of our culture."

Read more: Sabin Howard draws inspiration for national WWI Memorial sculptures

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