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World War I Centennial News


The History of Donut Day 

 via The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division web site

National Donut Day started in 1938 here in Chicago as a tribute to The Salvation Army “Doughnut Lassies” who supported our troops on the front lines during World War I. It is celebrated annually on the first Friday in June.

Donuts WWISalvation Army “Doughnut Lassies” during World War IIn 1917, The Salvation Army began a mission to provide spiritual and emotional support for U.S. soldiers fighting in France during WWI. About 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts located near the front lines where they could give soldiers clothes, supplies and, of course, baked goods.

After discovering that serving baked goods would be difficult considering the conditions of the huts and the limited rations, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers.

Nicknamed “Donut Lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (nicknamed “Doughboys”) returned home from war.

During WWI, Donut Lassies served coffee and donuts to soldiers in the trenches. Donuts were not the reason The Salvation Army workers were in the fighting zones; they were there primarily to give spiritual aid and comfort to the American soldier and his allies. They were there to be a link with home and family.

Read more: The History of Donut Day

Pie Truck 4Mike Copperthite (blue shirt, third from left) talks to US World War 1 Centennial commission volunteers about his historic Model T pie truck before the start of the National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC on May 28. (Photo by Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, World War One Centennial Commission)

Copperthite pie company heir recalls WWI efforts which provided ‘Dough for the Doughboys’

By Anthony C. Hayes
via the Baltimore Post-Examiner web site

At first glance, the black Model T box truck – replete with it’s creamy-white “Connecticut – Copperthite Pie Company” lettering – may seem hopelessly out of place. Why would a century-old delivery van be included in Washington, D.C.’s Memorial Day Parade? After all, Memorial Day is a time set aside to commemorate our fallen military heroes. Pies are for the post-parade picnics – a pleasant by-product of the late-spring holiday.

Henry Copperthite 296x300Baking magnate Henry C. CopperthiteIt may surprise parade spectators to learn that the pristine Model T – and hundreds of others just like it – actually played an important part in helping the Allied forces win World War I. In this centennial year, as Americans look back at the patriotic privations of the First World War, the history behind the quaint pie truck and its owners is one well worth remembering.

“My great-great-grandfather, Henry C. Copperthite, was in the 79th Highlander Scottish troops of the Civil War,” explained Michael J. Copperthite. “He was a wagon driver at age 14 and was stationed at Georgetown College, here in D.C. The 79th participated in the battles of 1st Bull Run, Chantilly, Antietam, and several others. After the war, Henry drove a wagon for Olds Bakery in New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven was where he learned the pie trade and met his bride: Johanna O’Neil.

“Henry came back to Washington in 1885 and started making pies in the back of a wagon. His first day’s sales netted him about ninety cents. But by the time of the Spanish-American War, he was selling 19,000 pies a day to soldiers stationed at Camp Alger in Virginia. The pies he sold to the Army were always wholesale – never retail. By 1913, the company had 230 wagons, 600 horses, 1,500 employees and was baking 65,000 pies a day. We became the largest pie baking concern on the planet and the second largest baker in the United States.”

Michael said that even though Henry became a millionaire, he never forgot his humble beginnings as a wagon driver. Nor did he forget his Army friends.

Read more: Copperthite pie company heir recalls WWI efforts which provided ‘Dough for the Doughboys’

World War I / AEF Commemoration events around the world 

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

belleaumemorial1200Americans and French commemorated Memorial Day, and the centennial of the World War I Battle of Belleau Wood, at a ceremony at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France. An overflow crowd watched the ceremony on an oversized screen at the front of the cemetery. (Stars and Stripes photo/Michael Abrams)2018 is a big year for World War I commemoration, as it is the chronological centennial year for many of the turning-point battles & key events that happened later in the war.

The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission has been active in helping to produce and to promote various events, to mark America's involvement in these battles, and in the war, in general. This Memorial Day weekend serves as the backdrop for a number of these commemoration activities.

Here are links to some of the coverage of the World War I / American Expeditionary Force (AEF) Commemoration Activities around the world this week.


The American Battle Monuments Commission worked with the U.S. European Command, the U.S. Defense Department, and various host nations to produce a ceremony to mark centennial the battles of Cantigny, Belleau Wood, and the Somme.

The visitors center at the American Monument at Chateau-Thierry was dedicated in a special ceremony, as well.

Read more: World War I / AEF Commemoration events around the World

pershing park politico dot comAt left, the now-empty sunken pool in Pershing Park as it looks today. At right, an October 2017 rendering of the proposed bronze wall that would sit behind the refilled pool as part of Joe Weishaar’s design for the World War I memorial. | M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO; courtesy of WWI Centennial Commission

Washington’s Battle for a World War I Memorial

The first national WWI memorial was supposed to open for the November centennial—until getting caught up in a war of its own.

By Blake Patterson
via the POLITICO magazine web site

When Joe Weishaar conceived of America’s first national World War I memorial, he imagined something dramatic. It was January 2016, and Weishaar, then just a 25-year-old intern at an architecture firm in Chicago, had beat out more than 350 applicants around the world to design the memorial. His proposal, “The Weight of Sacrifice,” would transform Pershing Park—a dilapidated 1.8-acre space a block southeast of the White House—by replacing the park’s dried-up sunken pool with a lawn, removing its once-cascading fountain and inserting bronze bas-relief walls depicting soldiers and battlefields. As recently as last fall, at a ceremonial groundbreaking on the site, the commission overseeing the memorial hoped to complete it in time for the centennial of the war’s ending, in November of this year.

Now, not only has that date been pushed back—organizers are crossing their fingers for a final dedication in November 2021—but Weishaar’s design has been radically scaled back. In fact, it’s not even clear yet what the memorial will ultimately consist of.

In the past two years, Pershing Park has emerged as a battlefield of its own, with the park’s original architect and a small group of cultural preservationists caught up in a drawn-out regulatory tug-of-war against the memorial’s sponsors, the Congressionally created World War I Centennial Commission. Their fight is over how to preserve the park’s original landscape while still adequately commemorating World War I—the only major 20th-century war that lacks a national memorial in the nation’s capital.

Read more: Washington’s Battle for a World War I Memorial

Five questions for Jeff Lowdermilk

Book aims to "shine the light of awareness" for the next generation about WWI 

By Caitlin Hamon
Staff Writer, United States World War One Centennial Commission

The Great War may have ended 100 years ago, but the ways in which it influences and affects the generations today are diverse and fascinating. Upon receiving the diary of his grandfather, a World War I veteran, writer and photographer Jeffrey Lowdermilk was inspired to honor the memory of George A. Carlson by traversing the same journey he took across Europe, reliving the experiences by visiting the towns, battlefields, and landscapes described in the Diary. He has since published a book describing his journey, accompanied with contemporary photographs of the places he visited as well as diary excerpts. In addition, Mr. Lowdermilk has donated several copies of Honoring the Doughboys to the Centennial Commission’s Memorial Fund. We asked him a few questions about his donation as well as the journey in his book, Honoring The Doughboys, Following My Grandfather’s WWI Diary.

You generously have donated over a score of your books to the Centennial Commission. What prompted you to do this?

Jeff and GeorgeAuthor and photographer Jeffrey Lowdermilk (left), and his grandfather George A. CarlsonFor some time I have wanted to make a donation to Centennial Commission in order to support the World War I Memorial effort. If I just sent a check that would be the end of my participation. However, if I donated a number of my books for the Commission to sell, I would be helping the memorial effort monetarily plus getting my book out to a new audience to enjoy.

I loved your Book! Especially the excerpts from you grandfather's diary throughout. Was there anything surprising that you learned while reading it?

Beginning at ten years old or so, my Grandfather told me his WWI stories, most memorable was the original Armistice Day. However, it was not until my mid- forties that I became fascinated with his diary and consequently World War I history. As I delved into the diary, what surprised me the most is that from a trained front line infantryman he somehow aligned himself with the medical corps. During the battles and at night, in ‘no-man’s land’, he constantly performed triage and first aid to the wounded American soldiers and carried or dragged them back to the hospital tents. In the diary he proclaimed that his nickname became ‘Doc’.

He was a kind man and my feeling is he somehow found a way to contribute to the war effort so that he did not have to kill the enemy, but rather support the medical effort that save lives.

I have accumulated so many questions I wish I could ask him, but his positioning himself with the medical corps would be one of my primary questions.

Read more: Five questions for Jeff Lowdermilk

Marines Charge at Belelau WoodU.S. Marines charge in Belleau Wood during the 1918 battle.

“Incomparable bravery” gave U.S. Marines victory at Belleau Wood

By Tony Perry
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Much of the Western Front had been ravaged by trench warfare and industrial slaughter for four years but Belleau Wood in the French countryside remained pristine.

The woods had long been a hunting preserve for local gentry, the flatland was used by farmers to grow wheat. Flowers dotted the tranquil landscape.

But in June 1918 this unlikely spot became the scene of a relentlessly bloody battle between an untested American army and battle-hardened German troops. The outcome, according to one historian, “changed the trajectory of the war.”

The Germans were determined to drive on to Paris some 60 miles away and force the exhausted, demoralized French to surrender. The Americans – particularly two regiments of Marines – were equally determined to block the German advance by bayonets if necessary.

When the three-week fight over, the Germans had been blunted. The once panicky Parisians were exultant. The Americans had shown their enemy – and skeptics among the Allies – that Americans could fight, sustain massive casualties and yet prevail.

While historians may debate the tactical significance of Belleau Wood, the impact on the French public was undeniable. Paris Is Saved! cried the newspapers. A massive parade in honor of the U.S. Marines was held.

Read more: “Incomparable bravery” gave U.S. Marines victory at Belleau Wood

8c3f90817c0317e8e2e100c5a69d91beThe Marines’ savage fight for Belleau Wood is depicted in Franc-Earle Schoonover’s Belleau Wood. Art Collection of the National Museum of the Marine Corps  

The Marines at Belleau Wood and Blanc Mont

"Retreat, Hell! We Just Got Here!" 

By Dwight Jon Zimmerman
via the Defense Media Network web site

In 1918, World War I was in its fourth year. Imperial Russia had succumbed to the Communist Revolution and capitulated to Imperial Germany. In the West, a race against time was on. The Allies of Great Britain and France were watching with mounting concern as German armies from the Eastern Front began reinforcing those on the Western Front. Their armies, having been bled white and wracked by mutiny after three horrific years of trench warfare, were at the breaking point. The last hope for Allied victory was the United States. It had entered the war in April 1917, and its troops began arriving in France later that year.

The American forces were hastily trained for the demands of total warfare in the European model, and for the most part were equipped with a hodge-podge of weapons supplied by their allies. The question on both sides of the trenches was not if the growing number of American units would fight, but rather how well? Only combat would answer that question. Field Marshal Paul von Hindenberg and Gen. Erich Ludendorff of Germany were determined to shatter Allied resolve and achieve victory with an offensive launched before the full weight of the U.S. Army could be felt.

On May 27, 1918, specially trained “shock units” led a three-pronged offensive that smashed into the British and French lines. At Aisne, the French lines bent, then broke. In less than two days, the German army was at the Marne River at Chateau Thierry. Once again, the German army had victory within its grasp, and once again, the road to Paris, about 50 miles away, was wide open. In 1914, France, and the Allied cause, was saved by a sudden influx of troops delivered to the front by Parisian taxis – the “Miracle of the Marne.”

This time France had no miracles of her own remaining. Allied Commander-in-Chief Gen. Ferdinand Foch turned to Gen. John Pershing, commanding general of the American Expeditionary Force. Previously, Pershing had resisted releasing units piecemeal to reinforce depleted British and French divisions. He stated that when Americans fought, they would do so as a unified army.

But Pershing recognized that the present crisis overrode national considerations and temporarily released his five divisions to Foch’s command. The American 2nd Division, containing the 4th, 5th, and 6th Marine Brigades, was assigned to Gen. Joseph Degoutte’s French 6th Army, located along the Marne Front. Not since the Civil War had American troops been involved in a conflict of such magnitude. And it had been more than 100 years, at the battles of Bladensburg and New Orleans during the War of 1812, since the Marine Corps had faced an armed foe at the professional level as it did now against the 461st Imperial German Infantry regiment.

Read more: "Retreat, Hell! We Just Got Here!" -- The Marines at Belleau Wood and Blanc Mont

Remember Still 02 788x443"There But Not There" silhouettes overlook the Golden Gate Bridge in California.

‘There But Not There’ silhouettes honor WWI fallen, raise funds for military charities

By Freddie Jacobsen
There But Not There

A new nationwide campaign to commemorate the centenary of World War One and raise funds for military charities was launched across the United States this week.

there but not there logo blackThe campaign is called ‘There But Not There’ and all across the United States, six foot tall, life size Soldier Silhouettes have sprung up to remind people of the great contribution made by U.S. and allied forces 100 years ago.

The Soldier Silhouettes have appeared at major landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Gateway Arch in St Louis, in Times Square New York and at various memorial sites all over Washington DC.

The campaign is a U.S. World War 1 Centennial Commission Commemorative Partner. Members of the public are being encouraged to buy 10 inch versions of the poignant silhouettes, made by veterans, to raise funds for U.S. and British military charities.Remember Still 01 340x340"There But Not There" silhouettes in front of the Capitol in Washington, DC.

The grassroots campaign, backed by UK's Prince Harry, began in the United Kingdom, has raised nearly $3 million since it launched just eight weeks ago and it is hoped that the campaign can do the same for veterans in the United States.

The campaign Stateside will support the U.S. Invictus Games team and also has the backing of former Joint Special Operations (JSOC) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, who said: “It has been my privilege to lead our nation's finest warriors and I believe it is our duty to remember each and every hero who sacrificed their life for our country.

General McChrystal continued: “I am extremely proud to support There But Not There, a nationwide tribute commemorating the centenary of World War One and raising money for today's Veterans.

"It is my honor to support this project, not only to remember more than 100,000 Americans lost in WWI, but to help veterans who need it today.”

The Invictus Games, founded by Prince Harry, is an international adaptive sporting event for wounded, injured and sick military men and women. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country.

Read more: ‘There But Not There’ silhouettes honor WWI fallen, raise funds for military charities

Upcoming Centennial Celebration at only WWI Chapel in US

By Reverend Dr. Phebe L. McPherson
Maryland WWI Centennial Commission

1200px Epiphany Chapel and Church House Dec 09Odenton's Epiphany Chapel and Church House served U.S. soldiers in WWIEpiphany Chapel & Church House, located at 1419 Odenton Road in Odenton, Maryland, opened its doors in 1918 to be a “home-away-from-home” for WWI soldiers, including “reinforcements to the Chaplains of the colored regiments.” Second-floor rooms provided overnight accommodations.

To celebrate its 100 years, on June 3, 2018 the public is invited to an outdoor concert and dedication of a WWI Centennial Monument with keynote speaker, and National Public Radio figure Diane Rehm. The event includes WWI music by The Maryland Military Band and an opportunity to discover online information about family members who served in WWI.

Diane Rehm -- whose own father was deployed through Camp Meade to the trenches of WWI -- will address the crowd, on the topic of “Keeping Faith in Troubled Times.” Her father, Wadie S. Aed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Mersin, Turkey, enlisted and served in France with the United States Army, Camp Meade Detachment 147th Infantry 37th Division at the age of twenty-two.

The Maryland WWI Commission, established by the Governor in 2015, has partnered with the Chapel for this event.

The Chapel is a National Register Historic Site featuring a Chaplains’ Peace Garden with bronze plaques naming 2,929 WWI chaplains among them 24 rabbis and 108 African Americans. The museum is staged as in 1918 with bunk beds, original posters, victrola, trench art, uniforms, and items of everyday life and culture during WWI.

Read more: Upcoming Centennial Celebration at only WWI Chapel in US

CT monument honoring famous WWI war dog SGT Stubby dedicated

unnamed 130 1At Saturday's dedication ceremony, L-R: U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Curt Deane (the grandson of Corporal Robert Conroy, who found the stray Stubby while training near the Yale University campus), Susan Bahary (sculptor), WW1CC Commissioner John Monahan.via the Associated Press

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — A new monument in Connecticut honors service animals -- with a statue of one of the nation's most famous war dogs.

The sculpture, "Stubby Salutes," was unveiled Saturday in Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown.

SGT Stubby was a Boston-terrier mix that traveled to Europe with the U.S. Army's renown 26th "Yankee Division" during World War I.

Stubby became famous for warning soldiers of incoming gas attacks and locating wounded soldiers on the battlefield, staying with them until help arrived.

His story was the subject of a major animated movie last month, "Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero."

The new bronze sculpture, created by artist Susan Bahary, is the culmination of a three-decade effort to create a memorial, spearheaded by the family of Robert Conroy, the army corporal who adopted Stubby during training.

"I wanted to capture his likeness of course," Bahary said as a guest on Fox News . "I also wanted to capture that beautiful spirit. That courage. His bravery. His ability to cheer up the troops both on the battlefield and at home."

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission's Commissioner Jack Monahan was on hand for the dedication ceremony, as was Curt Deane, the grandson of Corporal Robert Conroy.


Read more: Monument honoring famous WWI war dog SGT Stubby dedicated in CT

High school activities in Puy-de-Dome, France remember U.S. troops

By Betsy Shepherd and Yael Rosen
Staff Writer, United States World War One Centennial Commission

In our office, we hear about various education and commemoration projects happening this year from all over the United States, as well as some happening in other countries. We are thrilled to hear of such activities, because this is how the stories of our WWI veterans will be remembered and passed on. We recently received word of a remarkable efforts in France's Puy-de-Dome region, that we wanted to share, because of its truly unique scope and location. Entitled “Remembrance and Commemoration”, it is a two-part project that includes long-term research, and a series of commemoration events from 2017-2019. The program is being led by Eddy Oziol, History Department Professor at the academy of Clermont-Ferrand. Professor Oziol is a noted historian, and collector of objects and documents regarding WWI and conflicts of the 20th Century. We had a chance to talk to him about their upcoming Memorial Day commemoration event, and the ongoing research efforts, as his students made Memorial Day preparations.

What is your project? How did this project start? Where did it originate from?

Eddy OziolProfessor Eddy OziolThe academy of Clairmont-Ferrand initiated the effort to hold activities surrounding the commemoration of the centennial of WWI. Using local, national and international resources; the project “La Fayette, here we are. The Americans in the Puy-de-Dome 1917-1919. A forgotten story, shared memories’, was suggested as a vehicle to awaken the memories of the US Army’s presence in the region of the Puy-de Dome during World War I.program coverHandbill for the Memorial Day commemoration event in Puy-de-Dome, France

The objective was to engage students to organize and participate to the commemorative ceremony that is scheduled for Monday May 28, 2018 (Memorial Day) and that will take place at Clairmont-Ferrand in front of the Monument honoring the fallen American Soldiers of WWI.

In addition, there will be an exposition of period objects and of work and projects done by the students. Additional academic discussion will focus on critical issues that resonate today such as, the French-American cooperation in the framework of contemporary military, and the US Army’s role during the Great War.

Why the local Puy-de Dome focus? What happened here related to the war, and the American AEF effort?

The history of American presence at the Puy-de-Dome has never been studied with precision, likely because of its location in the center of France and not at the front line.

The research is assured by local, national and American archives, and has helped drawing a relatively detailed picture of the American presence in that region during WWI.

Read more: Remarkable High school activities in Puy-de-Dome France to remember U.S. Troops

WWI Commission to Feature Special World War I Tribute in DC's National Memorial Day Parade 

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

WASHINGTON DC (May 18th, 2018) – The National Memorial Day Parade is coming to Washington DC on Monday, May 28th. This parade is our nation’s largest Memorial Day event, drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators to the National Mall to pay tribute to those who have served.

TruckThis year's parade will be huge -- including marching bands, flags, celebrities, veterans of all ages, 300,000 cheering attendees, and TV cameras that will broadcast the parade across the country.

New for this year, the parade will feature the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission's special tribute to the American veterans of World War I.

This special tribute will include several World War I-era military & support vehicles -- and for the first time ever -- a parade float to emphasize the centennial of WWI and America’s National WWI Memorial slated for Washington DC.

The Centennial Commission's float will feature imagery of the new National WWI Memorial that the Commission is building in the Nation's Capital. This memorial is being created via support from people across the entire country. It will be the largest national tribute to America's veterans in over a decade.

Read more: Centennial Commission to Feature Special World War I Tribute in DC's National Memorial Day Parade

WWI Commission sponsors 369th Experience jazz events in NYC during Memorial Day weekend 

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

NEW YORK, NY — The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, along with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex, are proud to sponsor performance by The 369th Experience during the Memorial Day Weekend.

369thEx Logo1aLt James ReeseLt James Reese EuropeThe 369th Experience is a historic series of national and international programs and musical events depicting the African American and Puerto Rican experience in World War I through the eyes and ears of the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment.

During World War I, the soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment were also known as the “Harlem Hellfighters". They confronted racism while they trained for war, and they fought ferociously in the trenches of France, though some of the most brutal combat, in some of the most important battles, of the entire war.

The 369th famously had, as part of their unit, a regimental military band that was made up of some of the most influential & talented musicians of their day. These musicians included jazz music pioneers -- and their military band became legendary for their unique sound, and their warm reception by the people of the war-torn regions. The band's rhythmic stylings, under band leader, Major James Reese Europe, literally introduced French listeners to American jazz, and ushered in the Jazz Age.

Carrying on their legacy, the modern-day musicians of the 369th Experience are talented college students from around the country. They were recruited to create a reenactment-band consisting of African American and Puerto Rican male students, from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Their goal is to perform and highlight the original band’s music at World War I centennial celebrations.

We invite the public to join us on Memorial Day Weekend -- and to enjoy the classical Jazz stylings of the 369th regimental band as a part of New York City’s annual “Fleet Week” Celebrations.

Read more: WWI Commission Sponsors 369th Experience Jazz events in NYC during Memorial Day weekend

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