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World War I Centennial News


 

 

Bremerton Memorial 1000Research Elisabeth Demmon librarian uncovered errors on a remembrance stone to veterans of World War I and wants to see all those who died in the war get their due.

Who are the vets on the WWI Bremerton Memorial and why are some missing? 

By Josh Farley
via the Kitsap Sun (WA) newspaper web site

Twenty bronze plaques on a chunk of concrete.

It seemed a simple enough assignment for researcher Elisabeth Demmon as she copied the names of 11 soldiers, five sailors and four Marines off a memorial for those who “fought and died” in World War I at Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park.

Her mission: learn who these men were.

“I thought it was going to be a straightforward project,” said Demmon, a library research associate at Kitsap Regional Library working on her master’s degree in genealogical studies. “I had no idea what I was in for.”

Close to 100 years after the conflict ended, Demmon’s many months dredging the early 20th century for clues about the 20 men led to some perplexing discoveries and startling inaccuracies. She found not every man from Bremerton who died in the “war to end all wars” is actually listed. And some of those who were immortalized there didn’t die in the war at all. There was even one who would make it through the war and come home only to be murdered by his wife.

“I never knew what I was going to find from one man to the next,” Demmon said. “They were each very unique in so many ways.”

Demmon examined birth certificates, obituaries and stories from the newspapers of the day. Slowly, as she verified and vivified each man’s story, other questions about the memorial itself began to pop up. Who picked these names for the memorial, when did they decide to create the memorial and why?

“To this day, I do not know the criteria used for choosing these men,” she said.

Read more: Who are the vets on the WWI Bremerton Memorial and why are some missing?

 

polar bears monument 1000A monument for the Polar Bears stands at White Chapel cemetery in Troy. (Photo: David Guralnick, The Detroit News)

'Polar Bear' memorial in Troy marks a largely forgotten GI mission in WWI Russia

By Neal Rubin
via the Detroit News newspaper (MI) web site

Troy — The first 56 who lie buried near the marble statue of the polar bear died in Russia, where their government sent them to fight ghosts when the rest of the world was celebrating the end of the Great War.

The others, though — the ones who bought their burial plots close by, across a pathway from the Polar Bear Monument — were lucky enough to come home. And years later, when so many others had forgotten the sad and sorry story of the Polar Bear Expedition, they made the choice to lie forever near their brothers in shared misery.

The Polar Bears were some 5,000 soldiers of the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces, most of them from Michigan. They fought the Bolsheviks with guns and cannons in Russia's frozen northern reaches for seven deadly months after the November 1918 armistice that ended World War I.

Their mission was unclear, their president reluctant and their weaponry ill-suited for the conditions. Largely forgotten outside Metro Detroit, they were remembered at 11 a.m. Monday, May 27 in the 90th annual WWI Polar Bear Memorial Service in Troy.

Read more: 'Polar Bear' memorial in Troy marks a largely forgotten GI mission in WWI Russia

 

“The instruments of Destiny”: Reception of Iliad in American Great War Poetry 

By Claire Davis
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

One hundred years from the conclusion of the First World War, much of the classical reception in the war poetry of the early twentieth century remains unexamined. Most notably in this area, Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver’s recent book Stand in the Trench, Achilles challenges the persistent notion that all World War I poets refuted the tradition of their forefathers through her examination of classically-inspired poetry. Partially due to the late entry of the American forces in the First World War and partially because of the decline in classical education across the country, the small pool of American war poetry does not lend itself as easily to analysis, especially when the memory surrounding the First World War in America remains so vague.

Nevertheless, despite these inhibitors, a close reading of American war poetry before and during the First World War reveals that poets and their audience also found meaning and representation in the classical tradition in works such as the Iliad. However, the American classical tradition differentiates itself from its British counterparts by showcasing the nations’ disparate experiences in the war as well as their differing cultural values and self-images.

Liebermann Werner Jaeger 300Werner JaegerOne of the most striking ways that classical tradition impacted British culture was how it bred a type of soldier that viewed their status in society as the product of a legacy based on courtesy and discipline. Werner Jaeger argues in his book Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, that the most famous of classical authors, Homer, “presents the courtesy of his heroes as an absolute value; not as an unimportant background to their life, but as a real factor in their superiority . . . it gives them a special excellence, which they justify both by their grand and noble deeds, and by their blameless conduct in happiness and misery alike.”1 This justification of the elite in Greek culture and later British culture bred young men and women who were fully conscious of their ancestors’ superiority and inspired them to live up to their example. The British societal system perpetuated a widespread demand for knowledge of the classics and its virtues, and since most of the higher officers in the British army were public-school graduates or attendees,2 it was only natural that a major part of the British army be well versed in authors such as Plato or Homer and that a number may later refer to them to better explain their own war-time experiences.

While the classical tradition was not confined to a certain view or treatment, Vandiver finds a few major themes of sacrifice and idealism within British war poetry. She writes that the prevailing conception of the war as more than a struggle between nations put increased pressure on British civilians and soldiers, who were told that they were “defending civilization itself” through their service.3 Britain’s idealistic basis for entering the war elevated the status of the soldier and his combat to extraordinary heights in the contemporary mind to where any man could become a selfless hero and any skirmish the stuff of epic. Portraying the British soldier as an extension of the very culture that he defends is a way to claim and support the tradition to both contemporary and future audiences. Furthermore, the poet fulfills the function of epic poetry by honoring the soldiers for their bravery and thus committing their memory to eternity, which provides the soldier immortal glory, or kleos. By incorporating it into their work, British poets strengthened their nation’s ties to the classical tradition and acknowledged the platform of idealism that surrounded the British perceptions of the war.

Read more: “The instruments of Destiny”: Reception of Iliad in American Great War Poetry

 

Fox 21 video

Construction Set to Begin on New World War I Memorial in West Duluth 

By Nachai Taylor
via the Fox 21 KQDS television web site (MN)

DULUTH, Minn. – A $60,000 construction project is set to begin in June for a new World War I memorial at Memorial Park to honor more than 20 West Duluth soldiers.

A new concrete surrounding and a flag pole will be installed in the park on the corner of Central and Grand Ave.

The memorial will also pay tribute to over one hundred fifty World War One Gold Stars members.

Duluth Parks and Recreation says the previous memorial resided in the park for one hundred years.

Over time it had become destroyed and pieces have gone missing.

Read more: Construction Set to Begin on New World War I Memorial in West Duluth

 

Once World War I enemies, Minneapolis musicians shared bond over French horn left on battlefield 

By Curt Brown
via the StarTribune newspaper (MN) web site

With all its brass curves, a lost French horn wound up in what the 1927 Minneapolis Daily Star called “the center of one of the most amazing coincidents …”

Wilhelm Muelbe and Fred Keller were born nearly seven years and 4,300 miles apart in the late-1800s. They wound up fighting — and playing in military bands — on opposite sides of World War I a century ago.

ows 154248832937740Wilhelm Muelbe and Fred Keller, from a 1927 Minneapolis Daily Star clipping, with the French horn abandoned by Muelbe and recovered by Keller during fighting in World War I near Saint-Mihiel.Muelbe, a German musician born in Rostock in 1888, gave up his chair with the famous Grand Opera orchestra in Cologne to fight with the Germans along the Russian and Western fronts from 1914 to 1918. He survived unscathed, although a bullet once pierced his knapsack.

Keller was born in Minneapolis in 1895, the son of a German immigrant father and Wisconsin mother. Census rolls show Fred as a newspaper circulation manager in 1930, a leather salesman in 1940 and an ammunition maker in New Brighton by 1942.

Back in 1918, Keller was a member of the band connected with the Army’s 151st field artillery battery made up largely of Minneapolis men. They went on the offensive near Saint-Mihiel in northeastern France.

During five hellacious days in mid-September, American forces deployed one of their most audacious combat operations, using war planes for the first time and aggressive tank assaults under the command of young Col. George Patton, who would become famous in the next world war. The victory at Saint-Mihiel came at high cost: 7,000 American casualties, but more than 10,000 Germans taken prisoner.

Read more: Once World War I enemies, Minneapolis musicians shared bond over French horn left on battlefield

 

Groundbreaking for WWI Memorial starts this Fall in D.C. 

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

Nexstar Media is the second-largest television station owner in the United States (after Sinclair Broadcast Group), owning 171 television stations across the U.S.  The chain broadcast a Memorial Day article on progress of our National WWI Memorial.  The video is shown below as it appeared on NewsChannel 34 in Binghamton, New York last week.


Read more: Groundbreaking for WWI Memorial starts this Fall in D.C.

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Remembering Veterans: Luca Angeli on Italian-born Doughboys  

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In May 17th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 123, host Theo Mayer spoke with Luca Angeli about his project commemorating Italian-born Doughboys who died fighting for the United States. A native of Italy, Mr. Angeli has spent time working in the United States, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Theo Mayer: Because we're coming up on Memorial Day, we're focusing this week's segments on a series of stories that remember veterans. Our first segment looks at a group of immigrant soldiers that served in World War I. The New Colossus is a sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was cast into a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal's lower level. The most famous part of the sonnet reads:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and so it was in 1917 when we entered World War I on the side of the Allies and constituted a draft to grow our military from a small standing army to a major fighting force. A huge number of immigrants were swept into national service. One such group were Italians, many of whom had recently come to America suddenly finding themselves returning to Europe in uniform as part of the US Army. Our next guest, Luca Angeli, has been curating this information including a section on the Commission's website called, "Back Over There: Italian Immigrants Serving in the US Army." Luca, welcome to the podcast.

Luca Angeli: Thank you Theo, thank you for having me here.

Read more: Podcast Article - Luca Angeli Interview

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

100 Years Ago This Week: The League and Treaty as Viewed In America  

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From May 17th's edition of the WWI Centennial News Podcast, Episode 123:  

The story of the Paris Peace Conference not only plays out in the halls of Versailles, in Germany's Weimar, in the United Kingdom's parliament, but also here in America's Washington, DC. This week World War I Centennial News researcher and writer Dave Kramer explores the events on this side of the pond. The negotiations in Paris have been tortuous for Woodrow Wilson and things are no easier for him at home. As Mike Shuster told us, the Germans finally decide to sign the Treaty, even over the objections of their so-called irreconcilables. It's a very different story here in the States. We also have a group in the United States dubbed the irreconcilables. But unlike Germany, they hold the power to either ratify or kill the peace treaty to be completed in June. It seems hard to believe that Woodrow Wilson does not seem to take the Senate opposition to the treaty more seriously. The signs have been there for a long time.

President WilsonPresident Wilson ran into strong political headwinds as he tried to promote the Treaty of Versailles and League of Nations at homeOn November 5, 1918, just days before the jubilation of an armistice to end the Great War, the US midterm elections hand the president a stunning defeat. Wilson Democrats lose control of both the House and the Senate to the Republicans. It is the Senate that gives the thumbs up or thumbs down for international treaties for the United States. By November 21, the Senate Republicans make it clear that they expect to have representation on the US Peace Commission. Citing earlier precedents, and based on the idea that these representatives will be better able to explain the reasoning behind complex or controversial terms of the treaty, The Washington Post believes that Wilson will grant their request. He doesn't and the Senate isn't very appreciative. It's not the terms of the peace treaty gradually being hammered out in Paris that caused the problems. It's the League of Nations. Republican senators believe the League will undermine US sovereignty. An important concession that they seek is to separate the League Charter from the peace treaty. What do these anti-League senators object to? Many feel that the League will force the US to enter into wars in defense of other league members and wars that may not hold any national interest for us. They worry that it will threaten the Monroe Doctrine, which largely keeps European and Asian powers out of the Western Hemisphere. In essence, they fear that the League will limit our own sovereignty and power.

Read more: Podcast Article - U.S. Reception of the League and Treaty

Fleet Week 2019 Photo Gallery

The 369th Experience at Rockefeller Center during Fleet Week New York 2019

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

In foreground wearing civilian clothes, from left: Noble Sissel Jr., Cynthia Sissel, and James Reece Europe III, descendants of members of the original 369th Regimental Jazz Band, join The 369th Experience, a World War I tribute band sponsored by the U.S WWI Centennial Commission, as they perform in Rockefeller Center during Fleet Week New York, which this year is commemorating World War I, Saturday, May 25, 2019, in New York. The band, which is made up of music students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the U.S., play the musical repertoire of New York's legendary 369th Regiment "Harlem Hellfighters" Regimental Jazz Band. (Jason DeCrow/AP Images for U.S. WWI Centennial Commission)

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Read more: Fleet Week 2019 Photo Gallery: The 369th Experience at Rockefeller Center May 25

Fleet Week Photo Gallery

Fox & Friends gives an update on new National WWI Memorial

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

This year's Fleet Week New York had a World War I theme, so the team from FOX & FRIENDS invited the World War I Centennial Commission to give an update on the new National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC. The segment brought many surprises, and helped to tell our story to audiences across the country.

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Read more: Fleet Week Photo Gallery: Fox & Friends

 

bal 100 years of gratitude veterans and families remember baltimore world war i soldier on memorial day 20190527During a crucial offensive in France late in World War I, as a unit of the Maryland National Guard was being stalled by enemy machine-gun fire, a young soldier from Baltimore volunteered to go over the top and attack. Pvt. Henry G. Costin, 20, was awarded the first Medal of Honor in the history of the legendary Maryland-based 29th Infantry Division.

100 years of gratitude: Veterans and families remember Baltimore World War I soldier on Memorial Day

By Jonathan M. Pitts
via the Baltimore Sun newspaper (MD) web site

During a crucial offensive in France late in World War I, as a unit of the Maryland National Guard was being stalled by enemy machine-gun fire, a young soldier from Baltimore volunteered to go over the top and attack.

Pvt. Henry G. Costin, 20, led a team of volunteers into the teeth of the barrage, firing his automatic rifle into the German nest and continuing to operate it after being hit multiple times.

Costin died of his wounds, but his act of bravery allowed for the capture of 100 enemy soldiers and the completion of the mission — one reason he was awarded the first Medal of Honor in the history of the legendary Maryland-based 29th Infantry Division and why local soldiers and their families celebrate his memory to this day.

More than 50 people were in attendance Monday to witness the laying of wreaths at Costin’s grave at Loudon Park National Cemetery, marking the 100th straight Memorial Day on which he has been so honored.

The guests also saw a presentation of colors by the Maryland National Guard Honor Guard, heard patriotic speeches and watched the unveiling of a bronze plaque from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs thanking not just fallen veterans, but also their families for their contributions to the cause of freedom.

The department, which operates 136 national cemeteries in 40 states, is dedicating identical plaques at each location this month.

Costin’s niece, Laurel Costin Bodie of Timonium, helped place two wreaths in honor of Costin on a sun-splashed morning.

Read more: 100 years of gratitude: Veterans and families remember Baltimore World War I soldier on Memorial Day

 

Special Memorial Day Mass in Baltimore for AEF and Polish-American 'Blue Army' WWI vets

By Irving C.J. Porter
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

The Maryland Catholic War Veterans (CWV) and Auxiliary hosted the Maryland “Catholic War Veterans Centennial World War I Memorial Mass” this past Sunday, at Saint Casimir Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

Polish Army in FranceRecruiting poster for the Polish Army in France in WWIThe Services honored the veterans of World War l, as well as the veterans of General Joseph Haller’s 'Blue Army' Volunteers of WWI.

In the ceremony, the American Legion's General Joseph Haller Post 95 was recognized on its 100 Anniversary. The Post was formed in 1919 and incorporated in Maryland on March 20, 1920. The Post’s founders were World War I veterans.

St. Casimir Church was selected because of its size and original center of the Polish Community in the 1917. St. Casimir Church is the largest church in the Baltimore Archdiocesan. It is also the home parish for St. Casimir Catholic War Veterans Post 766/1764 and Auxiliary Post 766.

Each Memorial Day, the Maryland Catholic War Veterans sponsors a Memorial Day Service to “Remember and Honor all Men & Women who have service America in the Armed Forces". In past years the MDCWV honored the POW/MIA, Vietnam War Veterans, Maryland Missing Veterans and decease veterans from all wars. This year, they specifically wanted to honor those forgotten heroes of World War l.

To that end, Commander Gilbert Barker, and Irving C. J. Porter, Judge Advocate met with Fr. Dennis Grumsey, OFM, Pastor of St. Casimir Parish and Chaplain concerning a Memorial Mass for the World War 1 “forgotten veterans”. It was also agreed to include those Polish & Maryland Polish-American volunteers who traveled to Canada for training under French military.

Read more: Special Memorial Day Mass in Baltimore for the AEF and Polish-American 'Blue Army' Veterans of WWI

 

5cd4f3efd5f72.imageSt. Louis' own 138th Infantry Regiment returns from World War I with a parade through the city on May 9, 1919. The formation is marching south on 12th Street (now Tucker Boulevard) at Olive Street. Just out of view to the left was the Shubert-Jefferson Theater in the Union Electric Co. building, where organizers of the American Legion were holding their first meeting in American on the same day. The city had erected the pillars to make 12th Street a "hall of honor" for veterans returning from the Great War. (Post-Dispatch) 

100 years ago: St. Louis throws a homecoming party for the ages 

By Tim O'Neil
via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper web site

ST. LOUIS — The Doughboys formed ranks in favor of "100 percent Americanism" and against the city of Chicago.

The veterans of World War I who created the American Legion first met on American soil in a theater downtown on May 8, 1919. The killing had ended six months before. They adopted a national constitution, promoted employment for veterans and cheered Col. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., a war hero and son of the late former president.

The 1,079 delegates gathered in the Shubert-Jefferson Theater of the Union Electric building, Olive and 12th streets. By happy coincidence, St. Louis also was hosting a raucous welcome home for the 138th Infantry Regiment. The unit had formed here and fought in the Argonne Forest in France in the last weeks of the war.

On May 9, the 138th's soldiers marched through cheering mobs and passed in front of the Shubert-Jefferson, which became a convenient reviewing stand for legion delegates who mingled with the crowds.

"What a handsome leader," a woman shouted to Sgt. Ross Koen as he led L Company down 12th (now Tucker Boulevard). Jimmie Dutton broke through the police line and hugged his marching big brother, W.B. Dutton. Choruses of church bells and locomotive whistles added to the racket.

The 138th had paid dearly for the honor — of 3,500 men who signed up, 230 were killed in combat. Accidents and wounds increased the casualty rate to almost 50 percent. The survivors stepped off trains at the Wabash station near Forest Park and marched downtown in formation with rifles, packs and helmets.

Read more: 100 years ago: St. Louis throws a homecoming party for the ages

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