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World War I Centennial News


 

 

UCL podcast participantsUCL podcast participants (left to right) Catriona Elephant, Simon Bendry, Sir Hew Strachan.

New Podcast Series Focused on the WWI Paris Peace Process from University College London 

By Catriona Oliphant, Director, Chrome Radio
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

University College London logoUniversity College London (UCL) Institute of Education, friend and partner to the WW1CC, has a remarkable new WWI-themed podcast series that is worth checking out.

Working with Chrome Radio, Sir Hew Strachan, Simon Bendry and Catriona OliphantI have begun work on a "Peacemaking in Paris" podcast series, in which Hew Strachan reflects on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and its legacy.

The first two podcasts - the first sets the scene and the second looks at the Treaty of Versailles have been released in time for the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, with more podcasts to follow in the autumn.

The PEACEMAKING IN PARIS Podcast can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/chromeradio/sets/peacemaking-in-paris-playlist

 

 

Michigan Military Heritage Museum to open special exhibit on the women who served in WWI 

via the Michigan Military Heritage Museum web site

Born exactly 138 years ago, on July 9th 1881, in Painesville, Ohio, Nellie M. Dingley was a friendly and kind-hearted woman. Shortly after graduating, she worked at the Carnegie Library in Kent, Ohio. She remained there about 7 years, and used to love spending time with children. She could spend hours reading stories to them. Convinced by a friend that she would be a perfect nurse, Nellie entered the Roosevelt Hospital in New York City and graduated with honours.

Nellie M. Dingley and grave markerNellie M. Dingley and her grave marker at the Suresnes American Cemetery in France.Then came the Great War. When America went in, so did Nellie. She joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and volunteered to serve in France with the New York Roosevelt Hospital's Mobile Operating Unit. Like all the courageous women who served in the Great War, Nellie knew she could die, but the love for her country was stronger than the fear of death.

Nellie arrived in Paris on July 4th 1918 and served at the 4th Camp Hospital where she cared restlessly for the soldiers stricken by the flu epidemic. By doing so, she contracted the virus herself. Sadly, on August 28th 1918, Nellie died of pneumonia. She was buried at the Suresnes American Cemetery in Paris, with full military honors.

To remember the courage and sacrifice of these exceptional women, the Michigan Military Heritage Museum, which has a unique collection of WWI Women artifacts, will be presenting a special WWI Women display at its "2019 World War One Day" event on August 10th 2019.

Information on the Michigan Military Heritage Museum in Grass Lake MI can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/mimilitaryheritagemuseum/

 

 

EMR6GQ3NNBBZLCHJD5FBH465AYWorld War I-era wooden ships owned by Western Marine & Salvage tied together in 1925, likely on the Potomac or at Mallows Bay. (Library of Congress: National Photo Company Collection)

‘Ghost Fleet’ cemetery now a national sanctuary 

By the Associated Press, via the Navy Times newspaper web site

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — An area in Maryland that’s home to abandoned World War I-era steamships has been designated a new national marine sanctuary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state of Maryland and Charles County announced the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary on Monday. It contains more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels that were built as part of the nation’s engagement in World War I.

It’s about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., along an 18-mile stretch of Potomac River coast in Charles County. It will be the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000. Maryland nominated the area for sanctuary designation in 2014 to conserve the shipwrecks and increase opportunities for public access, tourism and economic development.

“We look forward to working with the state of Maryland, Charles County and other local partners to foster education and research partnerships as well as support and enhance local recreation and tourism along this historic stretch of the Potomac River,” said Neil Jacobs, NOAA’s acting administrator.

Mallows Bay is known for its “Ghost Fleet,” including partly submerged remains of more than 100 wooden steamships that were built in response to threats from World War I-era German U-boats.

While the ships never saw action during the war, their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states was part of the national wartime effort that fueled the economic development of waterfront communities and maritime services industries.

Read more: ‘Ghost Fleet’ cemetery now a national sanctuary

 

Canadian cross 1024x682The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice honors citizens of the United States who gave their lives while serving in the armed forces of Canada during World War I.

The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

Honoring Americans who served in Canadian Forces during World War I

By Josh Baker
Staff Writer

The First World War ravaged Europe between the years 1914 until 1918, consuming men and materiel at rates which the modern world had not yet experienced. While European nations and their colonies fought in the trenches, the United States refrained from entering a European conflict as long as they could. It was not until April 1917, did the United States enter the First World War, aside the Allied powers against the Central powers.

Despite America’s delayed entry into the war, young Americans went north of the border to Canada to join the war effort. Canada joined the war in August 1914 as part of the British Empire, and as such, began to mobilize young troops and send them overseas as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.).

During Canada’s war mobilization, Sir Sam Hughes, then Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence, authorized the creation of a battalion comprised partly of American citizens residing in Canada and those who had left America to join the war effort. The battalion, based in Toronto, was designated as the 97th Battalion on December 22, 1915 and in February 1916, four more battalions were established across Canada. These five battalions would become known as the “American Legion.” It is estimated that 40,000 Americans enlisted in the C.E.F., of which 35,000 of them listed the United States as their place of birth.

The American Legion existed until March 1917 when it was officially disbanded. Members of the American Legion were then transferred to other Canadian units across the C.E.F. The disbanding of the American Legion was partly due to pressure from the United States government on Canada to remove “American” title from any Canadian or otherwise foreign formation. This was due to the United States policy of neutrality before the nation officially entered the war in April 1917.

Read more: Canadian Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery

 

Staircase Memorial(Left) The Baldwin Memorial Stairway, named in commemoration of Morgan Smiley Baldwin, a 1915 Cornell graduate who died during one of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line in France. (Right) The World War I memorial on Cornell's West Campus honors the 237 Cornellians were killed during the war and are commemorated along with 27 other casualties. 

Tompkins County, NY and Cornell University had outsize WWI role

By Cady Hammer
Staff Writer

The first time I drove through Tompkins County, New York was the summer of 2016. On my way back from visiting my great-grandmother at a nursing home in Cortland, I was seeking out Cornell University as part of my college search. Although many people have never even heard of this area of New York besides any knowledge of the city of Ithaca, I felt like I knew this place by heart. Most of my great-grandfather, Nelson’s family grew up in Groton: him, at least eight out of his ten siblings, and my great-grandfather, Frank Cady Blanchard who I take my name from. Fifteen members of the Blanchard clan are buried in Groton Rural Cemetery. My family’s hub began in this area.

I never paid much attention to the history of Tompkins County besides what I knew from family stories. I grew up in an educational environment where history begins and ends with the largest efforts of the most recognizable places. I imagine most of us learned that way. For example, many can cite the harshest winter encampment of the Revolutionary War occurred in Valley Forge. Without my grandfather’s input, I never would have understood that while Valley Forge had the highest death rate, Jockey Hollow near Morristown, New Jersey between 1779-80 was the harshest winter. Because of this, I never truly contemplated how much smaller areas could contribute to larger world events.

What possibly could this rural county have done to contribute to World War I efforts? While spending time as an intern here at the United States World War I Centennial Commission, I decided to answer this very question. Although none of my relatives served, I have two of their draft cards from Groton that I decided to use as a jumping off point.

What I found amazed me.

Read more: Cornell University, Tompkins County, NY had outsize WWI role

 

Pritzker Military Museum & Library Announces 2019 Literature Award Recipient: John Morrow, Jr. 

via the University of Georgia Department of History web site

CHICAGO — Military historian, professor, and author Dr. John H. Morrow, Jr. is the 13th recipient of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.

John Morrow JrDr. John Morrow, Jr.The Pritzker Literature Award—which includes a gold medallion, citation, and $100,000 honorarium—recognizes and honors the contributions of a living author for a body of work dedicated to enriching the understanding of military history and affairs. Museum & Library Founder & Chair Jennifer N. Pritzker, a retired colonel in the Illinois National Guard, will formally present Morrow with the award at the organization’s annual Liberty Gala on November 2 at the Hilton Chicago, where he will be joined by past recipients.

“I am truly honored to accept the 2019 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing,” said Dr. Morrow. “Receiving the award after nearly fifty years of historical writing, teaching, and consulting constitutes the ultimate affirmation of my career as a scholar of the history of modern war and society.”

Morrow is a member of the Historical Advisory Board of the United States World War I Centennial Commission.

Author or co-author of 8 publications, Morrow is an accomplished military historian and respected professor. His work includes The Great War: An Imperial History, The Great War in the Air, Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War (co-authored with Jeffrey T. Sammons) and German Airpower in World War I, among others. He has gained recognition for his ability to demonstrate how the past and the present intertwine inextricably.

“The screening committee’s recommendations and Colonel Pritzker’s selection speaks to Dr. Morrow’s years of dedication to the field of Military History,” stated Dr. Rob Havers, President and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. “For the depth of his writing and research, his years of dedication and service to the field of military history, for his academic achievements including his commitment to shaping the minds of the next generation of military historians, Dr. Morrow stands as a deserving recipient of the 2019 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. We are grateful for his devotion to the field and are proud to shine a light on his exemplary work in military history.”

Read more: Pritzker Military Museum & Library Announces 2019 Literature Award Recipient: John Morrow, Jr.

 

Albany marks Sgt. Henry Johnson Day, honors pair 

via the Albany Times Union (NY) newspaper web site

ALBANY, NY – City officials marked the third Henry Johnson Day to honor World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson on the 102nd anniversary of his enlistment.

Henry Johnson memorial Albany NYHenry Johnson monument in Henry Johnson Park in Albany, N.Y. (Catherine Rafferty/Times Union)The Albany man was part of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment and his actions in May 1918 posthumously earned him the Medal of Honor in 2015. President Barack Obama bestowed the highest military honor an American soldier can receive on June 2, 2015, in a White House ceremony.

At Wednesday's ceremony, Mayor Kathy Sheehan awarded city School Board Member Tabetha Wilson with the third Henry Johnson Award for Distinguished Community Service. The award honors those who have "demonstrably given of their time and talent to build a better Albany."

The annual award is a minted silver commemorative Henry Johnson Medal.

Tabetha who works for the state Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, also serves on non-profit boards including as president of AVillage and a member of the Capital District New Leaders Council and Grand Street Community Arts.

The Albany Housing Coalition awarded its second Charles Chandler Memorial Scholarship Award to Irene Nelson, a senior at Albany High School and member of the Junior ROTC Henry Johnson Battalion. The $1,000 college scholarship is given for an essay on Johnson's impact today.

Johnson enlisted in the Army during a time of racial segregation when the U.S. Army refused to allow black soldiers in combat. Members of 369th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, fought under French command.

Read more: Albany marks Sgt. Henry Johnson Day, honors pair

 

Austin exhibit'WWI America' at the Bob Bullock Texas state History Museum does cover the European conflict, but it focuses on the impact of World War I on America, which went from a relatively peaceful and prosperous place to a one of pronounced divisions, at times near chaos. (Contributed by the Bullock Texas State History Museum)

Austin WWI exhibit shows how U.S peace turned to near anarchy 

By Michael Barnes
via the Austin American-Statesman newspaper (TX) web site

Wars change nations. Big wars change nations in big ways.

Few were as big as the Great War, otherwise known as World War I, which ended not much more than 100 years ago with the Armistice of Nov. 11, 1918.

The United States entered the European showdown of doomed empires late but with enormous impact, especially back at home, as a densely organized and visually sharp exhibit, “WWI America,” argues at the Bullock Texas State History Museum. The exhibit runs through Aug. 11.

This exhibit, which originated with the highly regarded Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minn., includes a fair share of personal stories, such as ones about “doughboys” like Charles Whittlesey, part of a “Lost Brigade” caught behind German lines, and José de la Luz Saenz, who fought for democracy in France and against racial segregation in the U.S.

Yet pictures and numbers do the heavy lifting in this impressive show that’s squeezed into the Bullock’s special exhibition space downstairs.

Meditate at the entry to the exhibit, for instance, on statistics about the U.S. in 1914, at the start of the war that the country did not join until April 2, 1917. The U.S. population stood at 103 million, less than a third of what it is today. One in seven Americans were foreign born, about the same as today. Ninety percent of Americans were considered white, as opposed to 63 percent these days. A third of American households had telephones, but only one in 10 Americans paid income tax, recently made possible by the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was ratified in 1913.

In 1914, just 16 teams played major league baseball, “America’s pastime,” and manufacturing jobs brought in an average of 53 cents an hour in wages. More Americans lived in rural areas than in cities and towns, and a third of the population was younger than 15 years old. 

Read more: Austin WWI exhibit shows how U.S peace turned to near anarchy

 

Number, please? 'Hello Girls' answered the call in World War I 

By Richard Cowen
via the North Jersey Record (NJ) newspaper web site

Grace Banker served in some very high places during World War I. For 20 months, she lived like a soldier at a time when the Army didn't allow women in the ranks.

She wore a U.S. Army uniform with three stripes on her sleeve and carried a helmet and a gas mask to the front lines in France. And like any soldier, Banker had to keep her cool under fire, working the switchboard at Gen. John Pershing's headquarters amid the thunder of artillery shelling.Grace BankerGrace BankerPassaic cenotaphThe Cenotaph in Armory Park in Passaic.

In France, she learned to fire a pistol — just in case. And when Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces through a showdown with the Germans at the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne, Banker was with him, keeping the lines of communication open in the closing campaign of the war.

True to the cause, the Passaic resident didn't come home right away when the war ended in November of 1918. Banker went to Paris to operate the switchboard at President Woodrow Wilson's residence during negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles, which set down the terms of the new peace.

Banker was one of 223 women who volunteered for the U.S. Army Signal Corps as telephone switchboard operators. The newspapers dubbed them "The Hello Girls" — a moniker that many of them disliked, but one that stuck.

"She was an extraordinary daughter from Passaic who went on the world stage," said Mark Auerbach, the city historian. "The telephone was the cutting-edge technology of its time, and good communications saved many lives."

Five years after the war, on Memorial Day in 1924, Banker donned her Army uniform and stood with Pershing when he came to Passaic to dedicate the Cenotaph in honor of World War I soldiers that stands in Armory Park. Around the same time, Banker married and moved out of Passaic to Scarsdale, New York, packing her uniform, helmet and gas mask into a trunk and taking it with her. 

Banker settled down and raised a family in Scarsdale, and her story seemed all but lost to history.

Recently, Banker's granddaughter, Carolyn Timbie, came to Passaic with her husband, Dustin, to see the house at 227 Van Houten Ave. where Banker grew up. Timbie never met her grandmother, but she has spent much of her time piecing together the story and came to Passaic wanting to know more.

"My grandmother was an amazing woman," said Timbie, who lives in New Hampshire. "She was intelligent, and independent-minded. I think she figured, 'I'm going to do my bit to help win the war.' "

Read more: Number, please? 'Hello Girls' answered the call in World War I

 

20190628 182651David Hamon, the WW1CC's Military/Veteran Liaison, accepts a check for $1,700 from Elizabeth Kraatz, from the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone DAR Chapter Kalamazoo MI. Ceremony took place last week at the DAR Continental Congress in Washington, DC.

An Extraordinary Community Project Leads to a Special Donation from the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Chapter of the DAR 

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

Our effort to build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC has brought us partners from many different parts of the country, and from many different groups of people. The stories they bring to us are extraordinary -- their personal/historic ties to World War I, their belief in remembering our veterans, their commitment to giving the lessons to future generations. Among the most extraordinary stories of support comes to us from Kalamazoo County, Michigan -- specifically from the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Their members created a special project to mark the centennial of the end of World War I. As part of that project, they included a fundraiser aimed at helping build out memorial in the nation's capital. We had the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth Kraatz, Vice Regent of the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Chapter, to hear the full story.

Tell us about this special donation to the new National WWI Memorial. Who is your organization, How did it come about, who helped to put it together, who contributed?

The Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Chapter is the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. Founded in 1890, the DAR is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization. We're open to any woman 18 years or older -- regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background -- who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution. The DAR is the world’s largest women’s service organization. Our objectives are Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism. One of the ways that we preserve our country's history is to commemorate historic events, such as the centennial of the First World War.

The Lucinda Hinsdale Stone chapter sponsors the Ki-Ka-Ma-Sung Society, Children of the American Revolution (C.A.R.) and its Junior American Citizens Club (JAC). “Ki-Ka-Ma-Sung” means “pot of boiling water” and was the name the Potawatomi used for the area; with time, it morphed into the name “Kalamazoo.” The C.A.R. was founded in 1895 by Harriet Lothrop, the author of the beloved “Five Little Peppers” series of children’s books and a DAR member. C.A.R. is open to all children – boys and girls, birth to 21 – who can trace their ancestry to a patriot of the American Revolution. The C.A.R. is the nation’s oldest and largest patriotic youth organization. Its mission is to promote true patriotism and love of country and development of leaders through education and service projects. The JAC was established by the DAR in 1901 and is open to all children, regardless of ancestry, who are interested in exploring their American history and heritage.

DAR logo.jpgThe money was raised through a Luminarium - an installation of hundreds of glowing luminarias -- in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park, both in 2017 and again in 2018. The Luminarium was co-sponsored by the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Chapter, NSDAR and the Ki-Ka-Ma-Sung Society, N.S.C.A.R. Additional volunteer support was provided by two key groups: the Colonel Joseph B. Westnedge Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Boy Scout Troop 205. Colonel Westnedge was the beloved leader of the troops from Kalamazoo (126th Infantry, 32nd Division). He was hospitalized during the last week of WWI and died of septicemia on November 29, 1918. He is buried in the American Army Cemetery in Nantes. Providing volunteer assistance in his honor and memory was one of the first service projects for the newly-organized SAR chapter that bears his name. Boy Scout Troop 205 was founded in 1916 and is the oldest troop in Kalamazoo. A number of “boys” from Troop 205 served in WWI including its first Eagle Scout, Donald Charles MacEwan, who served as a Sergeant in the Medical Corps and was wounded at Juvigny. The Troop 205 boys of 2018 provided volunteer service for the Luminarium in honor of the Troop 205 “boys” of 1918.

Read more: An Extraordinary Community Project Leads to a Special Donation from the Lucinda Hinsdale Stone...

 

0 20Ideaventions Academy students at the school looking at the World War I exhibit displays.

Year-long WWI Research Project by Reston, VA High School Group

"Students often discover WWI to be far more interesting than they expected it to be."

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

A major reason why the Centennial Commission does what it does is to ensure the stories, and the lessons, of World War I are given to our coming generations. So, last month, we were thrilled to hear from Mr. Hugh Gardner, and Ms. Lachlan Dodge, who work with the Ideaventions Academy in Reston, Virginia. There, they helped their high school level students to create and carry out a World War I research project that took place over this entire school year. We wanted to hear more, and sent them a number of questions about the project -- and they asked students Daniel Heitz and Nolan Powers to be the spokespersons for the effort. 

Tell us about your class project. What did you study, and what did you create? What is the URL for your web site?

Following a year-long study of WW1, we selected from the research papers that we wrote for class and were proud of and created a web site to educate others about WW1.

The URL for the site is: http://idvhonorshistory.weebly.com. The website is organized by Technologies, People, Analyses and Reviews (incl. books, movies, games and museums). We're still working on getting permission to use some of the images that were sourced from books.

How did you organize yourselves? How did your research process work?

Nolan (student): 0 21Ideaventions Academy students at the school holding up WWI item from the hands-on exhibit The process would start by defining a topic that had to do with WWI. I would then find books in either the book annex at our school or buying books from Amazon or other online book providers. I would also look online for websites that were reputable and helpful. The next step would be to read all of the sources and take notes to fully understand the topic. The next step before writing would be to create an outline and have it approved by our teacher, Mr. Gardner.

For one paper I happened to be in Kansas City and so I wrote a paper on the National World War One Memorial Museum.

Daniel (student): I would start by choosing a topic, and then I would ask my teacher if he knew any good, reliable books on the topic. Then, I would look at books that were either available online or that we owned, and see if they would work as a good source. Usually, by now I would have plenty of sources, but if I didn't, then I would do a Google search about the topic, including looking at museum websites.

Once, I interviewed Dr. Patrick R. Jennings, Programs and Education specialist for the National Museum of the United States Army about the exhibit on World War One. I also talked to docents at the National Museum of the United States Navy and the National Museum of the United States Marine Corps.

Who helped?

Nolan (student): Our history teacher was one of the most helpful people during this process recommending books, topics and places to get more information. He would also help with the writing process, including beginning to edit phases to deciding how the backbone of the paper would look like. He would also provide feedback on our papers that would help us in future papers. For example, he recommended that I go to the National Air and Space Museum to write my paper on synchronized machine gun development.

Daniel (student): The people who helped most were probably my mom and our history teacher. They recommended books and helped workshop themes/topics for my papers. My mom helped with the editing process and showed me tips to help make the paper cleaner. Both of them helped me break-up my paper into different sections with different ideas when I was making the outlines.

Read more: Year-long WWI Research Project by Reston, VA High School Group

 

LaRue Paul Camp Sherman 2 1200Soldiers of Company A, 325th Field Signal Battalion, standing on Mound #7 of the Mound City Earthworks  during WWI. (Ohio History Connection via Ohio Memory.)

Camp Sherman versus the Mound City Earthworks 

By Paul LaRue, Ohio WWI Centennial Committee
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

The Scioto Valley in South Central Ohio is home to numerous important Pre-Contact American Indian earthworks. The visible heritage of Ohio's Pre-Contact American Indians are the mounds and earthworks that dot the landscape in Southern Ohio.

One of the most important Pre-Contact earthworks is the Mound City Earthworks, part of the Hopewell Cultural National Historical Park near Chillicothe, Ohio. The Mound City Earthworks had been explored and documented as early as the 1840's. In 2017, USA Today selected the Hopewell Cultural National Historical Park as one of its top ten sites in the country in an article titled Ten Great Places to Honor the Original Americans. Ohio fourth grade students learn of these Pre-Contact American Indians, who were the state's first inhabitants. One hundred years ago, the Mound City Earthworks were partially destroyed by Camp Sherman, a World War I cantonment.

In 1917, after the declaration of war, the United States Government leased 9700 acres of land outside Chillicothe, Ohio. Two thousand buildings would be constructed on the leased land, making Camp Sherman the third largest cantonment in the country. More than 120,000 men from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia would train at Camp Sherman. Some of the 9700 acres of Camp Sherman were adjacent, and on top of, the Mound City Earthworks.

The roads, barracks, and latrines of Camp Sherman encroached upon the thirteen-acre Mound City Earthworks with its more than twenty mounds. Some mounds, such as the large mound #7, were spared. Others, like mounds #13 and #23, were "cut down" to accommodate barracks (though the barracks were built over and did not intrude into the mound). Unfortunately for the earthworks, World War I temporarily overshadowed their historical significance.

Read more: Camp Sherman versus the Mound City Earthworks

 

369th Philadelphia TribuneThe 369th Experience. a WWI tribute band sponsored by the U.S WWI Centennial Commission, performs in May in Rockefeller Center during Fleet Week New York, which this year commemorated World War I. The band, which is made up of music students from HBCUs across the U.S. plays 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) 

369th Experience Band ties HBCU musicians to WWI Black history 

By Leonard E. Colvin
via the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper web site

In 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, two years after the U.S. entered the fight with France and Great Britain against Germany, 44 Black colleges existed.

Today, 100 years later, there are 101 public and private HBCUs, and they and their students are playing an important part in reclaiming the role African-American troops and artists played in that conflict.

Thanks to the United States World War I Centennial Commission, Coca Cola and the network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), a band of 42 accomplished musicians from HBCUs are traveling around the country playing the sounds of the 369th Infantry Regimental Band that made its mark in history during World War I and World War II.

The old wartime regimental band was reincarnated four years ago in the form of the 369th Experience. Most of the new band’s 42 members are current students or pending graduates of the HBCUs.

Its namesake, the 369th Infantry Regimental Band of WWI and WWII, used musical instruments and its artists with a flair for Jazz, originated by African Americans, to establish its legacy, and introduce the art form to the Europeans.

The WWI band was formed to accompany the 369th Infantry Regiment, a group of Black fighting troops. Its assignment was to boost the morale of the Black troops comprising the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly known as the 15th New York National Guard Regiment and commonly referred to as the Harlem Hellfighters.

Read more: 369th Experience Band ties HBCU musicians to WWI Black history

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