Dwight David Eisenhower on the 1919 military convoy that ran from the East to the West Coast on the Lincoln Highway.
From the World War I Centennial News Podcast
Ike's Big Road Trip
Podcast episode #130, July 5, 2019
Written By David Kramer and Theo Mayer
When the American Expeditionary Forces, the AEF, went to Europe to fight in WWI, a number of commanders were struck with the strategic importance of transportation infrastructure. Troops got moved through the regions by water, rail AND roads in ways that were strategically critical.
In 1919 there was no functional national road system in America! All major transport was via rail… so with the emergence of internal combustion engine driven technologies like trucks and tanks, it became clear to several commanders that their own homeland was vulnerable for lack of road based infrastructure.
As a young officer in World War One, George S. Patton was part of the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the AEF. He was commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded while leading tanks into combat near the end of the war.
State-side another young officer - a 1915 graduate from West Point named Dwight D. Eisenhower who was put in charge of a unit that trained Tank crews in the US.
During the interwar period, Patton and Eisenhower struck up a friendship. As two young “new style” officers, the guys bonded over their shared military enthusiasm their love of military strategy - but most of all - they were both head-over-heels into the new battlefield power tech of TANKS.
With that as a setup - let’s jump into our Centennial Time Machine and go back 100 years to an interesting story that plays out during the aftermath of the WAR THAT CHANGED THE WORLD! The segment was prepared by podcast researcher and writer - David Kramer and is called - Ike’s Big Road Trip!
[WAYBACK MACHINE SOUND EFFECT]
In July of 1919, it would be hard to image a world where you might casually take a road trip across the nation - let’s say from Washington DC to San Francisco…
You’d never imagine jumping into a reliable and air-conditioned machine - with adaptive stop-n-go cruise control - with a hybrid-gas-electric power train - a magical map that guides you to your destinations - let’s you know where to refuel, suggests the “best placed to eat” along the way as you listen to music being curated for you on the fly and making the whole trip at a pretty leisurely pace, in voila - in under 5 days - it’s hello Pacific!
The Americans who laid down their lives in the Great War deserve a memorial
By Ray Kelly via the New York Post newspaper web site
As the smoke clears from the Fourth of July fireworks sent aloft over Washington, DC, something profound is still missing from our nation’s capital: America’s World War I Memorial.
A Marine lieutenant who served in the Vietnam War, Raymond Kelly was commissioner of the New York Police Department from 1992 to 1994 and again from 2002 to 2013, making him the first person to hold the post for two non-consecutive tenures.More than 100 years after the end of that brutal, searing conflict, the Americans who laid down their lives in Europe have yet to be honored with a memorial worthy of their sacrifice.
In our rush to celebrate our national holiday, and amid our often-squalid daily politics, we continue to lose our connection to a combat that inflicted more than 116,000 American causalities, a war that left more “Doughboys” on the battlefield within a short 18 months than the losses suffered by our armed forces by the end of the Korean and Vietnam wars — combined.
Well into the 21st century, with no survivors left from World War I to demand that this wrong be righted, we are left to our national conscience to reflect on what we owe that generation.
In doing so, we are afforded the opportunity to consider the lasting legacy of that shattering conflict, including: women’s suffrage, civil rights, the emergence of modern medicine and the role of America as an economic and military superpower.
Who we are today was forged in the crucible of the Great War. But for 100 years, we have declined to pay tribute to the Americans who fought it by erecting a lasting and fitting memorial in the capital.
Our nation’s capital is home to monuments and memorials to great leaders, poets and politicians, milestone achievements and past sacrifices required to sustain our republic. There is a triumphant memorial to World War II and a deeply reflective Vietnam memorial that pays tribute to those I served with during that conflict.
The Korean War is captured with poignant statuary: A solidarity sailor reflects on those lost at sea. The shared purpose of these memorials is to permanently capture our nation’s everlasting obligation to remember, reflect and honor.
Still there is no national memorial in Washington, DC, that allows us to honor those Americans who gave their lives in World War I. Today, that unfinished business is being attended to, but it requires assistance.
Professors dig through history to prove WWI hero deserves a Medal of Honor
via the CBS News television web site
Sgt. William Butler served with the renowned all-black 369th Infantry Regiment during World War I. His heroism made headlines after he rescued five Americans who had been taken prisoner, while killing at least five Germans.
The 369th got a parade on their return, and Butler received the Distinguished Service Cross and France's highest military honor, but not the U.S. Medal of Honor. Professor Jeffrey Sammons of New York University said that's largely because of a concerted and well-documented effort by senior white officers to denigrate the performance of black soldiers.
Sammons has joined forces with professor Timothy Westcott of Park University in Missouri to right what they see as a terrible wrong.
"We are going to fix it with the best forensics and genealogical and historical research that we can possibly do," Westcott said.
Westcott and his students are combing through the records of more than 100 World War I minority service members who received the Distinguished Service Cross but might have deserved more.
"I'm just astonished by what these men did," said sophomore Joshua Weston, who is a veteran. "When you look at Caucasian members of the military, if they were to perform the same actions they would be given the Medal of Honor in a heartbeat."
Their work is supported by bipartisan legislation now before Congress which would require the Defense Department to do a systematic review of potential Medal of Honor candidates identified.
Butler later took his own life and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Student Ashlyn Weber hopes his headstone will one day read: Medal of Honor.
"If I can do anything in my power to make sure some of these men live again I will do it," she said.
A mission based on a belief that it's never too late to do the right thing.
Iowa Middle School teacher visits WWI sites in France
By Adam Sodders via the Marshalltown Times-Republican newspaper (IA) web site
PARIS – June was an exciting month for one local school teacher and history buff.
Miller Middle School teacher Ann Jackson reads a eulogy she wrote for Pvt. Frederick Eckstrom, a Swedish immigrant who moved to Marshalltown before joining the service in World War I.Miller Middle School Extended Learning Program teacher Ann Jackson landed in France for a history-filled trip to explore World War I sites as part of Memorializing the Fallen, a National History Day program.
“We’ve spent our time going through all of the American cemeteries and speaking with superintendent’s of those cemeteries,” Jackson said. “It’s been such a rich time of learning, not only about World War I but also collaborating with other teachers.”
The program included 16 other U.S. teachers. Jackson was chosen out of 334 applicants to take the trip. Along with American cemeteries, the group also checked out German war trenches, chapels, monuments and more.
This year is of particular significance when it comes to World War I. Exactly 100 years ago Friday, the warring nations signed the Treaty of Versailles, bringing an end to one of the bloodiest wars in human history.
The treaty was monumental in 20th century history. According to National Geographic, the treaty included harsh terms for one of the primary nations in the conflict — Germany.
Specifically, the treaty stripped a large chunk of land from German territory, dwindled the country’s military and demanded war reparations totaling about $37 billion in U.S. dollars, among other demands.
Many historians say the treaty was, in part, responsible for the dire financial situation Germany soon found itself in. With an economy struggling mightily, figures like Adolf Hitler were able to rise and take power.
Jackson said it was interesting to see the areas directly impacted by World War I and to think about how decisions made 100 years ago shaped future events.
U.S. Army Private 1st Class Raymond W. Maker, left, and the key he says he took from Verdun, France, around the end of World War I. His grandson, Bruce Norton, went to France last November to return the key back to the town.
World War I centennial: US author honors grandfather by returning key taken from France 100 years ago
By Greg Norman via the Fox News web site
One hundred years ago on this date, U.S. Army Private 1st Class Raymond W. Maker wrote in his diary “today is one of the happiest days of my life."
“The War is off, thank God. And all the boys have gone about half mad with joy. Bands are playing all day and at night all kinds of flares in the sky,” he beamed, capturing the relief felt among Allied forces as World War I officially came to an end.
It was a thrilling moment for Maker who, during the war, had been hit with mustard gas from the German army, wounded by artillery fire during the Muese-Argonne offensive – the deadliest battle in U.S. military history – and later went on to earn a Purple Heart for his service.
A century later, on Veterans Day 2018 – marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended The Great War – his grandson, Bruce Norton, was in France retracing Maker’s footsteps and honoring him by returning a key his grandfather took during the war. Norton joined the many Americans remembering the heroics of family members from generations past.
“My grandfather never spoke about the war to me, and it was only after his death that war stories were told at family gatherings about his service in France,” Norton, a former Marine and military author who is writing a book about Maker’s service, told Fox News.
From left, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Italian Council President Vittorio Orlando, French Council President Georges Clemenceau and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson attend the opening day of the Conference for Peace in Paris on Jan. 19, 1919. (AFP/Getty Images)
Learning the wrong lessons from World War I?
By Gabriel Glickman via the Washington Post newspaper web site
This week, we celebrate peace, notably, the centennial of the peace treaty that brought an end to the First World War. The average person today may take this for granted: We live during an era in which war and violence are no longer celebrated. But this progress is a double-edged sword because the lack of large-scale war, combined with weariness from almost two decades of continuous American deployment to the Middle East, makes us numb to the roads that can lead to a larger conflagration.
Because we are transitioning toward a more competitive and perilous international order, today should also be an occasion to reflect on the cause of a war that sucked in established and aspiring powers alike during a time of peace. After all, it is much better to learn from war than to live through it.
With more than 30,000 accounts of the war written in the English language, World War I has commanded the attention of scholars and politicians since it ended. They have asked the question: What brought those nations into such a devastating conflict? What lessons can we learn from it to stop future localized crises from spinning out of control?
The most popular description of it is that it was an “accidental war.” This argument posits that political leaders absent-mindedly slid into war without realizing the magnitude of the risk they were taking. New archival evidence has shown a more disturbing truth that historical figures were making decisions with their eyes wide open.
This is the pressing lesson we need to understand now. Great-power rivalry can dangerously affect decision-making during a time of peace. In the words of Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan, “National rivalries fueled an arms race which in turn deepened insecurities and so added yet more impetus to the race. Nations looked for allies to make up for their own weaknesses and their decisions help to bring Europe closer to war.”
This happened in four ways. First was the rivalry between Germany and Great Britain. From the turn of the 20th century, the two were locked in an economic competition and an arms race for naval supremacy. By 1913, leaders in both countries announced that the rivalry was at an end, but the dynamic seemed to persist. On the eve of the war, neither appeared willing to tolerate the other’s dominance.
Five Questions for Michael Polston, Arkansas Great War Letters Project
"Reading such letters makes the events of the past real."
By Chris Isleib Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Michael Polston has a remarkable story to tell. Curator of a history museum in Central Arkansas, part of Cabot Public Schools, he saw a raw opportunity to do something unique to mark the World War I Centennial period, something that would be immediate, accessible, relevant, and that would have value that would last long into the future. This project was a "Letters" project. He is better at explaining, and his journey to success with it is quite unique. Michael took some time to tell us about it.
Tell us about the Arkansas Great War Letter Project. What is it? What will people find at the site? How is it organized?
The Arkansas Historical Association called it “one of the most valuable of the efforts marking the centennial.”
The project is a website of posted letters written by Arkansas soldiers published in the state’s local newspapers during the war.
Michael PolstonThese letters are transcribed from those newspapers. At present there are over 2600 letters on the site. What a researcher will find are transcribed letters written by Arkansas soldiers. The letters are transcribed exactly as they are found in the newspaper. No corrections have been made by the transcriber. Many of the letters have brief biographical information in the notes at the bottom of the letter.
The site is fairly easy to navigate. You click on the Browse Letters at the top of the home page. That click will take you to a list of the 75 Arkansas counties. Click on any of those counties and it will take you to an alphabetized list of soldiers. It is important to note that there are also some letters from Arkansas nurses. Click on the name and a letter or letters written by that person will appear. The project is a work in progress and all counties don’t’ have letters. Some may never have letters due to the fact that many wartime newspapers no longer exist.
There are letters written by Benton County Arkansas Ace Field Kindley, US Treasury Secretary from Craighead County John Snyder and a letter written by I. D. Ashcraft mentioning Ray Cash, the father of the famous musician Johnny Cash in Cleveland County.
The most letters posted by any one soldier is that of Wyric Lewis in Benton County. About 60 of his letters are posted.
How did the project get started? Whose idea was it? How did the research process work? How did it grow? Who helped you to build it, and to expand it.
In a round about way this began back in the 1980s. I was doing research on the role of Arkansas in WWI and discovered that many of the local newspapers published soldier letters. I put the discovery away for about 30 years.
When the Centennial came around I revisited the letters. Now with the internet I thought what a great project it would be to put the letters online. They are pretty much a pain to access in their present form in the newspapers. Very time consuming to look up. I pitched the idea of a website to a couple of organizations, who thought it was a great idea but offered no help.
Five Questions with the Tattooed Historian, John Heckman
"It is not only one generation who may forget its history, it is an entire society."
By Chris Isleib Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
The world of World War I historians has no voice more unique than John Heckman. Also known as the Tattooed Historian, John has had long experience with teaching, and creating Living History impressions for other genres, including the Civil War, before he started to really devote his maximum efforts to World War I. John is very active online, hosting successful a Podcast series, Twitter, and Facebook social media accounts. John's take on history is very fresh -- he brings modern sensibility, personal viewpoint, and soldier-level context, to his interpretation of historical topics. John has also been a great friend and partner to the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, participating in several of our key events, including parades, commemorations, and the design rollout of the National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. John can be found online at:
You have an education background, and have been doing Living-History for decades. Tell us your thoughts about 'Living History'. What can a reenactor's impression get across to people that other forms of education cannot? What does it bring to the milieu?
John Heckman,AKA the Tattooed Historian, giving a battlefield tour.Living history, when done correctly, is a beautiful tool to educate all people, regardless of backgrounds. What do I mean by "correctly?" What I mean is that your history can be footnoted; it can be found within the pages of primary or secondary sources. To truly connect with the past and the viewing public, an interpreter must be passionate about getting it right. When the pieces of this puzzle come together, it provides an invaluable educational tool to work in tandem with a historical site, non-profit, or school setting.
Tell us about your background, and you work in this world of Living-History. Tell us about the impressions that you have developed. Tell us about how you generally got interested in history, in the first place. Tell us what drew you to the world of World War I.
I became interested in history at a very young age. I was around eight years old when I started reading books by Bruce Catton on the American Civil War. I would shut myself inside my room for hours and read. It was an escape mechanism due to growing up in a broken home. History also allowed me to live other lives through the pages of text when it seemed like my own life was a little rough. I finally started doing living histories at the age of twelve. My grandparents would take me to events so I could take part in them. Growing up in southcentral Pennsylvania, it was obvious that I would get lured into the Civil War hobby. And at the age of twelve, I found myself on an artillery crew, working an original twelve-pound howitzer. I was immediately hooked. It was my escape, my therapy. I could live another life for a weekend and so it made me want to dive deeper into the research and provide the best programming I could.
Panelists discuss “The Treaty of Versailles: 100 years later”, at an education symposium at France's Palace of Versailles, on the 100th anniversary of the Treaty that ended WWI. The special symposium brought together major historians and students from universities in France and the United States.A video version of the symposium be available for free, online, at WW1CC.org. (Caption by Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission.)
Events in France, Online Exhibition Mark the Centennial of the Treaty of Versailles
By Chris Isleib Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
VERSAILLES, FRANCE July 29, 2019 — Yesterday brought remembrance, commemoration, and education to Versailles France, as historical organizations honored the 100th Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles. The first of the Paris Peace Treaties, the Treaty of Versailles officially, effectively, ended World War I.
Presenting sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, worked with the National WWI Museum and Memorial, National History Day, and with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission to create a series of activities that were hosted by the legendary Palace of Versailles, where the Treaty was signed a century ago.
There were several parts to the commemoration, including a day-long educational symposium, the rollout of a special online digital exhibition, a wreath remembrance ceremony, and a fundraising reception to benefit the new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC.
The education symposium brought together major World War I historians, and students from universities in France and the United States, and gave them opportunity to discuss and explore the long term impacts from the Treaty. A video version of the symposium be available for free, online, at the Centennial Commission website www.WW1CC.org.
The online historical exhibition, titled “The Rise of Giving: American Philanthropy and World War I”, highlights the extraordinary achievements of American volunteers and philanthropists during and after World War I in Europe. It is also free, and can be found on the website of the National WWI Museum and Memorial, at https://www.theworldwar.org
Spotlight on the Media: An Interview with WWrite Blog Curator Dr. Jennifer Orth-Veillon
In June 28th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 129, host Theo Mayer interviewed Dr. Jennifer Orth-Veillon. Dr. Orth-Veillon is a writer, researcher, and war literature expert who has curated the Commission's WWrite blog for the past several years. Read on to learn more about how World War I changed writing and literature forever. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity:
Theo Mayer:Dr. Jennifer Orth-Veillon is a writer, researcher, and war literature expertSo much has happened during this WWI centennial period and as the U S WWI Centennial Commission was reaching its stride in organizing the centennial of WWI, we started to explore and question the common perceptions of WWI. We realize that common references like the "forgotten war" or the "great war" were anachronistic. These were no longer fit descriptions. After all, people were beginning to remember WWI all over. And the "great war" was a term that was assigned before an even larger global conflict followed. So as the centennial was shedding a new light on the subject, a new reference was suggested to us by one of our wonderful communication advisors, Robert Glens, an ad industry legend. He suggested that we begin to refer to WWI as "the war that changed the world." Now, words are powerful and as we started to live with this new reference, it acted as a catalyst causing a new perspective and reexamination of how WWI changed the world.
All of that leads us to today's interview with Dr. Jennifer Orth-Vellion, who has masterfully curated a very special section of our website since December of 2016 called the WWrite blog. That's w-w-r-i-t-e. The blog is self-described as exploring WWI's influence on contemporary writing and scholarship and has earned a loyal following of over 30,000 avid readers. Dr Orth-Veillon holds a Ph.D. In comparative literature from Emory University, lives in France, and besides her own contribution, has pulled together thoughtful, interesting and provocative articles from a who's who of thinkers and writers to help us understand how the war that changed the world changed the nature of literature, art and film in the 20th and 21st centuries. Jennifer, it's not only a pleasure to have you on the show, but it's also been my pleasure and privilege to work with you over these past two and a half years. Welcome to the podcast.
J. Orth-Veillon: Thank you very much Theo, and it's also been a pleasure to work with you and with the other members of the commission.
A glass case allows visitors to view the photographs and their handwritten narratives on the reverse side.
WWI Exhibit Showcases 100-Year-Old Portraits Of Cincinnatians At War
By Tana Weingartner via the Cincinnati Public Radio (OH) web site
The Cincinnati Museum Center is marking the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I with an exposition featuring images not displayed since 1919.
Until We Meet Again: Cincinnati Portraits from World War I features photographs of servicemen and women, uniforms and flags that were part of a December 1918 Allied Governments War Exposition at Music Hall.
The Expo ran for nine days and drew 164,000 people, says Jim DaMico, curator of audio visual collections at the museum center.
"One of the components of the Exposition was a local call to family members to lend photographs of their loved ones in service, so there were approximately 6,000 photographs on display. You can tell on a lot of the photographs because there's still the pinholes from that time. The last time they were displayed was in 1919," DaMico explains.
Afterward, organizers asked families to donate the images to the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio - which would later become the Cincinnati History Library & Archives - and 2,625 photographs were sent.
Was the Treaty of Versailles a Victory for Democracy?
By Ted Widmer via the New York Times newspaper web site
June 28, 1919, dawned as a beautiful day; fair, with moderate winds, according to The New York Times. It was a perfect day to see a baseball game, and 28,000 did, going to the Polo Grounds to watch the Yankees and Red Sox split a doubleheader. New Yorkers could only envy the Red Sox, who had won the last World Series, and seemed poised to win many more, since they boasted “the mighty Babe Ruth, Boston’s swatting all-around player.”
It was hard to believe on this sunny day, but it had been precisely five years since World War I began with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Since then, nearly 20 million had died, and entire empires, including Franz Ferdinand’s, had vanished. But those painful memories were softened by the knowledge that nothing so terrible could ever happen again. Because June 28 was the day that a new history would begin.
Across the Atlantic, outside Paris, another huge crowd thronged the old royal seat of Versailles, where a peace treaty awaited signature. It was the culmination of months of work, led by the American president, Woodrow Wilson, who had promised to make the world safe for democracy.
The immense chateau was an unlikely backdrop for a democratic pageant. But like a versatile actress, it was ready to play this demanding new part. Auspiciously, the treaties that recognized the United States were signed here in 1783, validating the idea that one people, at least, might dare to govern itself. Less auspiciously, democracy had surged out of control during the French Revolution, when the proud buildings were stripped of their furnishings. But these were obscure footnotes on what was sure to be a great day. News cameras were on site, ready to record every detail for a voracious public.
By Phillip Dehne via the Washington Post newspaper web site
Though World War I officially ended 100 years ago today with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, in its overwhelming influence on economic sanctions since 1919, the Allied blockade never really stopped. While it’s the narratives of destruction and change, from the bloodbath of the Somme to the triumph of Vladimir Lenin in Russia, that have captured the public imagination about the war, the way the war transformed economic warfare should also be seen as one of its central legacies, one that continues to shape international relations today.
In particular, the war launched a new style of economic blockade. Practiced most avidly by the United States, economic sanctions now include attempts to curtail North Korean coal exports, freeze the assets of Russian oligarchs and limit the ability of Venezuela to import equipment for its disintegrating oil industry. Economic coercion is now a widely accepted tool of first resort when dealing with foreign foes — though its utility and effectiveness are endangered by the Trump administration’s unwillingness to build support for sanctions among allies.
During World War I, the coalition warfare led by Britain, France and eventually the United States aimed to control access to international trade and finance, and relied largely on nonmilitary methods of enforcement. The “Inter-Allied Blockade” did not entail besieging enemy ports, but rather meant identifying and confiscating German goods on the high seas, denying credit on international bankers’ ledgers and using controls over global shipping assets and supply chains to attempt to permanently disrupt Germany’s commercial connections in overseas markets.
For example, jute importers and wool exporters in neutral Argentina avoided trade with local German merchants who were on Allied blacklists, fearing that otherwise they would be blacklisted themselves and lose access to shipping and international banking. As a nearly global effort against their enemies, the Allied economic campaign helped to undermine German resilience.
The blockade begun by the British in 1914 intensified as they drew their allies into the effort. It developed through official collaboration both at the highest level, in meetings in Paris and London, and also on the local level between Allied diplomats and business executives in Buenos Aires and Shanghai. Everywhere this Allied cooperation occurred, it ratcheted up pressure on German commercial and financial interests.
This strategy suggested warfare could happen without direct military action. For statesmen reeling from the carnage of the battlefields, this was a hopeful prospect. At the Paris Peace Conference that ended the war, wartime blockaders wrote economic war into the founding document of the League of Nations. Looking to enhance the possibility of peace between countries, the League’s “Covenant” envisioned automatic and universal economic sanctions against any peace-breaking nation.