previous arrow
next arrow
previous arrow
next arrow

World War I Centennial News



Small city, big contribution: Ironton, Ohio, and the Great War 

By Joe Unger
via the Huntington Herald-Dispatch newspaper (WV) web site

Ironton, an Appalachian city of 12,000 in 1910, is nestled on the Ohio River in an iron-rich region. In 1917, the Ohio National Guard had a detachment, Company I, 7th Ohio National Guard, hailing from the city. Mustering into federal service on July 15, 1917, the strength of the company was 60 men, commanded by Capt. M.W. Russell. The training was strenuous in the hikes through the Appalachian Mountain foothills surrounding Ironton. It is stated that:

Brig. Gen. James T. DeanBrig. Gen. James T. Dean"Arrangements were made to use the Lawrence Street Public School Building as a barracks, and immediately intensive training was begun to fit the boys for the strenuous overseas service. Long hikes were taken over many hills surrounding Ironton, and through the benefit of these and the close order work, the company soon began to take on a very military aspect under the able officers mentioned above. While two-thirds of the boys were raw recruits, before many days had passed, they bore the ear-marks of old time veterans. The work on most of the boys was entirely different from any they had ever engaged in, but nevertheless, they plunged right into it, never thinking of their blistered feet and aching muscles, but thinking only of the joyful day when they would take a crack at the heinous Hun. It was only for this reason that they withstood the unaccustomed training so splendidly" (Role of Honor of Lawrence County, OH, Miller, 1919).

In September 1917, 16 boys from Company I were sent to Camp Perry, Ohio, to begin the process of transfer to the famous Rainbow Division. The balance of the company entrained for Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, arriving there on the 16th of October 1917. These men were transferred to Company A, 148th Infantry, 37th Division. In May 1918 the 37th was sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, and received equipment for overseas service. Company A participated in all of the combats of the 148th Infantry, including the front lines of Baccarat and the Pannes, the Meuse-Argonnes offensives, and the Ypres-Lys offensives. It was in this latter campaign that the 148th had its crowning achievement, it was the first Allied unit to cross the Scheldt River in Belgium on Nov. 2, 1918. This dangerous crossing, under murderous machine gun and artillery fire, inspired the regimental motto: "We'll do it!"

After the war, the men of Company I returned home to Ironton, and marched in the Decoration Day Parade in 1919. It was their victory parade. Other WWI soldiers and airmen, all Irontonians, marched through the streets of the city: Brig. Gen. James T. Dean, Brig. Gen. George Richards, Brig. Gen. James Ancil Shipton, many lieutenant colonels, and its most famous son of the Great War: Capt. William C. Lambert of the Royal Flying Corps, the second-highest scoring American ace with 22 1/2 victories (see "Bill Lambert, WWI Flying Ace" by Sam Wilson).

Read more: Small city, big contribution: Ironton, Ohio, and the Great War


Stained Glass window Washington County The large stained-glass window in the Washington County Courthouse in Abingdon, Virginia. (David Crigger/BHC)

100-year-old stained-glass window honors local WWI soldiers 

By Robert Sorrell and Dalena Mathews
via the Bristol Herald Courier newspaper (VA) web site

An antique window that can only truly be appreciated from inside the Washington County Courthouse was installed a century ago in honor of local soldiers who fought in World War I.

The courthouse is 150 years old and has been through several transitional periods that have an important place in the county’s history. The original courthouse burned during the Civil War and was later rebuilt at the same location, and a Confederate statue, installed in 1907, stands in front of the building’s front entrance. After World War I ended, the county decided to add it as a unique tribute to recently returned soldiers.

In March 1919, the Washington County Board of Supervisors approved the manufacture and installation of a one-of-a-kind window to honor the service of local soldiers and their role in World War I. The window replaced a second-floor door, according to documents provided by the Washington County Historical Society.

A newspaper article said the board’s reasoning for the project as “a tribute to our boys who left the country for the recent war and to the ladies who did their bit to make the world safe for democracy.”

The window — made of Tiffany-stained glass — was installed on July 4, 1919, as part of the town’s Independence Day celebration.

Read more: 100-year-old stained-glass window honors local WWI soldiers


Five Questions for Chris Isleib

"I wouldn't trade the incredible time I've had with this team for anything." 

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

Publisher's note: ISLEIB Bio photo 2Chris IsleibAs the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission shifts its mission to focus exclusively on the construction of the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC,  there is also a shift in staffing. Among those who will, sadly, depart the Commission team is long-term Director of Public Affairs Chris Isleib. Isleib has been with the Commission on long-term loan from the U.S. National Archives, and will return to the Archives on the first of August. Chris's trademark contributions to the Commission web site were multi-question interviews via email with a wide assortment of individuals inside, outside, and around the Commission, and across the world. As what may be (but we hope isn't) his final contribution, Chris  has a chance to interview one more important person about his tenure, and his personal experiences as part of the Centennial Commission team—himself!.

Tell us about your work as the Director of Public Affairs for the Centennial Commission. What did you do? What were your responsibilities?

I consider myself the luckiest person in the world -- with the best job in the world. I wouldn't trade the incredible time I've had with this team for anything.

Overall, my job has been to tell the story of America & World War I -- the human accounts of personal experiences, the sweeping history of our nation's role 100 years ago, the amazing commemorations that people have hosted across the country, and the new National Memorial that we are building here in Washington DC.

Read more: Five Questions for Chris Isleib


Album TitleAlbum cover artwork from the new Sabaton album, The Great War

Interview with Pär Sundström, Lead Bassist for the legendary heavy metal band Sabaton 

"I know we make people research and dig deeper."

By Joshua Haynes
Staff Writer

This last week, I conducted an interview with Pär Sundström, the lead bassist for Sabaton. Sabaton is a Swedish power metal band that focuses on writing songs about military history. They have just completed their most recent album, The Great War, which explores various themes and events from World War I. Clearly, this album means a lot to Pär and the rest of Sabaton as well as their fans. The band takes great pride in its ability to combine the value of history with the thrill of heavy metal, developing a strong fan base across the world. As Sabaton continues to gain popularity, interest in the topics they write songs about increases significantly. Most importantly, their songs bring attention to major events and individuals that today’s youth are rarely taught about, all while sounding really, really good in the process. Here is what Pär had to say:

What inspired the band’s focus on military history?

Par SundstromPär SundströmA long time ago, we didn’t really have any clue what to write; we needed to have something to write about. We wanted to write about something new, about the real world. We came across the idea after watching Saving Private Ryan. We said, "this is something interesting to write about.” Military bands have happened in the past, but not on Sabaton's level. Once we started to do it, it just gave us something to do, but then it started to mean something for our fans. In the beginning it was just something interesting, but now it’s a grown interest.

Sabaton's new album, The Great War, is its first to focus exclusively on a single conflict. What made you choose World War I as the most deserving conflict for this landmark in the band's history?

It was the timing, because we always have many different topics, and were discussing many. Because of the timing around armistice day, it felt natural to do this. Anything else can wait, but this cannot wait. We have made a couple songs about World War I in the past, but this is the first time to make a full album for it. As a Swedish person, we have little connection and don't learn much in school. We only learn that there was a 'sequel'. This conflict is quite interesting because a lot of these stories are news to us.

What do you think is the importance of discussing World War I in modern music?

I think pretty much whatever history we discuss in our songs, the more time passes, the more research [our fans] do. I think 20 years ago we didn’t think so much of it, but we do now after doing it for 15 years around the world. For me it has changed the perception of the entire world, why the world looks like it is or why people think what they do about each other. If other people could have this perspective, there may be less wars because there would be less misunderstandings, maybe fewer fights or brawls. The more we can teach people to be thinking or open to the world as we have become, we are doing the world a little bit of a favor. The history thing comes in second place to being a metal band.

Read more: Interview with Pär Sundström, Lead Bassist for legendary heavy metal band, Sabaton


190705 Z IE498 201Lt. Col. (ret.) Jennifer Pritzker, founder of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago, salutes the color guard as they retire the colors following a rededication of the Victory Monument in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, July 5. The event was held to commemorate the 8th Illinois, an all African-American unit that fought in the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II. During World War I the unit’s Soldiers were awarded several medals of valor including 21 Distinguished Service Crosses – the second highest award for act of heroism, and 68 Croix de Guerre, the French award for acts of valor. (Photo by Sgt. Christopher Garibay)

Chicago community, Guardsmen Rededicate WWI Monument 

By Sgt. Christopher Garibay, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
via the Illinois National Guard web site on

The Illinois National Guard, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the 8th Infantry Association, the Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville, the World War I Centennial Commission, Friends of the Victory Monument Memorial and several dignitaries took part in the rededication of the Victory Monument in Chicago on July 5 honoring the World War I service of the Illinois National Guard’s storied all African-American 8th Infantry Regiment.

The monument was erected in 1927 to honor Soldiers in the Illinois National Guard’s 8th Infantry Regiment. The 8th Infantry was re-designated as the 370th Infantry Regiment during World War I, where they fought under French control because of institutional racism in the U.S. Army at that time. Upon return to Illinois, it became the 8th Infantry once again. The ceremony was a way to raise awareness of the actions of one of the most valiant African-American units to take part in the “Great War.” The monument recently underwent a $62,000 renovation. Renovation funds came from a grant from the World War I Centennial Commission 100 Cities Project and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events’ budget for conservation and maintenance.

“This is the only monument of its kind in the United States and it is the untold story of World War I black soldiers who fought valiantly under French command and control,” said former ambassador and U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun. “This is the only memorial that represents their work and their sacrifice, and as a descendant of a member of the 370th, it means a lot for me and the community.”

The monument is nestled along Martin Luther King Drive in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago. It was in this community more than 100 years ago that young black men heeded the call of their nation to fight in Europe, despite facing segregation and racism back at home. Still, undeterred, a total of 400,000 black troops across the country would fight in the Great War of which 42,000 would see combat. The 8th Illinois, or the “Black Devils” as they would come to be known by the German Army, would see 21 men receive the Distinguished Service Cross – the nation’s second highest award for valor, and 68 Croix de Guerre - France’s award for units and individuals from foreign militaries for actions of valor. During the war, 137 men would die in France, and their names are enshrined on the memorial for all to see.

Read more: Chicago community, Guardsmen Rededicate WWI Monument


09d2e94f c504 49db 9eff eba3a64fd612 AP19189697649277In this 1919 photo provided by Chicago History Museum, a crowd of men and armed National Guard stand in front of the Ogden Cafe during race riots in Chicago. (Photo: AP) 

Hundreds of black Americans were killed during 'Red Summer.' A century later, still ignored 

By The Associated Press
via the USA Today newspaper web site

America in the summer of 1919 ran red with blood from racial violence, and yet today, 100 years later, not many people know it even happened.

It flowed in small towns like Elaine, Arkansas, in medium-size places such as Annapolis, Maryland, and Syracuse, New York, and in big cities like Washington and Chicago. Hundreds of African American men, women and children were burned alive, shot, lynched or beaten to death by white mobs. Thousands saw their homes and businesses burned to the ground and were driven out, many never to return.

It was branded "Red Summer" because of the bloodshed and amounted to some of the worst white-on-black violence in U.S. history.

Beyond the lives and family fortunes lost, it had far-reaching repercussions, contributing to generations of black distrust of white authority. But it also galvanized blacks to defend themselves and their neighborhoods with fists and guns; reinvigorated civil rights organizations like the NAACP and led to a new era of activism; gave rise to courageous reporting by black journalists; and influenced the generation of leaders who would take up the fight for racial equality decades later.

"The people who were the icons of the civil rights movement were raised by the people who survived Red Summer," said Saje Mathieu, a history professor at the University of Minnesota.

Read more: Hundreds of black Americans were killed during 'Red Summer.' A century later, still ignored

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

WWI Now: An Interview with Commissioner and National WWI Museum President Dr. Matthew Naylor  

CN PodcastLogo Final gray lower

In July 29th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 133, host Theo Mayer spoke with Dr. Matthew Naylor. Dr. Naylor is an accomplished non-profit executive, a World War I Centennial Commissioner, and Chief Executive of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO. Read on to learn more about Dr. Naylor, the National Memorial and Museum, and how it complements the future memorial in Washington, D.C. (and vice versa). The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: Naylor 200Matt Naylor

Theo Mayer: It's time to fast-forward into the present with World War I Centennial News now. During this part of the podcast, we explore how World War I is being remembered and commemorated today. Many of you may know about, and may even have visited the amazing, memorable, and thoroughly unique National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. It's a stunning venue overlooking the historic Kansas City Union Rail Station, a central hub that 100 years ago was a nexus for young recruits, both leaving and returning home from World War I. So when you go there and walk around, it's as if the very ground of the whole area is infused with World War I history.

And so it's with great pleasure that I welcome our next guest, Dr. Matthew Naylor, the president and CEO of the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. Dr. Naylor is a native of Australia. He's also a commissioner on the World War I Centennial Commission. Commissioner Naylor, welcome to the podcast.

Matthew Naylor: Glad to join you.

Read more: Podcast Article - Dr. Matthew Naylor interview


Batavia History 1919 Soldier homecoming photo bw copy cropBatavia, Illinois in 1919 welcomed home its men and women 19who served in the armed forces in World War I. Among those welcomed was Wilton Folsom Hoag, whose name would unite cities in two nations decades later. 

Kane County, IL History: Batavia’s WWI French Connection 

via the Kane County Connects (IL) web site

In January, 1997, students of the Junior High School in Saint-Aignan-Sur-Cher, France, sent a letter to the “City Archives” of Batavia, in hopes of learning more about “W. F. Hoag.”

The eighth- and ninth-graders were studying World War I, and as part of a class project were attempting to track down American soldiers that had left their names scratched into the limestone caves and buildings in the nearby town of Noyers-sur-Cher.

“W. F. Hoag BA – – – IA ILL.” was found on the front façade of the home the students’ history and geography teacher, Christian Couty. It took a bit of puzzling, but the only town that fit that pattern of letters was Batavia, IL.

This letter was passed from the city to Batavia Historical Society Historian Bill Wood, who knew exactly who W. F. Hoag was. An educator himself, he knew what an amazing opportunity this was for the students and got straight to work gathering information about the man and Batavia for the class to enjoy.

Wilton Folsom Hoag was a well-known name in town. He was the last living WWI veteran in Batavia, and had just died the year prior, June 22, 1996, at the grand age of 102.

He was born Dec. 4, 1893, in Nebraska, but his father, an established windmill builder, came to Batavia to work at Challenge Company about 1911. Wilton had already followed in his father’s machinist footsteps when America entered World War I in 1917.

Wilton enlisted, and was sent to France, where his skills were put to good use.

From April 1 to Dec. 25, 1918, he was part of the 15th Company 2nd Regiment of Air Service Mechanics, where he helped rebuild “Spad” airplanes used by both the U.S. Army Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps.

It was this talented young man that engraved his name into the limestone building in France. 

Read more: Kane County, IL History: Batavia’s WWI French Connection


New Peer Program to Recognize Fund Raising Support for WWI Veterans Commemorations

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission Announces the "A.E.F. Memorial Corps"

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission has announced the “A.E.F. Memorial Corps” (American Expeditionary Forces Memorial Corps) to recognize Veterans, Military, Patriotic, Historical, Service, and Community organizations that raise funds to help build and provide ongoing support for the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

AEF Memorial Corps buttonThe A.E.F. Memorial Corps will induct national, state, or local organizations (or any local chapters such as American Legion or VFW posts) which hold fundraisers for the benefit of the national World War I Memorial. Those Legion and VFW Posts which have already made donations to help build the Memorial will be inducted at the organization’s respective national conventions this summer.

The A.E.F. Memorial Corps supports remembering those veterans who served in WWI, and the ongoing remembrance of their stories. It will be operated by the Doughboy Foundation, the fundraising organization for new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC which is being created by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission. The Memorial is located in Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, near the White House, and is being built with private funds from corporate, organizational, and individual donations. More information about the Memorial is here:

“There have already been some wonderful and generous fundraising efforts for the new National WWI Memorial by local posts of the Legion and VFW, chapters of the DAR, and other groups around the nation,” said Dan Dayton, the Executive Director of the Commission. Dayton notes that many Legion and VFW Posts carry the name of a WWI veteran as their post’s namesake.

“The A.E.F. Memorial Corps has been created to give appropriate recognition to all organizations around the country, and internationally, who want to help ‘Keep Faith with the Doughboys’ by contributing to the building and ongoing support of the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.” he concludes.

Read more: The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission Announces the "A.E.F. Memorial Corps"



4th Annual Camp Doughboy World War I History Weekend in September

via the Governors (NY) web site

The fourth annual Camp Doughboy World War I History Weekend comes to Governors Island National Monument on September 14 and 15. Each day will bring living history, reenactors, authors, experts, vintage vehicles, and animals. This is the largest free public WWI exhibition in the United States.

Reenactors representing the Allies and Central Powers—as well as civilians in Edwardian-era attire—are invited living history participants. The centennial of the service members returning to Governors Island is in 2019 and this group of volunteer reenactors will share the story of WWI participants. See living history, weapons and equipment displays, and vintage vehicles.

All events are free, open to the public, and run 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday and 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Sunday on the Parade Ground. The events are sponsored by the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission, the WWI Centennial Committee for NYC, and the National Park Service.

Read more: 4th Annual Camp Doughboy WWI History Weekend in September


Ulysses Grant Moore 2Alma, Lucas, granddaughter of Ulysses Grant Moore, is presented with the American flag at the memorial service for the World War I veteran.

Honors given; marker placed; RIP, Private 

By Richard Mize
via The Oklahoman (OK) web site

Richard Mize remarks given Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at Trice Hill Cemetery at the much-belated memorial service for World War I U.S. Army veteran Pvt. Ulysses Grant Moore, whose forgotten grave marker was finally placed, and military honors bestowed, 55 years after he died.

Ulysses Grant MooreUlysses Grant MooreGood morning and welcome! We are here to give belated honors to Army Private Ulysses Grant Moore, a century after he served in World War I, and 55 years after he died. Why such honors were overlooked, and why this marker never made it here to his burial site are unknown.

My name is Richard Mize. I am pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, and the real estate editor for The Oklahoman. It has been my privilege to help make this moment happen.

It took a compelling series of discoveries that started by happenstance.

An elder at church happened to be chatting over the back fence with a neighbor. The neighbor happened to say, "Do you know anything about this grave marker? This 55-year-old marker? For World War I?" It was just across the property line, in the man's back yard, where a shed had recently collapsed and cleaning it up had revealed it. The elder said, "Well, no!"

I happened to be pastor of the church, and I happened to be in a position at The Oklahoman to report it, and to help get it where it has long belonged.

All that happened to happen. But, at a time when duty seems to have gone out of style, and even honor seems to be in short supply, I call it a God thing.

Duty and honor are God things.

I’ve been thinking about some things for weeks now regarding U.G. Moore. 

Read more: Honors given; marker placed; RIP, Private


treaty of versailles wwi germany gettyimages 3286596Germans take war machines apart outside Berlin under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles Germany. This tank is in fact a British tank, captured and put into service by the Germans during World War I. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 

After the Treaty of Versailles

Germany's World War I Debt Was So Crushing It Took 92 Years to Pay Off 

By Erin Blakemore
via the web site

At the end of World War I, Germans could hardly recognize their country. Up to 3 million Germans, including 15 percent of its men, had been killed. Germany had been forced to become a republic instead of a monarchy, and its citizens were humiliated by their nation’s bitter loss.

Even more humiliating were the terms of Germany’s surrender. World War I’s victors blamed Germany for beginning the war, committing horrific atrocities and upending European peace with secretive treaties. But most embarrassing of all was the punitive peace treaty Germany had been forced to sign.

The Treaty of Versailles didn’t just blame Germany for the war—it demanded financial restitution for the whole thing, to the tune of 132 billion gold marks, or about $269 billion today.

How—and when—could Germany possibly pay its debt?

Nobody could have dreamed that it would take 92 years. That’s how long Germany took to repay World War I reparations, thanks to a financial collapse, another world war and an ongoing debate about how, and even whether, Germany should pay up on its debts.

Allied victors took a punitive approach to Germany at the end of World War I. Intense negotiation resulted in the Treaty of Versailles’ “war guilt clause,” which identified Germany as the sole responsible party for the war and forced it to pay reparations.

Read more: Germany's World War I Debt Was So Crushing It Took 92 Years to Pay Off


IMG 6573Members of American Legion Post #1 in Paris, France participated in the parade of the veteran flags at Versailles, France as part of the events marking the centennial of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. 

Four Questions Vice Commander Bryan Schell, American Legion Post #1

"We are a very high visibility American Legion Post since we are located in Paris, France."

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

Our Commission's recent commemoration efforts in Versailles, France put us in touch with some friends whom we haven't seen in a while -- the members of the world-famous American Legion Post #1 in Paris. These Legion members stand on a long tradition, one that celebrates a direct line to our World War I veterans. Post #1 is the first, and the oldest, American Legion post outside of the United States, and was created by people who had just seen the Great War end months before. Since that time, they have fulfilled a unique and special role in representing our American veterans in France, and throughout Europe. Vice Commander Bryan Schell took some time to tell us about his special post, their history, and their current activities.

You have a very historic Legion Post. Tell us about it.

Bryan SchellBryan SchellParis Post 1 is a legacy post for the American Legion, it was created when American soldiers were still in Europe after WWI. It was a time when up to 2 million U.S. soldiers had just finished with a bloody war, and they had to wait sometimes up to 2 years to get a ship back to the USA. Some soldiers never made it back, some stayed because they fell in love or they had started a new life.

The idea of the American Legion was created in Paris in 1919 by these soldiers, and Paris Post 1 was opened up the same year. It is the first, and the oldest, American Legion post outside of the United States. We have been able to maintain our post during many difficulties including WWII when Paris Post 1 had to temporarily move to New York City during the Nazi occupation of Paris. One of our American Legion members stayed behind and joined the French resistance only to be executed by the Nazis while trying to defeat Germany.

Your Post has a very historic building as its home, and there is also a remarkable memorial there. Tell us about them.

In the early 1930's, the American Legion Building was created, and later renamed in honor of General Pershing as Pershing Hall. It served as the home for Paris Post 1 for many years, until the building fell into preservation issues. Since this time, we have survived outside of Pershing Hall with the hopes of returning in the future. The building is currently going through much needed historical preservation, and it will be re-developed over the next couple years.

Read more: Four Questions Vice Commander Bryan Schell, American Legion Post #1 in Paris

"Pershing" Donors

Founding Sponsor
PritzkerMML Logo

Starr Foundation Logo