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World War I Centennial News




American Legion: Join the AEF Memorial Corps 

via the American Legion national web site

CertificateThe AEF Memorial Corps certificate.The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission and the Doughboy Foundation are asking for American Legion posts to become official AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) Memorial Corps posts.

The AEF Memorial Corps is a special recognition program aimed at veteran, military, patriotic, historical, service and community organizations, to encourage and reward them for their donations, fundraising and support activities, and advocacy in helping build the National WWI Memorial In Washington, D.C.

A unique, engraved certificate is given to each post that makes a donation. Additionally, through augmented-reality technology, these posts will have a platform to be recognized by visitors when Pershing Park is completed. Learn more at

Veterans/Military Affairs Director David Hamon staffed an exhibit booth at the Legion’s 101st National Convention in August, where he distributed certificates to representatives of posts and other Legion Family groups that have donated to the memorial in 2019, making them part of the new Memorial Corps. For more information on the program, contact Hamon at (540) 379-8584 or



troops marchingTroops marching through downtown New Canaan on Sept. 30, 1919, during a special celebration marking the end of World War I and the return of local men who had served.  

New Canaan Man Unearths Photographs from Sept. 30, 1919 Parade Welcoming Home WWI Soldiers 

By Michael Dinan
via the New Cannanite newspaper (CT) web site

Carl Franco’s first thought on unearthing the stash of curled, cracked back-and-white photographs 15 years ago was that they must’ve been taken during a long-ago Memorial Day Parade.

Carl Franco verticalCarl FrancoHe’d been cleaning out his house—which has been in the Franco family since the 1940s—in preparation for a renovation, and came upon the photographs in the attic.

Then he saw that they were dated.

“So I knew it wasn’t May,” Franco said. “It was in September 1919. So I looked it up, wondering what parade would it have been.”

The photos were taken in downtown New Canaan on Sept. 30, 1919—exactly one century ago—and they capture images from a special celebration marking the end of World War I and the return of local men who had served. 

Though the armistice that ceased hostilities on the Western Front had been signed the prior November—commemorated thereafter as Veterans Day—New Canaan would wait until that Tuesday in September 1919 to hold what Mary Louise King called “the big celebration” in her local history, “Portrait of New Canaan.”

“Ever since June 1917, when a Solders’ and Sailors’ Fund was started with a benefit in the town hall, New Canaan had been preparing to welcome its returning men,” King writes. 

Buildings were decorated with bunting, “horns and confetti proliferated,” and the parade started at 2 p.m., according to King.

“While eight of New Canaan’s wounded veterans rode in cars, some 120 uniformed veterans marched behind Col. Marshall Stearns over flowers children had strewn in the line of march. Among the hundreds of participants were Red Cross ladies in cars and the Women’s Relief Corps. This time the route was short and ended on South Avenue, so that the men could easily reach the ball park where a special game was played.”

At the time of the celebration, the Francos had already been in New Canaan for about 15 or 20 years, and their green grocer, later liquor store, had moved to its present-day Elm Street location from Forest and then Main Street.

Read more: New Canaan Man Unearths Photographs from Sept. 30, 1919 Parade Welcoming Home WWI Soldiers


Town resident raising funds to support WWI Memorial Project in Washington 

By Alan Rizzo
via the Ken-Ton Bee newspaper (New York) web site

Town of Tonawanda resident and Navy veteran Derek Sansone, a member of the Milton J. Brounshidle American Legion Post 205, is on a mission to make the National World War I Memorial a reality.

SansoneDerek SansoneTo do so, he is holding local fundraisers to support construction of the memorial. Sansone, who does not have a relative who served in the war, said he was motivated to support the cause due to his love of American history and his status as a military veteran.

The post will be taking donations for the Memorial during its annual open house, which will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in the post at 3354 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.

“I think when you put those two things together you have an appreciation for what previous generations did to help forge this nation, and especially the service of those who served and sacrificed in uniform for this country,” said Sansone, who served as a chief petty officer in the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) from 1992 to 2009, and at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from 2009 to 2012.

Another motivation for Sansone is education, and he noted the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission’s work to inform the public about the diversity of the American military at the time of the war, the impact of that diversity on American values in the 20th century, and the significant roles that women and minorities played.

“During that time there was a big influx of immigration into the United States, and World War I was also the first war that American women served in uniform in a capacity outside of nurses,” he said. “They’ve been doing a very good job on highlighting the service of women and minorities in World War I, and trying to make the point that service and sacrifice knows no gender, knows no race. Having a daughter I’ve really taken that to heart, because to try and pass on a love of our history in this country to the next generation, it’s not just about guys that look like me. She and other girls out there need to be able to identify with great things in our history, and that’s a piece of the first world war.”

According to the commission’s website, the memorial will be built at Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The website notes that the revised concept of the memorial it displays was reviewed and approved by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in July of 2018, though elements of it are still in progress and ultimate design approval will come from the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission, and the National Park Service. Sansone said the commission plans to begin construction as early as this fall.

Read more: Town resident raising funds to support WWI Memorial Project in Washington


Photo 4U.S. World War I Centennial Commission Vice Chair Edwin Fountain (left) shakes hands with U.S. Commission of Fine Arts Commissioner Justin Shubow, after the CFA gave final approval to the design for the National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC on September 19.

Commission on Fine Arts gives final approval to National WWI Memorial design

WASHINGTON, DC (9/19/2019) — The design for the new National World War I Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC received final approval on Thursday from the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA).

“This is a day that all who have worked hard to bring the National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC from concept to reality are very happy to see,” said Terry Hamby, Chair of the U.S World War I Centennial Commission. “This final approval takes us a giant step toward beginning the construction of this long-overdue tribute in our nation’s capital to the 4.7 million Americans who served in America’s armed forces in World War I.”

The Memorial design now goes for final review by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC). With the CFA and NCPC design approvals in hand, the Commission will coordinate with the National Park Service to finalize the construction permit so that work can begin this fall to restore Pershing Park and build the Memorial.

The Memorial is being built under the Commission’s authority by the Doughboy Foundation.

Key Congressional sponsors of the Centennial Commission legislation were pleased with the final design approval. “It’s important that we have a tribute in our nation’s capital to the millions of men and women who served during WWI so that future generations may come to understand the sacrifices made on behalf of liberty,” said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II of Missouri. “This moment has been a long time coming, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Former Congressman Ted Poe of Texas hailed the approval decision. “All the Doughboys and Sailors of the Great War are gone, but now after 100 years, America will trace their long patriotic journey through this magnificent memorial,” he said. “We shall remember them all, because the worst casualty of war is to be forgotten.”

Read more: Commission on Fine Arts gives final approval to National WWI Memorial design


Biplanes and Brews WWI airshow October 5/6 at Military Aviation Museum 

via the Cision PR Web web site 

The Military Aviation Museum’s Biplanes and Brews World War One Air Show soars into action October 5-6, in Virginia Beach, Va. Spectators will be transported back to the days of World War One with a weekend of live music, reenactors and aerial performances. Craft beer connoisseurs can pair the day’s entertainment with a brew in hand and food from vendors like Pittsburgh’s Best Food Truck and Red River Smokehouse.

This year’s featured aircraft is the Thomas-Morse Scout (S-4), which was the favorite single seat training airplane produced in the U.S. during WWI.

A selection of libations will be offered from the following breweries: Smartmouth Brewing Co., Parkway Brewing Co., Reason Beer, Stone Brewing, New Realm Brewing, Pleasure House Brewing, Reaver Beach Brewing Co. and Potter's Craft Cider. Visitors may partake in vintage lawn games including: lawn bowling, badminton, cornhole, horseshoes and croquet.

“The Biplanes & Brews Air Show showcases the museum’s magnificent collection of flying WWI era aircraft, allowing guests to get up close and also watch the skies fill with the brilliant colors of battling opponents. We’re excited to welcome so many Virginian breweries to our event,” said Jarod Hoogland, Director of the Military Aviation Museum.

Read more: Biplanes and Brews WWI airshow October 5/6 at Military Aviaton Museum

Purple Hearts Reunited announces September family return ceremonies

The Purple Hearts Reunited foundation has announced the return of two awards earned in World War I to the families of the soldier recipients in New York and Maine during September.

On 05 September 2019, Purple Hearts Reunited reunited the lost Lady of Columbia Wound Certificate of WWI hero Corporal (CPL) Frederick W. Beisswanger with his daughter and grandson. The event will took place at the family’s home in Saratoga Springs NY.

Purple Hearts Reunited logoKnown as a Lady of Columbia Wound Certificate, these lithographs show a toga-wearing woman knighting an infantry soldier on bended knee. They were awarded to wounded or killed World War I military members; prior to the Purple Heart being established in 1932. World War I service members who had already received a lithograph became eligible for a Purple Heart at that time. As time passes, certain circumstances can lead to these medals or wound certificates being misplaced, lost, or even stolen. Below is a short biography of CPL Frederick W. Beisswanger.

CPL Fredrick W. Beisswanger was born 22 June 1895 in Elmira, NY to German immigrants, Martin and Catherine (Fitzer) Beisswanger. CPL Beisswanger was inducted into the US Army at Wellsboro, PA on 18 September 1917 and assigned to Company B, 314th Infantry Regiment, 79th Infantry Division. He served overseas from 8 July 1918 to 11 February 1919 and was present for all engagements at Malancourt, Montfaucon, Nantillois and Argonne. CPL Beisswanger was severely Wounded in Action on 2 Oct 1918, taking large amounts of shrapnel to his right leg. He returned to the US and was honorably discharged on 1 March 1919.

Read more: Purple Hearts Reunited announces September family return ceremonies


20190912 122321 22110 E SC 100th anniversary ED 9 12 NOISY CMYKVeterans carrying the World War I Centennial flag passed cheering Sea Cliff residents during the ceremonies in honor of the eight Sea Cliff residents who died in World War I in Europe.

Sea Cliff, NY centennial anniversary honors WWI vets 

By Mike Conn
via the Long Island Herald newspaper (NY) web site

For over a century, Clifton Park has been a hub of outdoor events in Sea Cliff. From games to concerts to picnics, the park has seen it all, as have the eight giant oak trees that stand along its perimeter. Those trees are turning 100 this year: They were planted in 1919, in honor of the eight Sea Cliff residents who died in World War I in Europe.

Hamon speakingDavid W. Hamon, Veterans Service Organizations & Military Director for The United States World War 1 Centennial Commission, speaks at the Sea Cliff ceremonies.While the trees are grand tributes on their own, on Sept. 6, 1919, the village celebrated the return of 169 soldiers with a parade and picnic. The soldiers, and their eight fallen comrades, are memorialized on a plaque on the memorial rock in the park.

Hundreds of people gathered on Sept. 7 to celebrate the anniversary of the soldiers’ homecoming. The event kicked off with a parade from the intersection of Prospect and Sea Cliff avenues to Clifton Park. There community leaders spoke to the crowd about the importance of the day and how it symbolizes Sea Cliff’s dedication to its residents past and present. There was a picnic and a visit from Mr. Softee, and the festivities concluded with a concert by the North Winds Symphonic Band and the Sea Cliff Rock Jam Band.

There was fun throughout the day but the theme was paying tribute to veterans. David Hamon, veterans service organizations and military director of the United States World War One Centennial Commission, told the crowd that occasions like this are a fine example of how heroes, and history, should be remembered.

State Sen. Jim Gaughran, a Democrat from Northport, was one of several elected officials and local dignitaries there. Paying tribute to veterans of the past, he said, is also a way to honor today’s veterans, because it shows that they will never be forgotten.

“You look at the size of the rock we put up” for the World War I soldiers, said Ted Kopczynski, vice commander of the James F. Brengel American Legion and the 100th anniversary parade’s grand marshal. “Those men are not forgotten. The Sea Cliff residents who have no idea who they were 100 years later — we’re still not forgetting. That is just, I think, a real tribute to this community.” 

Read more: Sea Cliff centennial anniversary honors World War I veterans


5d770021eeda9.imageDavid McKee (right) was reunited with his father's World War I gun, medals, and a check left in a bank safety deposit box. The items were returned to McKee from the Unclaimed Property DIvision of the State of West Virginia by State Treasurer John Perdue.

Huntington, WV man reunited with father's WWI items 

By Fred Pace
via the Herald-Dispatch newspaper (Huntington, WV) web site

HUNTINGTON, WV — An American World War I soldier's gun and medals left in a safe deposit box were returned to his son on Monday thanks to the West Virginia Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Division.

David McKee, 75, of Huntington, said he was shocked to find out his father, Mason Shelby McKee, had taken the gun, medals and other items to a Huntington bank's safe deposit box department for safekeeping. After Mason McKee died in the early 1970s, the items remained unclaimed and eventually ended up in the custody of the state Treasury.

"Until I was contacted by the West Virginia Treasurer's Office, I had forgot all about dad's gun and medals," David McKee said. "I vaguely remember something about dad taking them to a bank, but I had forgotten all about it over the years."

West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented the gun and some medals left behind in the box to McKee in a ceremony at his home on Thomas Avenue in Huntington. Some other box contents already had been auctioned, generating more than $400, which Perdue also presented to David McKee.

The safe deposit box also included Mason McKee's World War I victory medal, chronicling the three battles in which he fought; his sharpshooter medal; and his dog tags, which were in the form of a bracelet then.

Read more: Huntington, WV man reunited with father's WWI items

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Born in the Month of August   

CN PodcastLogo Final gray lower

WWI Birthday CakeFrom August 26th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 137, our very own Dave Kramer introduced us to several important people who played a role in World War I and were born in the month of August. One was a Hall of Fame pitcher who suffered a terrible malady during his war service. One went on to run an influential newspaper. Another was a woman who may have played both sides during the war. And the last eventually ascended to higher office. Think you have the right guesses? Read on to find out.  

Theo Mayer: It's time for our new monthly segment called Born in the Month of, where you'll meet some of the famous, notorious, and influential people whose lives and careers were affected by World War I. Now, as you hear the facts about them, can you guess who we're talking about? And if you can't, don't worry, we'll tell you. Born in the Month of August will be presented by Dave Kramer. Dave!

Read more: Podcast Article - Born in the Month of August


5d743d0fb496d.imageJames Carucci, an archaeologist and longtime Lompoc Museum Trustee, unveils the revitalized World War I monument Saturday in front of the museum. 

Reborn WWI monument revealed at Lompoc Museum 

By Lorenzo Reyna
via the Lompoc Record newspaper (CA) web site

“The eagle has landed,” Lompoc Museum board of trustees member Don Adams told a crowd in front of the newly resculptured World War I monument Saturday.

After nearly three years of raising money and implementing repairs, the city now has a reborn World War I monument that sits in front of the city’s museum on 200 South H St.

And now the monument has a new feature sitting atop of the revitalized structure: a bronze bald eagle.

“There was a missing piece, and that very important piece now sits at the top,” Adams said over a microphone, drawing applause from the nearly 100 attendees.

“This is a celebration today, but it also continues to be a remembrance and honor to remember those who fell in this war so long ago.” 

Read more: Reborn World War I monument revealed at Lompoc Museum


'That legacy needs to be carried on'

Vets worried as Michigan WWI monument faces demolishing

via the Fox 2 Detroit television station web site

DETROIT—A colonel is hoping for some help as an eight-story tall WWI monument faces demolishing if enough money isn't raised to move it.

The Michigan War Veterans Memorial was erected in 1939. The 40-foot stone monument sits at the southwest corner of the Michigan State Fairgrounds.

"There are stones from cities all over Michigan represented here," said Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Craig Stigleman.

But the monument was slowly destroyed. The copper pipes inside have been stolen, and the stones are crumbling. The eternal flame on the top has since been turned off.

"It was turned off about 20 years ago and the monument allowed going to decay," he said.

And now, the new owners of the property, Magic Plus LLC, want to redevelop the state fairgrounds. The monument, which is owned by the state, has to go.

"We truly have until the end of September to figure out how to get something done and move this someplace in storage so we can re-erect it," Col. Stigleman said.

Read more: Veterans worried as Michigan WWI monument faces demolishing


 WWI saddle gifted to veterans museum

By Brad Stacy
Via The Daily Independent newspaper (Ashland, KY) web site

5d701bf6b9375.imageScott Barker with the Rowan County Veterans Foundation accepts a unique, restored saddle from local craftsman Rick Waltz.The Rowan County Veterans Museum received an unusual and unique donation in June.

Sisters Joy, Cindy and Diane James donated a saddle passed to them from their step grandfather, Charles B. Proctor.

They advised that the saddle had belonged to Ezra Proctor who served in WWI.

As luck would happen for the museum, Rick Waltz was delivering items to the museum on the same day and observed the aging piece of history.

Waltz proceeded to give the curator a history of the saddle. Waltz actually restores historical saddles and described it as a 1904 McClellan Cavalry Saddle.

Waltz agreed to restore the saddle for presentation in the museum.

This past week he delivered the saddle back to the museum in a restored condition for display.

Research by the museum curator found that the saddle owner was William Ezra Proctor, who served in WWI in 1918.

Records reflect that he was a Captain in the 38th Division, 75th Infantry Brigade, 149th Infantry, Company B. Captain Proctor passed in 1966 and is buried in the Caudill Cemetery in Rowan County.

The Rowan County Veterans Museum extends its appreciation to the James family for the donation of the saddle and to Rick Waltz who donated his time and materials for restoration.

Read more: WWI saddle gifted to veterans museum


9222867 SJ.CITpurpleheartP.090519 3Pauline Labbay Blais of Greene accepts her father’s Purple Heart medal from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and Gen. Douglas Farnham in Collins’ Lewiston office Wednesday afternoon. Pauline’s father, Arthur Labbay, was a World War I veteran who was severely wounded while fighting in France.  

After 101 years, World War I veteran’s family receives his Purple Heart 

By Steve Sherlock
via the Portland Press Herald newspaper (ME) web site 

LEWISTON, ME — Arthur Labbay was scrambling from foxhole to foxhole reloading machine guns during a fierce fight in France on July 18, 1918.

It was his first day on the front lines in World War I.

During the firefight, an enemy bullet struck the private’s throat. Despite the seriousness of the injury, Labbay stayed on the job reloading machine guns. Before the day ended, Labbay suffered a second wound, this time to his arm.

The injuries were life-threatening. Labbay stayed in a French hospital for several months recovering from his wounds before he could return home.

“He told us a quarter of an inch more, he would have been gone,” his daughter Pauline Blais said of the throat wound.

More than 101 years later, Labbay finally received the Purple Heart he earned that day. Whether through missing paperwork, the fog of war or an administrative mishap, he had never received his medal. 

Read more: After 101 years, World War I veteran’s family receives his Purple Heart

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