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World War I Centennial News



5d2f8452757b1.imageVeterans stand for the "Salute to the Services" medley during a celebration marking the restoration of the World War I Memorial Entrance at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Preston.

Fillmore County WWI memorial entrance restored for 100th anniversary 

By Noah Fish
via the Post Bulletin newspaper (MN) web site

PRESTON, MN — Fillmore County is a red, white and blue district.

"Fillmore County remembers its history," said Nathan Pike, the Olmsted County veteran’s service officer and emcee of last week's celebration of the restoration of the World War I Memorial at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds entrance.

Fillmore County WWI memorial entranceThe World War I Memorial Entrance at the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Preston was restored to mark it's 100th year. The structure was built 100 years ago, erected to honor soldiers returning from World War I.

"There were over 1,000 residents of Fillmore County that enlisted or were drafted into service during the first World War," said Pike. "Forty-eight of them were killed in action, and they did not return to Fillmore County."

Col. Joe O’Connor called for a moment of silence for those 48 men. He said the Lanesboro American Legion Post #40 is named after Henry M. Guttormson, the first casualty of WWI from Fillmore County.

"This entrance is a lasting tribute to WWI veterans, their families and the history of Fillmore County," O'Connor said.

About 50 people gathered for Tuesday's rededication. But in August 1919, about 10,000 gathered in that same spot to welcome soldiers home, Pike said. A good chunk of those soldiers showed up in uniform. O'Connor said they served barbecued beef at the event 100 years ago, and veterans were given free cigarettes and peanuts.

Sgt. Josh Krage, of Preston, talked about the emotions the memorial can generate.

Military service is "an emotional time for each and every one of us that has served," said Krage. "So when Col. (O'Connor) got emotional, I think we all did as veterans, because we know what we go through."

Krage reflected on what it means to be a veteran, and the weight that veterans carry.

"We understand what it's like on a fallen soldier detail, as we fold and hand the flag to a loved one," Krage said. "Or as we do the gun salute, we understand the emotions that come with it, because we understand that could have been us."

A parade of veterans from different segments of the armed forces assembled at the Trailhead in Preston and marched over the Fillmore Street bridge to the fairgrounds entrance, where retired and active military personnel, along with local residents, were waiting. Trainer planes from the WWII era flew overhead during the presentations.

Aside from the updated sign, renovations were made to the entrance to restore its structure before Tuesday's event. Sagging roof boards were repaired or replaced. Two large flagpoles were repaired, and the original turnstiles were sandblasted and repainted. The Fillmore County Fair Board used money from a Clean Water Legacy Heritage Fund grant, and funding from Harmony, Preston and Lanesboro Area Community Foundations. The Preston Historical Society and various local VFW posts also contributed to the restoration. 

Read more: Fillmore County WWI memorial entrance restored for 100th anniversary


Dilboy with headstoneGeorge Dilboy, killed on a battlefield near Belleau, France, was the first Greek-American soldier who fell in the line of duty in World War I. 

George Dilboy, The First Greek-American who Fell in WWI 

By Philip Chrysopoulos
via the web site

It was on this day in 1918 that George Dilboy was killed on a battlefield near Belleau, France after fighting so courageously that he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest medal for bravery. Dilboy was the first Greek-American soldier who fell in the line of duty.

The Greek-American’s conspicuous heroism was so outstanding that he was recognized and honored by three US presidents. Woodrow Wilson signed the authorization awarding Dilboy the Medal of Honor, Warren G. Harding brought his remains back to be buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery, and Calvin Coolidge presided at his final burial there.

Born in Alachata, in Western Anatolia, in 1896, Dilboy’s Greek name was Γεώργιος Διλβόης, which was Americanized when his family emigrated to the United States.

Andrew T. Kopan wrote about Dilboy in an article titled “Defenders of the Democracy: Greek Americans in the Military”, in the Greek-American Review, in September of 1998.

According to Kopan, “After the Balkan War of 1912-13, his family fled to America to avoid persecution from the Turks… On July 25, 1917, he was assigned to company H, 103rd Infantry, 26th Division. He was sent with his company to France and took part in the Champagne-Marne defense and the Aisne-Marne counter offensive.”

The official citation of Dilboy’s Congressional Medal for Bravery reads: “Private Dilboy, accompanying his platoon leader to reconnoiter the ground beyond, was suddenly fired upon an enemy machine gun, rushed forward with his bayonet fixed through a wheat field toward the gun emplacement.”

Dilboy fell “within twenty-five yards of the gun, with his right leg nearly severed and with several bullet holes in his body. With courage undaunted, he continued to fire into the emplacement from a prone position, killing two of the enemy and dispersing the rest of the crew,” the citation notes.

Dilboy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest medal America can bestow upon a soldier, which was presented to his father, Antonios Dilboy.

Read more: George Dilboy, The First Greek-American who Fell in World War I


Milford celebrates: 100 years ago, World War I ended and the American Legion was born 

By Susan Bromley
via the Hometown Life (USA Today newspaper) web site

The American Legion in Milford is celebrating 100 years since the end of World War I and the birth of America’s largest veteran’s organization.

Ernest OldenburgErnest F. Oldenburg was a soldier from Milford, MI killed in action in World War I. The American Legion Post 216 in Milford is named after him. An open house was held July 21 at the Ernest F. Oldenburg American Legion Post 216, 510 W. Commerce Road, Milford.

World War I formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 and its subsequent ratification.

“At the end of WWI, President Theodore Roosevelt and 200 soldiers met in Paris, and they had talked about making a veterans organization to take care of the fallen and wounded soldiers when they got back home,” said Bonnie Welbaum, 20-year member of the Milford post. “The Legion helps veterans and their families get benefits.”

The American Legion Post in Milford originated in the Grand Army Republic (GAR) building in 1919, formerly used by Civil War soldiers, in front of the Presbyterian church on Main Street, she said.

Around 1945, Henry Ford sold the property at 510 W. Commerce Road in Milford to the American Legion with the stipulation that the post be named after his friend Ernest F. Oldenburg, a soldier from the Milford area who served with the 32nd Red Arrow Division and was killed in action in France in 1918. In 1946, the new building opened.

The American Legion Post in Milford currently has about 200 members from all over the area, but veterans from World War II and the Korean War are passing quickly and many are homebound and are unable to attend monthly meetings or be actively involved. Vietnam veterans are also aging and Welbaum hopes that the open house will attract new veterans to become involved.

Anyone interested in joining the Legion needs to bring discharge papers and have served during wartime. Welbaum notes that anyone who has served in the military after Sept. 11 is eligible for the American Legion as this time period has been determined to be the war on terrorism.

Family members of veterans also are eligible to join support groups including the Auxiliary, Riders, and Sons of the American Legion. Veterans who haven’t served during war time can join AMVETS.

Read more: Milford celebrates: 100 years ago, World War I ended and the American Legion was born


5cea2c8eab7ca.imageThe World War I-era French Gratitude Train sits in an enclosed area at Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima. 

It Happened Here: Veterans monuments installed at Sarg Hubbard Park in Yakima, WA

By Donald W. Meyers
via the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper (WA) web site

“The beginning of the end of war lies in remembrance.”

— Herman Wouk

As people in Yakima honored the nation’s and area’s war dead this Memorial Day, one of the places they went is Sarg Hubbard Park.

There, at the end of the park’s main drive, are monuments to several of the nation’s 20th- and 21st century wars.

“Right there, in that one spot, in a 270-degree arc you can see memorials to World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the desert wars,” said Al Brown, former executive director of the Yakima Greenway Foundation, which oversees the park.

The first of the memorials, a boxcar from the French Mercí Train, was dedicated in 1990, where it stands as a reminder of World War II and America’s efforts to help rebuild Europe after the war. In response to the Friendship Train donations of food and clothing to Europe, the people of France responded with a 49-car train containing a variety of gifts for Americans, ranging from a carriage used by King Louis XV to tree seedlings.

The cars were known as “40 and 8s,” for the signs on their side indicating their capacity — 40 men or eight horses. In World War I, American Doughboys were ferried to the front lines in such box cars.

After their arrival by ship in February 1949, the French gratitude cars were distributed to each state, with the District of Columbia and the then-Territory of Hawaii sharing one. Washington’s arrived later that month in Seattle and was eventually moved to Olympia, where it languished near the state Capitol until a member of the Yakima County chapter of the Society of 40 and 8 veterans group spotted the moss-covered, vandalized relic in the 1970s.

With help from local businesses and then-U.S. Rep. Sid Morrison, the 40 and 8 veterans group moved the car to Yakima where it was restored and put on display at Sarg Hubbard Park in a covered pavilion.

The car, which has had a few touch-ups since then, bears the crests of each of the French provinces. Its care was recently turned over to the Greenway Foundation, as the veterans group became too small to manage it.

Read more: It Happened Here: Veterans monuments installed at Sarg Hubbard Park


5d2c19ec8e1c2.imageLion's Club President and former Idaho State VFW Commander Kenny Alsterlund speaks during a memorial service for Lester Dean Hayton, who went missing in action during WWI. on July 20, 1918.

Memorial honors Palouse, ID soldier lost to war a century past 

By Scott Jackson
via the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (ID) newspaper web site

It has been more than a century since the city of Palouse received word that it had lost one of its sons to the world’s first truly global war.

Lester Dean Hayton moved to Palouse with his family in 1913, when he was 21. Six years later, Hayton’s family would receive word that he had gone missing in action following the Battle of Chateau-Thierry during World War I, and was presumed dead.

On the 100-year anniversary of the notice, Palouse resident Brad Pearce led a memorial Sunday for the man at the city’s Hayton-Greene Park beneath an iron archway that bears Hayton’s name and that of another of the small town’s fallen — Cpl. William Greene.

Pearce said he is not related to either man, but felt a responsibility to commemorate their sacrifice.

“I got really interested once I found out that the park was actually called the Hayton-Greene Park because everyone just calls it the Palouse Park,” Pearce said. “I wanted to do something to raise awareness and to teach people about why the park is called this and to know who this person was.”

Pearce said he was able to glean some insight into Hayton’s life through records of the town’s newspaper and by all accounts, his was “the classic WWI story.”

“He was a strapping young farmer, he was a devout Christian who was involved in the church and in Sunday school, and when it came time, he was in the first round of people that were drafted to go to France,” Pearce said. “He didn’t ask for an exemption and he was part of a small group of people that were in the original wave of people from our county to go fight overseas.”

Read more: Memorial honors Palouse, ID soldier lost to war a century past


WI teacher honors local WWI veteran during 100th anniversary 

via the television (WI) web site

PORTAGE COUNTY, Wis. (WSAW) -- Joseph Nowinski, a social studies teacher at Almond-Bancroft, was one of 18 teachers nationwide selected to research and deliver a eulogy of a fallen hero in France during the 100th commemoration of World War I this June. 

That hero was Sylvester Machinski who was born in Wisconsin and fought in World War I. To this day relatives of this hero still live in Portage County.

Machinski was born in Wild Rose and lived there for 18 years before moving to Chicago where he started a family. In June of 1917 he was drafted and went to war. He later succumbed to the Spanish Flu and died in 1918. He was buried in France where Nowinski presented his eulogy.

After much of his research Nowinski said he became attached to these forgotten heroes. "What happens when you don't know someone, you can't even see a picture of them but they feel like family," explained Joseph Nowinski.

Nowinski says he will bring this experience back to the classroom to give his students a better understanding of the past and present. "It's that past that helps us understand what brought us here and if we don't have an understanding of that we probably won't have the best future. We can learn a lot from the past and that gives us this present," said Nowinski.

The program Memorializing the Fallen is a teacher professional development program from National History Day and sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission.



Dan Boehmke and Edward BoehmkeDan Boehmke (left) with the ships bell from the SS Tuscania. His father Edward Boehmke (right) survived the sinking of the WWI American troopship in World War I.

AR History Club hears World War I personal story 

By Jeff Meek
via the Hot Springs Village Voice (AR) newspaper web site

Hot Springs Village resident Dan Boehmke gave a detailed, fascinating presentation about his father’s World War I service, taken from personal letters and other research.

His father, Edward C. Boehmke, served in a Wisconsin National Guard unit that eventually was sent to Europe in 1918. Dan put it all in a book titled, “The Unsinkable Edward C. Boehmke: The Story of Waukesha’s WWI Company L and the sinking of the SS Tuscania,” co-authored by John M. Schoenknecht.

Edward Boehmke came to Wisconsin in 1914, settling in Waukesha. In 1917, newspapers in America covered the war raging in Europe and the possibility of U.S. involvement. In Waukesha, a National Guard unit was formed which later evolved into the Fourth Wisconsin Infantry, Company L.

They trained with wooden guns at Camp Douglas in Wisconsin, then later went off to Camp Arthur in Waco, Texas to be attached to the 32nd Infantry Division.

In Jan. 1918, the unit traveled by train to Hoboken, New Jersey, where they boarded the SS Tuscania for the trip overseas as part of a convoy beginning on Jan. 28, 1918. As they neared the Scottish coast, the ship was torpedoed. According to a New York Times headline, 2,179 troops were onboard, 260 of which lost their lives.

It was not until March 9 that the family heard from Edward who said he was alive, happy and had lost everything he had with him except for a comb. At the Club meeting it was fascinating to hear Dan read from his father’s letters describing the harrowing experience of surviving the sinking of the Tuscania.

Read more: AR History Club hears World War I personal story


PA teacher creates curriculum in Versailles for treaty’s 100th anniversary

By Michella Drapac
via the ABC 27 WHTM (PA) web site

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – Megan Kopp’s passion for teaching is evident. She’s a lifelong learner and a veteran. In fact, there are a lot of veterans in her family.

“My grandmother was in World War II, my grandfather was in World War II, my other grandfather was in the Air Force, my dad was Vietnam, my brothers are both Air Force as well, my husband’s in the Air Force,” said Kopp, a Milton Hershey High School Social Studies teacher.

Kopp was one of just a handful of teachers chosen out of hundreds to travel to France through a program by National History Day (NHD). They celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, and each teacher developed a new lesson plan to be used by teachers across the country.

“My life was changed because of the G.I. Bill, and in World War I, the G.I. Bill didn’t exist, and really there was no plan for the soldiers who came home, so my lesson plan’s all about that,” said Kopp.

The lesson plan will be published by National History Day in the fall. The NHD program is sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission.

“We look at a lot of primary documents, which is a way that historians and history teachers are moving in our classrooms instead of just reading out of a textbook or watching a movie. We’re looking at primary documents and the students have to grapple with what went wrong and how the country changed after that,” said Kopp.

Read more: PA teacher creates curriculum in Versailles for treaty’s 100th anniversary


National History Day's New World War I Webinar -- A Scholarship Opportunity! 

By Lynne O'Hara, National History Day
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

National History Day (NHD) is excited to be offering scholarship for our World War I webinar series in the fall.

Two LogosNational History Day has engaged with several partners to commemorate the World War I Centennial. NHD has created resources to offer different perspectives on the war, engage students with unique primary sources, and remember those who served and sacrificed as part of the war effort.

NHD is excited to be offering scholarships for LEGACIES OF WORLD WAR I, our World War I Webinar series in the fall. Free tuition and credit is available for two teachers from every NHD Affiliate.

Through this program, teachers can earn a certificate of professional development hours or three graduate extension credit units from the University of San Diego.

Applications for a scholarship will be accepted through July 30, 2019. All teachers will be notified by August 16, 2019.

Read more: National History Day's New World War I Webinar -- A Scholarship Opportunity!


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:



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:



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

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