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World War I Centennial News



North Danville's Ben Clifford

A country poet and World War I soldier 

By Sharon Lakey
via the North Star Monthly magazine (VT) web site

There is a story in North Danville that has held a warm spot in my heart for many years. Ben Clifford, an old country poet, walked the back roads of North Danville and left his handwritten poems in neighbors’ mailboxes.

Ben CliffordBen CliffordShirley Langmaid was a recipient of a number of them, and she passed a folder of them on to the Danville Historical Society. They have been tucked away in a file cabinet until recently, when it was decided that Ben’s poems should see the light of day at the upcoming July 4th celebration in North Danville.

I pulled the file; I actually read the writing. It is handwritten in a beautifully slanted script. One particular piece surprised me. Instead of poetry, it is written in prose. In content it details one day at the end of WWI. It is the only first-hand account of the war that I’ve encountered here in my nine years on the job. It especially intrigued me when I was able to verify his story by following his words to actual events recorded by history.

Ben gives us an inkling of the reality of that war, a stark memory that stayed with him for the rest of his life. He titled the piece “Our Nation’s Progress,” and wrote it under the pen name Daniel Boone.

They say old age lives in the past. If so, there must be another old boy that remembers that cold bleak day of Dec 24, 1918 when the 102nd Machine Battalion, a unit of the old 26th Yankee Division traveled all day with the old Hotchkiss mule-drawn gun carts and caissons to reach a little village near Paris where they were to stay overnight. The men had the privilege of sleeping on the dirt floors of the barns, giving the little cooties a chance to warm up and travel at a tremendous pace over your body. There were two kinds looking for the best location. The mules stayed out in the lot, lying down in the clayey mud for which that country seemed famous.

As luck would have it, Christmas was bright and sunny. The President of the United States was up in the reviewing stand under the magnificent stove pipe hat. It seems he had called for the Fifth Liberty Loan drive back home, the proceeds which we understood were donated to the French government, possibly as a tribute to Lafayette, who helped this country gain its independence.

On Dec. 25, President Wilson reviewed the troops at Hume, France, a location near Paris. He had signed the Armistice in November. He climbs out of a vehicle, jovial, wearing a fur coat and top hat and walks a boardwalk to a reviewing stand where he is to speak. A 35mm film clip of him in action can be accessed on YouTube. A local typewritten Souvenir book in our collection identifies two Liberty Loan amounts given from the Town of Danville. “The subscriptions of the people of Danville to the First Liberty Loan amounted to $53,500. and to the Second Liberty Loan, $90,950. a total of $144,450.” (It doesn’t mention the Liberty Loans beyond that.)

Read more: A country poet and World War I soldier


MN family donates WWI-era artifacts to county museum 

By Troy Krause
via the Redwood Falls Gazette newspaper (MN) web site

McKayKenneth S. McKayThose who serve in war have a tendency to not talk much about that experience.

If they do, it is typically much later in life.

That was the case with Kenneth S. McKay.

McKay, a World War I veteran, was born and raised in Kintire Township, Redwood County and attended Delhi school. He was born Nov. 20, 1894 and served his country as a member of Company L, the Redwood Falls National Guard Unit.

The story of McKay may have never been told if it were not for the fact that some of his things were given to Philip and Janean McKay. They had gotten to know Kenneth McKay and his wife Roberta (Rogers) McKay while they are all living in the Morris area.

Among the things given to Philip and Janean was a collection of items from his time in the service of his country. Janean held on to those items, which included a number of photographs, as well as a diary he kept that told the story of his experience in basic training.

Janean recently talked about the items with her children, and it was agreed the best place for those items was not with the family, and so Janean recently donated them to the Redwood County Historical Society.

“We thought the best place for them was in a museum,” said Janean.

Janean added in the items they received was that diary McKay kept, which included a day by day account of his time preparing for and being involved in the war.

The diary itself was actually given to Kenneth McKay’s children, but Janean took the time to transcribe what was written in it, and as part of the donation she has included a copy of that account.

Read more: MN family donates WWI-era artifacts to county museum


coblenz.panorama The Stars And Stripes Flying Over Ehrenbreitstein Fortress On The Rhine. View Looking East From Coblenz, Germany, April, 1919.

"Stars & Stripes Over the Rhine Exhibition" at University of South Carolina

via the Kroger Center at the University of South Carolina web site

As part of the Wunderbar Together initiative, The Columbia World Affairs Council, the Atlantische Akademie Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. and the Koger Center for the Arts as well as the Instistut Für Geschichtiliche Landeskunde as der Universitat Mainz e.V. are proud to bring the "Stars & Stripes over the Rhine" exhibit all the way from Germany to Columbia, South Carolina!

From October 2018 until late 2019, Germany will celebrate its close friendship to the U.S. through the Year of German-American Friendship, or the Deutschlandjahr. The theme of "Wunderbar Together" highlights the strong relationship between our two countries, which is rooted in deep historical ties and shared culture.

People are at the heart of the U.S.-German relationship, and at the heart of this celebration. Wunderbar Together will bring together more than 200 partners across all 50 states, who will host more than 1,000 events in local communities.

Read more: "Stars & Stripes Over the Rhine Exhibition" at U of South Carolina

Historian's 10-year quest for World War I New York soldier’s grave ends in success

By Scott Desmit
via the Batavia News/The Daily News newspaper (NY) web site

BATAVIA, NY — On May 2, St. Joseph’s Cemetery manager Matt Dispenza gathered the entire office staff and his crews and headed to the cemetery.

Silvie headstone as foundJames Silvie headstone as discovered.They were on a mission: To find the grave of James Silvie, a World War I veteran who died of Spanish flu while at Fort Douglas, Utah.

“We were all walking through the cemetery when I saw a stone that was broken and tipped over,” said Jackie Motz, business manager at Resurrection Parish. “I almost walked right by it but then I though ‘Oh, I’ll try looking at it.’”

The stone was partially buried in the ground, muddy and moss-covered with two or three letters showing, Motz said.

She wiped the moss from the stone and the rest of the letters came into view: James Silvie 1893-1918.

“It’s the oldest section of the cemetery. There’s thousands of stones in that section,” Dispenza said. “It’s incredible she found it.”

Incredible and important, most of all important to Terry Krautwurst.

Krautwurst, formerly of Le Roy and now living in North Carolina, has devoted the last 10 years of his life documenting the men and women of Genesee County who served in World War I.

His Honor Roll project includes eight binders of information, including more than 100,000 words of text and 1,200 military documents related to the 66 men and one woman from Genesee County who died while serving during World War I. He donated the project to Genesee County History Department and has a website, “The County and the Kaiser.”

One part of his project was to photograph every grave of the 67 who died.

Read more: Historian's 10-year quest for World War I soldier’s grave ends in success


MemorialA rendering of the planned National World War I Memorial in Washington's Pershing Park 

More Than A Century Later, The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have A National World War I Memorial In Washington 

By Tom Russo
via the Bisnow web site

As the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles approaches this Friday — a pact that effectively ended “the war to end all wars” — the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission in Washington will watch another centurial commemoration march by.

Five years ago, it was one century since World War I broke out in Europe. Last year, it was the centennial of the creation of Armistice Day. The new target date is Nov. 11, 2021, which will mark 100 years since the interment for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a World War I veteran, at Arlington National Cemetery.

All of those centenaries were targeted by the commission for one purpose: to erect America’s first-ever national monument to all 116,708 Americans who fought and died in Europe’s first total war. But more than a century after the war, construction has not yet begun.

“In the best of all worlds, we would dedicate this in November 2021,” said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the Centennial Commission.

The prolonged effort to erect a memorial to the men who died in trenches and on battlefields in places like Somme, Belleau Wood and Gallipoli goes back decades, and has been hampered by politics, complicated legislative efforts, a meandering site-selection process, a cumbersome design review and disagreements on what the memorial’s mission ought to be.

The memorial, called "A Soldier’s Journey," was designed by Joe Weishaar and is being sculpted by Sabin Howard. It will stand nearly 60 feet long on 1.8 acres in Pershing Park, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 15th streets NW. The memorial will sit a block away from the White House with a direct view of the U.S. Capitol building. The estimated total cost is $40M.

“We’ve had targets, and you set targets ambitiously to keep people focused,” Fountain said. “But the project takes as long as the project takes. We have a goal. We have an aspiration.” 

Read more: More Than A Century Later, The U.S. Still Doesn’t Have A National World War I Memorial In Washington


signing2 page.elementFrench President Clemenceau signs the Treaty in 1919.

Events in France, Online Exhibition to Mark the Treaty of Versailles Centennial 

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

WASHINGTON, DC — On June 28th, in honor of the Centennial Anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, a day of remembrance, commemoration, and education, will take place in Versailles, France.

The first of The Paris Peace Treaties, this treaty officially ended the state of war between the European Allied Nations and Germany.

Presenting Sponsor, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, along with National WWI Museum and Memorial, and the Doughboy Foundation, will support the activities hosted by the legendary Palace of Versailles.

Read more: Events in France, Online Exhibition to Mark the Treaty of Versailles Centennial

s20UbQewView of the sports arena, where the Inter-Allied Games games were played.

June 22-July 6 Marks Centennial of the Inter-Allied Games

National WWI Museum and Memorial offers exclusive video, images of “forgotten” international competition from 1919 featuring world-renowned athletes

By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, MO – The scheduled Olympics in 1916 were canceled due to World War I. While the Olympics resumed in 1920, a seminal event featuring renowned athletes from across the world took place in 1919 in the aftermath of the first truly global conflict in human history.

The sudden end to the fighting in France on Nov. 11, 1918 took American military officials by surprise. Leadership had given very little thought to the difficulties of demobilizing a mass army in an efficient and equitable manner, particularly for soldiers stationed overseas. Authorities, concerned that peace negotiations might break down and the military would be forced to fight again, imposed a steady diet of daily drills, target practice and tactical exercises. Low morale over the continued training and the slow pace of demobilization reached near crisis proportions just as a third wave of influenza hit the debarkation camps in France. This created tremendous bitterness among troops who watched their comrades fall ill and die while awaiting transport home. Clearly, something voluntary and enjoyable was needed to unite the troops and occupy their time until the War Department could get them all home.

Sports competitions offered the ideal solution. And, thus, the Inter-Allied Games was born.

Held from June 22 – July 6, 1919 outside of Paris near the site of the 1900 Olympics, the Inter-Allied Games featured hundreds of male athletes from nations across the world aligned with the Allies during World War I competing in 13 sports. During the course of the completion, more than 500,000 spectators witnessed some of the globe’s best athletes – past, present and future.

“The passage of time has led to lapse in familiarity with the Inter-Allied Games,” said National WWI Museum and Memorial Senior Curator Doran Cart. “This was a world-class competition featuring some of the best athletes in the world. Perhaps more importantly, the Inter-Allied Games served as a vehicle for healing the wounds from the most catastrophic war to that time in human history.”

Read more: June 22-July 6 Marks Centennial of the Inter-Allied Games


Aiden Coleman memorial 1000Overview of the site where the World War I Memorial (right of flagpole) created by Eagle Scout Aiden Coleman at Gibson Cemetery in Bright, IN.

Eagle Scout Aiden Coleman's WWI Memorial Project

"I truly cared about those who served and wanted to make that known."

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

Aiden Coleman is a Superstar. He is a hardworking Boy Scout, a talented leader, and a conscientious history buff. Aiden was recently promoted to the rare rank of Eagle Scout, and to do so, he decided that his required Eagle Scout Service Project would honor his community's World War I veterans. We were thrilled to hear about this project, and were able to discuss it with him.

Tell us about your Eagle Scout project - What were the Requirements? What did you decide to do? Why? How did your family & troop leaders react?

Aiden Coleman 300Aiden ColemanThe only real requirements for my Eagle Project were to demonstrate my ability to plan, develop, and provide leadership in a new role of completing a project. There aren't any requirements on how big the project had to be, but I wanted to do something more meaningful. I knew that I wanted to do something based around WW1, and originally I was going to do a memorial for the US entrance into the war. But other aspects of life got in the way and I put it off. I wanted to do a project based around WW1 because the war had always been such an interesting period of time to me. And of course it was the 100th year anniversary of the war, so a perfect time to plan a project in commemoration. My parents were totally on board with the project idea and were there to help me the entire way. My troop leaders weren't so enthusiastic, I think they thought it might be "too ambitious." And in some ways they were correct it wasn't and easy thing to do. Not only the amount of information I had to gather but it was a very expensive project, and I had to find a way to raise enough money for the memorial.

How did the research for your project work? Who helped you with this aspect? How did you connect with them? Where did you find information?

The first thing I had to do was find a local location to place my memorial. I was turned down from a few places and finally I got in contact with the Gibson Cemetery in my hometown of Bright, Indiana. They immediately were happy to help and granted me a spot right next to their flag pole for the memorial. The idea was brought to me that I should include the local First World War veterans who served and are buried at Gibson in some way. I had to gather up all of the veterans names by going around the entire cemetery and finding which graves were marked as WW1 veterans. Thankfully the cemetery had a refined list of each veteran buried in the cemetery. I of course had to do research about the war itself so that I had an idea of what I was talking about. I needed to know dates, times, and important people. I did most of the research on my own, but I got help at the cemetery from a few friends. I found Information from family members of the WW1 veterans, the local VFW, American Legion, Gibson Cemetery, and of course the internet.

Read more: Aiden Coleman's Eagle Scout Project


Service marks 100 years since Scapa Flow navy scuttling 

via the BBC (UK) web site

A poignant service has been held to commemorate the centenary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow.

 107490736 servicenew976A service was held above the sunken wreck of the warship Dresden More than 50 German ships were sunk in the waters off Orkney to prevent them becoming spoils of war on 21 June 1919.

A service was held above the sunken wreck of the warship Dresden.

During the service a bell recovered from the wreck of the Von der Tann was rung by the grandson of German commander Admiral Ludwig von Reuter.

The mass scuttling was the single greatest loss of warships in history.

The nine German sailors killed that day were the last to die during World War One.

The final peace treaty was signed a week later. 

On Friday, wreaths were laid by the two most senior naval officers present - Rear Admiral Stephen Haisch, from the German Navy, and Captain Chris Smith, Royal Navy Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Navy divers from Britain and Germany then laid wreaths on the hull of the Dresden.

Read more: Service marks 100 years since Scapa Flow navy scuttling

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Making Peace: Harder Than Making War? A Roundtable Discussion

CN PodcastLogo Final gray lower

In June 21st's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 128, we convened an expert panel of historians and subject matter experts for a lively discussion of the complicated and consequential peace process that followed the war. The participants come from three countries and have different academic, literary, and professional credentials. Read on for a fascinating look at an extraordinary time in world history, as told by the people who study it. The following is a transcript of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity: 

Theo Mayer: Welcome to the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 128. The podcast is about then, what was happening 100 years ago in the aftermath of World War I, and it's also about now: how World War I is being remembered, commemorated, discussed, taught, and learned. But most importantly, the podcast is about why and how we'll never let those events fall back into the mists of obscurity. So, join us as we explore the many facets of World War I, both then and now.

As we come up on the centennial of one of the most significant and consequential events, World War I, we've put together this special edition of World War I Centennial News. Instead of a series of segments and stories, this week, we've dedicated the entire episode to reviewing, exploring, and discussing the Paris Peace Conference and the resultant Treaty of Versailles. To do this, we've gathered a special group of experts, noted historians, authors, and to represent the listeners, a citizen historian to explore this very significant process and treaty. What happened? Why? Is what we learned in schools what happened 100 years ago? And what are some of the consequences? It's going to be a very informative experience this week on World War I Centennial News, the Doughboy Podcast, brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library, the Starr Foundation, and the Doughboy Foundation. I'm Theo Mayer, the chief technologist for the commission and your host. Welcome to our Treaty of Versailles special.

Since this past February, a century after a global peace conference was convened in Paris, we've been presenting, exploring, and discussing the events that transpired. This has been especially true with a series of reports presented by Mike Shuster, former NPR correspondent and the curator for the Great War Project blog. Mike's exploration of these past weeks has been fascinating, horrifying, confusing, and generally, pretty amazing. His reports have inspired us to put together today's show to explore, summarize, and maybe clarify what happened 100 years ago. As the host of this show and not a historian, just a guy who's had the privilege of exploring World War I with some of the smartest subject matter experts in the world for a nonstop 127 weeks, seeing the process of making peace has been more befuddling than following the process of making war. Granted, the war was total madness and insanity, but what is inconceivable to me is that the process of making peace seems even stranger. So, let me set this up.

Read more: Podcast Article - Historian Roundtable on the Peacemaking Process


As the GI Bill turns 75, WWI veteran Arizona's Sen. Ernest McFarland is remembered for key role 

By Ronald J. Hansen
via the Kitsap Sun newspaper (AZ) web site

Don't expect much fanfare to mark the occasion, but on Saturday one of the nation's most transformational pieces of legislation, the GI Bill of Rights, turned 75.

Ernest McFarland in Navy during WWIArizona Sen. Ernest McFarland, who was known for his role in passing the GI Bill, served in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Even more lost to the passage of time is the central role that Sen. Ernest McFarland, an Arizona Democrat, played in shaping what is widely credited with helping fuel America’s post-war economic boom.

McFarland, who later rose to the position of Senate majority leader, helped stitch together competing ideas for the 1944 plan to help World War II's veterans when they returned from service.

McFarland was known to many as "Mac" and had the distinction of serving not only as U.S. senator, but as Arizona governor and chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

But the native Oklahoman also quietly carried another nickname: "father of the GI Bill."

"It was an amazing, amazing investment in human capital in this country at a time when this country desperately needed human capital, and continues to thrive to this day," said David Lucier, founder of the nonprofit Arizona Veterans and Military Leadership Alliance.

"The GI Bill of 1944 was one of the most significant and impactful pieces of legislation in American history," said Glenn Altschuler, a professor of American studies at Cornell University and co-author of "The GI Bill: A New Deal for Veterans."

"It had an immense impact on the transition from war to peace, a tremendous impact on the prosperity of the 1950s and 1960s, and produced among the Greatest Generation a wonderful and important sense of pride and citizenship. If ever there was a piece of legislation that showed government can work in behalf of the American people, it was the GI Bill."

McFarland was a World War I veteran

Like much of World War II itself, the seeds for the GI Bill grew out of World War I.

McFarland graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1917 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy as the nation joined the fighting in World War I.

Read more: As the GI Bill turns 75, WWI veteran Arizona's Sen. Ernest McFarland is remembered for key role


Court Rules Bladensburg WWI Peace Cross Can Stand On Public Land 

By Richard Wolf
via the USA Today newspaper web site

World War I Memorial Bladensburg Maryland 400World War I Memorial Peace Cross in Bladensburg, Maryland.WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a gigantic Latin cross on government land in Bladensburg, Maryland, does not have to be moved or altered in the name of church-state separation.

The justices reasoned that the 40-foot cross was erected nearly a century ago as a World War I memorial, not an endorsement of Christianity. Although their verdict could extend to other existing monuments, it does not offer a blank check to new ones.

The opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito concluded that the display does not violate the Constitution's establishment clause because of its longevity and multiple messages. The vote was 7-2; Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

"The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent," Alito said. "A government that roams the land, tearing down monuments with religious symbolism and scrubbing away any reference to the divine, will strike many as aggressively hostile to religion."

The ruling protects what Alito called similar "ceremonial, celebratory or commemorative" monuments.

"Where monuments, symbols, and practices with a longstanding history follow in the tradition of the First Congress in respecting and tolerating different views, endeavoring to achieve inclusivity and nondiscrimination, and recognizing the important role religion plays in the lives of many Americans, they are likewise constitutional," he said.

Ginsburg dissented from the bench and in writing. "Just as a Star of David is not suitable to honor Christians who died serving their country, so a cross is not suitable to honor those of other faiths who died defending their nation," she wrote.

It was another in a series of high court decisions defending religious freedom, from allowing public prayer and allocating public funds to exempting religious objectors from laws regarding contraception and same-sex marriage. 

The question before the court was simple: Does the 93-year-old "Peace Cross" violate the First Amendment, which prohibits government establishment of religion?

Even if the answer was yes, few of the justices who heard the case in February wanted to see it moved, altered or demolished. Conceived in 1919 by bereaved mothers of the fallen and completed by the American Legion six years later, the war memorial has become part of the town's landscape.

Read more: Supreme Court Rules Bladensburg WWI Peace Cross Can Stand On Public Land


Vandals spray-paint WWI Memorial in KC 

By Robert A. Cronkleton
via the Kansas City Star newspaper (MO) web site

graffitiSpray-painted graffiti on the dedication wall of the Liberty MemorialPolice are looking for two people who vandalized the Dedication Wall of the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City early Tuesday, June 18.

The vandals struck about 1 a.m. at the Liberty Memorial at 2 Memorial Drive, when two people were seen spray-painting graffiti on the wall, which is located on the northern edge of the Museum and Memorial Grounds near Pershing Road.

A witness told police that the vandals sprayed in red paint the words “Glory to the fallen martyrs . . .” before running away. The graffiti appears to reference the June 1986 prison revolts in Peru where 250 inmates died.

The Dedication Wall holds the bronze busts of the five Allied leaders — Gen. Baron Jacques of Belgium, Gen. Armando Diaz of Italy, Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France, Gen. John J. Pershing of the United States, and Sir Admiral Earl David Beatty of Great Britain — present during the site dedication on Nov. 1, 1921.

In addition to the words, the vandals also spray-painted “Xs” across the leaders’ faces.

Read more: Vandals spray-paint WWI Memorial in KC

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