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World War I Centennial News



Iowa's 'Soldiers in White' honored with special ceremony at Capitol 

By Jacob Peklo
via the web site

DES MOINES - It has been 100 years since the Treaty of Versailles was signed to formally end World War I. On Sunday, Iowa's 'Soldiers in White' were honored again, with a special tribute to the women who served during the Great War.

A new bronze plaque was dedicated to those nurses next to the World War II Memorial at the State Capitol.

The original dedication ceremony to those soldiers was held in 1921. At the time, 10 birch trees were planted near this spot to honor them. Those trees have since been replaced with white oaks, but the bronze plaque is meant to be a lasting symbol for generations to come.

"Women in World War I served in a variety of capacities," said Michael Vogt of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum. "Whether it's nurses with the YMCA, with the Red Cross, with the army nurse corps and even the Navy nurse corps and so their contributions to the war effort often times have been overlooked with what was vital and essential nonetheless."

Read more: Iowa's 'Soldiers in White' honored with special ceremony at Capitol


Paul Wittgenstein plays Raff - La Fileuse (arrangement for left hand alone) on a Baldwin piano at Salle Pleyel, Paris. Jan 17, 1933. 

The remarkable World War I saga of Pianist Paul Wittgenstein 

By Dakota White
Staff Writer

In World War I, over twenty one million people from around the world were wounded, including the famous left-handed pianist, Paul Wittgenstein.

Paul Wittgenstein 3 c BFMIPaul WittgensteinPaul Wittgenstein was born November 5, 1887 in Vienna, Austria. Son of the wealthy Karl Wittgenstein and Leopoldine Maria Josefa Kalmus. Wittgenstein was one of eight children, his younger brother the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. As a young child, his home was visited by many composers, including Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, Josef Labor, and Richard Strauss. He would go on to study piano and made a public debut in 1913.

The Great War broke out the following year, and Wittgenstein was among the hundreds of thousands of Austrian males who were called into service. He saw a great deal of front-line combat, and during the battle of Galicia, he was shot and captured. His right arm was severely wounded, and doctors were forced to amputate it.

Nonetheless -- while a prisoner of war in Siberia -- Wittgenstein became determined to overcome this disability, and to play the piano before audiences again.

He first learned how to do the simple tasks, wash dishes, put a button shirt on, later he had drawn a charcoal outline of a keyboard on a wooden crate, so he could practice to perfect his one-hand technique. He wrote a letter to his old teacher, Josef Labor, requesting a concerto for only one hand.

Read more: The remarkable WWI saga of Pianist Paul Wittgenstein


Hudson OH plaque WWIThe World War I Memorial bronze tablet honors 81 WWI veterans from Hudson, OH who served their country.

Memorial Day Parade will remember WWI veterans

By Laura Freeman
via the web site

HUDSON, OH — A hundred years ago Americans traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to fight in the first World War.

The Memorial Day parade May 27 in Hudson will honor those who have served their country with a special speaker for those who served in World War I, which ended in 1919.

The parade will form on Milford Road at 8:30 a.m. and leave promptly at 10 a.m. with approximately 65 to 70 units in the parade, according to Parade Chairman Cindy Suchan-Rothgery.

“This important day is to remember all those who have given their lives so that we could live ours as we wish,” Suchan-Rothgery said.

The Hudson Police Color Guard will lead off the parade with the Hudson High School Marching Band performing the National Anthem at the Clocktower Green and at the Markillie Cemetery. Hudson elected officials and many civic groups including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will participate.

Participants will have a patriotic theme to honor Memorial Day and no candy or campaigning will be allowed during the solemn event.

The speaker this year is Joyce Hannum, American Legion past 14th District Commander, Suchan-Rothgery said.

“She will be speaking on Hudson during WW I and that the American Legion organization was also started 100 years ago,” Suchan-Rothgery said.

The Hudson Lee-Bishop Post 464 will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary next year, she said. Several of those named on the WW I Memorial were instrumental in starting the post.

“The Lee portion of the name is in honor of David Hudson Lee who served in WW I and died in France after the war,” she said. “He was a direct descendant of founder David Hudson. The Bishop name if for a WW I veteran that was from Twinsburg.”

Read more: Memorial Day Parade will remember World War I veterans



636286425335979622 CAMP SHERMAN REVIEW 3 This postcard shows a troop review at Camp Sherman during World War I. (Photo: Card courtesy of the Ross County Historical Society) 

Camp Sherman look back: A proud Chillicothe story 

By Tim Vollet
via the Chillicothe Gazette newspaper web site

Austin P. Story must have been puzzled when he checked the mailbox at his Caldwell Street home in early November 1975. Peeking out of the top was a large manila envelope addressed to him from Col. James B. Agnew of the Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pa. Tucked away inside was a lengthy 44 question survey inquiring about his experiences in World War I. The 84 year-old veteran had been discharged nearly 60 years earlier.

The Institute had sent out a similar survey in 1967 to 8000 veterans of the Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection and Boxer Rebellion. Unsure of what kind of response it would receive, the Institute was surprised when it received back some 800 completed surveys. It was ecstatic, however, because the old veterans also sent in boxes of photographs, letters, uniforms and countless other items they had kept over the years as personal remembrances.

“What the staff at the Military History Institute had failed to realize,” one historian suggested, “was what these surveys meant to the veterans of a forgotten war; men who were now in the sunset years of life. To them, someone finally cared about their experiences.”

Perhaps that’s what the white-haired Austin P. Story was thinking on that day in 1975 when he sat down and neatly printed answers to questions about his service in the 332nd Regiment during WWI.

Before America joined the war, Story detailed, he was a salesman for the Mead Pulp and Paper Company, but had long believed America “should get into the war.” After Congress finally declared war on April 6, 1917, therefore, the 26 year-old enlisted instead of waiting to be drafted. A graduate of Chillicothe High School and Cornell University, he applied for and was accepted to Officer’s training camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis for what he recorded as “very intensive training for 90 days.”

After successfully completing officer’s training, Story returned to Chillicothe a first lieutenant and was ordered to the newly constructed Camp Sherman and assigned to the 332nd Regiment. By January 1918, the Chillicothe native was promoted to Captain and put in charge of the 250 men who made up Company I of that regiment. 

Read more: Camp Sherman look back: A proud Chillicothe story


Jason DeCrow WWI 0411The Washington DC-based U.S. Navy Honor Guard participated in last Thursday's Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony, held in Brooklyn's Cypress Hills National Cemetery to honor the centennial of World War I and Navy-Marine Corps heroes in advance of Fleet Week 2019. 

Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony at NYC's Cypress Hills National Cemetery 

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

A Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony was held in Brooklyn's Cypress Hills National Cemetery, on Thursday of last week, to honor the centennial of World War I and Navy-Marine Corps heroes in advance of the U.S. Navy's Fleet Week New York,

The U.S. WWI Centennial Commission-sponsored event honored Sailors from France and the U.K. who died in New York City in 1918, along with double Medal of Honor recipients Coxswain John Cooper, USN and Sergeant Major Dan Daly, USMC.

Here are a few of the images that were captured by photographers covering the special event:

Read more: Wreath of Remembrance Ceremony at NYC's Cypress Hills National Cemetery


Mobile Museum May 2019 1Photo from the WWI Mobile Museum's recent setup Newburyport, MA shows how much material that this great historical/cultural resource has to display.

The World War I Mobile Museum is on the Move! 

By Keith Colley
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

Note: We have been in touch with our friend Keith Colley, owner of the incredible WWI Mobile Museum (see previous articles here and here). Keith and the museum have been very busy telling the WWI story -- he recently completed a trip to New England, with several stops, and he also has shared with us his upcoming schedule. We talked to Keith for a bit last week, and he filled us in.—Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

Keith ColleyKeith Colley on the road with the WWI Mobile MuseumThe WWI Mobile Museum had an amazing trip to the East Coast outside of Boston in the City of Newburyport which was settled in 1635 with guests from all over the east coast including Veterans from the First Massachusetts VFW in the Neighboring town of Haverhill which began in January of 1917.

The Museum was hosted by Avita of Newburyport. The guests were filled with so many stories and tears from their Fathers and Grandfathers time in “The Great War”. I think besides the amazing stories, I love when people bring personal items with them that their loved ones have kept over all the years and share their personal stories that keeps them alive 100 years later.

You will see a couple pics of items people shared with me at the showing. There was one man who brought his grandfathers pic from the war with all his fellow troops and set it up in hopes to find more names of his grandfather's buddies. It became very real as everyone wanted to help!

The goal of the WWI Mobile Museum is to make sure that every pPerson has the opportunity to pay their respects and remember a war from so long ago.

I would love to have the opportunity to bring the Museum to any event you might be having or you can just make the Museum your event. We are about to hit the 200,000 visitors mark and we would like to add you, your family, your friends and their friends to sign our guest book!

Read more: The World War I Mobile Museum is on the Move!


IMG 8473The Nashua-Plainfield High School National History Day group of Drew Moine, Abby Poppe, Tyler Anderson, Jayne Levi, and Lucas Pierce (with advisor Suzan Turner) 

National History Day Students Receive Award from Iowa Governor for WWI Project 

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

Great news from our friends at National History Day in Iowa.

The State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees recently selected the Nashua-Plainfield High School History Club as the winner of the 2019 Loren Horton Community History Award Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Youth Project, for their video "Who They Were: Dedicated to Nashuans Who Served in World War I."

The project was truly a remarkable one. During the fall of 2018, five members of the Nashua-Plainfield National History Day program and their adult advisor, utilized a program sponsored by the World War I Centennial Commission and National History Day, to produce a seven-minute film about their local community's role in the Great War commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the war's armistice on November 11, 2018.

The film,"Who They Were: Dedicated to Nashuans Who Served in World War I," profiled a local fallen hero, a World War I veteran, and included information about the local community's support of the war effort.

Read more: National History Day Student Group Receives Award from Iowa Governor for WWI Project


DSC7586The tarp is lifted to unveil the stones, plaque and WW I USMC Doughboy helmet, dedicating the MARFOREUR/AF parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field.’ (Photos by John Reese, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs)

Marines dedicate Panzer Kaserne parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field’ 

By David S. Jones, U.S. Marine Forces Europe & Africa
via the web site

The U.S. Marine Corps has long been associated with the Battle of Belleau Wood and its role in stopping the German advance on Paris in June 1918. But Belleau Wood was only the beginning of the story of the Corps in World War I as it would go on to fight at Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and the Meuse-Argonne, as well as fly bombing and pursuit missions over northern France and Belgium, anti-submarine missions out of the Azores, and serve as ship detachments on the sea lanes.

To commemorate that service and sacrifice across the battlefields of Europe on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Maj. Gen. Russell A. Sanborn, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, dedicated the parade ground in front of the MARFOREUR/AF headquarters as “Devil Dog Field” to recognize the nickname the Marines earned in World War I after their fight at Belleau Wood. Sanborn dedicated a memorial that recognizes the Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers that comprised the units fielded by the Marine Corps in the American Expeditionary Force.

World War I consumed millions of lives and forever changed the world, Sandborn said, adding that the the service and sacrifices of the AEF forces were a decisive factor in ending the war and set the Corps on the path to the modern fighting force that it has become.

“The names Belleau Wood, Soissons, St. Mihiel, Blanc Mont and Meuse-Argonne will forever be remembered as the Corps’ baptism of fire with modern warfare from which future generations would carry the torch on the battlefields of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Chosin, Hue, Fallujah and many other battlefields around the globe,” Sandborn said.

Read more: Marines dedicate Panzer Kaserne parade ground as ‘Devil Dog Field’


Clifford RyanClifford T. Ryan’s mother died when he was 4. His wife died giving birth to their first child. His baby girl died, too. The 24-year-old infantryman from Emerson, Nebraska, was himself killed in action on the final day of World War I, after the war had ended.

The unlucky life of Nebraska's own Private Ryan, killed in action after WWI had already ended 

By Matthew Hansen
via the Omaha World-Herald newspaper web site

Our Private Ryan lived a cursed life, right up till the moment his commanding officer sent the Nebraska boy charging over a bloodied river in France.

Clifford T. Ryan is the full name of the 24-year-old infantryman sprinting through your mind. He’s carrying some serious baggage as he runs on Nov. 11, 1918. Cliff’s mother died when he was 4. He grew into a man and married his first love, Loretta. His wife died giving birth to their first child.

His baby girl died, too.

He enlisted in the Army then, and — just his luck — soon found himself stuck for three months on the brutal front line of The War to End All Wars.

The cursed man from tiny Emerson, Nebraska, is charging across the Meuse River now in our memories. Running hard until he falls and becomes one of the nearly 20 million people killed during World War I.

But even death itself isn’t the cursed part. Not for poor Cliff.

Clifford T. Ryan died 100 years ago Sunday. He died on the war’s final day. He quite likely died as the last Nebraskan to die in World War I.

And that, somehow, is still not the worst part.

Read more: The unlucky life of Nebraska's own Private Ryan, killed in action after WWI had already ended


Maquette detail with logo 1000A detail of the sculptural maquette for the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC, which will be on display in New York City during Fleet Week 2019. 

National WWI Memorial sculptural maquette on display at Fleet Week 2019

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

The U.S. Navy's big Fleet Week New York 2019 is coming up 22-27 May. During Fleet Week, there will be Sea Service-related concerts, appearances, tours, and other activities throughout the greater New York area during that time.

This year, the Fleet Week New York will also have an added theme of 'Remembering World War I', in cooperation with the United States World War I Centennial Commission. We will have World War I-themed Living-History Reenactors, special exhibits, and ceremonies, all telling the story of the New York area, and the U.S. armed services, during World War I.

One very special public exhibit that we will have in New York is our new sculptural maquette. Designed and created by sculptor Sabin Howard, the maquette is a scale-model representation of the new National World War I Memorial that is being created in Washington DC.

Our maquette will be available for viewing at the following locations, on the following days. Hours are generally from 10AM to 5PM.

  • Thursday, 5/23 — Pier 88
  • Friday 5/24 — Pier 88
  • Sunday 5/26 — Brooklyn Cruise Terminal
  • Monday 5/27 — Pier 88

The new National World War I Memorial is being built with public support, and will be located at DC's Pershing Park, next to the White House.

Imagery of the Memorial, including computerized video fly-throughs of the site, can be found here



0 16The Hawaii World War One History Conference will open at the Hawaii Pacific University Campus at the Aloha Tower in Honolulu.

Call for Presentations 

Hawaii WWI Symposium June 26-28 & Call for Papers

Colonel Arthur Tulak, Chairman
Hawaii World War I Centennial Task Force

Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site

The Hawai'i World War I Centennial Task Force will be hosting an WWI academic symposium to mark the end of the WWI Centennial Commemoration Period to be held in downtown Honolulu at the Aloha Tower.

unnamed 21This academic symposium is co-hosted by Hawaii Pacific University, the Arizona Memorial Visitors’ Center, and the Hawaii WWI Centennial Task Force. The symposium will feature speakers with presentations focused on Final military actions of 1918, such as the Siberian Intervention 1918-1922, as well as the major activities associated with the Paris Peace Conference.

Other topics include:

  • Political or social changes caused by the war/peace process/returning soldiers (spread of nationalism, diseases, anti-colonial efforts, etc.)
  • Military demobilization
  • Civilian rebuilding and humanitarian efforts immediately post-conflict
  • Influence on/creation of Veterans or professional organizations (i.e. American Legion, Military Order of World Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Reserve Officers Assn., National Defense Industrial Assn., etc.).
  • History of the Coastal Artillery Branch in Hawaii and its outlook as an operations concept in the aftermath of WWI.

The symposium will run from 0800-1630 26 and 27 June, and a half day on Friday 28 June, which is the final day of the WWI Centennial Commemoration Period.

In addition to the symposium, there will be a special boat tour of Pearl Harbor, narrated by Chief Historian, National Park Service Ranger Daniel Martinez, to recall the events and activities in Pearl Harbor during WWI planned for the afternoon of 27 June at the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center.

Read more: Hawai'i World War I Symposium and Activities May 26-28


Lost Voices Title 1000

New Local WWI documentary from Akron, OH has wide appeal 

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

Toivo Motter is a historian & Education expert, who works as Director of Education at the Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, in Akron, Ohio. He and his colleagues were very interested in telling the story of World War I's dramatic impact on their region. Toil, himself, has experience working with public television, so he proposed making a film. They loved the idea, pooled resources, called in favors, and collaborated their efforts -- with great success. Their pinnacle triumph is a full-length television documentary film, LOST VOICES OF THE GREAT WAR, which aired locally, and be found at Interestingly, even though the film was produced to tell a regional story -- they found that the experiences of the folks from their community reflected those of others around the state, and throughout the entire country. So, in addition to the film, they also created a short video segment on the “archivist’s role” about the creation of the documentary, along with 3 lesson plans that were created to provide teachers and their students an opportunity to explore in greater depth a few of the stories and sources that were touched upon in the film. We had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Motter about the experience of creating this great new film, and how the film & all the materials have been received. 

Tell us about the great new documentary film.

AR 311039164Toivo MotterThe recently Emmy-nominated film, Lost Voices of the Great War: Summit County in the First World War recounts the forgotten story of Summit County, Ohio residents’ experiences at home and overseas during the First World War; a period of great change in our community’s history. The story is told mostly through participants’ letters, diaries, and memoirs. An accompanying segment, Finding Lost Voices touches on the role that local archives play in the collection and preservation of these stories. The film premiered in downtown Akron, Ohio on October 30, 2018 and was screened a second time at the Ohio Statehouse on November 11. It was then broadcasted regionally on Western Reserve PBS

Tell us about how the film came to be. What was your research and pre-production process for putting it together?

The project came about as a result of a community partnership, Summit County and the Great War And, while some of the resources came from partner collections like Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens and the University of Akron’s Archival Services,, additional outreach uncovered a wealth of new material that allowed us to tell a more inclusive story.

Once everything was collected, assembled, digitized and/or transcribed, we wove together expert interviews and excerpts of historic letters and memoir entries, later brought to life by voice actors. Both national and locally sourced archival photographs, historic films and recordings gave the film authenticity while modern-day reenactments and contemporary performances of WWI-era songs enhanced the film’s poignancy.

Read more: New Local WWI documentary from Akron, Ohio has wide appeal


remembrance day 2017Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25 holds its annual Remembrance Day service in 2017 in Liberty Cemetery (located in Petaluma). Liberty Cemetery is one of two cemeteries where Canadian and British service men and women are buried, and the Branch helps to maintain both locations.

The San Francisco Bay Area's Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25

"Commemorating those who served, remembering the service of those who have passed on" 

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

The ties between the U.S. and Canada were never stronger than during World War I. Not only did our nations help each other with wartime food and supplies -- but over 35,000 Americans served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1914-1918. Some 3,500 of those men and women lost their loves in the war. We were thrilled recently to learn that a very special group of Canadians follow our Centennial Commission's activities. The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit veterans service organization that supports Veterans and their families, remembers the men and women who served our country, and strengthens communities. The Legion has a chapter based in the San Francisco Bay area, U.S. Branch 25, who have been very active in Great War remembrance activities -- they share our weekly Dispatch stories with their members, and they even participated in our Bells of Peace on Nov 11th, 2018. We had a chance to talk to U.S. Branch 25 member Michael Barbour about the Post, about the members, and about his own connection to World War I.

We were thrilled to see that you share our DISPATCH with your Post members! How did you find us?

michael barbour 300Michael Barbour visiting visit C100, a Canadian organization in the Bay Area, to deliver poppies and a poppy box as a part of the Poppy Campaign (an annual activity of all branches of the Royal Canadian Legion). I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure. You guys started showing up in my inbox at some point, and since it was appropriate to our membership I decided to share it on the blog portion of our website.

Tell us about your Legion Post. Who are the members? What is the history? Is there a connection to WWI? How many Royal Legion Posts are there in the US, overall?

Our branch is actually the combination of four or five former branches. As you might imagine, the Bay Area was an attractive location for many Canadians upon retirement. Plus a lot of former role Canadian Air Force members found their way to California as pilots, given the fact that San Francisco was a hub for several airlines. As our membership has aged and passed away, those multiple branches have dwindled into a single branch for the entire Bay Area.

Our branch is actually the combination of four or five former branches. As you might imagine, the bay area was an attractive location for many Canadians upon retirement. Plus a lot of former role Canadian Air Force members found their way to California as pilots, given the fact that San Francisco was a hub for several airlines. As our membership has aged and passed away, those multiple branches have dwindled into a single branch for the entire Bay Area. While this would be well before my time, but we have had branches in the Bay Area for at least four or five decades now - maybe longer.

The San Francisco branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, or US Branch 25, is one of 11 or 12 North American branches that are outside of Canada. All but one of these are in the United States, with one in Chapala, Mexico. Our branch, along with the four others in California, and the one in Mexico, form the US Western Zone. The other US based branches form the US Eastern Zone, and then there are 6 to 8 branches in Europe that are part of the European Zone.

Read more: Royal Canadian Legion U.S. Branch 25

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