U.S. World War One Centennial Commission enters formal partnership with the Federal Government of Belgium
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
On Monday, 26 September, the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission signed a partnership of mutual support with the Federal Government of Belgium regarding the commemoration of the Centennial of World War One.
The Government of Belgium has set up special programs to provide public education and commemoration for the war. Belgium saw some of the greatest loss of life on the Western Front of the First World War, which included the awful fighting in the areas around Liege, Mons, Passchendaele, Ypres, and Chateau-Thierry.
As early as 1914, American philanthropists lead by future President Hoover started one of the largest global humanitarian campaigns ever planned, and their ‘Commission for Relief in Belgium’ fed millions of Belgian civilians in occupied Belgium.
Today, fallen U.S. soldiers are notably honored at the Flanders Field cemetery in Waregem, Belgium. President Obama was hosted by King Philippe of the Belgians for an official visit at Flanders Field cemetery in March 2014. This new agreement calls for the two organizations to share their experience, knowledge, and technical means, as they prepare for the commemoration of the American intervention in World War One.Robert Dalessandro, Chair of the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission, and Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of Belgium to the United States, signed the document in a small ceremony in the Pershing Room of the landmark Army and Navy Club of Washington, DC.
“In the face of rising sectarianism around the world, WW1 reminds us that Peace is a constant effort, and helps us realize how far we have come” said Ambassador Dirk Wouters. “‘A peaceful Europe, a unified Europe, a democratic Europe’, in the words of King Philippe, was the dream of generations (...). Let’s stay committed to European, transatlantic and international cooperation, let’s work hard every day to deepen our ties, let’s make sure the next generation knows where exacerbated nationalism and isolationism can lead.”
Robert Dalessandro of the World War One Centennial Commission said: “The sacrifices of World War One brought enormous changes to the world, with the colossal shifts of entire nations. These sacrifices also brought huge developments in diplomacy, communication, technology, medicine, transportation, and the arts; developments that made the world a smaller place, and ushered the modern age that we have today. The stories of these changes must be told.
"The lessons from these developments must be studied. They must all be passed on to our future generations. This is why we are honored, and thrilled, to join with the People of Belgium, to tell these important stories of World War One and to bring them forward to our children, and beyond.”