Four Questions for Betsy Anderson
"Every international challenge we face today has roots in that war and its aftermath."
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
The WW1CC is thrilled to have a new volunteer member on board to help us! Betsy Anderson will be our Volunteer Coordinator, and will manage the contributions from our various friends, who help us with event planning, social media writing, photography, partnerships, administrative issues, etc. She is an amazing person, with a fascinating background, and she comes from a family who was deeply touched by World War I. Betsy took some time to tell us a little bit about her story.
Welcome to the WW1CC Team! Where are you coming from, what was your earlier career?
I am delighted to volunteer with the team. I retired from the Foreign Service after a 35-year career, mostly in our Embassies overseas, where my main job was to help U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad. I worked in Australia, Canada, Senegal, Switzerland, Greece and Sweden. Later, in Washington, I directed the Office of Overseas Citizens Services and the Passport Office in the Department of State. After my retirement, I worked part time as an inspector in the Office of Inspector General, visiting Embassies to make sure they were doing things "by the book."
What an amazing background & set of skills! How did you hear about the Centennial Commission, and how did come to decide to help us?
I got interested in WW1 in the early 1990s when I inherited my great-uncle's letters. He served in the AEF in France. I heard about the Centennial Commission at the WW1 Museum in Kansas City, which I visited in 2015 while doing research. In a visit to the Western Front battlefields last fall, I encountered many school groups from Canada, Australia, and all over Europe, where young people were learning about the history and sacrifices made during the war, and I decided I really had to be part of the effort to educate Americans about the importance of the war and its consequences.
Tell us about your ancestor, who served during the war. What did he do? Where did he serve?
My great-uncle, Guy Musser, was twin brother to my grandfather. Guy, at age 30, was drafted in 1917 from Cincinnati, Ohio and shipped to France in mid-1918. He was private who served as an artillery loader. His first assignment was to the HQ company, 330th Infantry, 83rd Division. In August 1918, he was transferred to the 4th Platoon, Co. K, 28th Infantry, 1st Division. His outfit was at the Battle of St-Mihiel but his company was not called into action there. Then they moved to Exermont and he died October 5, 1918, according to a comrade-in-arms, from a shrapnel wound to the neck. His sister received a telegram that said he was missing in action, and she spent the next several years trying to track down exactly what had happened to him.
What do you hope to achieve through your volunteer efforts with the Centennial Commission? Why is this effort, this mission, important to you?
I hope to help call attention to the important historical lessons of the First World War. Every international challenge we face today has roots in that war and its aftermath. As Americans, we tend to leave the past behind, work in the present and plan for the future. We don't reflect on how the choices made in the past have relevance to the world we live in and the world we are making for our children. And, the loss of my great-uncle is personal to me. Our family was deeply affected by the hole he left. I want to honor his memory and the sacrifice of the millions of families like mine.