The pilots African American Officers gas masks doughboys with mules African American Soldiers 1 pilots in dress uniforms Mule Rearing Riveters

Welcome to the Georgia WWI Commission

"To Honor, Educate and Commemorate"

Historical marker dedication: The Otranto tragedy

Sylvania, GA Oct. 6, 2017

The Georgia World War I Centennial Commission, in cooperation with the Georgia Historical Society and VFW Post 7116, dedicated a historical marker in downtown Sylvania as a memorial to the many Georgia soldiers who died in the tragic sinking of the troop ship Otranto off the coast of Scotland.  The dedication ceremony was held on the 99th anniversary of the sinking which occurred Oct. 6, 1918.

 Otranto 1Georgia World War I Centennial Commission members Scott Delius and Rick Elder place a memorial wreath during the dedication ceremonyOtranto 3
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A Question of Manhood: African Americans and WW1

Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Library is pleased to sponsor a special WW1 centennial program - “A Question of Manhood: African Americans and WW1”.  This explores the challenges and conflicts, the triumphs and successes of the African American soldiers before, during, and after the war.  UGA Professor John Morrow will discuss his 2014 book Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and African American Quest for Equality.

This will take place on Monday, October 16, at 6:30pm, Emory University Rose Library, Teaching and Learning Studio 10th Floor.

A Question of Manhood African Americans and WW1 Poster


UGA Lecture Series highlights World War I Centennial

willson center houseThree lectures during October will highlight the centennial of U.S. involvement in World War I. Sponsored by the UGA Department of History and the UGA Willson Center for Humanities & Arts, the lectures will be held October 5, 19 and 26 respectively at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries at the University of Georgia. Admission is free and open to the public.

October 5
Lynn Dumenil - "Modern American Women and World War I"
She is the Robert Glass Cleland Professor of American History, Emerita at Occidental College. She is the author of The Second Line of Defense: American Women and World War I, The Modern Temper: American Culture and Society in the 1920s, Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880-1930, Through Women's Eyes: An American History (with Ellen Carol DuBois), and (with James Henretta and David Brody) America's History, 5th edition; and America: A Concise History. Dumenil's emphasis is cultural, political and social history of 20th century America.

October 19
Chad Williams - "World War I, Black Soldiers and the Birth of the New Negro."
He is associate professor of African and Afro-American studies at Brandeis University. He is the author of Torchbearers of Democracy: African American Soldiers in the World War I Era and co-editor, with Kidada E. Williams and Keisha N. Blain, of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence, published in 2016 by the University of Georgia Press.

October 26
Richard Shawn Faulkner - "Mud, Blood, and Dysentery: The Doughboy's Life in Battle."
He is retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He is a supervisory professor of military history at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Faulkner is the author of Pershing's Crusaders: The American Soldier in World War I, published in 2017 by the University Press of Kansas, and The School of Hard Knocks: Combat Leadership in the American Expeditionary Forces, which won the 2013 Distinguished Book Award presented by the Society for Military History.

Berrien County enhances Otranto commemorative exhibit

A new and enhanced exhibit commemorating soldiers from Berrien County lost in the tragic wreck of the troop ship Otranto is under development.  The exhibit at the Old Berrien County Courthouse in Nashville is under the direction of the Berrien County Historical Society and is planned for a January 2018 opening.  Below are the design sketches and supporting brochure.

Doughboy Brochure1 Page 1
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Georgia remembers those who served in World War I

Reproduced here with appreciation to and permission of the Saporta Report

In this column, members of Georgia Humanities and their colleagues take turns discussing Georgia’s history and culture, and other topics that matter. Through different voices, we hear different stories.

This week guest contributor TOM JACKSON, of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission, looks at the many memorials to WWI soldiers in our state.

By Tom Jackson

Tom JacksonTom Jackson

The mission of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission (GWWICC) in remembering the Great War is not only to educate today’s citizens about this often-overlooked war but also to honor those who served and commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

With its 1921 Georgia State Memorial Book, Georgia became the first state to publish an official memorial book to those who died in World War I. But under the racial practices of the time, the book contained only the names of white personnel. Through the diligent research of retired state librarian Dr. Lamar Veatch, who works as an associate with the GWWICC, the names of hundreds of soldiers of African American, Native American, and other descent have been identified and added to the expanded version housed on the GWWICC website. As a result of this significant effort, today the names of some 1,300 Georgians are on the rolls as part of the national centennial program to find and record all such tributes to Americans who fought and died in World War I.

That same website also includes an online inventory, with photographs, of the war memorials and plaques located throughout the state — there is one in virtually every county seat. Some are elaborate; others are simple. Some have separate listings for “white” and “colored,” while others omit African Americans altogether. The GWWICC website will become a lasting legacy of these efforts as a part of the National Archives collection on the WWI Centennial.

orignal doughboyNotable among the Georgia monuments are the many striking “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statues standing prominently across the state, among hundreds that were erected nationwide. Georgia has the original. All others are copies of the first by sculptor E. M. Viquesney that stands outside the courthouse in Nashville (in Berrien County). It honors the 60 Berrien residents who died in the war, including 28 who perished in the disastrous sinking of the troop ship Otranto off the coast of Scotland in 1918. The original bronze statue was ordered in August 1920, and when completed was displayed in Americus before touring on a national exhibition and finally being delivered to the Berrien County courthouse square in summer 1921. There it stood under a veil until late 1923 as local citizens worked to raise the remainder of the funds owed on it —a dedication ceremony was held once the debt was paid. A 1939 widening of the highway required moving the statue from the middle of the street to the courthouse grounds, where it stands today.

A copper copy of the original doughboy statue stands in Rees Park, in Americus, relocated from downtown Americus in 1947. An unusual but striking copy done in stone — the only known stone version — stands in front of the Morgan County Courthouse in downtown Madison. There are other versions across Georgia, generally in bronze or copper, in places like Trion (Chattooga County), Griffin (Spalding County), and Waycross (Ware County) — and more than 150 copies nationwide, mass-produced from the original statue in the 1920s and 1930s.

veterans plaza rome gaGeorgia also is home to the grave of America’s “Known Soldier” of World War I. After the close of the war, Congress and President Warren G. Harding determined in 1922 to designate a known soldier killed in action as a representative of all who were lost in the war and to lie in Arlington Cemetery beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At random, the name of Private Charles Graves was chosen — an 18-year-old private from Rome, Georgia, killed in the Hindenburg Line and originally buried in France. It was to be a tremendous honor for young Graves, except his mother wanted him buried at home in the family plot at Antioch Cemetery outside Rome. The government acceded to Mrs. Graves’s wishes. Graves got his ceremony and a glorious homecoming parade through New York City, honoring him and all the soldiers, returning and fallen. But then instead of going to Arlington, his body was put on a train to Rome, where he was buried in accordance with his mother’s wishes, still designated as representative of all who died in the Great War.

Local citizens soon thought it not fitting for America’s “Known Soldier” to lie in a little church cemetery. After the death of his mother, they obtained the permission of Graves’s brother to move him to a more stately setting in Rome’s historic Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Others, thinking the mother’s wishes should be honored, sought a court injunction to stop the move. But the night before an injunction was to be issued, a group of men exhumed Graves’s body and moved him to Myrtle Hill in the Memorial Plaza, where he lies today. A dramatic renovation of the site in 2000 created a memorial plaza to all 34 young men from Floyd County who died in World War I, with the “Known Soldier,” Charles Graves, at its center.

Keep reading “Jamil’s Georgia” for more in this continuing series about World War I.

Tom Jackson serves as executive director of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission in his position as Heritage Communications Executive for the University System of Georgia.

Kelly Caudle and Allison Hutton of Georgia Humanities provide editorial assistance for the “Jamil’s Georgia” columns.



Open May 20 - December 3, 2017

One hundred years ago, Americans were reluctant to get involved in what they viewed as Europe's war When the United States finally entered the war in April 1917, public opinion had to be turned around. The U.S. government mobilized an incredible cadre of artists to create "pictorial publicity" for all aspects of the war effort -- from recruiting to war relief to food and fuel conservation. Artists of the caliber of James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy, Charles Dana Gibson, J. C. Leyendecker, and N.C. Wyeth produced an impressive body of art. Unfortunately, all but a handful of these posters have long since been forgotten.

This exhibition combines artifact holdings from the Atlanta History Center with the magnificent poster collection of Atlanta historian Walton Rawls, whose landmark book Wake Up, America! World War I and the American Poster was published in 2001. The result is a fascinating look at American posters of World War I, both as graphic masterworks and as illustrations of a tragic historical episode.

Uncle Sam Wants You! WWI and the American Poster is part of a series of exhibitions at Atlanta History Center in 2017-2018 commemorating the centennial of World War I.

Uncle Sam Wants You poster Picture of Uncle Sam AHC3 If you want to fight, join the marines poster


Georgia World War I Centennial Commission Donors

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Delta Logo

Gulfstream Logo

Georgia Power

John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Foundation, Inc.

Numerous generous individuals


Georgia World War I Centennial Commission


Commission Members

  • Mr. Scott Delius, Atlanta
  • Mr. Rick Elder, Sylvania
  • Mr. Samuel Friedman, Atlanta
  • Mr. Thomas Lacy, Peachtree City (vice-chair)
  • Dr. John Morrow, Athens
  • Dr. Billy Wells, Dahlonega (Chair)

Executive Director:

Dr. Thomas H. Jackson, Jr., University System of Georgia

Federal Commissioner for Georgia

Dr. Monique Seefried, Atlanta

Commission Associates

  • Dr. Lamar Veatch, University of North Georgia
  • Mr. Keith Antonia, University of North Georgia


Next Meeting:

Wednesday April 19, 2019 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Atlanta History Center
Draper Members Room
130 West Paces Ferry Rd NW

Future Meetings:

"Pershing" Donors

Founding Sponsor
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