COLUMBUS, GA- In coincidence with the national effort to commemorate the United States’ entry into World War I,
The Columbus Museum will present a week of events related to the exhibition “From Flying Aces to Army Boots: World
War I and the Chattahoochee Valley.” The opening celebration will begin March 14, with an artist meet and greet and the
Annual Rothschild Distinguished Speaker Series, and continue with Third Thursday program, March 16. The exhibition
opens to the public March 15 during regular Museum hours in the third floor galleries and will remain open through
August 27. This exhibition is generously sponsored by the Columbus Cultural Arts Alliance and the Columbus
Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.
Beyond military history, “From Flying Aces” will look at the social and political climate of the region during the first
years of the war, 1914-1917, and changes to the home front during 1917-1918, which included the formation of Fort
Benning. It will also highlight the experiences of local soldiers, African Americans’ service in the war, the life and career
of Columbus native and French flying ace Eugene Bullard, and women’s volunteer service. Alongside artifacts from
public and private collections, a special installation by contemporary artist Danielle Frankenthal will include paintings
inspired by World War I and what she calls “the ceaseless cycle of war, suffering, glorifying, and forgetting.” The
installation, A War Room, is based in part on the classic poem In Flanders Fields, written in 1915 by Canadian
Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. Danielle Frankethal will open the series of exhibit-related events, Tuesday March, with
a meet and greet for Museum members at 5:30 p.m.
Opening events will continue with the Annual Rothschild Distinguished Speaker Series Lecture*, Tuesday, March 14 at
6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to all ages. Dr. Jennifer Keene, a specialist in American military experience during
World War I and President of the Society of Military History will present the talk “ ‘A War for Democracy’: The
Experience of African Americans and Women in World War I.” Keene is a published author of several books. Her book
World War I: The American Soldier Experience will be available for purchase and signing in the Museum Shop shortly
after the lecture. A reception will follow the program.
The opening celebration week will culminate with the Third Thursday program, Thursday, March 16. “From the Great
War to the Big Band” will feature music of the World War I era leading up to World War II by the Columbus Cavaliers, a
big band orchestra. The program will begin at 6 p.m. with music, tours of the World War I exhibition, and light
For more information about the World War I exhibition or The Columbus Museum, visit www.columbusmuseum.com.
*The Rothschild Distinguished Speaker Series is made possible by a generous bequest from the late Norman S. Rothschild (1917-1998) in memory of his parents Aleen and Irwin B. Rothschild. The fund allows the public the opportunity to attend and participate in programming, including lectures by nationally recognized speakers, beyond the normal scope of activities.
Starting March 6 the Atlanta History Center is to have a series of World War I exhibitions.
“Article published by Global Atlanta, February 17, 2017, reproduced here with permission.”
A recreated trench for the Belgian World War I exhibition coming to the Atlanta History Center in March.
World War I may be “the forgotten war,” overshadowed in U.S. history by the Civil War and World War II, but its consequences continue to be felt this day.
The loss of 10 million-plus who died in the conflict with twice as many injured may be only a faint memory. Yet the collapse of empires, the creation of new nation states, the launch of the United States as a world power, the rise of Communism and the Soviet Union, Hitler’s reign, World War II, the Holocaust and the continuing chaos in the Middle East can all trace their origins to World War I.
In an effort to overcome this amnesia, Congress created the World War I Centennial Commission to develop and execute educational programs with the goal of commemorating America’s involvement in “the Great War.” Four former presidents are serving as honorary chairs.
Atlanta resident Monique Seefried, the wife of Ferdinand Seefried, the honorary consul general of Austria, is one of the members of the national commission created in 2013 to develop and deliver programs commemorating the war and its human sacrifice.
Dr. Seefried, who has a doctorate from the Sorbonne University in Paris, founded and has served as executive director of the Center for the Advancement and Study of International Education (CASIE) and as chair of the International Baccalaureate of Governors.
She is the federal representative on the Georgia World War I Commission, which was created two years after the national commission by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly. The Georgia Commission is chaired by Billy Wells, senior vice president for leadership and global engagement at the University of North Georgia (UNG). He is joined on the Georgia commission by Rick Elder of Sylvania, Samuel Friedman of Atlanta, Thomas Lacy of Peachtree City and John Morrow of Athens as well as Dr. Seefried
Thomas H. Jackson Jr., the Heritage Communications executive for the University System, has been appointed the commission’s executive director.
Dr. Jackson told Global Atlanta that the Centennial of the U.S. entry into the war in April 1917 will provide numerous educational events geared at increasing the understanding of how the cataclysm 100 years ago affects the world today.
Georgia was heavily involved in the war because it already was the site of five major federal military installations including Fort McPherson, south of Atlanta; Fort Oglethorpe near the Tennessee border; Augusta’s arsenal and Camp Hancock and Fort Screven on Tybee Island.
Once the U.S. entered the war, the War Department also opened Camp Gordon in Chamblee, the training site of the 82nd All-American Division and Camp Benning in Columbus, eventual home of the U.S. infantry. Meanwhile, Souther Field near Americus prepared almost 2,000 pilots for European combat and Georgia’s National Guard trained at Augusta’s Camp Hancock and Camp Wheeler in Macon.
Events focused on the war already have taken place. At the Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, artist John Cleaveland in late January gave a retrospective of the war’s battlefields. He currently is undertaking a series of paintings which he considers “memorials” tied to specific times, places and combatants.
An ongoing exhibit from February 2017-January 2018 at the Georgia Southern University Museum in Statesboro includes stories of Georgia soldiers, civilians, training camps and communities that will highlight the state’s involvement in the war.
The National Archives in Morrow also held an event on Feb. 11 that focused on the role of African Americans in the war. A memorial reviewing the career of Eugene Bullard of Columbus, who has been described as “the most unsung hero of World War I” is in the works.
The Atlanta History Center, however, is assuming the main role in providing World War I focused exhibits with a broad view of local and international perspectives. Three of the exhibits are to be presented in partnership with Belgian, French and British organizations.
Michael Rose, executive vice president of the center, told Global Atlanta that the institution took on the exhibitions because of its “long record of chronicling and exploring the experience of America’s veterans,” and “to confirm the incredible value of U.S. involvement in the war and to honor the veterans of battlefield and home front in their sacrifices to ‘make the world safe for democracy'.”
From March 6-April 30, “The Great War in Broad Outlines,” which is to include 30 panels from a Belgian touring exhibition, recounts the war from an international perspective.
The panels are to chronicle a variety of aspects of the war including the invasion of neutral Belgium and its consequences, the Christmas Truce of 1914 between Allied and German troops along the Western Front, and the efforts of Herbert Hoover as head of the U.S. Food Administration, in providing humanitarian relief to starving Belgians.
The center is to enhance the exhibition with flour sacks from American mills among countless others that were embroidered or otherwise decorated by Belgian women then sold to raise funds for war charities. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum exhibition on loaning the sacks was a demonstration of the type of humanitarian support the U.S. provided.
The exhibition also is to focus on Moina Michael of Walton County, who was responsible for turning the red poppy into a universal symbol of war remembrance.
Anne Morgan’s War: American Women Rebuilding France from 1917-24 to be held at the center from April 6-Sept. 30 is being organized by the Franco-American Museum, Chateau de Blerancourt, France, with the support of American Friends of Blerancourt and the Florence Gould Foundation.
The museum and chateau was founded after World War I by Anne Morgan, financier J.P. Morgan’s daughter, who founded the American Committee for Devastated France. The committee brought back livestock, planted crops, rebuilt homes and provided needed services for children in the Picardy region of northeastern France, which had been ravaged by the war.
This exhibition is to feature 31 World War I photographs and silent film footage bringing to life the work of 350 American women volunteers, who left comfortable lives in the U.S. to devote themselves to humanitarian work in France.
From May 20-March 2018, the center will feature the exhibition, Uncle Sam Wants You! — World War I and the Poster, which will showcase more than 60 World War I posters.
For this exhibition, the center is to combine its holdings from its permanent collection with the collection of Atlanta historian Walton Rawls, author of the book, “Wake Up, America: World War I and the American Poster.”
Originally resistant to entering the war, the American public’s attitude was turned around in part due to the artists who created the “pictorial publicity” for the war effort, including recruiting, war relief and food and fuel conservation.
From March 16-July 5, 2018, the center is to exhibit the World War I battlefield photos of the acclaimed Irish photographer Michael St. Maur Sheil. The exhibition is to be installed throughout the 33 acres of the center’s Goizueta gardens juxtaposing archival images alongside those of Mr. Sheil.
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Al Lipphardt, former state commander of the VFW Department of Georgia, (center) presented a $10,000 donation Feb. 3 to Dr. Billy Wells, senior vice president for leadership and global engagement at the University of North Georgia and chairman of the GWWICC (second from left). Also pictured are (left to right) Keith Antonia, associate vice president for military programs at UNG; Army Col. Gery Cummings, professor of military science; and Army Maj. Steven Devitt, executive officer of UNG’s Department of Military Science.
Feb. 6, 2017 – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Department of Georgia stepped forward in a significant way with a $10,000 contribution to support the efforts of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission (GWWICC), making the first such donation to the effort.
The donation was presented Feb. 3 on behalf of VFW Department of Georgia State Commander William Sandberg by former commander Al Lipphardt to retired Army Col. Billy Wells, chairman of the GWWICC. Wells is also senior vice president for leadership and global engagement at the University of North Georgia.
"When the Veterans of Wars of the United States was formed in 1899, the purpose was simple: To take care of those who were deployed to the land of our enemy and to advocate our government on behalf of veterans and those continuing to serve in uniform. Our Congressional Charter, in part, reads the purpose of this corporation is fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable and educational and 'to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead,'" Lipphardt said. "How fitting for the VFW Department of Georgia to make this initial donation to Georgia's WWI commission in their efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI."
Lipphardt understands the importance of remembering the service and sacrifices of Georgians who served in “the Great War” a century ago. He served in Vietnam, and his numerous recognitions including a Bronze Star for Valor and a Purple Heart. He has served as vice chairman of the national VFW’s legislative committee, lobbying in Congress on behalf of veterans and their families.
"On behalf of the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Georgia and its Auxiliary, we challenge the other veteran service organizations in Georgia to join us in celebrating our World War I generation," Lipphardt said.
The GWWICC was created by act of the Georgia General Assembly and signed into existence by Gov. Nathan Deal in May 2015. Its six volunteer members are charged with developing a program that educates Georgians about the significance of WWI in history and the role Georgians played in it, honoring Georgians who served and sacrificed, and commemorating the people, places and events in Georgia that contributed to the liberation of Europe.
“Because of the benevolence and generosity of individuals and organizations like the VFW, we’re able to undertake many activities that honor the service of Georgians who fought in the Great War, educate today’s citizens of Georgia about the war, and commemorate Georgia’s participation,” Wells said.
The Commission receives no state funding and operates entirely on private donations from individuals, corporations and foundations. Among the projects it supports are developing curriculum for the state’s public schools regarding Georgia in World War I, an essay contest for Georgia high school students in cooperation with the Georgia Humanities Council, identification of all existing World War I memorials in Georgia, and encouragement of programs and ceremonies to observe the centennial in communities across the state.
The United States entered World War I with a declaration of war on April 6, 1917. By the time of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918, there had been 375,000 American casualties, including 116,516 deaths – more than Korea and Vietnam combined. Georgia was home to more training camps than any other state and some 100,000 Georgians served in the effort.
For more information on the work of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission, see www.ww1cc.org/ga.