January 13, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC: Commissioner Monique Seefried, of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission was decorated as a Chevalier of France's Legion d'Honneur (Legion of Honor) by France's Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, at the embassy residence on January 13th. Dr. Seefried, of Atlanta, is the federal commissioner responsible for liaison with the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission, among other states.
The award, bestowed by the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, upon recommendation of the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, was awarded to her for her long career in education and her work on commemorating the sacrifices of American soldiers in France during World War I.
The Legion d'Honneur is France's highest order of distinction. There are five levels to the national order, with France's president traditionally holding the highest level. The Chevalier, or Knight, level is the inaugural level. The Legion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802.
Commissioner Seefried, a U.S. citizen born in Tunisia, has served with the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission since 2014, and beyond her work with education and state programs, she is the lead for international partnerships. She was responsible for the recently signed bi-lateral agreement between the United States Commission and the FrenchMission du Centenaire.
During her tenure, she has been involved with outreach to such organizations as the U.S. Department of Education, the History Channel, the International Baccalaureate organization, and others. She has previously been inducted into France's National Order of Merit and the Order of the Academic Palms.
The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission was established by Congress in 2013 to develop and promote educational and commemorative programs to honor the role of the United States in World War I.
All photos courtesy of ©Josselin Brémaud – Press office – Embassy of France to the US
About the U.S World War I Centennial Commission
About France's Legion d'Honneur, National Order of Merit, and other orders
January 15, 2016
Members of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission held their January meeting at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning. In addition to conducting their regular business meeting, the commissioners attended a graduation ceremony for the Infantry School and toured the museum’s impressive section on World War I. For more information on the National Infantry Museum see http://www.nationalinfantrymuseum.org/
Exhibit at Georgia Southern University
February 2015 - January 2016
The very successful exhibit “The Great War that Changed the World, 1914-1918” ends its nearly year-long run at the Georgia Southern Museum in Statesboro on January 24, 2016. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, it depicts the introduction of new technology, the fall of empires, the rise of new states, the loss of a generation, and changes in society as a whole. Curated by faculty from across Georgia Southern University with strong participation from GSU students in a wide variety of disciplines, the exhibit is the first of two marking the war’s centennial. A second exhibit on “Georgia in the Great War” is planned for February 2017-January 2018. For details, contact the Georgia Southern Museum at 912-478-5444 or www.GeorgiaSouthern.edu/Museum.
October 10, 2015
A memorial service in Nashville, Ga. honored the many Berrien County men who lost their lives in the sinking of the U.S. troop ship the Otranto off the coast of Ireland and Scotland in September 1918. Of 60 Berrien County soldiers lost in World War I, 28 died in that one tragedy. Georgia World War I Centennial Commission Executive Director Tom Jackson was among the speakers at the program in Nashville.
A troopship, crammed with more than a thousand men, suffered a catastrophic collision off the storm-lashed coast of the Scottish Hebrides. This is the story of the tragic Otranto, the 470 American soldiers and British sailors who were lost on her, and of how hundreds of others were snatched from the jaws of death.
The end of the Great War was just weeks away when former P&O luxury liner, the Otranto, crossed the Atlantic, laden with young American soldiers. Just a few months before, she had made the same trip with Private Buster Keaton on board. To defy German submarines, the Otranto sailed in a convoy, protected by a ring of British warships.
But, appalling weather prevented accurate navigation and the convoy was forced to rely on dead reckoning. When dawn broke, on the 6th of October 1918, a treacherous rocky coast was sighted. Most ships correctly identified it as Scotland, but not the Otranto. Her officers thought they were off Ireland. The Otranto turned north – and another troopship, the Kashmir, sliced into her, breaking her back.
An extraordinary rescue mission ensued. British destroyer HMS Mounsey saved 596 men but 489 were left behind. Only 21 men – 17 of them Americans – managed to swim to the coast of the island of Islay, where they were dragged from the sea by islanders – mostly boys and old men not called-up to the army.
But it was mostly bodies that the Islay people dragged ashore ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/october-13-1918-recovering-corpses-from-otranto-wreck/ ) . The following morning the coast was strewn with scores of them. In a remarkable display of public sympathy, local people scoured beaches, and men roped themselves together to climb down cliffs to retrieve bodies.
Kilchoman Church became a morgue. 100 bodies were stretched out on the pews. When the church got full, they laid another 100 of the dead outside among the gravestones. The islanders buried these dead strangers in a moving and dignified ceremony ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/burial-of-the-otranto-victims/ ) .
In America, the sense of shock was palpable. The New York Times, broke the story ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/otranto-sunk-in-collision/ ) in page ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/oct-12-1918-372-u-s-soldiers-lost-in-sinking-of-otranto/ ) after page of horrific detail ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/october-13-1918-recovering-corpses-from-otranto-wreck/ ) . Nowhere was the shock more profoundly felt than Berrien County, Georgia. A disproportionate number of men came from the area, and of the 60 names carved on Nashville, GA’s war memorial ( https://raycityhistory.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/let-us-unveil/ ) , 28 are those of Otranto victims.
For intricate details, see Many Were Held by the Sea: The Tragic Sinking of the HMS Otranto, by R. Neil Scott, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012, 288 pp., available on Amazon).
October 6, 2015
Members of the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission attended a remembrance ceremony at the State Capitol on the occasion of the visit of Prime Ministers Mark Rutte from the Netherlands and Geert Bourgeois from Flanders. In addition to remarks by both prime ministers and Gov. Nathan Deal, Georgia’s First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Deal, read the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.
Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal reads the poem “In Flanders Fields”:
Gov. Deal and Prime Ministers Rutte and Bourgeois pay respects at the Georgia Veterans Memorial at the State Capitol:
May 5, 2015
In a ceremony in his State Capitol office, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law legislation creating the Georgia World War I Centennial Commission. Among those present were Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta); Rep. John P. Yates (R-Griffin); Dr. Monique Seefried of Atlanta, who is U.S. World War I Centennial Commission representative for Georgia; and Lt. Col. Michael Ivy, Professor of Military Science and Army ROTC at Georgia Institute of Technology, among others.