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World War I Centennial News


 

“We’re Home—Now What?” Exhibition at National WWI Museum & Memorial

By Mike Vietti
Director of Marketing, Communications and Guest Services, National World War I Museum and Memorial

From the earliest history of armed conflict soldiers have done their duty and returned to their homes and families. In the aftermath of World War I millions of servicemen and women came home from a war that was unprecedented in its impact on those who experienced it. For some who served, the war’s impact on their bodies and minds lasted a lifetime.

Were Home Now What exhibition 500Beyond the dockside homecomings and the main street parades, what was the returning veteran’s experience in being a “civvie” again? Were they able to make this transition smoothly? Return to work or school and get on with their former life? Or, did they find it difficult and require help?

We’re Home—Now What? examines the challenging transition for service personnel from War-time duty to civilian life through archival materials.

The U.S. government offered financial, vocational and social resources to the nearly 5 million servicemen and women who began demobilizing in 1919 after nearly half served overseas in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). Finding a job was the first thing on the minds of most veterans, so the government encouraged businesses to hire them.

An article in the April 4, 1919 issue of The Stars and Stripes describes the plan of the American Expeditionary Force’s Department of Citizenship to hold “forums” to address three subjects of importance for US Army officials: “Home,” “Health” and “The Workshop.”

Servicemen were given an opportunity to ask questions about when they could expect to be sent home and discharged, the prospects for finding a job, how to maintain good health and sanitary practices for themselves and their communities and how to be aware of the influence of socialism in the workplace.

Read more: “We’re Home—Now What?” Exhibition at National WWI Museum & Memorial

Mark HoughAttorney Mark Hough speaks after receiving his award from the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation.

Hough, Cobbs, Theres honored by U.S. Army Women’s Hall of Fame for Hello Girls work 

By Amy Baker
via the Army Women’s Hall of Fame

Last week, as our nation celebrates Women’s History Month & International Women’s Day, the U.S. Army Women’s Foundation recognized extraordinary Army Women by inducting the 2019 class of Army women into the Army Women’s Hall of Fame March 7th on Capitol Hill.

Among those inductees were, collectively, the U.S. Army Telephone Operators of World War I -- aka the "Hello Girls".

Representing those female World War I heroes were three special partners to  the United States World War I Centennial Commission -- all members of the special Task Force for gaining Congressional Gold Medal recognition for the women:

  • Attorney Mark Hough, who succeeded in 1978, in lobbying for Congressional recognition for the women's service, nearly fifty years after their return from WWI
  • Elizabeth Cobbs, author of the definitive "Hello Girls" book
  • Jim Theres, director of the award-winning documentary, “The Hello Girls,”.

Read more: Hough, Cobbs, Theres receive special honors from the U.S. Army Women’s Hall of Fame for Hello...

Sculptor Sabin Howard on a mission to effect lasting social progress through art

By Charu Suri
via the Architectural Digest magazine web site

A brand-new “Great Women Sculpture Initiative” (GWSI), which aims to change the way women are portrayed in sculpture, is celebrating female leadership in human rights, civil rights, and women’s rights.

IMG 9099Two female figures from the maquette of the sculpture for the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D, created by Sabin Howard..“Female figures have historically been hidden in a masculine archetype or shell,” sculptor Sabin Howard, who designed the National World War I Memorial, tells Architectural Digest. After having seen some of the photographs of great women like Coretta Scott King and Eleanor Roosevelt, he realized that these women, while they appear powerful on the stage, ended up looking really meek and submissive in sculptural form. Few sculptures show women having the energy or power that the Hellenistic Winged Victory (at the Louvre, Paris) possesses.

“The new GWSI sculptures are meant to embody a visual idea of women—specifically, a new aesthetic of empowerment. They are also intended to create conversation on a cultural level,” he adds.

The initiative is led by Howard as well as two other women: Desiree Watson, and Howard’s wife, Traci Slatton. Howard has spent over 50,000 hours sculpting from life models and has a vision of how he would re-create the figures of Coretta Scott King and Eleanor Roosevelt in bronze, a material he says “will far outlive us all.” With maquettes and drawings, he and his supporters have started the process to create a body of work of female sculptures to be shown as a traveling exhibit to museums. A book and documentary about the process of creation will follow. 

This initiative hopes to dissipate a subterranean cultural notion that women are not supposed to take up space. “I want to sculpt women who take up space so confidently that they command the space,” he says. The typical female sculpture is passive, with self-contained gestures. She rarely has the energy of the Winged Victory. “The sternum of this (Hellenistic) sculpture is pitched towards the light; it leads the body and core’s energy forward,” observes Howard. This statue speaks of a universal, mythological female archetype.

Read more: Sculptor Sabin Howard—creator of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.—is on a...

Restored memorial in Hudson, OH recognizes 81 veterans of WWI

By Laura Freeman
via the MyTownNEO Northeastern Ohio News web site

Note: This restored memorial in Hudson, Ohio recognizes 81 veterans of Great War, with help from U.S. World War I Centennial Commission partner reenactors Seth and Garrett Moore. The restoration of this memorial was part of the Commission's 100 Cities/100 Memorials program -- Chris Isleib, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

HUDSON, OH — At the 11 hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, the “Victory Bell” tolled 21 times on the southwest green to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I.

The 21 tolls, based on the 21-gun salute, symbolize the nation’s highest honor.

Unknown 54During the ceremony last year, a member of Boy Scout Troop 321 tolled the bell 21 times while WWI reenactors Seth and Garrett Moore stood at attention on each side, at 11am on 11 NOV, to commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. Photo by Laura Freeman, MyTownNEO.comThe Nov. 11 ceremony ended with the unveiling of the restored 30-inch by 60-inch bronze tablet displayed on a temporary wood pedestal, containing the names of 80 men and one woman from Hudson who served in World War I. The United States participated from April 6, 1917, to Nov. 11, 1918.

About 150 veterans and visitors gathered at the memorial, located near the the Boy Scout log cabin. A member of Boy Scout Troop 321 tolled the bell while WWI Doughboy reenactors Garrett and Seth Moore of Columbus stood at attention on each side. Bugler Steve Masowick from American Legion Post 685 in Streetsboro played taps.

Inside the cabin, the Rev. Richard Shipley gave the invocation, and Mayor David Basil read a proclamation to recognize “Bells of Peace: A National World War I Remembrance” for the 4.7 million Americans who served.

Western Reserve Academy historian and archivist Tom Vince talked about the 81 people from Hudson who served in World War I.

Word of the end of the war was transmitted by telegraph, and Hudson First Congregational Church of Hudson tolled its bells at 7 a.m. in 1918 to let people know peace had arrived, Vince said.

“We know by noon Nov. 11 all businesses in Hudson closed their doors and people of Hudson rallied on Main Street,” Vince said. “The old bandstand near the clock tower was festooned with flags and bunting.”

Read more: Restored memorial in Hudson, Ohio recognizes 81 veterans of WWI

From the World War I Centennial News Podcast

Remembering Veterans: Writer Elizabeth Foxwell on the Roles, Experiences of Women in the Great War

CN PodcastLogo Final gray lower

In March 8th's edition of the World War I Centennial News Podcast, Episode 113, host Theo Mayer spoke with writer Elizabeth Foxwell about stories and experiences of female service in WWI, many of which have been neglected or forgotten. The following is a transcript of the interview, edited for clarity:  

Theo Mayer: Our second Remembering Veterans story is a bit more serious and definitely more poignant. Let me set it up this way: World War I did not merely engaged armies. It engaged nations and their populations in an unprecedented scale and scope. And although the gender of the armies was predominantly male, the gender of the world was, and is pretty much 50/50. And so, this cataclysmic event in world history was also a pivot for the 20th century perception and the role of womanhood. As the armies absorbed an ever larger percentage of the adult male population, the other half began to take on new roles and new responsibilities. With us today is Elizabeth Foxwell, a journalist and author focusing on the stories and neglected accounts of and by women who served in various roles in the war. She's the editor of a collection of first-person accounts by US women in the war called In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I. Elizabeth, welcome to the podcast.

Elizabeth Foxwell: Thank you, Theo. It's very nice to be here.

>Theo Mayer: So Elizabeth, before we start talking about the women of World War I, how did you get interested in the subject?Elizabeth FowxwellElizabeth Foxwell is a journalist and author with a particular interest in how WWI affected women

Elizabeth Foxwell: Well, Theo, it's a very simple answer. It was Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth, which was published in 1933 and has never been out of print. Brittain was a British nurse in World War I, and the book, to me, was just so incredibly wrenching, with the number of people she lost, and her experiences. So I actually wrote my Master's thesis at Georgetown on her World War II experiences. She was an ardent pacifist as a result of her World War I experiences, and it made me start looking for equivalent US accounts. And yet, there isn't a sort of book on the same footing as Testament of Youth in the United States, I think. And so that made me set out on the hunt for first-person accounts by US women.

Theo Mayer: Now, you've immersed yourself in first-person accounts of these women. Is there a common theme that motivated them to change their lives at this point in time?

Read more: Podcast Article - Elizabeth Foxwell Interview

Navy Celebrates 100th Anniversary of the Board of Decorations and Medals

via the U.S. Navy Office of Information

The Navy celebrates the centennial of the Board of Decorations and Medals. Founded March 6, 1919, the board was established by order of then-Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to standardize the awarding of medals to service members for extraordinary acts of heroism or distinguished service.

190306 N N0101 115The Navy Cross, left, and Purple Heart medals awarded to Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. for his actions of June 4, 1942 during the Battle of Midway as a member of Torpedo Squadron Eight. The Navy Cross is an early World War II "Black Widow" medal, so named for the over-anodized finish on the planchet. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution/Released)“Today, the Board of Decorations and Medals makes recommendations to the Secretary of the Navy and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs on all military award nominations and all military awards policy matters requiring their approval,” said James Nierle, president of the Board of Decorations and Medals.

“Leveraging its more than eight decades worth of extensive files, the board fulfills a vital function in maintaining awards standards across the Department of the Navy and across time.”

The Board was established following the World War I Armistice, and Congress’ creation in February 1919 of two new decorations: The Navy Cross and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.

Prior to the establishment of the board, input was sought from the fleet on individuals whose wartime performance of duty merited award of the new Distinguished Service Medal. These recommendations were reviewed by a board chaired by a Navy admiral, and its recommendations were submitted for approval to the secretary of the Navy. Arbitrary designations at times evidenced the need for a largely independent Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals.

“Equitably and accurately awarding those Sailors and Marines who go above and beyond the call of duty in combat and during a career of distinguished service is critical to honoring their heroics and fostering the esprit de corps that makes the Navy and Marine Corps the most lethal fighting force the world has ever known,” said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Greg Slavonic. “The Board of Decorations and Medals guarantees authenticity of the high tributes we bestow on our Nation’s warfighters.”

 

 

IMG 4789U.S. World War I Centennial Commission staff members visit with Sawyer the Seadog at the National Museum of the United States Navy in Washington, DC. (left to right) Staff members Zack Austin, Dale Archer, and Erin Sliwinski; Sawyer the Seadog and his owner Tom Frezza; staff members Halsey Hughes and James Taub. 

WWI Centennial Commission staff pay a visit with Sawyer the Seadog

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

On March 8, the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission staff paid a visit with Sawyer the Seadog, mascot of the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.

Sawyer’s owner, Tom Frezza, manages education programs at the museum, and he showed the staff around the many incredible Exhibits and artifacts from WWI.

Sawyer and the WW1CC will soon be working together in NYC for the annual Fleet Week New York, 22-29 May, which this year will have a World War I theme!

 

 

5ae2863f87cf8.imageWomen of the U.S. Signal Corps who served overseas as telephone operators during World War I. (U.S. Army)

These women were denied veteran status for decades. Congress can’t overlook them again.

By Elizabeth Cobbs
via the Washington Post newspaper web site

Elizabeth Cobbs, a history professor at Texas A&M and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, is the author of “The Hello Girls.”

Women were among the last U.S. soldiers to return home from World War I. They will also be among the last honored if an overdue but welcome bipartisan bill pending in the Senate passes.

Three years into World War I, the United States rushed to make up for its tardiness in joining the Allied effort by recruiting, equipping, training, shipping and deploying 2 million Doughboys to France. America’s contribution to the Allied victory was inestimably aided by the more than 200 women of the U.S. Signal Corps who operated telephone lifelines that connected combat soldiers with their commanders.

Radios did not yet carry voices, only Morse code, and their wireless signals were notoriously vulnerable to enemy interception. It took three mules to haul a heavy radio field station to the front. By contrast, officers could deliver orders over telephones simply by talking, and the lines were difficult to tap without detection. A single soldier carrying a lightweight spindle could run communication lines into trenches, across battlefields and to captured enemy positions.

The telephone lines transmitted commands to begin bombardments, to launch attacks and to retreat. Infantry officers used telephones to request artillery backup as troops advanced — and sometimes to call off friendly fire when it arrived. Telephones also facilitated military logistics, maintaining supply lines by which wars can be won or lost.

In the second decade of the 20th century, though, the telephone was a relatively rudimentary technology: Telephones didn’t have dials, and human operators were required to connect calls. Parties spoke with an operator who connected them. On the battlefield, when French-speaking and English-speaking commanders wanted to communicate, Signal Corps operators that Stars and Stripes called “bilingual wire experts” acted as interpreters.

Read more: These women were denied veteran status for decades. Congress can’t overlook them again.

Public Invited to Lander University Symposium on World War I 

By Jeff Lagrone
via the Lander University web site

On Thursday, March 14, and Friday, March 15, Lander University will host a two-day symposium on the far-reaching effects that World War I had on the American South.

The public is invited to the event, made possible by a grant from South Carolina Humanities.

Lander University WWI Symposium LogoA new book, “The American South and the Great War, 1914-1924,” published by LSU Press and co-edited by Lander Associate Professor of History Dr. Ryan Floyd, was instrumental in the obtainment of the grant. Floyd will participate in several panel discussions during the symposium, as will his co-editor, Dr. Matthew Downs, associate professor of history at the University of Mobile, Alabama.

Floyd said that he got the idea for the book while researching his earlier book, “Abandoning American Neutrality: Woodrow Wilson and the Beginning of the Great War, August 1914-December 1915.”

“I was surprised to discover that there were no books on the American South in World War I. There were articles here and there, or a chapter here and there,” but no books, he said.

Floyd called the lack of published material on the topic “a real mistake.” World War I “had a significant effect on the South” in a variety of ways, he said.

Read more: Public Invited to Lander University Symposium on World War I

Bessie Bendt made a name for herself as Sioux Falls' first 'conductorette'

By Eric Renshaw
via the Argus Leader newspaper web site

Bessie Bendt was a trailblazer in Sioux Falls as the city's first 'conductorette' during World War I.

BessieBessie Bendt in front of her Summit Avenue Trolley in 1918. (Photo: GreetingsFromSiouxFalls.org)Bessie Foster was born in Campbeltown, Scotland in 1894. At the age of 18 she came to the United States and ended up in Sioux Falls. After arriving, she was employed as a nursemaid by T.J. Billion, then went on to work as a housekeeper for two wardens at the State Penitentiary.

She met Otto Bendt around the time the first world war had become inevitable, and the two fell in love. They were married in August of 1917. Otto was working for the city’s electric trolley company, the Sioux Falls Traction System, or SFTS, when he was called to military duty in June of 1918. Bessie needed something to keep her busy and wanted to help keep the city going while so many of its working citizens had been called overseas.

Bessie met with Roger Mills, who was in charge of operating the Sioux Falls Traction System, and suggested that she could become a conductor. Roger said he’d have to think about it, but called her back the next day. He told her, “You’ll have to do a man’s work, but you’ll get a man’s pay.” On September 12, 1918, Bessie made her first run as Sioux Falls’ first "conductorette." Her job was to make sure that everyone who had a ticket got it punched, and that everyone who paid in cash knew to put it in the fare box.

Every day, Bessie would wake up at 5 a.m., have a quick breakfast, then hustle downtown to be at her job by 6 a.m. She wore a uniform she made herself, along with a hat provided by the company. Tucked under the bill of her hat were several spare fuses meant to keep the car going. If the car blew a fuse, Bessie would jump down from the car, pull the arm that connected the car to the overhead electric line, replace the fuse, and reconnect the arm. She would then get back up onto the trolley. Bessie did this job for 12 hours a day, seven days a week for $65 a month. This adjusts to around $1,200 a month in 2019 dollars. 

Read more: Bessie Bendt made a name for herself as Sioux Falls' first 'conductorette'

 A Chambersburg soldier and his family write letters through World War I

By M.L. "Mike" Marotte
via the Chambersburg, PA PublicOpinion web site

b0d3ae09 3737 4456 8173 9bbbecc8a157 Funk postcardPostcard sent home by Lawrence Funk showing American soldiers training with a field telephone at Camp Johnston in 1918 at Jacksonville,Florida (Photo: Mike Marotte)The one hundredth anniversary marking the end of World War One was observed on November 11th, 2018. My Great Uncle Lawrence E. Funk during World War One was assigned to the Remount Squadron #302. The First World War originated in Europe and lasted from July 28th, 1914 to November 11th, 1918.

  This war has also been referred to as the war to end all wars. The United States entered World War One in 1917 sending troops to help the allies defeat the German Army. The Remount Squadron's primary responsibility was supplying horses and mules for military operations.

These men were also responsible for the shoeing and taking care of the sick and wounded horses. On one occasion the men handled eleven thousand head of horses in seven days and seventeen thousand horses in twelve days, what an accomplishment.

Lawrence's family owned and operated A.M. Funk's Grocery Store on North Second Street at the North Point. If you read my story about Lawrence E. Funk's “Over There” during World War One you'll now have the opportunity to read some of the letters that his family sent him stateside while he was training and the communications on postcards that he sent home.

Read more: A Chambersburg soldier and his family write letters through World War I

Effort underway to restore the World War I Monument at the Mohave County, AZ Superior Courthouse 

By Travis Rains
via the Kingman, AZ Daily Miner newspaper web site

Businesses, organizations and individuals all throughout Mohave County came together in 1928 to erect a monument dedicated to those who served in World War I. Now that the passage of time and a few bad actors have led to the deteriorating condition of the monument, there’s a group of veterans leading another community effort, this time to restore the World War I monument at the Mohave County Superior Courthouse.

In Memory of t670“The monument was to recognize the service and dedication of those young kids that went to WWI,” Wallace said. “They were 18, 19-year-old. This monument is for the memory of those folks that went into what they call the ‘War to end all wars’ and preserved the planet.” (Photo by Travis Rains/Daily Miner)Bob Wallace, director of the Arizona Military Order of Devil Dog Charities, may live in Prescott now, but he grew up in Kingman. He remembers the monument being a focal point and source of pride for the City, and spoke fondly about how he and his friends, and the rest of Kingman for that matter, would gather near the monument to socialize and receive treats during the holidays. But the importance of the monument and what it stood for was never far from thought for Wallace.

“The monument was to recognize the service and dedication of those young kids that went to WWI,” he said. “They were 18, 19-year-old. This monument is for the memory of those folks that went into what they call the ‘War to end all wars’ and preserved the planet.”

Wallace said the monument, which was designed by E.M. Viquesney, remained in great condition from the time it went up in May 1928 all the way through his childhood in the late 1950s and early ‘60s. And it stayed that way, he said, up until the 1990s.

That’s when the Colt machine gun “Potato Digger” was stolen from the monument. The gun sat between the monument’s soldier and sailor, and was never recovered. Now the years have taken their toll on the monument, with alkali and silica deposits being prominent. Its backside is almost completely covered in vines.

Read more: Effort underway to restore the World War I Monument at the Mohave County Superior Courthouse

yeoman navy department inspectionA unit of U.S. Navy Yeomanettes at an inspection in 1919. 

Not Every Woman Who Served With the U.S. Military During World War I Got the Same Treatment. Here’s Why 

By Pamela D. Toler
via the Time Magazine web site

The First World War is often described as the first “modern” war. The term generally refers to mechanized warfare in the form of tanks and airplanes; terrorizing civilian populations as an act of war; and the mobilization of society as a whole. But it could also apply to the new roles of women in their nations’ war efforts.

Increasing manpower demands on the part of all the combatant powers in World War I made it easier for women to make official contributions, though few would fight. Women signed up as ambulance drivers, telephone operators, munitions workers, members of various service auxiliaries and even as soldiers in Bolshevik Russia’s all-female units. In the United States, the Navy’s “yeomanettes” and the Army’s Hello Girls were the first American women to openly serve in (or at least with) the military. And, though they served in the same war for the same nation, their experiences differed greatly.

Faced with the potential for serious manpower shortages in the approaching war, United States Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels decided to take advantage of a loophole in the Naval Act of 1916, which did not specify that only men could enlist. In March 1917, he took the bold — and controversial — step of enlisting women in the Navy as yeomen.

Hundreds of women between the ages of 18 and 35 headed to recruiting stations. By the time the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917, two thousand women had enlisted as “Yeoman (F).” By the end of the war, the number of female yeomen had increased to 11,000.

Daniels did not intend for his female yeoman to serve in battle. The Navy initially recruited women to take over clerical duties, thereby freeing men to fight. Most female yeomen were indeed assigned to clerical jobs, but the list of jobs the Navy considered suitable for women grew as the war went on. Women also worked as radio and telegraph operators, supervisors for naval shipments, commissary stewards, fingerprint experts, draftsmen, pharmacists, torpedo assemblers and camouflage designers. Once the navy realized young women in uniform were good publicity, it trained female yeomen to march and perform basic military drills so they could parade in support of war bond drives, troop send-offs and other official events where goodwill was valuable.

Read more: Not Every Woman Who Served With the U.S. Military During World War I Got the Same Treatment....

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