10 New Attractions to Visit in Washington, D.C.
By Kitty Bean Yancey
via the AARP web site
The free Smithsonian museums, majestic monuments and spring cherry blossoms are tourist staples in Washington, D.C. But even if you’ve been-there-done-that, there are loads of new reasons to visit our nation’s capital in 2022 — including a few visitor favorites now reopened after pandemic shutdowns.
Planet Word Museum
The museum is fully accessible and lends visitors a limited number of wheelchairs.
Visit: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; reserve tickets online (there’s no entrance fee, though donations of $10–$15 are encouraged); 925 13th St. NW; 202-931-3139; planetwordmuseum.org
Revived White House tours
Public tours restarted in April, after a long COVID-related pause. The free peeks into public rooms are first come, first served and must be booked through the office of a member of Congress. Reach out to your member of Congress and Congressional Tour Coordinator through the U.S. House of Representatives switchboard at 202-225-3121, the U.S. Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121, or online at www.congress.gov/members. You’ll want to plan ahead: Requests for tickets must be submitted three weeks to 90 days in advance. The self-guided tours of the East Wing include the State Dining Room, Red Room, Green Room, Blue Room and the China Room, which displays tableware of past presidents — but the Oval Office is off-limits. Secret Service members stationed in the rooms can answer questions.
Visit: The free tours are currently only available from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
First Colors Ceremony at National World War I Memorial Honored with Multiple Awards
via Susan Davis International
Susan Davis International (SDI), and the United States World War One Centennial Commission have recently been recognized with a Gold Stevie Award for PR Campaign of the Year - Events & Observances for the First Colors Ceremony at the new national World War I Memorial. The Stevie American Business Awards is one of the premier business awards programs in the U.S.
SDI, a full-service international public affairs, strategic communications and special events agency based in Washington, D.C., and the commission have worked together since 2017. SDI has helped the Commission fulfill its mission of honoring the centennial anniversary of the heroism and sacrifice of the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I.
In spring 2021, SDI led the media outreach for the First Colors Ceremony, the first official raising of the colors at the new national World War l Memorial. The ceremony featured remarks from President Joe Biden and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley. The flag raising ceremony and opening of the World War I Memorial attracted international coverage from the New York Times, The Guardian, Good Morning America, Gray TV affiliate stations and more.
The First Colors Ceremony also won PRNews’ Platinum PR Award for Event PR/Marketing. The Platinum PR Awards have been described as the “most coveted and competitive award” in the communications space. Other recognition of the event includes an honorable mention in the Event PR category for PRNews’ Nonprofit awards for the “First Colors Ceremony.”
This is not the first time SDI and the World War I Commission have been honored for their work together. In 2018, the American Business Awards honored the “In Sacrifice for Liberty and Peace: Centennial Commemoration of America’s entry into World War I” event with a Gold Stevie in the Best Event category. That event took place at the National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City
Finally, in 2019 PR Daily Media Relation awards recognized “A First Look at the National World War I Memorial, Washington D.C” for the Stunt or Special Event category.
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Commissioner O'Connell has family link to Lusitania tragedy
World War One Centennial Commissioner Dr. Libby O’Connell had always heard that an ancestor of hers died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland May 7, 1915.
Her father taught European History so she was raised on stories from the continent, including the sinking of the Lusitania. Still, she found it difficult to believe that a relative of hers had been aboard the ill-fated ship, since she could never verify the story.
As the 100th anniversary of the historic sinking approached, O’Connell, then Chief Historian for the History Channel, was finally able to piece together the fascinating details of her great-great grandmother’s life.
Catherine Sterrit was a singer and pianist in Pennsylvania when she divorced her first husband and remarried. It was this second marriage to Cameron Willey, unknown to O’Connell during her initial archives search, which finally led her to discover the truth.
When her second marriage also ended in divorce—an almost unheard of circumstance in the early part of the 20th century--Catherine Willey left the country. “Like so many other women of her time who had the means, she left America and went to Paris,” O’Connell said. At the outbreak of war in Europe, Willey returned to the United States to visit family and raise money for those in need. “She collected money and jewelry and planned to use the proceeds to set up a home for penniless war widows,” O’Connell said.
Despite German warnings that any ship flying the flag of Great Britain would be sunk upon entering the war zone, Willey was one of more than 1,900 passengers aboard the Lusitania when it sailed from New York’s Pier 54 on May 1, 1915.
The Lusitania was sunk by a single torpedo, killing more than 1,100 passengers and crew, including Catherine Willey.
The sinking of the Lusitania was “one of the pivotal moments of World War I,” O’Connell said. “The United States was neutral at the time, but the sinking brought us much closer to joining the war.” Still, it would be nearly two years before the U.S. officially entered the conflict.
Norwich, CT holds golf tournament May 25, "Doughnut Day" event June 4 to raise funds for WWI memorial cannon
The World War I Memorial Commission in Norwich, CT is planning events to help raise funds that will pay for the restoration of the centerpiece of a local World War I Memorial.
The captured WWI 15cm Krupp's field gun (howitzer), which was presented to the city as a trophy of war by American Legion Post #4 in 1926, had fallen into disrepair. The cannon's wheels deteriorated so much that it was deemed to be unsafe for public display, and it was removed from its place of honor on Chelsea Parade, and chained to a fence in a remote, woodsy part of nearby Mohegan Park.
The Committee, in copperation with the Norwich City Hostorian, are trying to bring it back into the public eye - hopefully by 2026, the hundredth anniversary of its arrival in Norwich.
On Wednesday, May 25, a golf tournament will take place at the Norwich Golf Course. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m. EDT, with the shotgun start at 11:00 a.m. The tournament registration fee includes use of golf cart, on-course barbecue, and a $5.00 drink voucher. Prizes will be awarded for low gross and net second and third place. For more information, contact Mike Gualtieri at 869-861-4717. Sponsorships for the tournament are available.
On Saturday, June 4th, the Committee is holding its 2nd Annual Doughnut Day from 10 A.M.-3 P.M. A World War I field kitchen will be set up by uniformed re-enactors on the historic Norwichtown Green, and "doughnut girls" will be making doughnuts.
A uniformed demonstrator is scheduled to give a presentation in the about carrier/homing pigeons in WWI; and there will also be a Sgt. Stubby look-alike contest.
Interspersed with those activities, Tom Callinan, Connecticut's 1st Official State Troubadour, will be performing a 60-minute program of "Songs From And About The Great War" from noon-1:00 P.M.
These events are sponsored by the Norwich City Historian and the Norwich WWI Memorial Committee.
If you can't make it to the golf tournament or the Donut Day, but you would like to support the restoration of the WWI cannon for the Memorial, you can send your donation check to: City of Norwich, CT, 100 Broadway, Norwich, CT, Attention: Finance Department. Thanks for your donation to honor the Norwich citizens who were killed in battle during WWI, and all who served.
Hometown hero honored with historical marker
By Ann Powell
via the Tristate Homepage web site
GIBSON COUNTY, Ind. (WEHT) He quit school at 15 and almost lost his life fighting in World War I. Now, Aaron Richard Fisher has been immortalized in his Gibson County town.
Lyles Station Historical School and Museum unveiled a historical marker to honor him this afternoon.
Fisher was born on a farm in Lyles Station, Indiana and went on to become one of the most decorated African American soldiers from Indiana.
“They say this one time, he came down the street down here and his jacket was lopsided because of all the medals he had accomplished,” said Stanley Madison. President and Founder of Lyles Station Historical Preservation Corporation.
He received the Distinguished Service Cross Award, which is the second highest military honor.
“The award is prestigious and rarely given,” said Dr. Randy Mills, Professor/Journal of the Liberal Arts and Science Editor at Oakland City University.
According to Dr. Mills, only four other people in Gibson County have the award. This is just one of the reasons why the Lyles Station Historical School and Museum created the marker. It is the fifth marker in Gibson County. It comes 20 years after the same museum dedicated the first historical marker in Gibson County.
Hoosiers from hundreds of miles away came. Elizabeth Mitchell is from Bloomington and has been to the site several times.
“This is one way to honor the community and it was important for me to be here and to bring my grandson, whom I am trying to teach about the contributions of African Americans to this nation,” Mitchell said.
World War I Veteran to be celebrated May 20 during EMS Week at National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC
By George Whitehair and Leigh Ferrier
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
On May 20, 2022 in celebration of EMS week, Washington DC Fire & EMS Deputy Chief Michael Knight, Shane Wheeler, Volunteer Medical Services Corp, and Boston researcher George Whitehair will lead the recognition for all EMS workers and in particular, a World War I veteran, doctor, and surgeon, who served in France with the 92nd Division (Buffalo soldiers). He then returned to start an ambulance corp and a hospital, both of which continue to serve their communities almost 100 years later. His name is Dr. Frank Erdman Boston and he will be honored at the World War I Memorial along with all EMS workers during EMS week May 15-21, 2022. The Memorial is located at the former Pershing Park, along Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 14th Street NW and 15th Street NW, across from the White House Visitor Center.
Dr. Boston signifies how, as horrific as war is, the men and women who serve take those experiences with them and many, like Dr. Boston, apply those experiences for the public good. Wartime experiences have led to significant developments in civilian health care and emergency medical services (EMS), including advances in emergency medicine, triage and the ambulance corp. Medical breakthroughs and discoveries made during battlefield conflicts, have contributed to improved emergency care, advancements in surgical and emergency procedures and the development of a professional ambulance corps for the transportation and treatment of the injured.
“EMS has come a long way since the civil war when Dr. Jonathan Letterman is credited with starting the very first Ambulance Corps, training men to assist and then transport the wounded, and introducing the concept of triage medicine,” added Dr. Alvin Wang, Chief Medical Officer & Regional EMS Medical Director, Montgomery County PA and one of the speakers at this upcoming event.
EMS Week is a time to thank paramedics, EMTs and the entire Emergency Medical Services workforce for their service and sacrifices. “This year Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week is especially important as medical providers around the country remain on the COVID-19 front lines, fighting a pandemic that has claimed almost 600,000 American lives.” Kristy Van Hoven, Director, National EMS Museum, who will also exhibit a 1954 Packard Ambulance at the event. EMS Week celebrates the positive impact EMS providers have on the health and safety of people across the country.
EMS Week celebrates the positive impact EMS providers have on the health and safety of people across the country. Recognized since 1974, the 46th annual celebration for EMS Week is scheduled for the week of May 16-22. In Dr. Boston’s case, he started his professional ambulance service in 1933, almost forty (40) years before the official recognition of EMS workers.
Puerto Rican WWI Navy hero from Merritt Island, FL may get Medal of Honor 52 years after death
By Rick Neale
via the Florida Today web site
Frederick Riefkohl was the first Puerto Rican to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy. A World War I hero who led a successful showdown with a German submarine. And a World War II ship commander who retired as a rear admiral — he even has his own Wikipedia page.
But Riefkohl did not receive the Medal of Honor, America's highest award for valor in combat, to commemorate his WWI gallantry.
Why? The former Merritt Island resident may have been unfairly discriminated against by military brass because of his island heritage, a team of Great War researchers says.
Riefkohl is one of 214 WWI minority veterans identified thus far by the Valor Medals Review Project, a Congress-authorized study spearheaded by Park University near Kansas City, Missouri.
Park University officials say this is the first such systematic review of minority veterans of the Great War. Research will continue until 2025, when documentation supporting Medal of Honor nominations will be forwarded to the Department of Defense for possible action, including posthumous awards.
Riefkohl was 'an American patriot'
Riefkohl is the lone Puerto Rican on the list of 214 troops, said Timothy Westcott, director of the private university's George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War.
As a lieutenant and commander of the armed guard of the cruiser USS Philadelphia, Riefkohl was awarded the Navy Cross after an engagement with an enemy submarine.
"On 2 August 1917, a periscope was sighted, and then a torpedo passed under the stern of the ship. A shot was fired, which struck close to the submarine, which then disappeared," Riefkohl's Navy Cross citation said.
Few additional details on the WWI incident have been unearthed from the historical record, said Ashlyn Weber, Robb Centre associate director. The Valor Medals Review Project has identified this as a potential Medal of Honor-worthy action.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Museum Exhibits
By Roderick Gainer, Chief Curator, Arlington National Cemetery
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
To recognize the 2021 centennial commemoration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) created two new major museum exhibits at the cemetery. The first exhibit, located in the Memorial Amphitheater Display Room, directly behind the Tomb, opened in November 2020, while the second, located in the Welcome Center, opened in early 2021. Together, these two exhibits provide new interpretations of the Tomb’s history and legacy to the thousands of global visitors that come to ANC. Based on extensive research in primary sources and developed in conjunction with the cemetery’s recently implemented Interpretation Plan, these exhibits help expand the Tomb’s story and explain its national, as well as international, significance.
Memorial Amphitheater Display Room Exhibit
To kick-off the centennial, ANC completely refreshed the exhibits in the Memorial Amphitheater Display Room. This new exhibit explores the transitions in the Tomb’s meanings and symbolism. Over the years, the Tomb evolved from honoring a single World War I Unknown to honoring Unknowns from all wars. As the exhibit explains, with the addition of one unknown service member from World War II and one from the Korean War in 1958, followed by one from the Vietnam War in 1984 who was identified and disinterred in 1998, the Tomb has become a central site of American military memory.
The new exhibit’s strong interpretive themes do much to place the Tomb in the proper historical context for those visiting the site, located just steps away. That includes hundreds of dignitaries each year who participate in official ceremonies at the Tomb followed by a visit to the Display Room exhibit. Many of these official visits include the presentation of a gift inside the Display Room to honor America’s unknown service members, a tradition which has been a hallmark of ceremonies beginning with the interment of the World War I Unknown in 1921.
April 6, 105th Anniversary of U.S. Entry into WWI Event Sparks Discussion
Our Washington, DC, April 6, 2022 event, marking the 105th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI, was a memorable evening for many.
Hosted by Dan Dayton, Chair, Board of Directors, of the Doughboy Foundation, Denise VanBuren, President General of the DAR, and Hungarian Ambassador Szabolcs Takacs, the program presented Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy’s two-volume book, “In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War” and an exhibit chronicling the historical events and the horrors of the First World War through photos that were taken 100 years later.
Special guests were introduced, including Jari Villanueva, who leads Daily Taps at the National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC. A lifelong bugler, Jari is considered to be one of the country’s foremost experts on military bugle calls. He is also Director of Taps for Veterans, a national organization providing an opportunity for buglers or trumpet players to sound Taps for military veteran’s funerals and ceremonies.
What followed was a fascinating panel discussion featuring Patrick K. O’Donnell, László Veszprémi and Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy on how "Lessons Learned from World War One" could potentially deter a third world war. Take a look at the panel discussion here via an “On Demand “ video of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/DARPresidentGeneral/videos/483794030096230
Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy’s two-volume book, “In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War” can be purchased here: : https://www.greatwarbook.com/us/
ANZAC Day observed at National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC
Each year on the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders commemorate ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day to recognise the sacrifices that Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen have made not only in defending their country, but in upholding their nations’ longstanding commitment to peace and security.
To mark this special occasion in 2022, the Embassies of Australia and New Zealand hosted a dawn servoce at The National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC to pay reverence to the martyred soldiers.
ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand military forces during World War One. The first ANZAC commemoration services were held in 1916, in towns and cities across both countries, and overseas in London and at the Australian Army Camp in Egypt. Following this tradition, every year at daybreak on the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders gather around the world to commemorate and pay tribute to all of those who have served in the two nations' militaries.
The services remember those who never returned, those who returned injured and impacted from battle, and those who maintained the home front. Those who are currently serving their nation around the world are also acknowledged. Participants in ANZAC Day ceremonies also reflect on the commitment of both countries to peace and security.
World War I postal history, a wide and varied field
By John M. Hotchner
via the Linn's Stamp News web site
In previous columns, I have written about American Expeditionary Force “Christmas Package Coupons” such as the example shown here.
One coupon was distributed to each military member (and some civilians working with the military) in or on their way to France in September 1918. The coupon enabled the person to receive one package from home for Christmas 1918.
The coupon was to be sent home to a family member or another person from whom the service member sought a package. The recipient in the United States was to get a standard box from the American Red Cross.
After the box was filled, the American Red Cross was supposed to inspect the contents and certify that they did not contravene postal regulations, then wrap the package, apply the certification label and the coupon, and then mail the package to Hoboken, N.J., for shipment to France.
It seems that few of these Christmas package coupons were preserved after receipt. The three examples I knew of were illustrated in my column in the Jan. 24, 2022, issue of Linn’s.
Since that column, I have been made aware of another six examples.
Three of them, including the example pictured here, were in an article by Jesse I. Spector, published in the Fourth Quarter 2021 issue of La Posta: The Journal of American Postal History. Two of these bear 1918 U.S. airmail stamps, which makes them all the more attractive
These Classic Actors Served During World War I And Became Huge Hollywood Stars
By Todd Neikirk
via the War History Online web site
While it was still a new phenomenon, studios were cranking out movies in the 1920s and 1930s. As a result, many of the early stars of the Silver Screen had served in the First World War. Below is a list of the most prominent stars of classic cinema who also serve their country during the Great War.
Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – US Army
Bill Robinson was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1878 and was raised by his Grandmother after both his parents were killed in an accident. He joined the Army in 1898 when the Spanish American War broke out. By the time World War I began, he was already a major star on the vaudeville circuit. He volunteered to perform free of charge for the American Expeditionary Forces and received a medal of commendation from the war department.
Robinson became an even bigger star following his time in the service. He starred in a series of movies in the 1930s alongside child star Shirley Temple. In 1943, Robinson starred in Stormy Weather, a film loosely based on the story of his life.
Randolph Scott–US Army
Randolph Scott was born into a wealthy family in 1898. His father was the first licensed CPA in the state of North Carolina and his mother came from a well-to-do family. In 1917, he joined the North Carolina National Guard after the US entered World War I. Scott’s battalion was shipped off to France and saw combat in the Toul and Thiaucourt zones.
Ukraine and World War I
By Michael S. Neiberg
via the National World War I Museum and Memorial web site
It is a surreal and unnerving feeling to be an historian of Europe’s wars and watch a war in Europe unfold before your very eyes. As a profession, historians tend to share two traits at moments like these. First, we get frustrated with the facile or simply inaccurate historical analogies that pundits use to make a political point rather than to illuminate the current problem. Second, we try above all not to make predictions. As the great British historian Sir Michael Howard wrote, “Historians have seen too many confident people fall flat on their faces to lay themselves open to more humiliation than they can help.”
The last few weeks have put me in mind of what the historian R.G. Collingwood said, notably in 1939, about the role of historians in times of crisis. He compared historians to expert woodsmen walking through a forest alongside novice hikers. The historian, he wrote, cannot see through the forest perfectly but, like the woodsman, he or she can spot areas of lurking danger or menace where the hiker only sees trees.
Historians try to look backward for a bit of wisdom and maybe a few echoes of the past that might suggest where we might soon be headed. For years, I have told students that we must not confine the people of 1914 to what I sometimes call “The Idiot Box.” Our instinctive response to see the people of that fateful year as uncommonly stupid or bloodthirsty provides us comfort that we are too smart or too sophisticated ever to make the mistakes they made. But, of course, we are not.
Similarly, I have over the past twenty or so years tried to convince hundreds of high school teachers to abandon the MAIN (Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, and Nationalism) method for teaching the causes of the First World War because it, too, provides false comfort. If we can convince ourselves that those four MAIN factors either no longer exist or are no longer an existential danger to peace, then we can go to sleep at night in the belief that the horrors unleashed in 1914 really do have nothing to teach us.
As I sit here watching the Russian war against Ukraine, however, I am more convinced than ever that 1914 has a great deal to teach us. Indeed, it might provide the best guide we have to where we are now and where we might go in the future.