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After years of wrangling, WWI memorial opens in D.C. 

By Jennifer Steinhauer
via the StarTribune newspaper (MN) web site 

WASHINGTON – Memorials to the war dead of the 20th century are among the central attractions in the nation's capital. So it has always been notable that one of the most consequential U.S. conflicts, World War I, lacked national recognition.

merlin 186389886 c5591291 d58f 463e 89ce 0e0bcb9fe220 articleLargeThe design, restoration of Pershing Park and construction of the new memorial in Washington will cost $42 million.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York TimesNow, as the United States withdraws from its longest war, a memorial that recognizes one of its most complicated ones officially opened in Washington on Friday after years of tangling among preservationists, urban planners, federal officials and the commission that realized its creation.

The first flag was raised at the memorial in Pershing Park, near the White House — rather than along the National Mall, where many supporters had envisioned — on a spot once used for ice skating, cocoa sipping and midday sandwich nibbling by hurried office workers who sat under the crepe myrtles. Fights over the memorial's location, accuracy and scale have been part of its journey.

"Our objective was to build a memorial that would stand shoulder to shoulder with other monuments and elevate World War I in the American consciousness," said Edwin Fountain, vice chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission, "at the same time recognizing that unlike those memorials, this has to be a memorial and an urban park."

The only original nod to the war in the park, a statute of Gen. John J. Pershing, who commanded the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, will remain at the edge of the space. But the memorial's central focus is a large wall that will hold its final feature: a 58-foot bronze sculpture that is either a bold testament to the significance of the mission or a detraction from its natural setting, depending on the point of view.

The design, restoration of the original park and construction of the new memorial will cost $42 million. The commission has $1.4 million left to raise.

The sculpture, "A Soldier's Journey," tells the story of one American's path from reluctant service member to returned war hero through a series of scenes featuring 38 figures. They are meant to convey the story of the country's transformation from isolationist to a leader on the world stage, with a final visual reference to the next big war. 

 

wwI memorial607 041621Army veteran Andrew Forte watches on a monitor the nearby ceremony in Pershing Park on Friday to open the National World War I Memorial. Frank Buckles, the last American WWI veteran to die, appears on the monitor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) 

More than a century later, WWI gets its memorial in Washington 

By Jim Saksa
via CQ-Roll Call news service 

Washington does not want for monuments, but a new one to an old war opened with a flag-raising ceremony Friday.

The National World War I Memorial in Pershing Park is the first monument in the nation’s capital to all the 4.7 million Americans who served in the Great War and the 116,512 who would never come home.

As belated as the ceremony may have been, no pomp was spared during the hourlong event. There were recorded comments from President Joe Biden, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, plus a military band, WWI doughboy and sailor re-enactors, and, scaring a sizable subset of the city, a military flyover by two F-22s that were considerably louder than the biplanes that fighter aces flew over the fields of Flanders more than a century ago.

No one who fought in the war is left — the last living American doughboy died in 2011 at the age of 110. Most of their children are also gone. Edwin Fountain’s grandfathers served in the Great War, but that’s not why he ended up leading the memorial’s construction effort.

Fountain started small, working on a monument to D.C. locals who fought. “The D.C. war memorial was in a sad, sad state of repair, and somebody needed to help get it restored, and so I took that on,” said the former vice chair of the World War I Centennial Commission.

A lawyer by trade, Fountain developed an interest in historic preservation over his years living in a city that can often feel like one big sprawling museum. The successful effort to restore that memorial led to the campaign to create another, more ecumenical one, starting in 2008.

To Fountain and others who would go on to form the Centennial Commission, it just seemed wrong that America’s other major wars — World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War — had national memorials in the capital, but not the First World War.

 

Weishaar 

Fayetteville native designs newly opened WWI memorial in Washington, D.C. 

By Garrett Fergeson
via the ozarksfirst.com web site (AR) 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Fayetteville man’s vision after nearly 6 years has come true to remember those who fought during the war to end all wars.

Joe Weishaar, a Fayetteville native and the lead designer of the National World War I Memorial In Washington, D.C., attended a small gathering, limited to 50 people due to the Washington COVID-19 restrictions, for the flag-raising ceremony over the WWI Memorial Friday.

“This is an incredible moment for the country, for our veterans, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Weishaar said. “After working on this project for over 6 years there were so many highs and lows and times we didn’t think we were going to get passed or if it would get built.”

The nearly 2-acre park located on Pennsylvania Avenue, about a block from the White House, honors the nearly five million Americans who fought for liberty overseas.

“From the very beginning, this became a memorial about storytelling. Both through visual narratives, to the sculpture that will soon be installed to the quotations. That’s really all we have left from the men and women who served… is their stories,” Weishaar said.

The Virginia-based 94th Fighter Squadron flew F-22 raptors over downtown as part of the opening of a newly built National World War I Memorial.

World War I occurred between July 1914 and November 11, 1918. By the end of the war, over 17 million people would be killed, including over 100,000 American troops.

The National WWI Memorial pays tribute to 4.7 million Americans who served their nation in WWI, 200,000 who were wounded and 116,516 who died. It is a memorial to all Americans who supported their troops and did so with pride, then as they do now.

Explore the memorial using WWI Memorial Apps. The “WWI Memorial Virtual Explorer” App brings the Memorial to you on your mobile device in an innovative and immersive “Virtual Field Trip” experience. The “WWI Memorial Visitor Guide” App is designed to enhance your visit to the Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

 

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc memorial first colors 1Team Member Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Contributes to WWI Tribute Space 

Washington, DC’s First World War I Memorial Celebrates Opening with First Colors Ceremony 

via the Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. web site

Washington, DC’s first World War I Memorial celebrated its grand opening today with a live-broadcast First Colors Ceremony. The United States World War I Centennial Commission, the Doughboy Foundation, the National Parks Service, and the American Battle Monuments Commission gathered together virtually with people across the Nation to watch the historic inaugural raising of the American Flag at a site dedicated to honor the service of 4.7 million World War I Veterans. This 75-minute program, led by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, featured military fanfare, musical performances, and guest appearances from military leads and elected officials.

As the first World War I Memorial to exist in the Nation’s Capital, the new site provides a dynamic urban space that educates and inspires Americans about this significant event in history. Located on 1.8 acres adjacent to the White House South Lawn with views of the Washington Monument and National Mall, a reflection pool and 60-foot-long by 10-foot-high bronze sculpture serves as the centerpiece of the park. This urban park will provide space for reflection and commemoration, in addition to connectivity to the larger network of nearby memorials and monuments.

The project commenced in 2015 when the World War I Centennial Commission hosted an international design competition. With more than 350 submissions, lead designer, Joe Weishaar, and sculptor, Sabin Howard, were selected as the winners. As a teaming partner to Baltimore-based GWWO Architects, VHB provided site engineering for the project that included a stormwater management solution that will collect harvested rainwater for irrigation of all new plantings associated with the new memorial, while also reducing stormwater runoff.

“VHB was honored to play a part in this long overdue project for our Nation’s Capital,” said Jim Long, Chief Civil Engineer with VHB. “Like so many across our Nation, I have a direct personal connection to World War I through my Grandfather and Uncle who served. Participating on this project allowed me to play a role in creating a space for many like me who want to pay tribute to this historic event. This urban park’s location in an iconic part of Washington will provide a space to reflect, mourn, and celebrate those who represented and sacrificed so much over one hundred years ago to protect and honor the America we know today.” 

 

WABE world war one sculpture rendition 710x355The National World War One Memorial opened in Washington, DC on April 17. The sculpture is still being finalized. CREDIT COURTESY OF: THE U.S. WORLD WAR ONE CENTENNIAL COMMISSION 

Atlanta Architect Creates First National World War I Memorial In Washington, D.C. 

By Summer Evans
via the wabe.org (Atlanta, GA) radio station web site

Until now, our nation’s capital has never had an official tribute to the 4.7 million Americans who served in World War I. After winning a design competition held by the World War I Centennial Commission, Atlanta architect Joe Weishaar lead the creation of the new memorial which opened in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. He joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about the process of designing this tribute to America’s soldiers.

“It wasn’t until the Vietnam Memorial in 1982 that we really started building national memorials, and once that process started, it really went in reverse chronological order,” said Weishaar. “It wasn’t until we had no living veterans that we got around to building the World War I Memorial.”

Weishaar, born in a small town in Arkansas, confessed that he knew little about the war before the memorial project.

“This entire process has been a re-education in the war … There was this entire piece of world history that I seemed to be missing,” said Weishaar. “There’s a great, I would say almost overlooked, amount of both technology and global influence that we still feel today from World War I. Its impacts were ever-reaching.”

The memorial will feature a sculpture called “A Soldier’s Journey,” created in collaboration with sculptor Sabin Howard. The finalized sculpture is expected to be completed in 2024. Its 38 bronze relief figures will depict a soldier who leaves his family, fights and loses comrades in the conflict, and returns home wounded.

“When it’s completed, it will be the largest bronze high relief in the Western hemisphere. It’s absolutely enormous,” said Weishaar. Howard and Weishaar’s team worked with film studios, using augmented reality technology, to perfect the poses of the sculpture’s figures. Howard is using 3D-printed armatures as foundational structures for each piece.

Located in Pershing Park in Washington D.C., the memorial currently displays Howard’s original illustration for the sculpture-in-progress, and features a peace fountain, pool basin, newly landscaped plazas, and groves of trees. There are educational resources throughout the memorial, including an app for iPhone and Android that visitors can use as a guide. 

 

Weishaar ARkansas DJSix years after he entered a competition to design a national World War I memorial, Arkansas native Joseph Weishaar is nearing the finish line. The memorial opens to the public Friday. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Frank Lockwood) 

Arkansan-designed memorial to WWI vets opening in D.C. 

By Frank E. Lockwood
via the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper web site 

WASHINGTON -- Nearly six years after Fayetteville native Joseph Weishaar submitted his initial entry, the national World War I memorial he designed is about to open.

Friday morning, dignitaries will gather for a small flag-raising ceremony.

Washington covid-19 rules, updated in March, allowed "outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people," so attendance will be limited.

The event will include a military flyover as well as pre-recorded comments by President Joe Biden.

Afterward, the fencing surrounding the 1.76-acre park on Pennsylvania Avenue will be removed and the public will be allowed in.

Poppy seeds, imported from the original war zone, have been planted. By June, they should be blossoming.

"It's pretty amazing" to nearly be done, Weishaar said during a drizzly tour of the site Wednesday afternoon.

The landscaping is finished, the stonework is complete and the water features are already running.

The $50 million project is nearly paid for; $48.61 million has already been raised.

Roughly 4.7 million Americans served in uniform during World War I.

The United States entered the conflict in April 1917, enabling England, France and their allies to defeat the nations aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Millions of people died in the conflict, including 116,516 Americans.

Until now, there has been no national monument in Washington honoring their sacrifice.

There won't be any veterans of the conflict at Friday's ceremony. The last U.S. World War I military veteran, Frank Buckles, died on Feb. 27, 2011; he was 110 years old.

The new memorial pays homage to the heroes of World War I. But it also sends a message to every man and woman who has ever donned a U.S. military uniform, Weishaar said.

"They will never be forgotten," he said. "Honor and sacrifice will always mean something to the people of this nation."

Congress passed legislation in 2014 authorizing the memorial at Pershing Park, a site that already features a statue honoring the man who commanded the U.S. troops in World War I -- General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing.

The United States World War I Centennial Commission was tasked with picking the design and raising the money.

The selection of Weishaar generated plenty of headlines.

Given the challenges that arose between 2015 and today, there were times when the young Arkansan doubted the project would ever be completed, he said.

"To actually be standing in the park the week it opens is incredible," he said. 

 

60771541df285.imageArtist's rendering of what the new national World War I Memorial in Washington, DC will look like at daytime when completed. 

Decatur architect: New WWI Memorial an ‘incredible' tribute 

By Everett Catts
via the Rome News-Tribune newspaper (GA) web site

Joe Weishaar was a 25-year-old designer seeking to become an architect and working in a Chicago architectural firm when he entered a contest to design the planned World War I Memorial in Washington.

Joe WeishaarJoe WeishaarSix years later, the Decatur resident is the lead architect for the $42 million project, which opens with a private event April 16 and to the public the following day. He won in a pool of 365 entries from 22 countries.

“Before this process, I didn’t know anything about World War I. I had no ties, no connections. For me it’s entirely been a learning experience,” said Weishaar, who has no known relatives who fought in the war. “It’s really incredible, not just for me but it should be pretty incredible for the country as a whole. To build a memorial 101 years after the event that it commemorates, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen.

“You normally build a memorial right after, and in a lot of ways this became a forgotten war. To build something that has a lasting tribute to the men and women who served in that conflict shows it still matters.”

The private opening event will include a first colors ceremony in which a flag that has been flown over the U.S. Capitol and nine WWI battlefield cemeteries in Europe in the last three years. Hosted by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, the program is co-sponsored by the United States World War I Centennial Commission, the Doughboy Foundation, the National Park Service and the American Battle Monuments Commission.

It will commemorate America's role in the war and include military fanfare, musical performances and guest appearances by veterans and others from across the country.

The memorial is located inside the 1.8-acre Pershing Park, which sits on Pennsylvania Avenue by the southeast gates to the White House and is close to the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian. It’s the main/passion project of the World War I Centennial Commission, which was created by Congress in 2013 to plan, develop and execute nationwide programs focused on celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the war.

The memorial is paid for through private donations, an effort led by the commission’s fundraising arm, the Doughboy Foundation, which was named after the nickname given to U.S. infantrymen during the war. The commission will shut down once the memorial opens.

After winning the contest, Weishaar was the project’s lead designer until getting his architect’s license in October 2019 and being promoted to lead architect. He’s working with GWWO Architects, the memorial’s firm of record; landscape architect David Rubin and sculptor Sabin Howard. 

The memorial will include a 58-foot, 3-inch-long sculpture of soldiers in action that is the largest freestanding bronze high-relief sculpture in the Western Hemisphere. But it won’t be installed until 2024, so in the mean time, Weishaar said, the memorial will have a temporary screen showing the final sketch of Howard’s sculpture design.

Edwin Fountain, who served as the commission’s vice chair until a year and a half ago but is still involved with the memorial project, said the organization wanted to make the design competition a global one because of all the countries involved in the war.

 

National WWI Memorial almost readyPersonnel from Grunley Construction putting on the final touches and doing site cleanup as the new National WWI Memorial in Washington, DC gets ready to open to the public on April 17. (Photo by Nick Albright)

'First Colors' Ceremony with pre-recorded remarks by President Biden to mark opening of National World War I Memorial 

via the yahoo! finance web site 

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The World War I Centennial Commission will host First Colors, a 90-minute virtual commemoration to mark the opening of the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event will be live streamed on Friday, April 16, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. EDT/ 7:00 a.m. PDT at www.ww1cc.org/firstcolors. The memorial will open on April 17 under the administration of the National Park Service.

President Joe Biden will offer pre-recorded remarks as part of the program, hosted by actor Gary Sinise. The program will also include Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). Celebrity appearances will include Lee Greenwood performing "God Bless the U.S.A" with acapella group Home Free and members of the United States Air Force Band. 

The ceremony's live elements at the memorial will include a Color Guard raising the inaugural flag, which was previously raised over the U.S. Capitol; nine World War I cemeteries administered by the American Battle Monuments Commission in France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom; and the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri. A flyover will be performed by the 94th Fighter Squadron, formerly the 94th Aero Squadron, the most victorious air warfare unit of World War I. The United States Army Band Pershing's Own will also perform, featuring a bugle owned by Gen. John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I.

'First Colors' will feature special tributes to World War I service members, including:

A performance by the 369th Regiment "Hellfighters Band," a tribute to the all-Black band in World War l's segregated Army that helped bring jazz to Europe.

A performance from the musical "Hello Girls, The Musical" that portrays the first women to actively serve in the Army, performing as heroic telephone operators on the front lines.

"As our nation's flag is raised for the first time over this hallowed ground that honors those who served in the Great War, we can take pride in the legacy of service and sacrifice by those who wear the uniform of our great country," said Terry Hamby, Chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission. "We invite Americans across the country to view this momentous occasion and reflect on this significant generation's place in our country's history."

The program will also include insight about the design of the memorial from lead designer Joe Weishaar and sculptor Sabin Howard.

First Colors is presented by the World War l Centennial Commission in cooperation with the Doughboy Foundation, the National Park Service, and the American Battle Monuments Commission. For more information and to watch the commemoration, visit www.ww1cc.org/firstcolors. First Colors is not an in-person event.

 

90 1The live-broadcast of the First Colors event at the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC will feature a special performance by the critically acclaimed Off Broadway cast of THE HELLO GIRLS and will take place in Washington, DC on Friday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 a.m. PDT. 

THE HELLO GIRLS To Perform In The FIRST COLORS Ceremony 

By BWW News Desk
via the broadwayworld.com (NYC) web site 

The United States World War I Centennial Commission, in cooperation with the Doughboy Foundation, the National Park Service and the American Battle Monuments Commission, is sponsoring the FIRST COLORS Ceremony, a major event to celebrate the inaugural raising of the American flag over the nation's soon to open World War I Memorial.

The live-broadcast event will feature a special performance by the critically acclaimed Off Broadway cast of THE HELLO GIRLS and will take place in Washington, DC on Friday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. EDT / 7:00 a.m. PDT.

Hosted by award-winning actor and humanitarian Gary Sinise, the 75-minute program will pay tribute to America's role in WWI and highlight our national unity with military fanfare, guest appearances by notable participants from across the country and musical performances including a special excerpt from the Off Broadway musical THE HELLO GIRLS.

The WWI FIRST COLORS Ceremony performance reunites members of the original Off-Broadway cast of THE HELLO GIRLS: Ellie Fishman (Finding Neverland, Miss Saigon National Tour, Goodspeed's The Music Man), Chanel Karimkhani (Bach and Bleach, The Goree All Girl String Band), Andrew Mayer (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, I Spy A Spy), Matthew McGloin (Bastard Jones, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), Ben Moss (Oratorio For Living Things at Ars Nova, Broadway: Head Over Heels, Amélie, Deaf West's Spring Awakening), Lili Thomas (We're Gonna Die @2ST, Only Human), Skyler Volpe (Sing Street at NYTW / Broadway, Barrington Stage West Side Story), and Cathryn Wake (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, The Other Josh Cohen). Original drummer Elena Bonomo (Broadway's Six, A Strange Loop) is joined by bass player and vocalist Nygel D. Robinson.

n ensemble of actor-musicians chronicles the story of America's first women soldiers in THE HELLO GIRLS. From New York to Paris, from ragtime to jazz, and featuring a critically-acclaimed score by Peter Mills, and book by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, the musical tells the story of the groundbreaking women who served as the first soldiers in the U.S. Army, during World War I. These intrepid heroines served as bilingual telephone operators on the front lines, helping turn the tide of World War I. They then returned home to fight a decades-long battle for equality and recognition, paving the way for future generations.

 

huskies 273409 1920Military sled dogs became vital during WWI and kept many soldiers alive during that time. Here’s how these amazing animals helped soldiers survive. . Image by Viola ' from Pixabay.

How Military Sleds Dogs Became Vital During WWI

By Mike Powell
Special to the Doughboy.org web site 

When one thinks of war, snow doesn’t usually come into the picture. But part of World War I was fought in the Vosges, a mountain range in France. Soldiers had to contend with cold and snow as well as the other dangers of war.

As you may imagine, the snow presented challenges that didn’t exist in other areas. How would the soldiers get supplies, ammo, medicine and transport their injured soldiers back? Their horses found it difficult to move through snow, and when they did, it was slow going.

This is where sled dogs came into the picture. In July 1915, a French officer was tasked with finding 400 sled dogs of any breed before the winter hit, so they would be prepared.

Here’s how these military sled dogs became vital during WWI.

They Brought Soldiers Food & Water

Soldiers can only carry so much food with them, and horses couldn’t move easily through the snow to bring new supplies. In the cold, soldiers needed to stay fed so they’d be alert and have energy to move when necessary.

Sled dogs had no troubles moving across the snow to bring sleds laden with supplies. Because of their strength in numbers, they could also transport large amounts of food at one time. This ensured that the soldiers remained nourished and ready for combat.

They Brought More Ammunition

Running out of ammunition is a serious problem for soldiers. Thankfully, sled dogs could provide new arms and ammunition quickly and efficiently, keeping the soldiers armed and protected.

According to history, one of the most notable events was a team of 9 sled dogs pulling a sled loaded with 300kg of ammunition across 120km terrain that humans and horses had failed at.

 

Banker dog tagsCarolyn Trible of Atkinson, NH holds her grandmother Grace Bankers dog tags from World War I

Waging war for her grandmother: N.H. woman fights to honor WWI's 'Hello Girls' 

By Madeline Hughes
via theEagle-Tribune newspaper (North Andover, MA) web site

ATKINSON, N.H. (Tribune News Service) — As she was helping her parents move from their home a decade ago, Carolyn Timbie of Atkinson stumbled upon what she calls "an amazing treasure trove" of items from World War I.

GraceBankerGrace BankerThey included a helmet, a gas mask, uniforms, letters, artillery shells and a clip of ammunition — all things her grandmother had saved from her time at the front lines of the war.

Timbie's grandmother Grace Banker was the chief operator of the U.S. Army Signal Corps women telephone operators. The Signal Corps is a branch of the American military that manages communications for combined armed forces, such as the U.S. Army working with a military group from another country.

Banker died three years before Timbie was born. Now, about 60 years after the death, Timbie is connecting with her grandmother in a special way. She is helping historians and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan understand the work done by Signal Corps women during the war, when they became known as the Hello Girls.

"It's 100 years later. They should get the full recognition," Timbie said of her hope that Banker and other Signal Corps women are eventually honored with medals for their military service. "Still today, we have women who have to work extra hard for recognition, and so many women identify with this story."

Hassan and a bipartisan group of senators are working to recognize Banker and her fellow Signal Corps women with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given by Congress.

"Grace Banker and the other Hello Girls were true patriots who answered America's call to action by serving as crucial links between American and French forces on the front lines during World War I," Hassan said, pointing to the women's "brave and selfless service."

Timbie has been sharing her grandmother's story in the military community and beyond. A woman who heard the story and is a colonel in the U.S. Army identified with the tale. She reached out to Timbie to talk about the difference between women in the military now and generations ago.

Timbie said the colonel talks openly about being a lesbian, something she never would have done early in her military career. To do so would have jeopardized her chance to gain leadership positions in the Army, said Timbie, adding the colonel has found inspiration in Banker's story.

Banker was among the women telephone operators recruited into World War I after men in the U.S. Army struggled to connect phone calls quickly or communicate well with their allies in the French military. The U.S. Signal Corps women were sent to France to serve at military headquarters and command posts alongside American fighting forces.

Banker went into the war shortly after graduating from Barnard College. She had been working as a switchboard operator with a telephone company and then became one of the first females recruited as a telephone operator in the war, where she led her unit. In total, 223 women went overseas during the war to operate phones.

“Learning this history has increased my connection with the women in my family,” Timbie said.

 

VT Digger CoMatStationApril2 1918 BellowFalls 610x474Soldiers stand at the train station in Bellows Falls, VT on April 2, 1918. Draftees caught a train that day to Fort Devens in Massachusetts. (Vermont Historical Society) 

Then Again: World War I brought challenges to home front — in the state, and U.S. 

By Mark Bushnell
via the VT DIgger (VT) web site

When 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip fired two shots from a pistol in the streets of Sarajevo on a late June morning in 1914, Vermonters had no idea what troubles the incident would trigger for the people of their state.

The point-blank shots killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, and set off a series of events that led to World War I.

For the next few years, Vermonters remained unscathed by the horrors enveloping so much of the world, but their good fortune didn’t last. Events finally dragged Vermont men off to war, sparked the deadliest epidemic of the last century, and led to a crackdown on civil liberties in the state.

The United States finally entered the war in April 1917, on the side of the Allies, which included France, Britain, Russia and Italy. But Vermont had already beaten the United States to the punch. A week before President Woodrow Wilson called on Congress to declare war, Gov. Horace Graham called on the Legislature to respond to the conflict. Days later, the Legislature approved $1 million to supply the Vermont National Guard and authorized borrowing an additional $3 million to support the war if needed.

Farming to win

Enough Vermont men enlisted that a draft was hardly needed. More than 14,000 Vermonters served during the war.

The enlistment raised concerns of labor shortages in Vermont, as roughly 15 percent of men ages 19 to 50 served. Vermonters at home joined the war effort. Many offered financial support by buying war bonds. An estimated 30,000 Vermont schoolchildren worked to increase the state’s food production, as did thousands of women.

Another response was the creation of Camp Vail in Lyndonville during the summer of 1917. The camp trained young men, ages 16 to 20, to work on farms. The trainees were drawn mainly from larger communities, where young men were unfamiliar with farm labor. The camp was run in a quasi-military style, with a bugler sounding reveille, the young men marching to and from the fields and sometimes singing songs mocking Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm: “Camp Vail’s awake tonight, Camp Vail’s awake! It holds a lively bunch, that’s no mistake. We’re out to lick the Hun, William to break. As our row we hoe, Kaiser Bill will know Camp Vail’s awake.”

The state and towns worked to protect strategic resources, including Vermont’s utilities. Armed private citizens guarded bridges into the state, on the lookout for German saboteurs. The Legislature approved Gov. Graham’s call for warrantless arrests and authorized the death penalty for anyone convicted of a war-related attack on people or property.

Patriotic enough?

Vermont’s war fervor landed a Baptist minister in Windsor in serious trouble. President Wilson declared Oct. 21, 1917, “Liberty Loan Sunday,” and he expected the nation’s clergy to decorate their churches in red, white and blue, and to lead their congregations in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The idea was to encourage congregants to buy Liberty Bonds to fund the war. 

 

Jeanette Rankin portrait.0Jeannette Rankin was a Montana Republican politician who made history in 1916 as the first woman ever elected to the United States Congress. She was also the only member of Congress to cast a vote against participation in both world wars. 

Jeannette Rankin’s history-making moment in World War I 

By NCC Staff
via the Constitution Daily (National Constitution Center) web site

It was on April 2, 1917 that Jeannette Rankin became the first woman in Congress. But within days, she became the target of national scorn for voting against America’s entry into World War I.

Four years before the 19th Amendment's ratification, which extended the right to vote to all American women, Rankin was elected as the first woman member of Congress. A Republican from Montana, Rankin ran on a platform promising a constitutional amendment for woman’s suffrage and reforms on other social welfare issues such as child labor. Despite the fact that she was elected in 1916, she wasn’t sworn in as a Representative until April 2, 1917, only after Congress had a month-long debate about whether a woman was fit to be a United States Representative.

Born in 1880, Rankin was a trailblazer and activist from a young age. After graduating Montana State University, she worked as a social worker in Washington before joining the woman suffrage movement in that state, which extended to women the right to vote in 1910. By 1914 she was experienced in navigating the suffrage battle and she was a lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, where she contributed to the woman suffrage campaign in Montana.

When she announced her candidacy for a House seat in Montana in 1916, some were understandably skeptical about her chances. While her election was a long shot, she benefitted from her political experience and reputation as an activist, and from support from her wealthy brother Wellington. During the campaign, she took a staunch pacifist position towards U.S. participation in World War I, and she pledged that she would not vote for any American involvement in the deadly European conflict. After her victory, she acknowledged the gravity of her achievement for women across the country and said that she was “deeply conscious of the responsibility resting upon” her.

On April 2, the same day that she officially became the first female member of Congress, President Wilson addressed Congress encouraging it to pass a declaration of war and authorize United States involvement in World War I.

As she voted no on the declaration of war three days later, she told her colleagues “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war”. The resolution ultimately passed 373 to 50, but Rankin established herself as both an active member of Congress and a staunch anti-war representative.

The Helena Independent called her “a dagger in the hands of the German propagandists, a dupe of the Kaiser, a member of the Hun army in the United States, and a crying schoolgirl.” Others questioned if women were able to be congressional representatives. "Miss Rankin's vote is regarded, not as that of a pacifist, but rather as one dictated by the inherent abhorrence of women for war,” said the New York Times.

Later in 1917, Rankin led the fight in Congress to create the Committee on Woman Suffrage, and worked on the Committee to produce a constitutional amendment extending suffrage to women nationally. While the particular resolution the committee produced eventually failed to pass the Senate, she rallied support for it among her colleagues in the House by asking on the floor, “How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?”