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WW1 Centennial News for Wednesday June 14, 2017 - Episode #24

USMC Aviator Ralph TalbotUSMC Aviator Ralph Talbot

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  • 100 Year Ago: Flag Day 1917 like no other |@ 00:45

  • 100 Year Ago: First Liberty Bond drive big success |@ 02:30

  • Guest: Mike Shuster - Pershing Arrives in Europe |@ 09:15

  • Guests: Eileen Dumont & Paul Callens on Ralph Talbot |@ 13:00

  • Feature: The Storyteller and The Historian: on the selective service |@  19:00

  • PTSD Month: Charles Whittlesey’s Suicide |@ 26:45

  • Education: Edu-Newsletter “Animals at War” comes out |@ 28:30

  • Feature: The Violin of Private Howard |@ 32:15

  • Media: Wonder Woman - Three theories on why it’s set in WW1 |@ 34:00

  • Instagram: Pershing Pic hit on social media |@ 39:00

And much more….

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War One Centennial News. It’s about WW1 news 100 years ago this week  - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

WW1 Centennial News is brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. Today is June 14th, 2017 and I’m Theo Mayer - Chief Technologist for the World War One Centennial Commission and your host.

World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week

We have gone back in time 100 years and on June 14, 1917 - it’s FLAG Day. And it is a flag day, like no other in history.

The Washington Herald writes:

“Never has there been such a Flag Day fete before, and it may be centuries before it occurs again, but the deed was accomplished, despite the setting. The President has spoken.”

Though America had declared war on Germany, the real enemy on this Flag Day seems to be the weather.

Storm gale winds and heavy rain threatens what is supposed to be a major event in the nation’s capital planned with a 600 voice choir, a huge audience including government employees, who have a ½ day off so they can join the festivities - All to frame a rousing speech by President Woodrow Wilson about the war.

The herald article captures the moment with:

“Nature Allied with the German Autocracy yesterday in a futile effort to block the delivery of the most sensational war statement to the American People ever heard from the lips of a President!”

Streets flooded, flags were ripped out of their holders and one man died in the gale while President Wilson braved the storm, shuning an umbrella and delivering a rousing speech against the gale.

It all seemed somehow prophetic and appropriate.

Then at the end of the day, it was announced that Liberty Loan drive had not only met it’s goal, but had exceeded it!

On this Flag day in 1917  it feels like nothing can or will dare stop the Yanks.

Link: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/13/flag-day-in-1917-was-like-no-other/

Official Bulletin

We are going to pick up on the Liberty Loan drive by exploring this week’s pages of the “Official Bulletin”, the government war gazette published by George Creel, America’s propaganda chief, under the orders of President Wilson. We are pulling from Volume 1 - Issues 27-32

The pages of the Bulletin are filled with an all-out - last minute effort - in promoting the Liberty Loan bonds as this first national fund-raising program comes to a close this week:

[sound effect]

Dateline Monday June 11, 1917


The story reads:

“The US Treasury Department issues the


The pendulum of time is to swing back to 1776 and once again to the inscription on the old liberty bell :

‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto the inhabitants thereof,’

It is - to call Americans to service in the cause of freedom.

In every city, town, village, and hamlet "from every mountain side," the summons to every American shall ring. Beginning to-day (Monday) the bells in churches, schools, courthouses, and town halls throughout the Nation will toll every night at 9 o'clock, reminding Americans that the time for patriotic support of the Government through subscription to the

liberty loan bonds is drawing to a close.

The bells will ring four times to-night, indicating that four days remain in which to buy bonds ; Tuesday they will toll three times; twice on Wednesday; and once Thursday.”

That quite a sales campaign! But that’s just a part of it.

Listen to some of the other fundraising headlines - just from this week’s issues of the Official Bulletin - We will spare you the stories!

[sound effect]







And on Friday - the day after the first subscription period closes - the Official Bulletin pronounced:


The government bond subscription target is set to raise $1.9 billion - and is said to have raised $2.5 billion- which is over 52 billion in 2017 dollars.

It is huge win for the Wilson administration -

We’ll continue with a couple of stories about some of the “No holds no barred” methods they used to do it.

Dateline: Monday June 11, 1917



Jackson Bamett, a Creek Indian, Has Nearly $800,000 on Deposit In Banks and Treasury, from Rich Oil Lands Once Thought of Little Value, Allotted Him - In Oklahoma.

Wow.. Native Americans stepping up to help the nation. Well, maybe not exactly.

Now the Native American community DID step up - and step up big - during WW1 - but stepping up financially? - Before indian casinos? - well, that was surprising and we thought there might be an interesting story here - so we sent out of our Commission summer interns - Lorenzo Rodriguez - to dig into the story a little. Here is what we learned.

Jackson Barnett, a full blood Creek indian, is given 160 acre of land in 1903 in Oklahoma thanks to the Curtis act of 1898. Well - in 1912 they find oil on the property that earns him between 3 and 4 million dollars over his lifetime!

Of course he is an Indian, in his 60’s and illiterate so the Creek County Court and the US Dept. of the interior declares him as “incompetent” and arranges to become the stewards of his estate.

It turns out, that it is not actually Mr. Barnett’s idea to buy nearly $700,000 in liberty bonds - OR to donate $50,000 to the Red Cross?

The good news is that Barnett is no fool - and later proves himself mentally capable of understanding his own actions and takes back control of his estate.

There’s a book about him called: The World's Richest Indian: The Scandal over Jackson Barnett's Oil Fortune. We put a link to it in the podcast notes.


Apparently, Secretary of the interior, Lane has control over quite a bit more than Mr. Barnett’s estate.

This same week…

[sound effect]

Dateline Wed. June 13, 1917


Secretary of the Interior Lane has subscribed to $10,000,000 in Liberty

Loan Bonds on behalf of the accounts of Indians whose money is in his custody.

Secretary lane states:

‘Most of these Indians reside in Oklahoma. They are " incompetents "

similar to Jackson Barnett for whose account $640,000 in Liberty Bonds was subscribed yesterday. Most of the funds of these Indians is on deposit either at low rates of interest or in the Treasury Department drawing no interest.’

The implication is that this is a favor because now the funds are in Liberty Bonds drawing 3.5% interest. And maybe it was.

So - in summary - about the government getting into the bond business - subscribing to the bonds became a symbol of patriotic duty in the United States running up to WW1 - AND it introduced the idea of financial securities to many citizens for the first time. The Act of Congress which authorized the Liberty Bonds is still the same law used TODAY as the authority under which all U.S. Treasury bonds are issued.

And speaking of issued...

The amazing  “Official Bulletin” the government war gazette,  is now being re-issued every day - Except Sunday - on our website - on the centennial of its original publish date.

If you are an educator, researcher, historian, student of propaganda or just interested in exploring the nuances of America’s transformation in 1917, and the echoes - that still ring in your life today - Like US Treasury Bonds - We offer you this wonderful daily resource at  ww1cc.org/bulletin - explore, exploit, Enjoy!

It’s kind of an amazing daily read about the war that changed the world.

Link: ww1cc.org/bulletin

Great War Project

Moving on to our first guest - we are joined by former NPR correspondent Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.  Mike - Human beings have a tendency to believe what they want to believe - and from my readings, both the French and the Brit’s see America as this powerful juggernaut ready to sweep in and solve the wretched, miserable, wearying war. And now Pershing arrives in Europe - and the news he brings is not exactly what anyone wants to hear - right?

“A desperate moment for the allies

Pershing in london tells king no aircraft on the way”


Thank you Mike. That was Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog.

War in the Sky: Interview with Paul Callens and Eileen Dumont

War In the Sky

Last week we ran a story about US Marine Corp - medal of Honor recipient aviator Ralph Talbot and about the collaborative research project being done across the atlantic - about him - by two citizen historians.

So as a follow up, we have invited Eileen Dumont from Massachusetts and Paul Callens from Pittem, Belgium, also a member of Flemish Genealogical Society in the Tielt region.

Welcome to both of you!


That was Eileen Dumont from Massachusetts and Paul Callens from Pittem, Belgium about their trans-continental collaboration in honoring US Marine aviator Ralph Talbot.


The Great War Channel

Our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube produce videos about WW1 - 100 years ago this week  - The show is produced in Europe - so it comes from a more European perspective. This is Indy Niedel - the host of the show.

[Indy clip]

One of their new clips this week is called the Top 10 Stupid Moves of WW1 from Mid 1915 through 1916. Indy offers a really interesting perspective on some of the strategic blunders of the time - seen through that sharp sharp lens of hindsight.

The link is in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.



The Storyteller and the Historian

We are going to close out “WW1 - 100 years ago this week” with a follow up to last week’s report about June 5th - registration day for the selective service. That is the subject for our new segment - The StoryTeller and the Historian with Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten.

[run segment]

That was - the StoryTeller - Richard Rubin and The Historian - Jonathan Bratten talking about the 1917 Selective Service act.

World War One NOW

We have moved forward into the present with

WW1 Centennial News NOW  - News about the centennial and the commemoration.

Activities and Events

From the U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events - here is our upcoming “event pick” of the week:

“Decoding the Great War” is a panel discussion that will take place June 20th at the National Cryptologic Museum in Maryland. If our stories from last week about the Choctaw Code Talkers or the use of knitting as covert communications interested you, this panel is a great opportunity to learn even more about the role of codes and ciphers in WW1.

This panel discussion includes experts in the evolution of Intelligence Collection, Radio Intelligence, Code Making and the first Code Talkers.

Check out U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register  for things happening in your area, and there is a big red button there so you can submit your own upcoming events to it, at ww1cc.org/events



PTSD Month - The Lost Battalion and suicide

As we have mentioned - June is PTSD Awareness month - and as we did last week, we bring you another story on the disorder and WW1.

100 years ago, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Whittlesey was known around the world -- as was, the battalion he lead during World War 1.

The so called Lost Battalion was surrounded by enemies and cut off in the Argonne for days -- before being saved when their famous messenger pigeon “Chere Ami” - aptly named as “dear friend” was able to relay their position for help.

Commission friend and author - Rob Laplander - wrote a book called “Finding the Lost Battalion”.  Links to his book and additional information from his research on the Lost Battalion is available at  ww1cc.org/lostbattalion - all lower case - all one word.

So…  the war ended a month after the incident and Whittlesey and his comrades were hailed as fabled heroes for the exploit. But the war lingered on in the Lieutenant Colonel’s mind and in 1921, just a few years after the war, Whittlesey committed suicide.

Whittlesey is, by no means, alone in this fate. In a 2014 study the Veteran’s administration reported that 20 US veterans commit suicide every day.

There is a detailed article about Whittlesey’s suicide in the Berkshire Eagle and we have put a number of link in the podcast notes for you. Please keep our veterans in your mind and in our heart as PTSD Awareness month continues this June.

link:http://ww1cc.org/lostbattalion http://www.berkshireeagle.com/stories/lost-again-echoes-of-a-wwi-heros-suicide,508711






This week in Education we want to let you know about the WW1 Centennial Commission Education Newsletter, released every other month. Each issue includes an extensive selection of articles, lessons, teaching guidelines and primary sources that you can freely use, all vetted by professional historians and educators. The newsletter is produced with assistance from National History Day, American Battle Monuments Commission, the American Field Service, the Library of Congress, the National Archives and more.

The upcoming week’s newsletter is themed “Animals at War” and includes articles and links for differing grade levels about the role of animals in the war. Some famous individuals are featured like Winnie the Pooh and Sgt Stubby as well as lesser known characters like Jackie the Baboon. Perhaps the most surprising critter featured is the glow worm, who played a useful if unexpected role in the war.

Register for the newsletter or read past issues by following the link in the podcast notes.


Updates From The States

Battleship Texas Leaks

Now for our updates from the states.

From Texas - there is a news story from Houston about flooding aboard the USS Texas.

The Battleship Texas survived World War 1 - and then went on to survive  world war II. Now we hope she will survive the month!

Periodic leaks have plagued the aging ship since 2010 and a large new one sprung up over this past weekend. By Monday June 11th, the ship was listing 8 degrees. By Tuesday 12 degrees. She needs help.

Previously, needed repairs were postponed because of the high expense. There’s no news yet as to how extensive the damage will be to the battleship, but you can be certain it will come at a similarly high price tag. We hope a solution can be found so that this 103 year old historic vessel can resume its role as a site for educating the public and school children about the World Wars.

Learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.


DC: Archivists work to save American Legion post in DC

From the District of Columbia is a story about an American Legion Post.

Last summer, as the Smithsonian Museum of African-American History prepared to open, some local archivists and educators began working to save the history of an African-American American Legion post in northeast D.C.

The James Reese Europe Post 5 was first established 100 years ago during World War 1, named for the noted band leader of the 369th Infantry - the Harlem Hellfighters.

What’s left of the Post House is mostly just boxes of documents and photographs; so the post has teamed up with American University educators and Prologue DC to research, archive and preserve what it left of the post. Read more about the project at the links in the podcast notes.

link: http://wtop.com/dc/2016/08/archivists-work-to-save-american-legion-post-in-dc/


Maine: Unlikely War Poet

From the Maine WW1 web site ---  a story about an unlikely war poet, Ralph Moan, a civil engineer from the town of Waterville, Maine. World War I is noted for the incredibly evocative war poetry it produced, notably from such soldier-poets as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. However, very few of those well-known poets were American.

Ralph Moan served with the 103d Infantry Regiment, part of the 26th “Yankee” Division made up entirely of New England units. He returned home to Maine in 1919 as a corporal to find that he had been awarded both the French Croix de Guerre and the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery. Now that he was home, he gathered his memories of the war and its devastation -- into himself, channeling it into poetry. Though he never spoke of his experiences aloud, even to his family, his experience of the war lived on in his writings.

Read his story on the Maine’s WW1 website at ww1cc.org/maine

Link: ww1cc.org/maine



International Report

Violin left unfinished played at his grave

This week in our International Report comes a wonderful story about two young British men and the violin that brought them together across a century.

Private Richard Howard began making his violin before the outbreak of world war 1, planning to finish it upon his return. Sadly, he died in the fighting on the first day of the battle of Messines ridge in June 1917, 100 years ago this month.

The violin passed from person to person, being put together and finished over the course of decades. It wound up in Sam Sweeney hands - a british folk musician who somehow knew it was something special.

Inside the violin was the date “1915” and Private Howard’s name,  so - Sweeney tracked down the young soldier and his descendents.

In a recent ceremony, Sweeney played the soldier’s violin at his grave as Howard’s family looked on. The family hadn’t known much of anything about Howard, his own granddaughter saying “I knew nothing at all about my grandfather... I was very interested to learn about him because I had heard nothing except 'your grandfather died in the war'. People in those days didn't talk about it for fear of upsetting someone. My mother [Rose] was 11 when he died. I have to say the news when it got to me just blew me away.”

Sweeney continues to tell the instrument's unique story in his show, Made in the Great War, which he is touring across the UK.

song “rose howard” named for Pvt Howard’s daughter. Link to Sam Sweeney’s album: https://www.madeinthegreatwar.com/music



Spotlight in the Media

In our Spotlight on the Media -

The headline reads - 'Wonder Woman' Smashes Domestic Box Office Record For Female Directors”  

So on one hand we have a hit movie - and on the other we have a little mystery!

The Wonder Woman in DC comic book Issue 1 that came out on July 22, 1942 - was originally set during WWII…  but this summer’s early blockbuster is set in WW1. We HAD to ask why?

So we put another of our Commission’s intrepid summer interns - Paul Burgholzer to chasing down the mystery. Here is the story:

Though the filmmakers have declined to de-mystify this - He found three theories -

Theory ONE - From an IGN interview with producer Charles Roven. Roven says that the film was set in in World War I because it adds a culture shock aspect to Diana. Diana romanticizes war and trains in hand to hand combat. She believes that combat is an honorable competition between warriors. World War I, Roven explains, was the first major conflict where the combatants did not even see the people they were killing. In the film the WWI introduces the extreme suffering of modern warfare to Wonder Woman driving her to seek a solution.

Theory TWO - The filmmakers wanted to set themselves apart from their rivals at Marvel Comic with characters like Captain America whose story is set in WWII

Theory THREE - comes from Breitbart putting forth the theory that WW1 sets a more politically correct agenda - The writer - who wrote the article in January - predicted that the film would be strongly anti-war and that WW1 would be a better foil for that because WWII has such clear villain like Hitler.

I don’t know about that that… When I saw the movie last weekend it did not feel like much of a political statement to me at all. It just seemed like a really well made summer blockbuster, a really fun entertainment, and a really strong female lead. What do you think?  


Articles and Posts

WWrite Blog

In our WWRITE blog, which we host on the commission web site and which explores WWI’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship,

this week's post is: "More Gentile Than Grim: Letters Home from WWI," comes from author, editor, and award-winning teacher, David Chrisinger.

Chrisinger is the editor of See Me For Who I Am, a collection of essays by veteran students that seeks to undermine three main media-create stereotypes that divide them from the American people they have fought to protect: as superhuman; as broken, disabled, and traumatized; or as dangerous, ticking time bombs.

In this post, he discusses a WWI project he completed with new student veterans at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point using hundreds of letters written by WWI soldiers from the town where the university is located. Don't miss this post describing their surprising, insightful reactions!

Read more about the project by visiting the Wwrite blog at ww1cc.org/w-w-r-i-t-e and if this WW1’s Influence on contemporary writing and scholarship is of particular interest - sign up for the blog at the same link.



The Buzz - WW1 in Social Media Posts

That brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine - what do you have for us this week?

The Army’s Treasure Room

That warehouse from the end of Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant? Turns out that pretty much exists.



Gen. Pershing Arrives

A photo from our Instagram feed proves popular


Thank you Katherine. All of Katherine’s stories have links in the podcast notes.


And That’s WW1 Centennial News for this week. Thank you for listening!

We want to thank our guests:

  • Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog

  • Eileen Dumont and Paul Callens

  • Richard Rubin, Author and Storyteller and Jonathan Bratten, Historian with their new segment the StoryTeller and the Historian

  • Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.

And I am Theo Mayer - your host.

The US World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress to honor, commemorate and educate about WW1.

Our programs are to--

inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; This show is a part of that effort!

we are bringing the lessons of the 100 years ago into today's classrooms;

We are helping to restore WW1 memorials in communities of all sizes across our country;

and of course we are building America’s National WW1 Memorial in Washington DC.

We rely entirely on your donations. No government appropriations or taxes are being used, so please give what you can by going to ww1cc.org/donate - all lower case

Or if you are listening to the show on your smart phone you can text us a donation - just text  the letters: WW1 to the number 41444.

We want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their support.

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  

on  iTunes and google play ww1 Centennial News. As of last week you can also find us on TuneIn.

Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.

Thanks for joining us. And don’t forget to share what you are learning here about “The War that Changed the World”.

So long.




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