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The WWI dispatch bring you pointers to full articles about WWI history, Stories of Service, events, commemorations, memorials, exhibits, museums, books, film, social impacts and much more...

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Header Image 09172019

November 2020

Sculpture_WABC

Earlier this month, WABC-TV in New York City broadcast a story on the crafting of the sculpture for the National World War I Memorial. The television crew interviewed sculptor Sabin Howard and World War I Centennial Commission Commissioner Libby O'Connell in Sabin's New Jersey studio. Click the image above to watch the video and read the article on the WABC web site.

Save the Date this “Giving Tuesday” for the Doughboy Foundation

Doughboy Foundation logo giving tuesday

We proudly announce that on Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the Doughboy Foundation (DBF) will join the global movement “Giving Tuesday,” that helps people and organizations transform their communities and the world. In tandem with this day, the DBF is expanding its mission of stewardship to support the National WWI Memorial, and the remembrance of all those who served and sacrificed in WWI; to keep the story of the War that Changed the World in the minds of all Americans so that the 4.7 million who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in #WW1 will never again be relegated to the mists of obscurity. This exciting time of Doughboy Foundation expansion will bring new programs and activities to all Americans to facilitate knowledge, understanding, and remembrance of WWI and all those who served. As many of you know, the Doughboy Foundation has been working hand-in-glove with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission for the past 5 years as we commemorated  #WWI, and have been building the National WWI Memorial site in D. C., scheduled to open in Spring of 2021. Please look for an email on Dec. 1, Giving Tuesday, about how you can help launch this next phase of commemorating WWI.


Preparations Underway for Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial in 2021

1921 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) Centennial Committee is preparing for the 100th anniversary of the burial of an Unknown American Soldier who fought and died in World War I and is buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. On the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month in 2021 Americans will pause to recognize those who have sacrificed and those who will sacrifice in the future in the defense of America’s freedom and democracy.  “It is important to remember that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is not just about World War I, but it is about every individual who has ever served - or will ever serve - and America’s promise to them that they will never forget them,” says SHGTUSP resident Gavin McIlvenna. “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier fosters a unifying national identity that transcends our differences of politics, race or religion, and we have applied our best efforts to plan, develop and initiate a number of activities suitable for this solemn occasion of national importance.” Click here to learn more about the plans for the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


Celebrating Thanksgiving amid a pandemic. Here's how we did it in 1918 – and what happened next

Thanksgiving headlines 2018

More than 200,000 dead since March. Cities in lockdown. Vaccine trials underway.  And a holiday message, of sorts: "See that Thanksgiving celebrations are restricted as much as possible so as to prevent another flare-up."  It isn't the message of Thanksgiving 2020. It's the Thanksgiving Day notice that ran in the Omaha World Herald on Nov. 28, 1918, when Americans found themselves in a similar predicament to the millions now grappling with how to celebrate the holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Every time I hear someone say these are unprecedented times, I say no, no, they're not," said Brittany Hutchinson, assistant curator at the Chicago History Museum. "They did this in 1918." Click here to read more in this USA TODAY article about the eerie similarities between two Thanksgiving observances one hundred and two years apart.


What Thanksgiving Dinners Looked Like During World War I Rationing

sailor with drumstick

In 2020, it's safe to say most of us just experienced a highly unusual Thanksgiving. Between eschewing gathering with family and friends to making do with different dishes due to food supply issues, it has seemed like one of the weirdest holiday seasons to date. But not so long ago, before the nation was grappling with the novel coronavirus, the United States was battling another foe: the Central Powers of World War I. As WWI raged on, Americans experienced five Thanksgivings during wartime before the Treaty of Versailles was signed, meaning that things looked decidedly different at the holiday dinner table. Click here to read more about what Americans were eating for Thanksgiving during WWI, including some eyebrow-raising items.


One of America’s Finest Hours in Humanitarian Aid is Little-known Today

Yanks Behind the Lines cover

Today, whenever there are civilians anywhere in the world in harm’s way—from a natural disaster to an armed conflict—the nearly universal response has been: “America will help.” That was not the case before World War I (1914–1918). Prior to that horrific conflict—and long before US aid programs such as the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Airlift, and the Food for Peace program—America was better known as a nation of shopkeepers more interested in the bottom line than in saving strangers in need. Author Jeffery Miller explores what helped alter that view: the American-led, nongovernmental CRB, which, working with its Belgian counterpart, the Comité National de Secours et d’Alimentation, helped save from starvation nearly ten million Belgian and northern French civilians trapped behind German lines during the four years of World War I, making it the largest food relief program the world had ever seen. Click here to learn more about how the CRB began the redefinition of how the world saw America, how America perceived its role in the world, and how worldwide humanitarian aid would be administrated in the future.


Thank-you letters from Belgium in 1915 point back to unlikely Minnesota hero

James Ford Bell

Handwritten by Belgian school girls caught in the middle of an adult clash, the letters from 1915 are frank and brimming with gratitude. Germany had invaded their country, British allies mounted a blockade to starve out the German soldiers, and millions of innocent Belgians faced starvation at the outset of World War I. A traveling exhibit of these translated letters — “When Minnesota Fed the Children of Europe” — visited the Mall of America in Minneapolis in October.  The girls’ letters were written generally to their American peers, but two unlikely men with Midwestern ties were pivotal players behind the massive relief effort that helped feed 150 million Europeans a century ago, from 1914 to 1923. Click here to read about the two men, one very well-known, the other known better now for his post-war business legacy that is still in operation today.


Michael Neiberg remembers the World War I roots of Veterans Day

Veterans Day flag

Writing on the US Army War College web site, historian Michael Neiberg recalls that "The first Veterans Day (then called Armistice Day), on November 11, 1919, was a solemn and serious event commemorated worldwide. The First World War left behind an estimated three million widows and six million orphans, in addition to eight million men killed in combat and unknown millions more who died in the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Marking the one-year anniversary of the end of the fighting gave people a chance to honor all of the victims, military and civilian alike, of this terrible war." Click here to read more about how Armistice day changed from a WWI-focused commemoration to a day remembering all Americans who served their nation in uniform during war and peace.


Springfield, Illinois park renamed for World War I hero Otis Duncan

Otis Duncan

The Springfield Park District board voted in September to rename a near north side park after Otis B. Duncan, the highest-ranking Black officer to serve in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War I. “It gives us an opportunity to honor someone who is truly worthy,” park board president Leslie Sgro said of Duncan, before the vote. “I just love the idea we put forward this individual who has long been overlooked, I believe. His star is starting to shine in our community, as it should have for a century, but better late than never.” Click here ti learn more about Duncan, the American Legion post named in his honor, and the events that led to the vote on the 147th anniversary of Duncan’s birth.


Meet Mary Muirhead of Elgin, Illinois and the World War I Army Nurse Corp

Mary Muirhead's World War I dog tag

American nurses have a long and fabled history of selfless service during the most critical times of war. The nursing professionals’ contributions ultimately became the justification for a permanent female nurse corps, and when the United States entered World War I, there were only 403 Army nurses on active duty. But by November 1918, the number rose to 21,460. Mary Muirhead, born and raised in Elgin, IL, was one of those nurses. Click here to learn more about how she was one who answered the call for nurses to serve in the U.S. Army and naval hospitals and with base hospitals.


Grave marker dedicated to Buffalo Soldier who served in World War I

Bugler American Legion

A Buffalo Soldier from Toledo, OH who served his country during World War I finally got the sendoff to heaven he deserved. John M. Fields, a black Army private who served in France and was honorably discharged on July 21, 1919, had been buried at Forest Cemetery with no grave marker since dying on Dec. 28, 1960. That changed on Veterans Day this year.  Click here to read more, and learn how The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution took up the cause and got Private Fields the grave marker he deserved 60 years later.


A Plainfield, NJ World War I Story Reaches "Across the Pond"

US-Irish flags

In May 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, TAPinto Plainfield published an article announcing the Drake House Museum's online exhibit entitled “Plainfield During WWI and the Influenza Pandemic.” That article, it turned out, would connect the past to the present. Leanne Manna, a Trustee at the Drake House, curated the exhibit and posted it online. Rutgers University Intern Stephanie Quartsin and Nancy Piwowar helped to research and document the veterans. The article included the name of one casualty, Martin J. Kane, and a relative of his, who lives Ireland, found the article about the online exhibit. Click here to read more about how a family’s inquiry was answered, and the pieces of a puzzle over 100 years in the making were fitted together.


Minnesota family recovers century-old letter from World War I

Minnesota letter

A century-old letter written by a Nobles County, Minn., World War I veteran is in the hands of his granddaughter, thanks to a casual conversation among distant cousins at a family gathering. Henry Slater penned a letter home to his Wilmont, Minn., family on June 15, 1918, from somewhere in France. That the letter is now in the hands of Slater’s son, Jim, and granddaughter, Barb (Slater) Froiland, is a story in itself.  Click here to read more and learn how this letter home from the Great War has now found its way home again.


Reflections on “The Songs of World War One” Program from 1917 to 1919

Cecelia Otto

In March of 2017, Cecelia Otto debuted a concert program titled, “The Songs of World War One”. Writing on the americacansongonline.com web site, Otto notes that "I knew that people would learn and enjoy the program, but I had no idea how it would be received. It was a wonderful surprise to find out not only that people enjoyed the concerts, but that I performed the music well past the 100th anniversary of the Armistice – all the way to November of 2019." Click here to read Otto's entire article, and learn how her two and a half years of performing WWI songs connected her "with so many people nationwide who had their own stories and songs to share."


Fur N Feathers: Book honors animals and people who served in World War I

Fur N Feathers book cover

When the Arkansas Department of Heritage chose the theme of World War I for Heritage Month events during the war's centennial, it encouraged programs and activities across the state. Marie Wagner of the Chugach Arts Council Chugach Arts Council writes that the organization's "goal with this project was to use our talents and blessings to honor the animals and people that served in WWI and to bring awareness and support for animal welfare organizations. Coincidentally, we found that art itself played a crucial role in the war efforts." Click here to learn more about how the organization's efforts gained participation "from across the continent" in an art show, an exhibit, and a book, "Fur N Feathers: Animal Heroes of WWI..


How a World War I centennial exhibit evolved into an immersive card game

The Great War™ card game card back

The San Francisco War Memorial building complex was dedicated on November 11, 1932, as a memorial to all American veterans who served in The Great War. In 2018 the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission designated it as a 100 Cities / 100 Memorials awardee. Dana Lombardy was tasked in 2018 to create a centennial exhibit about WWI for the facility. Writes Lombardy: "The project consumed me. For eleven months in 2018 I lived for The Great War. But my extensive research resulted in another creation, one that might reach an even larger audience: a simple, fast-playing card game about World War One that could educate while it entertained." Click here to read more about the exhibit, the creation of the WWI game, and how such card games can educate while they entertain.


Doughboy MIA for November 2020

As Doughboy MIA wraps up their year and prepares for some big doings in 2021, we would like to repeat a story from November 2019 that hits close to home for us.

Frank Ellenberger

A man is only missing if he is forgotten.

Our Doughboy MIA this month is PVT Franklin Ellenberger - and has a special story!

Born on 12 July, 1892, Frank Ellenberger was from Wilmington, Ohio and was drafted into the army on 27 May, 1918. Sent to Camp Beauregard at Alexandria, Louisiana he was assigned training with the 41st Company, 159th Depot Brigade for indoctrination before being sent to Company I, 153rd Infantry Regiment, 39th 'Delta' Division. The 39th left for France on 6 August, 1918 and once Over There was re-designated as the 5th Depot Division (replacement division). From there, Ellenberger was sent to Company K, 128th Infantry, 32nd 'Red Arrow' Division in September, 1918. When the 32nd went forward to relieve the 91st Division during the Meuse-Argonne campaign on 4 October, 1918 PVT Ellenberger was among them.

The 32nd would be the first division to crack the Kriemhilde Stellung six days later, on 10 October, 1918, but by that time Ellenberger was already dead. A statement by his sergeant says he "saw Private Ellenberger killed instantly by fragments from a high explosive shell. Hit in the head... on October 7th, 1918 while in action near Epinonville." At the time Ellenberger's battalion (the 3rd) was supporting attacks made by the 125th Infantry south of Romagne sous Montfaucon who would, within a few days, capture the ground that the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery occupies today.

Laura Ellenberger

No record of his burial ever made it back to the Graves Registration Service however, and while two separate searches were made for him following the war, nothing further was ever found concerning his case and it was closed in December, 1919. His mother, Laura Ellenberger (right) made the Gold Star Mother's Pilgrimage to see her sons name on the Tablet of the Missing at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in 1931.

Jeremy Wayne Bowles

Then, on the evening of 4 November, 2019, our Assistant Field Manager here at Doughboy MIA, Mr Jeremy Wayne Bowles (at left, and popularly known as 'The Dayton Doughboy') was doing some research into Ohio soldiers that served in the war with his family's help when his mother happened to notice a name that rang a bell with her... Ellenberger. Later that night, just on a hunch, she pulled out the family tree to check that name and found an entry for a Private Franklin Ellenberger KIA in the war, who had been her great grandmother's brother. Jeremy checked the ABMC website to find out if this relative of his - whom he had not known about before - was buried in France or had come home, and found that he was MIA!

Infer what you want about this story, but it certainly would seem some sort of intervention was at work here for a worker with Doughboy MIA to discover through accident and hunch that HE was related to an MIA from that war - another example that a man is only missing if he is forgotten!

Can you spare just ten dollars? Give 'Ten For Them' to Doughboy MIA and help us make a full accounting of the 4,423 American service personnel still listed as missing in action from WW1. Make your tax deductible donation now, with our thanks.


Official WWI Centennial Merchandise makes great Christmas gifts!

Coin set

2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar Set

No longer available from the U.S. Mint!

These Official World War I Centennial Silver Dollar Sets are still available here on the WWI Centennial Commission's online gift shop.

NOTE: Each set comes with 2 separate coins. Each set will accompany the Official Doughboy Design alongside your choice of Military Branch.

"The United Mint certifies that this coin is a genuine 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar, minted and issued in accordance with legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President on December 16, 2014, as Public Law 113-212. This coin was minted by the Department of the Treasury, United States Mint, to commemorate the centennial of America's involvement in World War I. This coin is legal tender of the United States."

Coin stand personalized

Compliment your Centennial Silver Dollar with a special coin display stand with an engraved personalized plate to honor your World War I ancestor. This black wooden coin stand is 3-1/2 inches in height, 1-1/2 inches in width and 2-1/2 inches in length and features silver posts. This elegant stand is a perfect way to display your your Centennial Silver Dollar or any coins on your desk or shelf.

Proceeds from the sale of these items will help build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington, DC.

This and many other items are available as Official Merchandise of the United States World War One Centennial.



Fred Hitner

A Story of Service from the Stories of Service section of ww1cc.org

 

Fred Hitner

Submitted by: Robin Hitner {Great Nephew}

Fred Hitner was born around 1893. Fred Hitner served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1918.

Story of Service

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, I was told that I had a great uncle from Nashville, named Fred Hitner, who died in WWI. His name is listed on a World War I memorial statue located in Centennial Park in Nashville that I visited several times growing up. My dad had a picture of his grave and cross located in Belgium (see attached). It appeared to be a temporary mass grave. We had no pictures of himself in our possession. Unfortunately, my dad did not have much information on Fred except for his parent’s names and what looked like a typed draft of an obituary.

This unofficial obituary stated that he “lost his life in Waeregham, [Waregem] Belgium in the service of his country on November 11, 1918.” I could never find an official newspaper obituary. Other documents such as the Gold Star Records from the Tennessee State Library and Archives listed the same date and place. I thought how interesting that he died on the last day of war. I became extremely interested in finding out how and where he died.

Read Fred Hitner's entire Story of Service here.

Submit your family's Story of Service here.


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