VA Medical Center to celebrate 100-year anniversary next year
By Cathy Spaulding
via the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper (OK) web site
In a little more than one year, Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center will mark 100 years of serving veterans from atop Agency Hill.
The $500,000 state hospital opened on June 14, 1923, as Soldiers Memorial Hospital. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, 165 employees served 1,500 veterans within the first year.
The state initially leased the Muskogee hospital to the federal government to take care of World War I veterans in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.
During a 90th anniversary celebration, former Medical Center Director James R. Floyd said the hospital opened as a gift to veterans.
He said that while other states were awarding bonuses to World War I veterans, Oklahoma chose to give “a more lasting gift of free health care.”
Floyd said the original hospital had inpatient beds, a library, a large pool hall and a place for dancing.
According to historian Jonita Mullins, Congresswoman Alice Robertson helped bring the VA hospital to Muskogee.
The federal government took ownership of the 25-bed facility on March 6,1925.
That same year, the hospital received one of more than 150 mass-produced Spirit of the American Doughboy statues. The Muskogee statue was dedicated in Sept. 5. 1925, to honor Native American veterans of World War I, particularly those of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek and Seminole nations.
The hospital has had numerous additions over the years.
Floyd said the hospital dedicated a $36 million replacement bed building in 1998 and a 15-bed inpatient mental health unit in 2006.
Also in 2006, the hospital was renamed for U.S. Navy Officer Jack Cleveland Montgomery, a Cherokee Nation veteran of World War II. Montgomery was awarded two Purple Hearts, two Silver Stars and the Medal of Honor for his actions. Montgomery, a graduate of the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School, served in the 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division in Italy.
The Great Books of the Great War
By David Hein
via the Intercollegiate Studies Institute web site
The life of Harry Patch, the last surviving British Army soldier to have served in the trenches of the First World War, remembered (2009); the death of the last American doughboy, Frank Buckles, widely noted (2011); the war’s centenary observed (2014–18); so that now, a hundred years on, we are at a good place to recall the time of the writers. This era, starting a year into the war in 1915 and peaking in 1929, was a period of intense literary productivity—poetry, novels, memoirs—in which men and women blended art and experience in a variety of attempts to transform horror, exhilaration, boredom, frustration, shell shock, anger, and grief into—what? Typically not into something grand or heroic, because the objective for many authors was to depict, often by way of modernist technique, the chaos, pretense, and purposelessness of what they had seen and heard, smelled, and touched.
Consequently, not a few of these figures played prominent roles in the massive interwar peace movements. As their efforts on speakers’ platforms or in print infused the public perception of the war’s reality, the most popular writings about the 1914–18 cataclysm became components of the larger experience of this conflict. Both memoirists and imaginative artists (the line between them not easy to draw) in effect transmuted history-as-what-happened into history-as-public-memory. And both personal recollection and public memory omit and distort.
In respect of the literature of the Great War, a distinction obtains between public memory and historical likelihood. If readers of Erich Maria Remarque’s bestseller All Quiet on the Western Front (1928; English translation, 1929)—or viewers of the film (winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, 1930)—came away from their experience believing that most soldiers in combat on the Western or Eastern front shared the trauma and pacifism of the main character, Paul Bäumer, an enlisted man in the German army, then they were probably mistaken. Most soldiers on both sides not only accepted privation and endured the terrible stress of combat, they also believed in the morality of their nation’s fight and were committed to prevailing over their enemies. Concentrating on the negative effects of the war while underrepresenting the motivations and resolve of its participants, the classic literature of World War I is historically unbalanced in tone and emphasis.
Its authors could be misleading in their details also. For example, for many years readers with no experience of the Western Front assumed the accuracy of Robert Graves’s portrayal of Church of England military chaplains as “remarkably out of touch with their troops” and reluctant to visit the most dangerous posts in the trenches. Clear-headed scholarship has demonstrated how wrong Graves was.
Reconsidered, some classic works of the Great War challenge our customary apprehension of the literature of this period. The war and the widespread disruptions of the years following it stirred up questions that were handled with insight and care in a number of these texts—questions about meaning and value, about ties between the past and the future, about the mystery and worth of the human person, about the relation of ends and means. These writers’ reckonings with such issues not only reward a re-examination of their works but also support an appreciation of them from a conservative angle.
Texas A&M Announces Discovery Of 15 Additional Aggies Killed In WWI
By Veronica Gonzalez Hoff and Lesley Henton
via the Texas A&M Today web site
Texas A&M University has announced the discovery of 15 additional Aggie veterans who died in the First World War. The additional names have been added to a WWI commemorative site on Simpson Drill Field in the center of campus, joining the 55 Texas Aggie Gold Stars who are all remembered with individual oak trees and plaques.
Recent research efforts by the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee identified the additional Aggie veterans who died during the war, prompting a project to update the Simpson Drill Field memorial, a commemorative site since 1920. Now the memorial site accounts for all Aggies who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I.
The new additions to the site are:
- Charles L. Beaty
- Robert R. Brown
- John W. Butts
- Herbert R. Florence
- John W. Fuchs
- Edmund J. Griffin
- John B. Laden
- Stephen A. Norwood
- Joseph Z. Sawyer
- Joseph L. Smith
- Ira W. South
- George W. Splawn, Jr.
- Alvin M. Stovall
- James L. Vance
- Charles M. Whitfield
View a full list of those honored at Simpson Drill Field on the Division of Student Affairs site.
“These additional trees and markers are a testament to our fellow Aggies who gave the last full measure of devotion to our country during World War I,” said Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez, Jr., USA (Ret.), Vice President for Student Affairs. “We are grateful for their service and honor their service today with these memorial trees and plaques. We also appreciate those who gave us this opportunity to complete a project that began more than 100 years ago.”
Leading the discovery is John Blair ‘83, archivist for the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and his colleague Pam Marshall ‘80, honorary chapter regent for the Come and Take It Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in Bryan-College Station. They met when the Brazos County World War I Centennial Committee formed in 2017 as an all-volunteer group to coordinate the awareness, education and commemoration of the First World War.
What happened when the 1918 flu pandemic met World War I
By Dr. Howard Markel
via the PBS News Hour (TV network) web site
When it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is safe to say that no one wins if the conflict helps spread the coronavirus.
Before Russia’s forces began attacking its neighbor, both countries had just hit records in new daily cases, peaking at an all-time high in Ukraine in early February. On Feb. 24, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the assault, there were more than 25,000 new confirmed cases in Ukraine, according to the World Health Organization. While infections had begun to fall before Russia’s invasion, for multiple days in the past week the global health agency had reported no official data from the country – perhaps a reflection of the chaos and violence that has sent more than 2 million refugees to flee to other countries and scrambled its health infrastructure. No one has any real idea of how the virus may be spreading now.
“Low rates of testing since the start of the conflict mean there is likely to be significant undetected transmission,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing on March 2. “Coupled with low vaccination coverage, this increases the risk of large numbers of people developing severe disease.” Just 35 percent of Ukrainians are fully vaccinated against COVID, while 50 percent of Russians are – both below the worldwide average.
On every level, it is unwise to declare war during a pandemic. Infectious diseases have typically followed lines of humans engaged in travel, commerce and war. From the Civil War up until World War II, more soldiers died of infections than from bullets. Cholera, typhus fever, bubonic plague and other deadly microbes were all spread because germs also travel.
This was certainly the case with the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919, which was one of the worst contagion crises in the history of humankind. Around the world, anywhere from 40 to 100 million people died, according to various estimates, with 500,000 to 750,000 deaths in the United States alone. It was a particularly virulent and novel strain of influenza that attacked young adults most severely, in contrast to seasonal influenza’s typical victims, the very young and the elderly.
90-year-old Gateway pillars in Lafayette deserve to be saved
By Susan Deans
via the Denver Post newspaper web site
You may have seen them.
The two reddish stone pillars stand near 9 Mile Corner, the intersection of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road (CO 7) in Lafayette. They have been battered by time and neglect, occasional reckless drivers, and relocations.
As huge commercial and residential construction projects proceed on all sides of the busy intersection, the 90-year-old pillars, built in 1928 and dedicated to those who served in World War I, may not survive. Few are aware of their history, including government agencies that should help guarantee their survival.
The Boulder Rotary Club and a coalition of other civic and veterans’ organizations have taken up the cause of saving the pillars from possible destruction. Bill Meyer, a retired Boulder attorney and past Rotary president, has researched their neglect.
For reasons not yet clear, when the permit was issued for major construction in 2021 that changed the alignment of the intersection where the pillars stand, no historic preservation review of the impacts of the pillars was performed, as required by Colorado law.
A belated CDOT study – confirmed by the state Historic Preservation Office – found that the recent construction severely impacted the physical integrity and historic significance of the pillars. Additionally, CDOT said the stranding of one of the pillars on a traffic island with cars passing on both sides adds a new and serious vehicular hazard.
The Gateway Monument that included the pillars was dedicated in 1928, part of a “Road to Remembrance” planned along Arapahoe Road, dedicated to the 1,000 or so men and women from Boulder County who served in the First World War.
The project was originated by the Boulder Lions Club and the American Legion, with involvement from Boulder city and county governments and other local organizations including Rotary.
The entrance was to be a triangular piece of land on Arapahoe between two curved lanes bringing turning traffic onto Arapahoe from north and south on U.S. 287 and marked by the pillars alongside the road. The pillars would be built of flagstone and “designed something like the walls and alcoves of the new University buildings,” their architect said.
Project planning started in 1924, with groundbreaking in April 1928. Stonemason Lee Roy Watson built the pillars in two months. The rest of the Road of Remembrance project faltered after that. Other amenities such as parks and tree plantings never materialized.
In World War One, A Clean Pair Of Socks Could Save Your Life
via the SOFREP web site
In a situation where people had to stand for what they believed in and at the same time run on their feet whenever needed, it is important to ensure that they are able to do so. In a war where weapons and tactics and how to defeat the enemies were the main focus, it was fairly easy to forget about the significance of small things like socks. As ridiculous as it might sound, a small detail as this one could dictate the fate of the soldiers in a war, and history had proved that to be true.
Before Socks Were A Common Thing
Before socks became widely available, the go-to of boots wearers were footwraps. Also called foot cloths, or foot rags sometimes, are rectangular pieces of cloth worn by wrapping them around the feet before wearing boots. They are around 16 inches on each side if square or 30 inches per side on its triangular variant. The Russian army used flannel during winter while they used cotton in the summer. These are used to avoid chafing, absorb sweat, and improve the foothold. Advantages of using footwraps are that they are cheaper, quicker to dry compared to socks, and are more resistant to wear and tear. Now, the major con is that any folds in the wraps can quickly cause painful blisters or wounds that the wearer will have to endure for a long time. The use of footwraps remained in the armies of Eastern Europe until the beginning of the 21st century.
It was during World War I that the importance of socks was greatly realized. The soldiers on the Western Front were enduring the terrible conditions in the trenches. The ditches were usually flooded due to the rainfall and lack of a drainage system. Their feet were constantly soaked in water and freezing during the winter season. The sores on their feet combined with their unchanged, damp socks were a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and soldiers began suffering trench foot.
An American Father-Daughter Story in World War I
By James Larrimore
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
On my mother’s death in 2001 at age 94, I came into possession of family records from the World War I era. My grandfather, Don Martin, whom I never met, had died in France while serving as a war correspondent; a poem written about him was titled “Soldier of the Pen.” I found original letters he wrote to his daughter (my mother) and letters from her to him. Also, there were my grandfather’s diaries for 1917 and 1918, and letters of condolence upon his death from Spanish influenza in October 1918, including from Commander-in-Chief John J. Pershing. My mother had told me little about this. I realized that I had to learn about the role my grandfather had played in World War I.
Don Martin was a well-known political journalist of the New York Herald in 1917, when he was assigned to cover the American Expeditionary forces in France. Once he reached the war zone in March 1918, he quickly became recognized as one of four leading American war correspondents, together with Floyd Gibbons of the Chicago Tribune, Martin Green of the New York Evening World and Ray Carroll of the Philadelphia Public Ledger. On learning of his death, former President Theodore Roosevelt wrote:
“Martin was one of the best and truest men with whom I have had relationships…He was of that sort that makes it quite worth while for a real man to do his best, efficiently, honestly and thoroughly.”
I had found that my grandfather was a role model and a hero.
With the WWI Centennial approaching, I decided to make public Don Martin’s reporting and writings on WWI. I set up a blog on which I posted daily, from December 2017 to October 2018, what Don Martin had written one-hundred-years before in his diary and in his war dispatches. It was exciting to relive his wartime experiences day by day, yet something important was missing - the story of the separation of a father from his 11-year-old daughter Dorothy by WWI and how their relationship was maintained through letters, handwritten one a week by Dorothy and sometimes even more frequently by her father. Collating all these sources to tell their story was a moving experience. This book, “In Their Own Words, Writings of war correspondent Don Martin and his 11-year-old daughter Dorothy. An intimate view of WWI,” is intended to be a further contribution to the Centennial of WWI.
Fiery crash topples over World War I memorial in Prospect Park
By News 12 Staff
via the News 12 Brooklyn television station (NY) web site
A 57-year-old World War I memorial was damaged in a fiery car crash over the weekend in Prospect Park.
City parks crews cleared rubble Monday after a car careened off the roadway early Sunday and slammed into the memorial on Bartel-Pritchard Square.
Citizen App video captured the moment when smoke billowed out of the vehicle after it burst into flames.
"It's a real shame. This has been up here for many, many years and it's in honor of the veterans from the neighborhood," said Mickey McNally, of Windsor Terrace.
The square is named after two Brooklyn residents from the neighborhood, Emil Bartel and William Pritchard, who made the ultimate sacrifice in combat during World War I.
Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher served in the armed forces as well. The memorial has stood in the park since 1965 and he said, with some repairs, will be there for many more years to come.
"It's a monument for valor and sacrifice for people who put their lives on their lives on the line. So, I think it's very important that we get it corrected," Maher said.
Parks officials said the monument weighs several tons. But the force of the impact toppled over the memorial which once stood vertically before the wreck.
April 6 Book Launch & Photography Reception, Washington, DC for the two-volume book “In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War”
By Kathy Abbott
In recognition of the 105th anniversary of the American entry into World War I, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the Doughboy Foundation, the Embassy of Hungary, and Mathias Corvinus Collegium invite you to a Book Launching ceremony and Photography Reception for the premiere of Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy’s forthcoming two-volume book, “In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War.” The event will be held at the DAR Headquarters, located in the heart of Washington D.C at 1776 D St NW, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 at 5 p.m.
Daily Taps at the National WWI Memorial, in Washington, DC. All proceeds from the event will be used to complete the National WWI Memorial, DC , and to ensure that Daily Taps is played at the Memorial forever.Also attending will be Jari Villanueva, Taps for Veterans, producer and lead bugler for
In Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy’s program notes for the ceremony “Lessons from the First World War to Prevent the Third World War” he notes, “After concluding my centennial project, I am delighted to present to you the story of the Great War in full-color photographs. I very much hope that the images in this volume and the next will inspire you to visit these historic places with your children in order to discover the peace and beauty I found there, and to reflect at the exact location on the tragic events that took place there over one hundred years ago. I also hope that this two-volume book will in some small way contribute and support future commemorations beyond the centenary, and will remind everyone that peace can never be taken for granted. It is my wish that our great-great-grandchildren will be able to commemorate the bicentenary of the outbreak of the Great War on 28 June 2114, after a century of global peace.”
Below Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy reflects on “In the Centennial Footsteps of the Great War” as it chronicles and explains the historical events and the horrors of the First World War through photos that were taken 100 years later, between 2014 and 2021 in each and every theatre of the war, covering altogether fifty-seven different countries:
Virtual Field Trip - "Our Girls Over There": The Hello Girls of World War I
via the National Museum of the United States Army web site
On March 2, 1918, a U.S. Army Signal Corps unit boarded the Celtic, a transport ship, destined for England and eventually the battlefields of France . The unit, comprised of female telephone operators, would make history as first women to actively support combat operations on a regular basis. In doing so, they paved the way for expanded roles for women both in the U.S. Army and at home.
Telephone communications were vital to the success of U.S. Army operations during World War I. The first troops shipped overseas were members of the U.S. Army Signal Corps to establish telephone lines at the front. These lines required hundreds of operators to connect calls between the front and higher headquarters. The Army turned to French speaking, female, telephone operators to connect calls. Over 200 women served the American Expeditionary Forces in the First, Second, and Third Army Headquarters. The women, nicknamed the “Hello Girls,” worked tirelessly, under at times combat conditions, to connect calls on behalf of the Army.
Explore the commitment, sacrifice and challenges of the Hello Girls during World War I. Learn more about how these female telephone operators were recruited for specific skills and how their contributions were critical to effective U.S. Army wartime communications. Also examine how they fought to achieve appropriate recognition and military benefits after the war. This Virtual Field Trip is supported by the U.S. Army Women’s Museum. The free program has three showings: Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 10 a.m. EST; Wednesday, March 16, 2022, 10 a.m. EDT; and Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 10 a.m. EDT.
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How war became a crime after WWI
By Dylan Matthews
via the Vox.com web site
The Treaty of Versailles, formally ending World War I and establishing a new postwar order, began with a charter for a new organization. Called the Covenant of the League of Nations, the new body was meant to resolve international disputes peaceably — and, crucially, it committed members to “respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League.”
That promise, Article X of the Covenant, was the work of then-US President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson chaired the committee at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference that drafted the covenant, and historian John Milton Cooper, in his book Breaking the Heart of the World: Woodrow Wilson and the Fight for the League of Nations, describes Article X as “Wilson’s singular contribution to the Draft Covenant.”
Wilson’s Article would help doom the League. Opponents of US entry into the League, like Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R-MA), argued that the provision obligated the United States to jump to the defense of any country around the world, entangling it in conflicts it had no part in. Lodge called it “the most important article in the whole treaty,” which would send “the best of our youth” on a foolish “errand” to “guarantee the political independence and territorial integrity of every nation on earth.”
These skeptics eventually won out. The US would never join the League, a fact that contributed heavily to its eventual failure in the runup to World War II. If remembered at all, the League of Nations is usually remembered as an embarrassing failed experiment. But some of the experiment has succeeded.
I’ve been thinking about Article X amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which obviously and fundamentally threatens the territorial integrity and political independence of that country. No international law stopped Russian troops from crossing the border, but in some ways, this is the exception that proves the rule initially laid down in Article X.
Moscow’s actions are so shocking precisely because they violate what is now accepted as a strong norm against territorial conquest by nations. And that norm started with idealistic ventures in the wake of WWI, including Article X and an even more utopian effort: the Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, often called the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in 1928.
Naturalized World War I Soldier Frank Capra
via the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services web site
After the United States entered the First World War, Congress passed the Naturalization Act of May 9, 1918, to expedite naturalization for noncitizen members of the U.S. armed forces. Congress wanted to reward foreign-born service members and encourage immigrant enlistments. Eventually, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, and marines took advantage of this opportunity to become U.S. citizens under this act and subsequent legislation that extended military naturalization benefits to veterans of the war.
Among them was Francesco Capra, a young Sicilian immigrant who had arrived in the U.S. in 1903 at the age of 6. Capra’s family settled in Los Angeles, where he spent his youth before studying chemical engineering at the Throop Polytechnic Institute, the precursor to California Institute of Technology. Capra graduated in 1918, about a year after the U.S. had entered WWI, and he immediately enlisted in the Army. He spent his short career in the U.S. Army stateside, teaching math and ballistics at Fort Scott in San Francisco. After serving just five months, Capra contracted influenza during the global pandemic and received a medical discharge from the army.
Though brief, Capra’s military service qualified him to become a U.S. citizen under military naturalization provisions. Originally unsure of his citizenship status, Capra learned that he was not U.S. citizen when he first attempted to enlist in the military. He immediately filed a Declaration of Intention—commonly called “first papers”—but he did not follow-up on the declaration before he received his discharge. Two years later, on June 4, 1920, Capra filed a military petition for naturalization at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and became a naturalized citizen that same day. Military naturalization laws allowed ex-service members to avoid long waiting periods. At the same time that he naturalized, he officially changed his name to from Francesco to Frank.
Unable to find work in chemical engineering, Capra spent the early 1920s traveling and working temporary jobs. Eventually, he found his way into L.A.’s growing motion picture industry. Rising rapidly in the field by the 1930s, Capra became one of the nation’s preeminent movie directors. During that decade he earned the Academy Award for best director three times and directed classics such as It Happened One Night, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The first canned dog food in America was made from excess WWI horses
By Team Mighty
via the We Are The Mighty web site
When World War I ended and the smoke settled, the United States military was left with an overabundance of men, vehicles, ships, supplies and horses. The demobilization of the effort needed to fight in Europe and elsewhere was chaotic and abrupt.
President Woodrow Wilson quickly set to work getting the U.S. military and the government bureaucracy that managed it back to its prewar size and role. In hindsight, the quick movement was a huge mistake.
During the war, Britain experienced a shortage of horses early on, which led to the U.S. sending 1.1 million horses overseas. By the end of the war, the U.S. forces had some 60,000 horses at its disposal. Back home, horses were plentiful, but no longer in demand.
Four million soldiers and sailors were suddenly discharged from the military, and were subsequently unemployed. Those who were working found themselves in the middle of labor strikes amid an economic crisis. Critical industries were not as productive as they were during wartime and farm prices dropped.
This included the meatpacking industry, which also saw production shortfalls. The prices of meat rose sharply as Americans abandoned some of their wartime practices, which included swapping out beef for horse meat so the beef could be sent to the front lines.
Horse meat gained a reputation for being inferior, even the cause of illness, and fell out of favor, leading to surplus of horses in the United States.
But one dealer in range-bred horses found a solution to the overabundance of horses: commercially available canned food for dogs in the form of the Ken-L-Ration brand.
Ken-L-Ration, get it? Because soldiers eat rations. It’s a colorful play on words at a time when most Americans were familiar with many aspects of military life. As for the horses, the animal was still as beloved as they are today, but Americans had been raising horses as food animals for years, even before World War II.
They also made the same dietary changes during World War I and the interwar years. It was never as popular as other meat animals, but Americans did what they had to support the country’s war efforts.