Episode #26, June 28, 2017 | What’s a Chautauqua!!? Harley Davidson in WW1, The Red Cross we know today, Aviator Lewis Bennet, many events in France - and more…
Help: 4th of july donation appeal video | @00:00
Feature: The Red Cross we know today | @01:45
Guest: Mike Shuster - The anti-war resistance “over there” | @11:00
War In The Sky: Louis Bennet | @15:30
Guests: Richard Rubin & Jonathan Bratten - General Robert Nivelle | @19:00
Feature: Keith Colley’s Mobile WW1 Museum | @26:15
Guest: Jerry Meyer bringing back Chautauqua | @27 :45
International: Many events in France last week | @33:00
And much more…
Before we get going today, I wanted to let you know about this special 4th of July thing we are doing - and that you can help with.
As you know, we are totally donation supported, and so for the fourth of July, we got some friends to help us with a donation appeal video. Ambassador and former Senator Carol Mosely Braun, Secretary Leon Panneta, Google’s Vint Cert and General Barry McCaffrey are all in this 20 second video which we posted on our Facebook page.
And here is how you can help us. We’re on Facebook at ww1centennial - so go to Facebook.com/ww1Centennial - the video is the first post - and share the video with your friends and let them know we need their help to build America’s WW1 Memorial in Washington, DC.
So far the video has shared over 130 times - and each time it is shared we get a few more new donations. So if YOU can - please make a small gift to our WW1 Doughboys and even if you can’t - please share the video on your social media. It’s really about our remembering the war that changed the world.
WW1 THEN - News From 100 Years Ago
Looking back at WW1 100 years ago this week - we are going to follow just ONE of the many amazing stories
This week we are following the story of the RED CROSS.
The American Red Cross or ARC was Founded by Clara Barton in May of 1881, earning a historic role for serving people in need.
When Europe was thrown into conflict in June 1914, the American Red Cross was a small organization still in the process of developing its identity and programs.
In large part the American Red Cross we know today was forged by the “War The Changed the World” when the organization suddenly found itself deeply embroiled in the incredible upheaval, growth and expansion that was America’s war effort.
The transformation began as we declared war in April of 2017. At that crucial time, and as with so many other things, Red Cross headquarters was reeling under the sudden projected demands on it - so in May of 2017, President Wilson appointed Henry P. Davidson - A successful New York banker to head a “War Council”, which was to direct the Red Cross.
YUP - It looks pretty much like a US war effort takeover.
So by the end of June - 100 years ago this week - Having just knocked it out of the park with the Liberty Bonds drive - the US government turned its sights on successfully wrapping up $100 Million fund drive from private donations on behalf of the Red Cross.
Think about it - that is over $2 billion in 2017 being raised for a private organization with the direct support of the US federal government.
Here is what it looked like 100 years ago this week in the pages of the Official Bulletin - the Government War Gazette headed by George Creel - America’s propaganda chief for President Woodrow Wilson.
Dateline: June 25th, 1917
Headline: BELIEVE THE $100,000,000 RED CROSS FUND WILL BE RAISED
A thousand American cities were striving today to boost the big Red Cross war fund to an even $100,000,000.
With returns well over the three-quarters mark this afternoon, the War Council officers were confident that by the close of the day the Red Cross war fund would be In hand.”
On the same day...
Headline: "WAR IS BUT BEGINNING," LORD NORTHCLIFFE
SAYS, IN OUTLINING TASK OF THE RED CROSS
The story reads:
“Lord Northcliffe, of the British war mission, who has been at the front and has seen at close quarters the actual part that the British Red Cross is playing in the gigantic world struggle, has given out the following statement relative to the work that the American Red Cross has before It :
" If, as one of the leaders of the British Red Cross, I have a message of any kind to the American Red Cross, it Is one of congratulation on the devotion and enthusiasm for Red Cross work I find sweeping this vast continent. "
He goes on to state: “The Red Cross must take up the burden of seeing us through and alleviating the horrors a ruthless foe has added to the usual sufferings of war.
Adding: " One of the most Important of the new developments is the search for the missing and wounded.”
The next day the drumbeat continues:
Dateline: Tuesday June 26, 1917
Headline: 100,000,000 DOLLAR Red Cross War Fund is Oversubscribed
The story reads:
The Red Cross to-day issued the following statement:
The Red Cross war fund of $100,000,000 has been raised. The even sum was passed some time during the night. Today's returns continued to boost the sum by the millions. Before noon the grand total was $104,000,000, with a prospect that $105,000,000 would be marked up on the big headquarters blackboard before night.
One day later on Wednesday…
Dateline: Wednesday June 27th, 1917
Headline: MILLIONS STILL BEING ADDED TO THE RED CROSS WAR FUND
The Red Cross to-day issued the following statement:
How much over $100,000,000 the war fund of the American Red Cross will go is purely a matter of conjecture. Taking into consideration all overlapping of subscriptions that may occur, the fund should be at least fifteen or twenty million dollars over the goal by July 1.
The campaign officially terminated on
Monday night, but hundreds of cities throughout the country have volunteered to go right on with collecting funds for the Red Cross.
And on the same day
Dateline: Wednesday June 27th, 1917
Headline: RED CROSS WAR COUNCIL ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR DEALING WITH PROBLEMS OF SANITATION
The Red Cross to-day issued the following statement:
Broad plans for dealing with the problems of sanitation and public health arising out of war conditions abroad and in the United States were announced to-day by the War Council of the American Red
To provide expert advice for the council in dealing with these problems, the war council also announced the appointment of a medical advisory committee, composed of leading sanitarians and public health authorities of the country.
And then on Thursday - the US State Department oversteps its bounds and the Red Cross pushed back - politely.
Dateline:Thursday June 28th, 1917
Headline: RED CROSS SEEKS CHANGE IN BASE HOSPITAL RULING
On June 20 the American Red Cross’ director general of the department of military relief, forwarded to the directors of all Red Cross base hospitals a copy of a letter received from the State Department - to the effect that - hospital units intended for service abroad should not Include persons of German, Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian, or Turkish
nationality or birth, or American citizens whose fathers were born in Germany, Austro-Hungary, or allied countries.”
The Red Cross goes on to explain that this type of policy may work in a country with very few people of foreign birth but in America, an immigrant nation Quote: “such unfair discrimination against some of our most patriotic and respected citizens is inappropriate”.
Then on Friday the most interesting and intriguing Red Cross article of all:
Dateline: Friday June 29th, 1917
Headline: MILITARY TITLES, RANK, AND UNIFORM WILL BE USED BY RED CROSS AGENTS IN WAR THEATER
The Story reads:
War Department Will Commission Representatives of the Organization to Facilitate Their Work in Service of Humanity—Appropriate
Insignias to Be Provided.
What a great topper for a week of stories about the Red Cross!
Let me summarize:
First The US government creates a War Council - appoints their man - Henry P. Davidson - and effectively puts him in charge of the Red Cross through this war council.
Then the US government puts its imprint, endorsement and propaganda machine on a major multi-billion dollar (in today’s terms) fund raising campaign to fund a private humanitarian organization - generally managed by it.
The UK government equivalent of our Henry P. Davidson makes a major support speech on the behalf of the Red Cross.
The next day the official fund drive is ended but hundreds of local communities and cities just keep right on raising way more money than the original goal.
The next day, the Red Cross starts making announcements about what they are going to DO for America and how they plan on doing it.
On the same day - they push back on a US State Department ruling that basically bans all Red Cross volunteers of German, Austro-hungarian, Turkish or bulgarian descent.
“Hey - These are loyal second generation Americans - what are thinking?” they reply in very polite terms.
All this is capped off at the end of the week with an article that explains that military titles, ranks, and US uniforms will be used by the Red Cross in the war theater.
The role and relationship of the Red Cross and the US government, and the interplay between the two at this dynamic time in history is a story I personally find amazing and yet another great example of the echoes we see today from the War that changed the world!
Great War Project
Now we are joined by Mike shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog. Mike’s post this week looks at the war dissidents in Europe including a great insight into WW1 literary figure Siegfried Sassoon. Welcome Mike.
“ANTI-WAR RESISTANCE IN THE EAST AND THE WEST”
The Great War Channel
And if you are into learning more about WW1 by watching videos, go visit our friends at the Great War Channel on Youtube - ww1 100 years ago this week from a more european perspective.
[run clip from Indy]
This week’s new episodes cover a variety of subjects including:
-Hero or burden? - King Constantine of Greece
-Greek rifles and pistols of WW1
-The Disillusionment of Lawrence of Arabia
-Spain and the Spanish arms industry in WW1
The link is in the podcast notes or search for “the great war” on youtube.
War in the Sky:
This week in our great war in the sky segment - we are going to tell you the story of Louis Bennet from West Virginia. The story comes from a letter received by his mother, Sallie Bennet - four years after Louis’ death in the skies over the western front -- a letter written by a German officer named Emil Merkelbach who fought against Louis at that fateful last battle that ended his life.
Louis Bennett, was a Yale educated young man with big ambitions for his role in the war. He organized the West Virginia Flying Corps in early 1917 with the idea of training pilots to join the U.S. Army as part of a proposed West Virginia aerial unit.
But the War Department rejected this idea and required that Louis go through the standard Army training program-- something he was not at all interested in.
So he joined the British Royal Air Force, the best way he saw to get to the action as quick as possible.
Louis only served for ten days before being shot down, but in those ten days he fearlessly downed three enemy planes and nine balloons. This earned him the distinction of being designated a flying ACE, becoming West Virginia’s only World War I ACE.
Here is Merkelbach’s account of Louis Bennet’s final battle from the letter he sent to Louis’ mother Sallie - Although it’s a bit long, we are including the entire passage.
“I HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO ADMIRE THE KEENNESS AND BRAVERY OF YOUR SON; FOR THIS REASON I SHOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOU THE FOLLOWING SHORT DESCRIPTION HIS FINAL BATTLE. . . .
I HAD BEEN UP IN MY BALLOON FOR SEVERAL HOURS OBSERVING, AND WAS AT A HEIGHT OF 1000 METERS.
OVER THE ENEMY’S FRONT CIRCLED CONTINUOUSLY TWO HOSTILE AIRPLANES. . . .
I IMMEDIATELY GAVE THE COMMAND TO MY MEN BELOW TO HAUL IN MY BALLOON AS I SAW [ANOTHER] GERMAN BALLOON . . . PLUNGE TO EARTH BURNING.
AT THE SAME MOMENT I SAW THE HOSTILE FLYER - YOUR SON LOUIS - COME TOWARD MY BALLOON AT TERRIFIC SPEED, AND IMMEDIATELY THE DEFENSIVE FIRE OF MY HEAVY MACHINE RIFLES BELOW AND OF THE ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BEGAN; BUT THE HOSTILE AVIATOR DID NOT CONCERN HIMSELF ABOUT THAT. . . .
[HE] OPENED FIRE ON ME. . . . THE HOSTILE MACHINE WAS SHOT INTO FLAMES BY THE FIRE OF MY MACHINE GUNS.
THE ENEMY AVIATOR - YOUR SON - TRIED TO SPRING FROM THE AEROPLANE BEFORE THE LATTER PLUNGED TO THE GROUND AND BURNED COMPLETELY.
A BOLD AND BRAVE OFFICER HAD MET HIS DEATH.
I HOPE THAT THE FOREGOING LINES, A MEMORIAL TO YOUR SON, WILL BE RECEIVED BY YOU LIVING—
HE WAS MY BRAVEST ENEMY.
HONOR TO HIS MEMORY.
WITH RESPECT, EMIL MERKELBACH”
Louis Bennett Jr.’s courage and skill clearly inspired those around him: From the enemy German army that buried him with full military honors, to his mother who went on to memorialize him across multiple countries, and finally to Emil Merkelbach, who was inspired to write a respectful letter four years after they had fought in the great War In The Sky 100 years ago.
This story of Sallie Maxwell Bennett and her son Louis comes from Appalachian Magazine. The link is in the podcast notes.
The Storyteller and the Historian with Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten
We are going to close out “WW1 - 100 years ago this week” with the Storyteller and the Historian - Richard Rubin and Jonathan Braten
We and the Great War Channel on youtube covered this quite a bit over the past month - so here is a great overview wrap up of French General Robert Nivell’s disastrous June campaign by the Storyteller and the Historian!
That was - the StoryTeller - Richard Rubin and The Historian - Jonathan Bratten talking about Robert Nivelle. Be on the lookout for their monthly podcast which will feature a full one hour journey with these two great raconteurs.
World War One NOW
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:
Mobile WW1 Museum
Keith Colley’s Mobile WW1 Museum has a number of upcoming events this summer, including visits to New Orleans, Dover Delaware and Dallas.
The Mobile Museum is a travelling collection of authentic artifacts from World War 1. The museum started out as a special event for Seniors at retirement Villages, and Assisted Living facilities.
But since then, the word has gotten out, and Colley’s Mobile WW1 Museum gets booked nationwide not only in Senior venues, but Colleges, Schools, Special Guests of Museums, National Parks, Air Shows and other commemorative events.
You can read more about Keith Colley’s Mobile WW1 Museum by following the links in the podcast notes, and reach out to Keith, who runs the Museum, if you’d be interested in hosting it!
Check out U.S. National WW1 Centennial Events Register at WW1CC.org/events all lower case - for things happening in your area.. And if YOU have an event you’d like to include in the register - Look for the big red button and submit your own upcoming events - It’s not only a great way to letting the WW1 commemoration community know about it, but it also registers your event as a part of the national archival record of the WW1 centennial commemoration - You can also follow the links in the podcast notes.
Did you ever hear of Chautauqua - The word "chautauqua" is Iroquois and means "two moccasins tied together" - At the turn of the previous century the term was aptly used to signify a unique American “gathering” that brought entertainment and culture into far flung regional communities, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day.
Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is "the most American thing in America."
Today - most of us know nothing about this American tradition - except our
next guest - who is bringing Chautauqua back to Nebraska - with a WW1 theme!
Here to tell us about it is "Jerry" Meyer, Historian at the Nebraska National Guard Museum. Jerry, welcome to WW1 Centennial News.
[Jerry: Chautauqua is sort of like the circus coming to town - without the critters and the siamese twins - can you tells us about the history of it?]
[Jerry - tell us about how your bringing this idea back in Nebraska with a WW1 theme...]
Thank you! That was Gerald D. Meyer, Historian at the Nebraska National Guard Museum reviving an old American community tradition - There are links in the podcast notes about the events in Nebraska.
Updates From The States
From our Centennial partners in Ohio --
Camp Sherman lies nestled on the banks of US-23 just north of the city of Chillicothe. It was one of the many army training camps built in 1917 as we prepared to go “over there” and it was in fact, the largest WWI training camp in the nation.
Camp Sherman is now a National Guard training facility, and it will be part of a nine-day commemoration in honor of its centennial--- and of the contributions made by all those who served in the Great War.
The commemoration will last from July 1st to the 9th and includes guided tours of the military complex -- where the original firing range once stood… There will be re-enactments, fireworks, live firing demonstrations, and a historical film screening.
Learn more by following the links in the podcast notes.
Celebration of Music all across France
In our International Report this week, we cross the Atlantic on the Queen Mary II to France commemorate the arrival of US troops.
There have been many commemoration events across France - this past week, including, yes, the Queen Mary II sailing from St. Nazaire to New York City.
Sailing alongside the Queen are four sailing crews manning the best multi-hull yachts in the world. The Queen Mary II was built solely for luxury - yet, at last report she is currently in the lead, dominating the powerful trimarans built for speed.
This historic race was organized by the Mission du Centenaire, the French commission for the WW1 centennial, with support from the French Foreign Ministry. As a celebration of Franco-American friendship over the century, all of these ships are headed straight for the foot of the Statue of Liberty in New York City -- a fitting testament of the two nations’ alliance.
Meanwhile in Brest, France -- members of the French military, including the French Navy Band, participated in an international military ceremony.
Robert Dalessandro, the Chair of the US World War One Centennial Commission, and acting secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission - the ABMC, was on hand, to represent those organizations for these special moments.
Brest, as we’ve noted in previous episodes, is where the famous Harlem Hellfighters first arrived in Europe. They left an impression on the city, most notably a legacy of Jazz excellence because of 369th incredible regimental band.
Fittingly, a large music festival has been organized across France to celebrate musicians who fought in the war -- or created works in response to the war.
Events are being held in Brest, Saint Nazaire, Issoudun [EE-SU-DUN], Nice and Chemins Des Dames, each with their own local focus
and many incorporating remembrance of the American presence there 100 years ago.
We put several links in the podcast notes about these varied events.
Harley Davidson is one of the MOST iconic American brands of all time. Like a number of other companies - WW1 was a powerful shaping force for the company as these iron horses.
Anoop Prakash, a Marine Corps veteran and director of U.S. marketing for Harley Davidson says “General John ‘Black Jack’ Pershing was convinced that using new technology like motorcycles would provide great agility and ease of use and durability in wartime. So we have had a long history since that time in serving the military… It’s been a continuous link in our history.”
Today there are veteran founded motorcycle clubs and rides all over the country.
Read more about the WW1 connection to Harley Davidson by following the link in the podcast notes.
Articles and Posts
Remembering muted voices: WWI conscientious objectors
It is time for our Articles and Posts segment - where we explore the World War One Centennial Commission’s rapidly growing website at ww1cc.org -
This week in the news section you will find an article exploring the role of the conscientious objector during the conflict. Quakers, Mennonites, Hutterites, Bruderhof, Peace History Society scholars, and others have planned a symposium to covering the stories of the American Conscientious Objectors who resisted and dissented out of conscience in WWI. The conference will take place in October 2017 at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, MO. Read the whole story by visiting ww1cc.org/news or following the links in the podcast notes
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?
discussions in FB
An Overview of the AEF
A facebook page we like provides an excellent in depth review of the AEF
A Soldier’s Shell Shock
PBS: American Experience shares a great video about Shell Shock in WW1
Thank you Katherine.
That’s all for WW1 Centennial News for this week. Thank you for listening!
We want to thank our guests:
Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog and his post about the anti-war resistance movements.
Richard Rubin and Jonathan Bratten and their StoryTeller and the Historian wrapup segment on Robert Nivelle
"Jerry" Meyer, Historian at the Nebraska National Guard Museum and his Chautauqua events.
Katherine Akey the Commission’s social media director and also the line producer for the show.
And I am Theo Mayer - your host.
On this 4th of July weekend we want to send a thank you to everyone who has ever served - IN ANY CAPACITY - to create, maintain, protect and sustain this dynamic and quite remarkable country of ours.
And as you celebrate the birth of our nation - we ask you to take - just a moment - between the burger and the beer - between the big game and the picnic - just stop for a minute.
Yea… I’m asking you to give it a WHOLE MINUTE - and just reflect on how much of your world around you today was forged 100 years ago - It’s not the forgotten war - It’s war that changed YOUR world!!
And I want to thank commission’s founding sponsor the Pritzker Military Museum and Library for their support. They have been the foundation for our organization, conversation, education and commemoration of this centennial. Thanks Colonel…
The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn
on iTunes, google play, and tuneIn - search for ww1 Centennial News.
Our twitter and instagram handles are both @ww1cc and we are on facebook @ww1centennial.
Thanks for joining us again this week.