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California WW1 Task Force - About Us

The Board

We are the California World War One Centennial Task Force authorized by the United States World War One Centennial Commission (created by an Act of Congress in 2013,) recognized by resolution by the California Office of Historical Preservation State Board Of Commissioners, approved by the California Commission on Veterans Affairs, and recognized by both houses of the California legislature through ARC114.

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Bill Betten
Sal Compagno
Col. Andre N. Coulombe
Hugh E. Crooks, Jr.
Mike Hanlon
Brigadier General R.G. Head, PhD
Courtland Jindra
Prof. Jennifer Keene, PhD
Dennis Matarrese
Major General Michael J. Myatt
Stephen M. Payne, PhD
Anthony Powell
Lester Probst
Prof. Jonathan Roth, PhD
Colonel Fredrick Stuart Rutledge CA ARNG (Ret.)

● Parting Thoughts At the End of the Centennial - The Forgotten War



320 pixel cal task force logo pngThe California WW1 Centennial Task Force insignia is steeped in history and symbolism. Since California is the only state in the union with its own distinctive shape for its state highways, the spade of the gold miner of 1849, It seems logical that this easily recognizable symbol be prominent in the design. Though the large white numeral 1 refers to the United State’s most western road, the historic and iconic Coast Hwy 1, in our logo, it also acknowledges the First World War. Key to our patriotic spirit is the wave of red, white, and blue with stars taken from theoriginal small multi flowered logoSome felt an original design with multi-flowered supporting attendants was too cluttered. A more simplified arrangement was approved with a few tweaks made to the shield as well. national centennial logo. The Doughboy silhouette acknowledges his service and sacrifice and also unites us with the national commission. His position, to his left of the number one, recognizes the geographic position of our state within the boundary of the contiguous states. The state flower, the Golden Poppy, with the red poppy of Flanders were obvious requirements due to their prior importance to the Great War and to California. Entwined with the barbed wire of the frontlines of battle, these supporter attendants remind us of the dreadful price paid, and the courage of our honored Californians who gave up so much.




The centennial of WW1 in California has had a challenging start. From the beginning of commemorations world-wide in 2014 a handful of Californians attempted to bring the centennial to the attention their state capital with limited response, and repeated delays.

When it appeared that Sacramento was not going to act in time, several volunteers formed the California WW1 Centennial Advisory Council in an effort to call attention to the growing interest in the centennial in the state.

American Legion posts, and VFW groups, were approached, and information and recruitment booths were set up at military history shows to encourage individuals to join the growing list of supporters. Curators, librarians, college professors, authors, and historians were enlisted. Numbers of these were already presenting or speaking about the war on behalf of their campus, or institution, or about the book they had written.

In the meantime, the promise of obtaining a proclamation hit a political bump, and the bureaucratic office that had taken some interest in presenting the formal request suddenly declined to proceed.

This was a hard time for our volunteers. A lot of work had been put in over the years. Once the California WW1 Centennial Advisory Council list of supporters reached into the hundreds, the national commission in Washington advised that the group move forward on their own, and proceed in commemorating the centennial, and the California WW1 Centennial Task Force was formed.

After several years of informally seeking a state government proclamation, in 2016, the California World War One Advisory Council was organized with the purpose of gathering support for the formation of a state commission or task force. In December, of that same year the United States WW1 Centennial Commission recognized leading members of the Advisory Council and asked them to act and form the statewide California WW1 Centennial Task Force.

In May of 2017, the California Office of Historical Preservation did recommend to the State Board Of Commissioners that the California WW1 Centennial Task Force receive recognition. On May 10th of 2017, the California WW1 Centennial Task Force was recognized by resolution by the California State Historical Resources Commission. This resolution recognized the California WW1 Centennial Task Force and "its efforts to coordinate the commemoration" in California..

The following August the California State Committee on Veterans Affairs also recognized the Task Force in its chambers and voted to support ARC 114, a bill the committee recommended to be placed before the California legislature stating California's support of the mission of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force to honor, commemorate, and educate.

On August 28, 2017, the California Assembly unanimously voted to approve ARC 114. From there it went to the floor of the Senate where it also passed unanimously on September 7th, of 2017.

At this time, the Task Force is made up solely of volunteers. Since our state is so long, and it is difficult for one group to work effectively, volunteers were selected to serve on two committees, a Northern California Committee, and Southern California Committee.

At our outset, the Northern Committee included Dr. Jonathan Roth, Professor of History at San Jose State University; and Sal Compagno, President of the WW1 Historical Association; while the Southern Committee included Bill Betten, author; Jeff sharp, founder of the Marching Through History Expos, and Courtland Jindra consultant and advocate for Southern California WW1 Memorials. Before long, the Managing Board grew to include businessmen, representatives of the American Legion, the Society of 40&8, and additional authors, educators, historians, and military officials.


California WW1 Centennial Task Force Managing Board 

 (Co-Directors listed alphabetically)

Bill Betten

codirector bill betten cww1ctfBill Betten is an award-winning teacher, retired after more than three decades instructing at all grade levels. For more than a decade he was also the director of numerous prize-winning California youth bands. After having had his work with youth recognized and applauded by such organizations as the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Boy Scouts of America, Bill turned his attention to commemorating, and honoring those who served in the Great War by founding the California WW1 Advisory Council (, which later developed into the California WW1 Centennial Task Force.
He has three degrees from California colleges including a Bachelors of Arts in Communications from CSULA, and a Masters of Arts in Education from Claremont Graduate University.
He is a National Archives Identified Researcher, a member of the WW1 Historical Association, and a proud member of the American Legion Squadron 43 in Hollywood, California, as well as a national member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary through the exemplary service of his father in Korea, and his grandfather in France during World War 1.
Bill has been published in trade journals and periodicals, and has just completed the first books of a series of historical novels called Doughboys, based upon the true stories of his grandfather and other unknown heroes of WW1. (See He is a member of the Palm Springs Writers Guild, the California Writers Club-I.E., the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, the California Reading Association, the Music Educators National Conference, the California Music Educators Association, the California Alliance for Jazz, and the California Band Directors Association. Bill continues to teach as a lecturer and substitute teacher. Visit for more information on Bill and his work.


Sal Compagno

sal compagnoSalvatore J. Compagno, President of the World War 1 Historical Association (,) was born in Monterey, California. He is a UC Berkeley graduate with a Masters of Arts and has been a school psychologist for 35 years.  Sal currently lives in Berkeley and is coordinator of the monthly meetings of the World War 1 San Francisco Bay Area group. Widely traveled, he makes frequent trips to the Western Front. He is often chosen to speak at public schools, colleges, and many organizations on WW1.


Col. Andre N. Coulombe

col andré n coulombe (ret)Andre N. Coulombe was born in New York, NY on 7 October 1953. His family moved to Hollywood California in September 1965. He attended Catholic Schools for grade school and graduated from Bishop Alemany High School Mission Hills in 1972.  Coulombe was a Boy Scout 1967-71 attaining the rank of Eagle and again 1973-75 where he served as Assistant Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster. He earned his Ad Altare Dei in 1970.

Coulombe graduated from California State University at Northridge in 1978 with a Bachelors of Art in Political Science and a commission in the US Army Reserve. After a short tour of active duty he was employed for nine years by the Knights Of Columbus as an Insurance Agent in the San Fernando Valley. His interests in financial matters directed him to attain his Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in 1989. With three partners he founded his own Financial Planning Company Phoenix Group.

Married since 1980 to the former Joann Marie Carpenter they have ten children. Since 2001 he has been the Senior partner in Coulombe And Sons an Accounting and Financial Management firm based in Woodland Hills and Canoga Park. Three of his sons have joined him in the family firm. He retired from the Army Reserve as a Colonel after twenty two years reserve and eight active duty years including service during the Global War on Terrorism. His service was primarily in Special Operations and Military Intelligence.

He has served in numerous Special Operations assignments at the Specified, Joint and Combined levels. From an ODA Executive Officer to the Deputy G3 at the US Army Special Operations Command FT Bragg. He was awarded the Legion of Merit, Join Commendation and Achievement Medals as well as other decorations. He holds both Canadian and Korean Parachute badge and the Special Forces Tab.

Besides his Bachelor’s degree he holds a Masters Of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College, a Master Of Science in Personal Financial Planning and is a candidate for a Masters in Finance  from the College Of Financial Planning in Denver CO. He holds numerous awards and decorations from the US Army up to and including the Legion Of Merit. He is a Third Degree Knight Of Columbus.

Coulombe’s interests include military history, camping, shooting and hiking. He has a professional interest in Catholic Social teachings in the areas of finance and economics.


Hugh E. Crooks, Jr.

hugh e crooksHugh E. Crooks Jr. of Los Angeles is the State Centennial Officer for the American Legion’s Department of California. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was state commander of the American Legion from 2011 to 2012, a position requiring Senate confirmation. In 2014 Governor Brown appointed Crooks to the California Veterans Board.

Crooks served as a rifleman in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1969, and then as a booking clerk at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from 1969 to 1971. He worked at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum from 1994 to 2000, and held multiple positions there from 1971 to 2000, including Operations Manager and Safety Police Chief. He was an operations manager at the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Human Resource Division from 2000 to 2005.


Mike Hanlon

 Michael HanlonMichael Hanlon, is a native of San Francisco, where he attended school before enlisting in the Air Force. A long and winding road later brought him to Pennsylvania State University, located in a place known as "Happy Valley," from which he left with Bachelors and Masters degrees. After serving principally as a weather and operations officer at Offutt Air Force Base supporting the Strategic Air Command, he began a civilian career as a project planning, financing and management consultant specializing in the restabilization of troubled projects of corporations, hospitals and government agencies.

In the 1980s Mike self-initiated a parallel career path in military history, specializing in the First World War, which has continued through today. He has written and spoken in public extensively on the period, appearing on History Channel programs. For over a decade he has produced a whole series of printed and online publications about the Great War accessible at He also leads regular tours of the war's battlefields including the Western Front, Italy, and Gallipoli.

Mike now lives in the rolling hills of El Sobrante, CA, near to where the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays meet.


Brigadier General R.G. Head, PhD

 RG Head, Brig. Gen. (Ret.)RG Head began flying when he was 15 and writing about aviation since high school. He entered the US Air Force Academy with the second class and graduated in 1960. He finished first in his pilot training class and was awarded the Commander’s Trophy. In 1962 he won the Top Gun award at Advanced Gunnery Training, flying F-100s. He flew F-100s in Florida, Japan, Korea and Turkey. Volunteering for Vietnam he flew the A-1 Skyraider on 325 combat missions over North and South Vietnam, winning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters.

After duty as an Instructor Pilot in the F-4 Phantom II, he earned a Master’s and PhD in Political Science and taught at the Air Force Academy for three years. Returning to flying, he became the Squadron Commander of the 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which descended from the 90th Aero Squadron, in World War I.

General Head was a distinguished graduate of the National War College and a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City. In 1978 he was the Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Special Assistant to the Director, Joint Staff, where he managed the agenda for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). Selected for Brigadier General in 1983 he served as the Deputy Commander, Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, Vicenza, Italy. He retired in 1987 with 27 years of service and 3,000 hours flying time.

The following 20 years was as an engineer and Vice President of SRS Technologies where he won two $100 million contracts for environmental planning for the U.S Navy.

In retired life, he builds doll houses and large-scale model aircraft. His five-foot Fokker Dr. I hangs in the Coronado Library, and his six-foot Albatros D. II is in the San Diego Air & Space Museum. He was selected as Coronado’s Man of the Year for 2014. He publishes articles for aviation magazines and HAS a new book, Oswald Boelcke: Germany’s First Fighter Ace and Father of Air Combat.


Courtland Jindra

Courtland JindraAn early campaigner in California for the centennial of WW1, Courtland Jindra is an amateur historian and volunteer since 2014 for the United States World War I Centennial Commission.  His "Great War" interest is largely focused on America's contribution to and remembrance of it.  Delving into Los Angeles Times' archives, Jindra has located numerous memorials to the war in Southern California. He is a passionate advocate for highlighting their importance, and through them the war effort writ large.



Prof. Jennifer Keene, PhD

dr jennifer keeneJennifer D. Keene is a Professor and Chair of the Department of History, Chapman University and is a specialist in American military experience during World War I. She is currently President of the Society of Military History. She has published three books on the American involvement in the First World War: Doughboys, the Great War and the Remaking of America (2001), World War I: The American Soldier Experience (2011), and The United States and the First World War (2000). She is also the lead author for an American history textbook, Visions of America: A History of the United States that uses a visual approach to teaching students U.S. history. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, including Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards to France and Australia and Mellon Library of Congress Fellowship in International Studies. She served as an associate editor for the Encyclopedia of War and American Society (2005) which won the Society of Military History's prize for best military history reference book. She co-edited, along with Michael Neiberg of Finding Common Ground: New Directions in First World War Studies (2011). In 2011 she won the Jack Miller Center Prize for the best military or diplomatic history essay published in Historically Speaking. She has published numerous essays and journal articles on the war, served as an historical consultant for exhibits and films, and as an associate editor of the Journal of First World War Studies. She is currently working on several projects related to the upcoming centennial of World War I, including a book on African American soldiers and a new synthesis of the American experience during the war under contract with Oxford University Press. She is also a general editor for the “1914-1918-online,” peer-reviewed online encyclopedia,, a major digital humanities project.


Dennis Matarrese

dennis matarreseDennis Matarrese, a member of The American Legion for over two decades, and a member of La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux ( The Society of 40 men and 8 horses) for almost as long, is dedicated to help share the story of the WWI 40 and 8 boxcar of France and those American soldiers that rode in them during the fighting of WW1 and WW2. He currently holds a national position with 40 and 8 as Sous National Directeur Box Car.

Established just after WW1 in 1920, the 40 and 8 was organized originally as the Honor Society of The American Legion, and adopted, as their symbol the little WWI French box car so familiar to American troops of World War I, and called themselves Voyageurs Militaire (military travelers.)

In response to the Friendship Train of 1947, which collected foodstuffs from America for post-war France and Italy, the 1949 the Merci Train, (aka the French Gratitude Train,) allowed each state to receive a boxcar filled with "gifts of gratitude.” The Forty and Eight WWI French boxcar sent to California is on display in Fresno. Dennis is one of the 40 and 8 Voyageurs who take responsibility for maintaining the boxcar in Fresno.


Major General Michael J. Myatt

 ww1 maj gen myatt usmc san francisco commemorationMajor General James M. “Mike” Myatt joined the Marine Corps after earning a B.S. degree in Physics from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He served 31 months in Vietnam during two combat tours. Between Vietnam tours, he earned a M.S. Degree in Engineering Electronics at the Naval Post Graduate School. He commanded the 1st Marine Division during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. His Division defeated seven Iraqi Army divisions in zone, seized Kuwait International Airport and liberated Kuwait City. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1995 and joined Bechtel Corporation. While working for Bechtel, he managed the $22 billion construction project to build the Korean High Speed Rail from Seoul to Pusan. In September 2001, General Myatt became the President and CEO of the Marines Memorial Association. He serves on the Board of the Semper Fi Fund. He is President of the San Francisco War Memorial Board of Trustees, and, since 2010, at the request of the Mayor, he has led an organization to plan and execute San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week. He also serves on the Board of Director of NCIRE - The Veterans Health Research Institute.

Stephen M. Payne, PhD

 Stephen M. Payne, Ph.D.

Dr. Stephen M. Payne is a graduate of Cabrillo College (A.A. Liberal Studies, 1970), UC Santa Cruz (B.A. Honors in Anthropology, 1972), San Jose State University (M.A. History, 1977), and UC Santa Barbara (PhD The Graduate Program in Public Historical Studies, 1987). Payne’s publications include books and articles on imperialism and military history, as well as on the history of Santa Clara County, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the sardine industry in Monterey, California. Prior to attending college, Payne served in the 30th Naval Construction Regiment, 3rd Naval Construction Brigade (Seabees) as a Builder Light 3rd Class Petty Officer in Da Nang, Vietnam (1967-1968) managing a warehouse and carpenters shop.

Before coming to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), Payne was the owner-broker of a real estate firm (1978-1993) and taught history at San Jose State University (1983-1990). Between 1994 and 1999 and again from 2006 to the present, he has served as the DLIFLC Command Historian. From 2000 and 2005, he served as Assistant Provost, Associate Provost, and Interim Provost. He also served as the DLIFLC Accreditation Liaison to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (1996–2006 and 2016-present). During that time, he wrote the DLIFLC Academic Freedom Statement and led the successful Associate of Arts degree granting effort for DLIFLC. Payne also served on six accreditation evaluation teams for the ACCJC. He directed two accreditation self-studies for DLIFLC and is currently directing his third.

Anthony Powell

Anthony Powell is a popular historian & collector of African-American Militaria holding what is likely the worlds largest private collection of WW1 African-American items. His collection has been displayed at the Schomburg Center.

Lester Probst

Lester ProbstA loyal member of historic American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, California, Lester Probst served in the infantry at the Korean DMZ in the mid 1950’s. Under the GI Bill he studied to be a computer designer, and in 1962 he invented the bowling score computer. In 1969, he formed a public company designed to computer process freight bills, and in 1974 founded a specialized software company. Presently he is a volunteer at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and is Treasurer for the El Pueblo Park Association. He is a member of Las Angelitas del Pueblo through which he helps conduct tours on historic Olvera Street.


Prof. Jonathan Roth, PhD

dr jonathan rothDr. Jonathan Philip Roth, Ph.D., is a Professor of History Department, San Jose State University, where he teaches ancient, world and military history, and is director of the Department's Burdick Military History Project.  A native Californian, he graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, attended Georg-August University in Goettingen, Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in New  York.  He is the author of two books, Roman Warfare (Cambridge, 2009) and Logistics of the Roman Army at War (Brill, 1999) and the Teaching Company series War in World History, as well as dozens of articles and chapters on military and other subjects.  Dr. Roth has participated in many academic talks and panels throughout the world notably Washington, D.C., Italy, Switzerland, and France. He has been a Keynote speaker, and has also spoken specifically on the topics of "Race and Ethnicity in World War One," and "Ancient History's Impact on World War One," at World War One Historical Association seminars.  Dr. Roth has chaired the SJSU Veterans Advisory Committee, and acts as Faculty Advisor for Military Science Spartans, and co-Advisor for the Veteran Students Organization, and Veterans/Military Student Staff Training.  From 1983 to 1989, he served both as an enlisted man, and after graduation from the Empire State Military Academy, as an officer in the New York Army National Guards 69th Infantry Regiment.  He is a third-generation infantryman.

Colonel Fredrick Stuart Rutledge CA ARNG (Ret.)

colonel ca frederick stuart rutledgeFred Rutledge, a fourth generation native Californian, currently serves as the Museum Director of the California State Military Museums. He retired from the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 2007 with over twenty-seven years of service, and promptly joined the California State Military Reserve. Colonel Rutledge is in the California Military Heritage Command. He has provided Living History programs for over thirty years to include presentations as President Theodore Roosevelt (note the resemblance.)

He was on the United Nations staff as the Director of the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Center (HACC), UN Mission in Haiti, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 1995-96.

Fred has attended courses at the Lester Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Nova Scotia, Canada. Additionally, he has had military service in Germany, Thailand, Korea and Japan as well.

Colonel Rutledge is a UC Berkeley graduate (History); earned a Secondary Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University and a Master in Education Leadership at Saint Mary's College, Moraga, California. His wife, Colonel Jane Anne Rutledge, is a retired US Army Reserve nurse. They have two daughters: Jean Rutledge, a Fourth Grade teacher in the East Bay and Army Second Lieutenant Kirsten Rutledge, currently serving in Kuwait.

Fred Rutledge is co-coordinator of adult programs for the Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program in Livermore. He has served in a variety of leadership and committee positions in the Bay Area Commonwealth Community as well to include President Royal Canadian Legion Post 25, Programs director and president of the Pleasanton-Blairgowrie-Fergus Sister Cities Organization, and president of the St. Andrews Society of San Francisco. Fred also has served with British and Canadian military bagpipe bands (i.e. the Canadian-Scottish, Calgary Highlanders, Toronto Scottish & Scots Guards,) and he helps with the games as military pipe band liaison officer for the Caledonian Club of San Francisco.

Parting Thoughts At the End of the Centennial 


Mustering his experiences at the end of the Centennial of WW1, California WW1 Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten asks fellow Americans to learn and remember in this his final article written August 2, 1919.


The Forgotten War


By Bill Betten, Co-Director of the California WW1 Centennial Task Force


As the centennial draws to a close I would like to share a few observations.

It is a great thing to look at this nation 100 years after the guns of WW1 fell silent and to know that there is a remnant that do not forget the sacrifice. That portions of the population want to honor those who came before and served, bled, and even made the “ultimate sacrifice” for the cause of Freedom. I applaud all who during the Centennial did reach forth to others to observe it.

Unfortunately, this commitment to commemorate, to honor, to educate has not been consistent throughout the nation. Some portions of the population have allowed themselves the luxury to not remember.

Some suggest that perhaps this indifference is at the core of who we are, from where we sprang, a nation desiring to be rid of the shackles of unjust cultures of tyranny. Thus, they shunned all that was the old-world. Like the pacifists of the late 1910’s who argued “It’s not our war!” some today have wasted the Centennial as a frivolous reminder of hawkishness that should be ignored.

But I argue that this is not what we as a people truly are. We, the descendants of those who gave all for liberty, the offspring of those who demanded that they “have a dream” for freedom, have a mightier cord that runs through our core. That means, though we generally do, as a nation, like to “keep our nose out of other people’s business,” There is another reason that Americans have forgotten WW1.

WW1 has become known as “The Forgotten War” for several reasons. First, because at the time we did not, or (because we were such a late comer) could not assert our desire to “finish the Job” as General Pershing had wanted. The Allies secretly ordained a, “We’ll all agree to stop fighting if you Germany say it was your fault and go home” Armistice. Thus, setting the stage for WW2 a generation later. American did not want to admit it, but our friends had had enough, and didn’t want to out-and-out win the war.

Second, and likely the greatest reason the war was forgotten so soon after was apathy. We had suddenly sprung into the world’s stage as a power to be surpassed by none. For the next nearly two decades our strength and resources held the tyrants at bay even though our military languished, and so we sat back in our luxury and slipped back into an isolationist attitude of the world. The President could not even get us to join the League of Nations, his own idea.

And so, I suggest that this is the true lesson to be learned from WW1, that we should never allow ourselves to believe that humans who promise “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men,” will always follow through with it. As soon as Germany, Italy, and Japan forgot the price of war, her people allowed themselves to fall prey to the tyrants again.

The human aspect of this Earth’s history cannot ignore the fact that there are always people who concern themselves with themselves, over what are the needs of others. This is a world-wide malady that spiritual leaders have always struggled with. The Cane versus Able story forever repeats itself. But when the story evolves into to nation versus nation struggle; for the sake of justice, for the sake of the innocent, a people must protect themselves from foreign greed, alien lust of domination, oppression of liberty, and tyranny. All of these evils the United States and the world faced in 1914, but the war drug on until the U.S. came to the fight and the oppressors saw that they could no-longer afford to pay the penalty to win. Up until that point they thought they could.

But, in the eyes of those fighting in Europe in the first years of WW1, it was American indifference that had allowed years of war to grind on. It was America’s lack of preparedness that had caused the war to drag out even after her declaration to join. To our credit, we are a people who abhor war, unlike the militarist regimes of Germany in the first half of the Twentieth century. Fortunately, we finally did take action and brought the reason for the fighting to end.

I wonder, are we headed for ruin when I see declining attendance at commemorations, a lack of interest from the media, a populace that does not care that Memorial Day once was Armistice Day, and meet individuals who respond to me with, “Did America fight in WW1?”

And do not blame the teachers for this! Do not blame the educational system, for the teachers still teach it, and the texts books still write about it. I say it is our own apathy and the indifference of the world around us that causes us to forget and then form such absurd questions.wake up america poster

I propose to you that not only is it indolence to forget, not only is it unfair to the dead to forget; I say that it is decadent to forget. I say that it is immoral to be apathetic. I propose that it is disgraceful to choose to ignore that which is our history. A history of loyalty to liberty, and commitment to freedom yes, but also a legacy of commitment to justice, and with that the ever-ready resolve to combat tyranny when and wherever it rears its ugly head. It is actually sad that the poster of a sleeping America being called to “Wake up!” is now iconic in the recollection of our state in this nation during the war.




Join us and the WW1 Centennial Commission in the effort to place a permanent memorial to those who served in WW1 on the National Mall in Washington DC. They deserve their own memorial too!