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WW1 Centennial News for May 11, 2018 - Episode #71

Boy Scouts give out chocolate and cigarettes to departing American troops at Winchester railway station during WWIBoy Scouts give out chocolate and cigarettes to departing American troops at Winchester railway station during WWI

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Highlights - Scouts, Planes and Sculptors

  • The sculptor and the airplane industry: Gutzon Borglum | @01:40
  • General compromise - Mike Shuster | @09:15
  • Marshall’s plan for Cantigny - Dr. Edward Lengel | @13:15
  • James Reese Europe Tribute Concert - Ron Wasserman | @18:50
  • WWI Carnegie Council Fellowship program - Dr. Reed Bonadonna | @25:35
  • A granddaughter's history of the Boy Scouts - Dr. Julie Seton | @31:35
  • 14-18 NOW: UK Centenary Art Commission - Jenny Waldman | @38:00
  • Speaking WWI: Cup ‘a Joe | @46:05
  • Dispatch Newsletter: highlights | @47:50
  • The Centennial in Social Media - Katherine Akey | @49:35

NEW FEATURE - Interactive transcript with "Search & Play".

With the new WW1 Centennial News Interactive Transcript, 1. click on any word in the transcript and the audio will begin to play from that word. 2. Use Control+F, or Command+F on a Mac and put in any search term to highlight in the transcript for quick "Search & Play". 3. Copy sections of the transcript for articles.

Note: The transcript publishes 24-48 hours after the episode. If the space below is blank - check tomorrow.

View the PDF transcript


Welcome to World War 1 centennial News - episode #71 - It’s about WW1 THEN - what was happening 100 years ago this week  - and it’s about WW1 NOW - news and updates about the centennial and the commemoration.

This week:

  • Mike Schuster, from the great war project blog tells us about General Pershing’s “compromise”, unpopular with the French and British command
  • Ed Lengel with the story about the man who plans the Attack on Cantigny
  • Ron Wasserman tells us about the upcoming James Reese Europe musical tribute in New York
  • Dr. Reed Bonadonna introduces us to the WWI fellowship program from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
  • Dr. Julie Seton shares a history of the Boy Scouts
  • Jenny Waldman joins us from the UK to tell us about the  amazing WW1 public arts projects from 14-18 NOW organization
  • Katherine Akey with the commemoration of world war one in social media

All on WW1 Centennial News -- a weekly podcast brought to you by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the Starr foundation.

I’m Theo Mayer - the Chief Technologist for the Commission and your host. Welcome to the show.



In July of 1917, shortly after America enters the war, congress passes a massive $640,000,000 aviation bill which is signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. That is over $13.5 Billion in 2018 dollars and at the time it is one of the largest appropriation for a single idea that the country has ever made -

It passes congress with little or  no objection -

This is in no small part - because there are so many advocates that believe this incredible new technology of flying machines can be pivotal in the war.

In support of the idea, famed airplane pioneer Orville Wright declares:

“When my brother and I built and flew the first man-carrying machine, we thought that we were introducing into the world an invention which would make further wars…  practically impossible since both sides know exactly what the other is doing. “

Orville reasons further:

"If the allies' armies are equipped with such a number of airplanes as to keep the enemy planes entirely back of the line, so that they are unable to direct gunfire or to observe the movement

of the allied troops—

in other words, if the enemy's eyes can be put out —

it will be possible to end the war. “

With that as background let's jump into our Centennial Time Machine and roll back 100 years ago this week to see how the US is doing in realizing that idea...



World War One THEN

100 Year Ago This Week

It is the second week of May, 1918.

The pages of the Official Bulletin, the government's war gazette, the newspaper, the New York Times and the magazine Aerial age Weekly are all filled with a story of scandal involving the US aircraft manufacturing industry. Charges of waste, incompetence, malfeasance and graft are being bandied about. And one of the more interesting parts is that a key character leading the charges against the government's Aircraft production board and the airplane manufacturers is none other than Gutzon Borglum.

Who the heck is Gutzon Borglum? You may ask..

Well, he is the sculptor who is going to become famous for a little sculpture he will do between 1927 and 1941 in South Dakota where he will sculpt four heads into the crags of a mountain called Rushmore… But in May of 1918, already an established sculptor - he is busy accusing the US Airplane industry of incompetence!


Dateline: May 6, 1918

A headline in the NY times reads:

Wilson orders Borglum aircraft charges sifted

And the story reads:

The demand for an investigation of allegations of graft in connection with the production of military aircraft was heeded by Pres. Wilson today when he decided to turn the whole matter over to Atty. Gen. Gregory, who was instructed to make a thorough investigation of the "wholesale charges" in regard to the production of aircraft. The charges were made by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

Another sensational feature was added to the case tonight when it became known that Maj. General George O Squier Chief signal Officer of the Army, who was accused by Mr. Borglum of hampering the work of investigation undertaken by the latter, had countered the accusations with a request for a military court of inquiry.

The story is the big buzz in all the national news and aeroplane industry media. And as we started to explore it, it gets ever more strange - Clearly something is up because, the US has spent an incredible fortune and only delivered 5,000 planes - mostly trainers not fighters - what’s up with senate investigation?  The justice department probe? The President’s statements? The army’s court of inquiry? What are the roots of this nearly frenetic situations???


Let’s take a little closer look at our buddy the sculptor

Gutzon Borglum -

seriously! He is actually the center of the story!

In a biography on him that we found - and we have the link for you in the podcast notes, here is what we learn.

Borglum makes drawings for a new plane he called the “fish”. His idea is rejected by the government's Aircraft production board,  that is in charge of approving plane design for govt money -- Borglum notes many, many other designers get rejected too. Apparently, he thinks of a way to capitalize on the airplane manufacturing chaos -- So he complains through some Washington contacts that he has,  about the terrible wastage going on with all with that money earmarked for plane design and building in the US.

The bad buzz reaches all the way to President Wilson and in Autumn 1917-- BORGLUM himself runs an investigation and submits a report to the government on the lack of airplane production.

Now… Apparently Borglum postures that he has been given full govt authority to do this investigation -- but actually he hasn’t.  He just seems to be running on self-appointed bravado and posturing as if he DOES have officially sanctioned authority. Now President Wilson actually corrects him in the spring -- but damage has already been done to many, many aeronautical companies who have been dragged through the mud very publicly.

This week in 1918, on May 10th-- it comes to light that Borglum, in fact,  is using his influence with the president to get contracts for himself and a new company -- for which he is a silent partner. The scheme, apparently is that he is managing to discredit company after company with the govt’s blessing-- leaving HIS company to pick up contracts in the aftermath.

Even as this comes to light, Borglum “stonewalls” all of the accusations and accused his detractors as purveyors of “fake news” and of being liars and just continues his attacks on other aeronautical companies. A lot of reorganization takes place in the wake of this controversy - and probes and official investigations will continue  -- but we wondered -- what ever became of Borglum!?

He continues to be shaker, mover and influencer all the way… here are some highlights

In 1918, he was one of the drafters of the Czechoslovakian  declaration of independence (despite being an american by birth to Danish immigrants), he continues to make sculptures and memorials, famously sculpting an amazing and striking work called “The Aviator” which sits on   the University of Virginia campus, of course he gets permission and funding to carve up an entire mountain at Mount Rushmore creating a historic and iconic work of public art.

He also happens to be a very high ranking member of the KKK, a Freemason, and an organizer of the Armory Show in New York.

Gutzon Borglum - an genuinely amazing and fascinating character --- banging on a hornets nest in aeroplane manufacturing industry

100 years ago this week -

In the war that changed the world!

Aerial Age weekly


Book excerpt on Borglum:


NYTimes Articles:









Great War Project

Moving across the Atlantic to “Over There”, Mike Shuster, former NPR correspondent and curator for the Great War Project blog takes a look at General Pershing’s “compromise” with the French and British command, mutiny among the Austrians and Armenian nationalist fighters - An interesting post Mike!


Mike Shuster from the Great War Project blog. The links to Mike Shuster’s Great War Project blog and the post -- are in the podcast notes.




America Emerges: Military Stories from WW1

Welcome to our segment - America Emerges: Military Stories from WWI with Dr. Edward Lengel.

Many of you may have  heard of the “Marshall Plan”, This was a major $13 billion strategic initiative to help western europe rebuilt after WWII… Well the architect and namesake of that monumental strategy was just a young, but brilliant officer in WWI, developing his strategic chops, as Ed story this week shows.



To be continued….

Dr. Edward Lengel is an American military historian, author, and our segment host for America Emerges: Military Stories from WWI.

There are links in the podcast notes to Ed’s post and his web sites as an author.  




The Great War Channel

From the Great War Channel on Youtube -  videos about WWI

100 years ago this week, and from a more european perspective ---

New episodes this week include:

  • Pershing Under Pressure-- the End of La Lys
  • Our Trip to Turkey Recap
  • The Western Front Awakens -- Peace in the East

See their videos by searching for “the great war” on youtube or following the link in the podcast notes!


World War One NOW

That’s the news from 100 Years ago this week  - It is time to fast forward into the present with WW1 Centennial News NOW -


This part of the podcast focuses on NOW and how we are commemorating the centennial of WWI!

Spotlight on the Media

James Reese Europe 100th Anniversary Tribute Event

Music: Castle House Rag and One Step, by James Reese Europe

from the CD “Take a Bow”

by the New York Jazzharmonic Trad-Jazz Sextet.


That clip was from Castle House Rag and One Step

composed by James Reese Europe who is the subject of our spotlight on the media with an  upcoming James Reese Europe 100th Anniversary Tribute concert.

Who is James Reese Europe?

Well, his Library of Congress biography opens with a quote from Eubie Blake, another famed American composer, lyricist, and jazz man:

"James Reese Europe was our benefactor and inspiration. Even more, he was the Martin Luther King of music."


Europe earned this praise by being an unflagging innovator not only in his compositions and orchestrations, but in his organizational ability and leadership. One of America's greatest musicians, he progressed from strength to strength but was pointlessly cut down at what seemed like the pinnacle of his career.”

Well that is just a setup up - To tell us about the man, and the Tribute concert, which will take place on June 8th, 2018, in New York City is Ron Wasserman, artistic director for the New York Jazzharmonic.

Welcome, Ron!


[Ron-- our intro to Mr. Europe was sort of a tease - can you tell us about the man please?]

[OK.. Now about the tribute - where is it, what is it and if we are lucky enough to be in NY to attend - what will we experience?]

[How did this come about?]

[Ron: Any closing thoughts about the legacy of the Harlem Hellfighters on music?]

[thank you/goodbyes]

Ron Wasserman is the artistic director for the New York Jazzharmonic. The tribute concert is co-sponsored by the New York Jazzharmonic, the NYC Veterans Alliance, and the National WWI Centennial Commission.

We have links for you in the podcast notes!



Remembering Veterans

Carnegie Council WW1 Fellowship Program

This week For Remembering Veterans -- We have invited Dr. Reed Bonadonna to join us.

Dr. Bonadonna, Ph.D. and a retired US Marine Corps Colonel, is a Senior Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. He is managing their project, "The Living Legacy of the First World War”.


We were very proud of and excited for her, when our own Katherine Akey announced that she was one of the nine recipients selected for a fellowship under the project       

Reed! Welcome to the Podcast.


[To start -- What’s the program and what’s its goal?  ]

[Reed - Can you tell us about some of the fellowship projects?]

[When the fellowships are done - what happens to the work?]

[I know the program is still in mid-stride - but what do think it will show us about the Living Legacy of WW1 is today?]

[Thank you so much for coming in and speaking with us today!]


Dr. Reed Bonadonna is a Senior Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and the manager for their   "The Living Legacy of the First World War” project.

Learn more about the program and the nine fellows’ projects by following ==--the links in the podcast notes.



Dr Seton boy scouts history

Let’s talk about the early days of scouting and WWI - Joining us is Dr. Julie Seton , granddaughter of Ernest Thompson Seton who was a co-founder of the Boy Scouts of America and other youth organizations in the early 1900's.

She is an expert on Scouting's early history as well as her grandfather's life as a naturalist, artist and, at one time, an internationally acclaimed literary figure, and she recently edited and published his autobiography, Trail of an Artist-Naturalist: The Autobiography of Ernest Thompson Seton

Welcome, Julie!



[Julie - The history of the boy scouts -  actually begin in England with Lord Baden-Powell in the early 1900s, but your grandfather is also said to have influenced him - can you tell us the story?]


[So when the the Boy Scouts of America officially organize? [if it did not come up in the previous question]

[It’s a little off-topic but I wanted to ask… I read a fascinating account about your great grandfather - who apparently decided to present your grandfather with a bill for the entire cost of raising him, including the doctor’s cost for his birth….  and that Ernest actually paid him - Is that myth?]

[Back to the subject at hand - by the time America enters WWI, scouting is still very young but President Wilson gives the young men a specific charter and roll in the war effort - can you tell us about that?]

[Katherine and I were talking about this - if the Boy Scouts of America was formed in 1910 - and aimed at adolescents - the very first scouts would have likely served in WWI -  did any of them become notables? ]

[Current scouting -- we’ve seen several eagle scouts with memorial restoration efforts-- ]


Dr. Julie Seton is the granddaughter of Ernest Thompson Seton and an expert on Scouting's early history. Learn more about the history of the Boy Scouts, and current Eagle Scout WW1 projects, by following the links in the podcast notes.







International Report

1418 now

As we have been looking at WW1 Centennial News Now, one of the things that has struck us about the centennial commemoration of WWI,  is that it tends to focus a part of itself - not just on academic, military and historical remembrance but also on art, public works of art and artists.

This first struck me when we reported on some commemoration efforts

by our friends and counterparts in New Zealand.  

Of course, there is our OWN major work of pubic art, the wwI memorial sculpture by Sabin Howard -

but truly notable in all this is the United Kingdom’s centennial support of 14-18 NOW, their WWI Centenary Art Commission, implementing a five-year program of arts experiences intended to connect people with the First World War--

To tell us about it, we’re joined

from the UK by Jenny Waldman,

the director of the program.

Jenny, welcome to the podcast!


[Jenny, can you tell us a bit about how 14-18 NOW came about? ]

[You have, and are doing some great project - can you tell us about some of them? ]

[In the lead in, I mentioned that commemorating something like WWI through art experiences was not immediately obvious to me - but it seems like a very important part of the puzzle. Could you help our audience understand why?]

[Jenny - we want to keep reporting on your efforts - especially those projects that are now coming “over here”. What can we look forward to? [if these things did not already get covered]]

[Jenny Waldman thank you so much for joining us today!]



Jenny Waldman is the director of 14-18 NOW. Learn more about the organization and the many many wonderful projects by following the link in the podcast notes.


Speaking WW1

Welcome to our weekly feature “Speaking World War 1” -- Where we explore the words & phrases that are rooted in the war  ---

Waking up to a steaming cup of coffee is a universal pleasure. It’s warm, it’s fortifying, and it can help you make it into and  through your day -- That warm drink is sometimes referred to as a Cup o’ Joe… and of course we wondered where that phrase came from?

In fact, this nickname for coffee has rather murky origins, with several theories being put forward. And one of the most common legends

is that the ‘Joe’ in the phrase

refers to Josephus Daniels, the American Secretary of the Navy during World War I.

Daniels was an ardent prohibitionist, and as such he banned the consumption of alcohol on Navy ships well before Prohibition or even America’s declaration of war-- It was General Order 99 issued on June 1, 1914 that ended the shipboard toddy of rum for the sailors.

So our swabbies were forced to indulge in other beverages, particularly coffee-- which led the men to to refer to  a serving of coffee as a ‘cup of joe’.

There is some doubt in the truth of this myth -- since alcohol was already hard to come by onboard vessels for ordinary sailors, General Order 99 had little impact on their lives. It’s possible that the name ‘Joe’ denoted an ordinary everyday man, reflecting the rise in coffee consumption at the turn of the 20th century-- but we like the josephus myth.

A cup of joe - this week’s phrase for speaking WW1. There are links for you in the podcast notes.


Links: https://www.knowyourphrase.com/cup-of-joe



Articles and Posts

Highlights from the Dispatch Newsletter

For Articles and posts -- here are some of the highlights from our weekly Dispatch newsletter.


Headline: Islay Ceremonies Remember US War Dead

Read about the commemorations that took place last Friday in Scotland to remember the 700 people who died in two separate WW1 disasters off the coast of the Isle of Islay


Headline: The CDC hosts 1918 Influenza Pandemic Commemoration

If our interview with author Kenneth C. Davis last week piqued your interest in the flu of 1918, read this article about the CDC’s commemoration of the disease that ripped through the world population 100 years ago.


Headline: Who was Alan Seeger… and Why did french President Macron mention him to congress?

Find the answer by reading the article by Commission Intern Nicole Renna.


Headline: Everard Bullis Sr - our featured Story of Service

Read about Everard Bullis Sr, a Marine who saw action at Belleau Wood, St. Mihiel and Champagne.


Finally, our  selection

from our Official online Centennial Merchandise store -  

this week, it’s our Custom Silk Tie -- great for college grads and  and for dads for father’s day.The red silk tie features World War One era aircraft and the official logo of the Centennial Commission on the back.

And those are some of the headlines this week from the Dispatch Newsletter

Subscribe to the whole thing by going to ww1cc.org/subscribe or follow

the links in the podcast notes

Link: http://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate/2015-12-28-18-26-00/subscribe.html



The Buzz

And that brings us to the buzz - the centennial of WW1 this week in social media with Katherine Akey - Katherine, what did you pick?

Lewis Hine

Hi Theo --

We shared on Facebook this week what I think is one of the most interesting photography articles from The Atlantic-- the article “100 Years Ago: France in the Final Year of World War I” is a series of 35 photographs from American Photographer Lewis Hine. Hine had a long and tumultuous career; he was well known after working for the National Child Labor Committee, photographing children at work in coal mines, factories and farms all across the country. His images of children as young as four, their faces smeared with dirt and soot, machinery towering over them, are incredibly poignant. And as the War continued to rage in 1918 -- he traveled to Europe to photograph the American Red Cross relief programs. The photographs were also intended to drum up support for the Red Cross and to appeal to the American populace back home. The images include portraits of young French orphans, lone survivors standing amongst the rubble of flattened frontline towns, Doughboys fishing in a river outside the Chateau de Blois and exhausted wounded soldiers convalescing at Red Cross Hospitals across France. They have Hine’s recognizable haunting quality -- and are seriously beautiful. See them all at the link in the podcast notes.

That’s it for this week in the Buzz.



And that wraps up the second  week of May for WW1 Centennial News. Thank you for listening.

We also want to thank our guests...

  • Mike Shuster, Curator for the great war project blog
  • Dr. Edward Lengel, Military historian and author
  • Ron Wasserman, artistic director of the New York Jazzharmonic
  • Dr. Reed Bonadonna, retired US Marine Corps Colonel and Senior Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
  • Dr. Julie Seton, Boy Scout historical expert
  • Jenny Waldman, director of 14-18 NOW
  • Katherine Akey, WWI Photography specialist, line producer for the podcast and fellowship awardee for Dr. Bonadonna’s program

Many thanks to Mac Nelsen our sound editor and to Eric Marr for his great input and research assistance...  This week we say goodbye to our intern John Morreale - who’s finishing up his semester at the George Washington University. John, you were a great contributor to the show. Good luck and thank you from us and the audience!

And I am Theo Mayer - your host.


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

Our programs are to--

inspire a national conversation and awareness about WW1; Including this podcast!

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

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

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

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

The podcast can be found on our website at ww1cc.org/cn  - now with our new interactive transcript feature for students, teachers and sharing. Just a note to listeners, the transcript publishes about 2 days after the show.

You can also access the WW1 Centennial News podcast on  iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Podbean, Stitcher - Radio on Demand, Spotify or using your smart speaker.. Just say “Play W W One Centennial News Podcast” - and now also available on Youtube search for our WW1 Centennial channel.

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

Thank you for joining us. And don’t forget

to share the stories

you are hearing here today

about the war that changed the world!


Voice 1: Hey Mac - gimme a slice a pie and a cup o’ joe.. Hmmm I wonder why it’s called a cup o’ joe?

Voice 2 Mac: You’ll just hafta listen to that WW1 Centennial News Podcast to find out  - bub -


So long!


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