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AUSA 2018 AActivity at the WW1CC Booth at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting. On display is the scale model maquette of the new National WWI Memorial for Washington DC

World War I was front-and-center at 2018 AUSA event

By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission

World War I appeared front-and-center last week, as the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (WW1CC) acted as a major participant in the recent 2018 Annual Meeting in Washington DC of the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA).

The AUSA is a nonprofit educational and professional development association serving America’s Total Army, our Soldiers, Army civilians, and their families; our industry partners, and supporters of a strong national defense. Their Annual Meeting in Washington DC is the largest and professional development forum and land warfare trade exhibition in North America.

The WW1CC was down on the convention floor with a double-sized exhibit booth, featuring displays on the U.S. Mint 2018 Silver Dollar, the upcoming Bells of Peace nationwide tolling, as well as the scale-model sculptural Maquette of the new National World War I Memorial for the Nation's Capital. Dozens of WW1CC volunteers and staff helped to tell the booth visitors about the Commission, the war, and our efforts to honor Americans veterans.

At the AUSA Media Center, the Commission partnered with Park University, in Kansas City, to roll out the World War I Valor Medals Review program, through a major press conference. Briefers included the President of Park University, Dr. Gregory Gunderson, as well as leadership of the World War I Valor Medals Review Task Force. The Valor Medals Review is aimed at systematically reviewing cases of military combat medals awarded to minority soldiers in the era of institutionalized segregation, and other racist policies, present in the U.S. military of the day.

The following day, the WW1CC Public Affairs Director Chris Isleib gave a media roundtable briefing to reporters, regarding the Commission's upcoming Armistice Centennial Events in the Washington DC from 8-12 November. These event include musical concerts, film screenings, wreath-layings, and even walking tours. Isleib was joined at the briefing by Betsy Anderson, the WW1CC's lead on the Bells of Peace Program.

The WW1CC was also involved with a movie screening at the AUSA event. Filmmaker Jim Theres, director of the award-winning "Hello Girls" documentary put together a high-profile screening of the film, paired with our joint plea for support for a Congressional Gold Medal for the women. The screening event was hosted by AUSA Chairman, General Carter Ham, as well as noted historian/journalist Cokie Roberts.

The results of this multi-faceted presence by the Centennial Commission helped to raise the profile of our World War I veterans among a very important audience -- the extended U.S. Army family. These activities -- the exhibits, the press engagements, the film screening -- all helped to collectively ensure that legacy, and the lessons, from America's World War I veterans would be remembered into the future.

 AUSA 2018 BDisplay of historical World War I artifacts at the "Hello Girls" documentary screening at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting

 AUSA 2018 C"Hello Girls" Documentary Screening at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting. The film was introduced by AUSA President General Carter Ham and noted historian/journalist Cokie Roberts.

 AUSA 2018 DReporters take notes at WW1CC Press Briefing on the Armistice Centennial Events and Bells of Peace Program at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting

 AUSA 2018 EBetsy Anderson, Program Coordinator, Bells of Peace, United States World War One Centennial Commission, talks to media members about the Bells of Peace Program at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting.

 AUSA 2018 FPark University President Gregory Gunderson opens the WW1CC Press Conference regarding the World War I Valor Medals Review at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting

AUSA 2018 GDr. Jeffrey T. Sammons and other panelists discuss the World War I Valor Medals Review at the 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting