Kansas WW1

Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

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Dr. William T. Fitzsimons–100 Years Later

Last Monday was the 100th anniversary of the first American officer to be killed in WWI–Burlington native 1st Lieutenant William T. Fitzsimons.  Steve Fry of the Topeka Capital-Journal wrote about him, and interviewed Jim Heiman, who has authored a book on the WWI monuments and memorials in the Kansas City area. ...read more

The first time the Star Spangled Banner was played at a World Series Game

The first time that The Star Spangled Banner was played in a World Series game was on Sept. 5th, 1918 during the seventh inning of game 2 between the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox. It was performed by a US Navy band from the Great Lakes Training Center, which was led by John Philip Sousa, although he wasn’t at this performance. Although it was a popular patriotic song in 1918, The Star Spangled Banner didn’t become the National Anthem until 1931. Read more about this here. ...read more

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: September 4-10, 1917

In honor of the centennial of World War I, the Spencer Research Library Blog is going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: twenty-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday the library will post a new entry, which will feature Bassett’s letters to fifteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them. ...read more

New #KansasWW1 Email Address

KansasWW1.org has a new email address! If you would like to get in touch with us, please email us at: kansasww1@kshistory.org

Found in Kansas City, Kansas

Sitting today in Shawnee Park at 77th St. and Shawnee Ave. in Kansas City, Kansas is an interesting artillery piece with a WW1 background. This howitzer has a curved shield, which means that it was made in France, used by American gunners in 1918, shipped to the U.S. in 1919 and later significantly modified. According to the plaque mounted on the front, it was declared scrap by the Army in 1942 and donated to the city by the Wyandotte County Salvage Committee. ...read more

Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites in Kansas

Throughout the world there are numerous examples of individual burials that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has accepted responsibility for but relocation of the remains to a CWGC location is impractical. In the U.S. there are 356 such graves.

Nick Metcalfe MBE is a former British Army officer who is compiling data on all of the individual graves in the U.S. which are maintained by the CWGC. There are two of these here in Kansas. ...read more

Centennial Countdown to the Great War: August 1917

It’s August 1917.  As the World War enters its fourth year, there’s no end in sight.  Pope Benedict XV makes a peace proposal, which President Wilson rejects after conferring with the other nations at war with Germany.  Former Secretary of State Elihu Root returns from a mission to Russia designed to keep Russia in the war.  An attempted coup by the commander-in-chief of the Russian Army fails, but the Provisional Government is weakened and the Bolsheviks are strengthened.  Recently arrived American troops parade in London.  The Allied offensive on the Western Front, after initial success, bogs down in the mud of Flanders.  Italy attacks Austria-Hungary again at the Isonzo River.  On the Eastern Front, the German Army advances in Romania to the south and moves against the Baltic port of Riga to the north.  In the United States, racial tensions flare as African-American troops are based in segregated southern cities and a deadly race riot breaks out in Houston.  The Senate passes a proposed Constitutional Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquor. ...read more

Mennonites and the cost of conscience, by Sara J. Keckeisen

Once the United States decided to enter the European War in 1917, a drumbeat of patriotic zeal was sounded to get the entire country behind the war effort, drafting young men to go fight and raising money through the sale of government bonds to fund the war.   However, if your last name was different or you spoke with an accent, this wave of patriotism could be a very bad thing for your safety and liberty as an American. ...read more

Kansans of the Great War Era – Nellie Blanche Smirl

I am Coming Back to Kansas

© Nellie Blanche Smirl Sept. 7th, 1918 E 432374

When I have time to dream about you,
Pleasant mem’ries I’ll recall,
For I’ve lived in many places,
But you’re dearest of them all.
I can see the rolling prairies
And can breathe the fragrant air,
And Kansas-land shall be my home
When I get thro’ over there. ...read more

Native Americans in the Great War – ND tribes honored for service

The United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota is honoring the men of their member tribes who volunteered for the US armed forces in WW1, especially the Lakota code talkers of Co. D, 1st Bn., 139th Infantry who served with distinction at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge in 1918. Remember, this was only 28 years after Wounded Knee. Click here to read more. ...read more

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