Recent Blog Posts
Museum intern Lauren Wong presents a special feature exhibit about famed cartoonist and guardsman, Bill Mauldin. Read it here.
2018 Marks the Centennial of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918.
The National Guard Enters World War One, April 6, 1917.
On April 6, 1917, the United States entered the war in Europe that would become known as the War to End All Wars. War was declared on Germany. On that day, the National Guard of the United States deployed and made up 40% of the entire US fighting power in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF.) 17 Divisions supported the effort overseas and the 42d Rainbow Division made up the 18th. From the 42d, William Donovan (to become “Wild Bill” and the founder of the CIA) received a Medal of Honor. One of the most important young men to join the ranks was Harry S. Truman of the Missouri National Guard, 35th ID. The “Harlem Hellfighters” 369th Infantry Regiment from New York paved the way for African American soldiers in the US Army. Henry Johnson of the 369th would receive the Distinguished Service Cross which was reissued as a Medal of Honor in 2015.
One of the first units to be Federalized under the National Defense Act of 1916, New York’s 1st Aero Company stood ready to support the United States in the Mexican Border Crisis of 1916. Out of Columbus, New Mexico, they were led by Lt. Benjamin Foulois (1869-1967), and flew reconnaissance flights over Mexico. Such service poised them to be selected for service in World War One. The fledgling Army Air Corps troops spent the war analyzing the advantages of aerial observation in war and recommending training, equipment, and military organization for the future. They entered the War formally in 1918. From their World War One efforts would rise the formidable United States Air National Guard.
Although World War One was deemed the one to “end all wars”, it did not. What it did do was to usher in the conditions that led to World War II and coin the term “the lost generation.” A devastated Europe would never be the same. Nor would the National Guard of the United States, now having served shoulder-to-shoulder with their active duty counterparts in both support and combat.
We may safely say that the Total Force Policy, germinated in 1903 with the passage of the Dick Act, began its path to today’s modern National Guard with roots firmly planted in the Belgian fields of Flanders poppies.
In Flanders Fields
Rendition of Poppies
On Sunday, July 15th, graphic mixed media artist Cathy Savels granted us permission to use her beautiful rendition of poppies, which are the quintessential representations of the blood of WW1 and Flanders fields. The National Guard entered the war in 1917 with 18 full Divisions. It was the first formal and major deployment of the National Guard overseas in American history. (Detail below.)
3D poppy, fabric and oil on canvas by Cathy Savels.
Please visit her website, www.cathysavels.com (used with permission)
ACCREDITATION PROGRAM BEGINS FOR THE NATIONAL GUARD MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The American Alliance of Museums has accepted the National Guard Memorial Museum’s application for accreditation. The museum must now provide AAM with detailed policies and plans regarding its collection, operation, educational role, and more. Through evaluation, assessment, and recommendations, the AAM will ensure, via the accreditation program, that the NGMM meets required minimum standards of collection care and management, disaster preparedness, ethics, and organizational excellence. Members of the accreditation team will make a two-day visit to the museum in the National Guard Association of the United States headquarters here in Washington, D. C. A decision is expected in 2019.
On Saturday, November 4th, the NGEF Museum team took part in the 44th Annual Conference on D.C. History hosted by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The title of this year’s conference is “Echo & Resonance: 1968.” In 2016, George Washington University Master’s Degree (then) candidate, Heather Glady interned here at the National Guard Memorial Museum. She chose to do a student show about the DC response to civil disorder in 1968. Her exhibit tied into an international show done at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England. Her exhibit stayed in our lobby at One Massachusetts Ave., NW for many months and now, in a smaller form, is on permanent display in the Library. For the D.C. History Annual Conference, Anne C. Armstrong, our museum director, and Heather presented an informational poster designed to encourage both education and conversation about the National Guard actions taken during the ’68 D.C. Civil Disorder. The exhibit was shown between 12 and 1:15pm local time, in the Sanctuary of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., 20005. We had a wonderful time!
NB: The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church was attended regularly by President Abraham Lincoln. While there this weekend, we were able to admire the Presidential pew as well as his reading room.
Pew nametag at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Artifact of the Week
World War I Lighter
This cigarette lighter belonged to Major Frank S. Perkins of the 1st Massachusetts Field Artillery. Lighters came in all different shapes and designs during the early 20th Century, just as they do now.
The Artifact of the Week program was initiated by NGEF in 2015. The artifact and description also can be seen on Twitter and on Facebook. All artifacts are on loan or owned by NGEF and are part of the National Guard Memorial Museum collection.