World War One: The Great War • World War I (The Great War) began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. • The U.S. United States was officially neutral in 1914. • The sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 turned American public opinion against Germany. • Submarine warfare, the Zimmermann Telegram prompted US to enter the war. • U.S. declared war on April 6, 1917. • One of the deadliest conflicts in history--more than 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians died. • Two million Americans served on land and sea. The U. S. suffered 375,000 casualties, including 116,516 deaths. • Paved the way for major political changes, including revolutions in many of the nations involved. • World War I remains America’s forgotten war, • More Americans gave their lives in WWI than during Korea and Vietnam combined. • Shaped the rest of “the American century.” • U.S. World War One Centennial Commissioncreated by an Act of Congress in 2013. • All four living former Presidents are honorary chairmen. • Congress did not allocate a budget to this commission. • Poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of the war --poem In Flanders Fields commemorates the fallen: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row…”
New York and The Great War • Over 500,000 New Yorkers served, largest contingent from any state • New York was center for mobilization of troops and material • Port for overseas troop embarkation • Largest number of defense contracts of any state • New York’s 369th Infantry Regiment was America’s first African-American regiment engaged the War. J.P. Morgan arranged a $500 million Anglo-French loan that was, at the time, the largest foreign loan in Wall Street history.(Est. more than $11.6 billion in today’s dollars) Morgan also became the sole munitions and supplies purchaser during World War I for the British and French governments. The results produced a healthy commission for the company. Morgan also was a banking broker for financing to foreign governments both during and after the war. • New York's pride is in the pride of things done. In this war, New York has outdone her own history. • -- Gov. Charles S. Whitman (April 6, 1918) http://www.archives.nysed.gov/a/research/res_topics_mi_wwi.pdf
Major Commemorations Most of the belligerent countries already have held commemorative events—beginning August 2014--some with high profile installations, programs, exhibits, and events. • London/ U.K. • Paris/France • Brussels/Belgium • Canada The U.S. has not had a major event, yet. Currently small commemorations and educational events organized at the local level. The European nations are looking to America to recognize the import of this event to them.
U.K. WWI Commemorations Britain's official commemorations • Began with spectacular Tower of London poppies installation to mark centenary of the first day of conflict on 4 August 2014 • Candlelight vigil at Westminster Abbey • “Lights out" event • Other significant events • Start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 2016 • Events to mark the battles of Jutland, Gallipoli, Passchendaele • Armistice Day in 2018 • Traveling photo exhibition • Theater (War Horse)
French WWI Commemorations • L'Anneau de la Mémoire (Ring of Remembrance), International Memorial of Notre Dame de Lorette • Elliptical war memorial • Names of 580,000 men from all countries who died in northern France • Inaugurated 11th 2014, the first Armistice Day of the 1914-18 Centenary • Somme region Circuit du Souvenir (Remembrance Route) tour of towns affected by the invasion and the ‘race to the sea’ • !,500 other exhibitions, concerts, ceremonies, debates and public events
Belgian WWI Commemorations • Three commemorative ceremonies with international scope--Liège, Ypres, Brussels. • Four large commemorative events • Mons,UK’s entrance into the war; site where first British Soldier fell. August 4, 2014 • Brussels-Capital Region, daily life during the occupation. 2015 - 2016 • Ypres, 2nd Battle of Ypres, first gas attacks remembered April 22 to May 28, 2015 • Passchendaele, battle where 500,000 died. Commemoration July 31 to November 6, 2017. • Brussels, November 11, 2018. Centenary of the signing of the Armistice. UK and Belgian royals at commemoration in Mons
Canadian WWI Commemorations • Canadian troops fought in Europe as part of the British Commonwealth, so joined the war several years before U.S. troops. • Various commemorations, dinners, exhibitions are scheduled for Ottawa, Toronto, the provinces.
New York City and the Centennial • New York City needs a WWI Centennial commemoration above and beyond other U.S. locations, on par with those of London, Paris, and other US diplomatic, economic and trading partners. • The world looks to New York as representative of “America.” • An artistic, interpretive, and interactive installation in Central Park will be most effective at broadening the base of Americans who develop an appreciation for The Great War and its role in history. • The Central Park installation would be the centerpiece of and catalyst for numerous other events organized by private parties and the U.S. Centennial Commission in and around New York City. • The Gates (Central Park 2005) by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude and the London poppy display at the Tower of London (2014) inspire a vision for 2018 in New York.
Central Park Concept Think of combining The Gates in Central Park… …with the Tower of London poppies…
…to produce a Central Park poppy-themed World War One commemorative installation
At night, images of poppies would be projected onto New York buildings—a different location each evening—to create excitement and curiosity and offer content for a viral online presence. The poppies would be shown in a different part of the city each evening during the Central Park event… “Did you see the poppies last night?...” (In slide show mode, left click once or tap tablet screen to begin animation)
Other Ideas for New York The Central Park ”poppy” installation (and its companion building light projections ) would form a nucleus of other events that could take place during and after the event. • Plant the Park Avenue medial strip (and BID planters) with poppies • Create an experiential installation at Grand Central Station (they’re interested in something) • Schedule a World War One outdoor movie festival at Bryant Park • Coordinate museum exhibits. e.g., • Costume Institute/FIT: Fashion and uniforms • MOMA/International Center for Photography from the war era • Traveling exhibits from other countries (at the armories?) • NY Public Library exhibits and speaker series • Boy/Girl Scouts WW1 monument clean up • Design a walking tour app (Sprint may be interested) • Hold battle commemorations with veterans, historians, students • Organize an event in one of the city’s stadiums Then plan a city-wide commemorative event for November 11, 2018, the centennial of the armistice.
Benefits The benefits of the Central Park poppy exhibit are based on the experience of the earlier events in New York and London. The Gates attracted over 4 million visitors to Central Park and generated an estimated $254 million in economic activity. An estimated 5 million saw the moat at the Tower of London filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies. Visits to the Imperial War Museum in London, which opened new First World War Galleries, rose 153 per cent to 914,774.
Benefits • The combined installation in Central Park/nighttime light projection project will : • Broaden the base of Americans who develop an appreciation for The Great War and its role in history • Make news globally, communicating America’s (and sponsors’) unity with Europe • Increase tourism from the U.S. and overseas, and its economic rewards for New York City • Raise funds for the national World War One memorial in Washington, DC, and veterans organizations (target of $5 million) • Offer opportunities for volunteers to take part in the project • Extend beyond the boundaries of the cities through viral social media sharing and conversations • Honor veterans of all wars
Next Steps • Assess scope of project, including public participation and donation scheme • Commission design (by contest or selection) • Identify vendors, get firm estimates • Sketch public relations campaign • Prepare a detailed plan, budget, and timeline • Christo raised $20 million for The Gates and The Poppies raised £22 million, although what the actual costs were are not clear. • Secure funding • Work with city/Central Park/BIDs for permits, etc.