Nationalism and the First World War Centenary: Post 21

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Steve Marti of the University of Delaware brings H-Nationalism another monthly update on nationalism and the commemoration of the First World War.  Please feel free to respond to this post. Interested in contributing to this series? Drop Steve a line at



The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture opened on 24 September. The galleries include artifacts and exhibits about the 369th Regiment, nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, an all-African American infantry regiment that fought with the French Army and later with the American Expeditionary Force during World War One.


The United States’ WWI Centennial Commission continues to make preparations for the upcoming centenary of the United States entry into World War One by striking partnerships with the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Belgian government.


The Bourgmestre of Le Roeulx, a small Belgian village, commissioned a sculpture of Canadian soldier George Lawrence Price in preparation for the centenary of Price’s death in 2018. A German sniper shot Price in Le Roeulx within minutes of the 11 a.m. Armistice on 11 November 1918.


A New Zealand woman was honoured as the one millionth visitor to the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, located in the village of Zonnebeke on the British Expeditionary Force’s axis of advance during the Third Battle of Ypres. Geert Bourgeois, president of the Flemish Parliament, greeted Adrienne Smith and her husband to the museum, presented her with a certificate, and offered her a guided tour of a recreated dugout - the museum's signature exhibit. The New Zealand Ministry of Arts Culture and Heritage announced that landscape architect Cathy Challinor won the competition to design a contemplative garden to be built in Belgium to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele next summer.


The French Embassy in New Zealand announced the finalists in their competition to design a French Memorial at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington, New Zealand.


The New Zealand High Commission in Nuku’alofa, Tonga organized a competition for high school students from Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands to visit First World War Battlefields in France and Belgium. New Zealand administered Tonga, Samoa, Niue, and the Cook Islands during the First World War and recruited soldiers from these islands to work as labourers behind the front lines. Anna Jane Vea, one of the students that participated in the trip, spoke about the experience in an interview.


The Chaguaramas Military History and Aerospace Museum in Trinidad & Tobago unveiled a statue commemorating over 2,200 men from Trinidad and Tobago who volunteered for service with the British Army during the First World War.


The Center for Global and Imperial Studies at the University Exeter featured a blog post about the national and imperial considerations of India’s involvement in the First World War.


The Imperial War Museum confirmed that a war memorial unveiled in Prescot, Merseyside in September 1916 is the oldest First World War memorial in the UK.


Historic England announced that the site of the Barnbow National Filling Factory in Leeds will become scheduled as a historic monument. The factory produced munitions during the First World War. On 5 December 1916 an explosion killed 35 women in the first major industrial disaster of the war. Women’s organizations in Cornwall and South Tyneside created public displays over the past month to commemorate the service of women during the First World War.


Britain’s 14-18-Now Centenary War Commission announced six locations that will host its Poppies installation in 2017. The Canadian town of Goderich, Ontario created its own poppies installation by planting 551 ceramic poppies around the local cenotaph, one for each soldier from Huron County that died during the First World War.


Sport continues to play an prominent role in First World War commemorations. The Football Association sponsored a play titled “The Greater Game,” staged at London’s Southwark Playhouse. The play tells the story of the Leyton Orient football club and The Footballers’ Battalion (17th Middlesex) during the First World War. The British Legion and the Professional Footballers Association also sponsored the play. British tennis champion Andy Murray took on the role of spokesperson for the British Legion’s Sport Remembers the Somme initiative. Sport Remembers the Somme encourages sports clubs and athletic organizations to take an active role in commemorating the Battle of the Somme. Stirling Castle, in Edinburgh will host a performance titled The Somme and Shinty’s Heroes to commemorate the service of Scottish shinty players during the First World War. Shinty is a sport originating in the Scottish Highlands akin to field hockey. French activewear designer Sport d’époque unveiled a series of vintage-inspired shirts based on jerseys worn by First World War-era athletes.