Monday, April 3, 2017

World War I Remembrance

Panel led by Professor Hope Elizabeth May

On the one hundredth anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s request to Congress that war be declared against Germany the Clarke Historical Library, in conjunction with the CMU Veterans’ Resource Center and the Center for International Ethics, sponsored an evening focusing on the meaning of patriotism. In particular four veterans as well as Professor Hope Elizabeth May spoke about service to America.
The evening’s honored guests were World War II veteran Staff Sergeant Earl Wickman, Korean War veteran Sergeant John Schuling, Vietnam War veteran Sergeant Larry Ashley, and Staff Sergeant T.J. Pierce, who served in Afghanistan. Each gentleman spoke on what service meant to him. Hope Elizabeth May expanded the discussion of service by sharing how individuals like Central President E.C. Warriner, who had been deeply involved in the Peace Education movement of the early twentieth century, reacted to the war, as well as how Woodrow Wilson, following the logic that led him to ask America to enter the war, came to ask Congress to support the constitutional amendment allowing women the right to vote.

Duane Kleinhardt, director of the Veterans’ Resources Center, set the context for the day’s remembrance by reading from a note found on the body of Owen Barrett, the first Central student to die in World War I:
“Somewhere in France, about to go over the top.

Dear Mother and Sisters: I know you will be surprised to hear this news but I ask you not to cry as I have died for the sake of democracy’s freedom for all.  I am glad to think that I have had a chance to sacrifice my life for something worth wile. The Redeemer has given me life and it is His right to call me back again at His will.  I will see you all in the great hereafter.  Love and kisses. Good-bye.”
Two other Central students died in the Great War, along with more than 11 million soldiers, of which more than 116,000 were Americans.

Introductions by Frank Boles
Frank Boles shared how Woodrow Wilson framed the reasons for this loss of life in his request for a Declaration of War. He made it clear this was not a war against the German people.
 “We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their Government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval.”
Even though he blamed Germany’s leaders for beginning the war, nevertheless the war was not really about striking back at those leaders. 
“Our motive will not be revenge or the victorious assertion of the physical might of the nation, but only the vindication of right, of human right, of which we are only a single champion.”

Wilson defined “the vindication of right” by clarifying what the world that America would go to war to achieve, would look like:
“We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong done shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states.”

The evening’s remembrance also included a rendition of Taps by Morgan Lillie, which preceded moment of silence for those who had died, and closed with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a CMU student group.
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia
Thinking about World War I in the context of broadly defined patriotism is an important way to help all of us not only honor those who served, but thoughtfully examine the meaning of service in a democratic nation. CMU will continue to recall the momentous events of 100 years ago, and discuss more current history, later this week.

We will remember the day President Wilson signed the Declaration of War, on April 7, by a flag raising ceremony at 1:15 p.m. at the flagpole directly in front (north side) of Warriner Hall.  The flag raised will be the Pro Concordia Labor peace flag which was designed in 1897 and envisioned by its creator as a universal symbol of peace.  You can read more about the flag at 
After the flag raising, beginning at 2:00 p.m. a discussion will be held in the Park Library Auditorium regarding the legal response to the Rwandan Genocide, which began April 7, 1994. The speaker will be Professor Jennifer Trahan, from New York University, who will share how the international response to the atrocities in Rwanda has influenced international law, including the creation of the historic International Criminal Court. For more information about the presentation please visit