Monthly Archives: June 2013

Gettysburg Commemorates its 150th

Civil War buffs and enthusiasts: don’t forget to attend the events in Gettysburg from June 18 until July 7 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle! For those who can’t attend, see this link:

B.J. Small for The Sentinel, June 25, 2013:

This historic Southcentral Pennsylvania town of 7,000 people is bracing for its most significant invasion since the armies of the North and South collided July 1-3, 1863.

As many as 200,000 visitors are expected to be in Gettysburg between June 28 and July 7 to take in some of the 400 scheduled events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the turning point battle of the Civil War.

“The eyes of the world are on us,” said Norris Flowers, president of the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Limiting congestion and getting visitors to where they want to go have been the biggest logistical challenges for anniversary planners, considering there will be days when as many as 35,000 people could be in town. A major objective is keeping traffic moving through Lincoln Square, where the crossroads for many of the activities tend to narrow.

The primary strategy in a 100-page traffic management plan for the 10-day period employs a generous network of satellite parking areas, and encouraging visitors to use an expanded Freedom Transit shuttle system.

“Our goal is to keep autos out and all the people in,” said Rich Farr of the York-Adams Transit Authority.

“Do some homework before coming to Gettysburg,” urged Carl Whitehill, media relations manager for the Gettysburg CVB. “Figure out what you want to do, where it is and the best way to get there. If you are heading straight to the re-enactment from Carlisle on July 4-7, you don’t need to come into the square in Gettysburg, necessarily.”

Satellite parking and Freedom Transit pickup will be available at Harrisburg Area Community College and Gettysburg High School lots on Old Harrisburg Road/Business Route 15, Gateway Gettysburg at the intersection of Route 15 and 30, Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg at the intersection of Route 15 and 97, and the Eisenhower Hotel on Route 15, south of Gettysburg. Buses to both re-enactments will run from the community college and high school parking lots.

The Gettysburg CVB will use social media and radio station Great Country 107.7 for real-time updates.

A tourist area that usually welcomes 3 million visitors annually, Gettysburg is expecting 4 million guests throughout the 150th anniversary year. Carl Whitehill, of the CVB, said while there are a few open hotel rooms in town due to cancellations, visitors are making reservations as far away as Harrisburg and Hagerstown, Md.

“We often remind ourselves to put this in perspective of how big this is and how much attention is on us,” Whitehill said. “We need to enjoy this a little bit. We all will have our nose to the grindstone for 10 days, but I think we need to make sure we look up once in a while and enjoy this because we are part of a very significant moment in Gettysburg history. It’s exciting to be in the home stretch.”


The Gettysburg CVB website,, is the source for information about the 150th anniversary in Gettysburg and a complete list of events.

Whitehill said planners have honed in on five “signature” events that will attract the largest crowds and demand the most of its transportation infrastructure.

Re-enactors from 16 countries will take to the fields of the David Redding farm on Table Rock Road, north of Gettysburg, for the National Civil War Battle Re-enactment, July 4-7, to bring history alive for tens of thousands of spectators.

It is the anniversary’s single largest activity.

For the 150th anniversary, a fourth day was added to this traditional event. This is the 18th year the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee has produced re-enactments. Planning for this year’s revival began five years ago, after the 145th anniversary event closed.

As many as 12,000 re-enactors are expected to participate in this year’s extravaganza. About 400 horses have been registered and 135 full-sized cannons will be used.

Two battles will be fought each day. Soldier and civilian re-enactors will re-create the 1860s through cavalry, infantry and artillery battles, encampments and demonstrations. Visitors can get an up-close look at cavalry, artillery and the lives that soldiers led during the Civil War, as well as hear period music and ghost stories, see Civil War weddings and medicine demonstrations, and get the chance to eavesdrop on discussions by military officers.

A highlight of the final day, July 7, is the battle “The High Water Mark” Pickett’s Charge at 3:30 p.m.

“Gettysburg is the Mecca for Civil War re-enacting, and this may be the last mega re-enactment with these kind of numbers the public will ever see,” event organizer Randy Phiel said. “As we move further from the Civil War and ancestors who fought in it, re-enacting is an aging hobby with young folks not replacing at the rate of retirements, and the economics cost. I know for many re-enactors this is their swan song.

“Re-enacting is not going away, especially at Gettysburg,” Phiel said.

New re-enactment

A new battle re-enactment for the 150th anniversary was organized by the Blue-Gray Alliance and will take place on the Bushey Farm, south of Gettysburg near the intersection of Pumping Station and Bullfrog roads, June 27-30.

It is estimated that more than 7,000 re-enactors will participate, and spectators are estimated to number in the thousands. Actual re-enactments will be presented June 29 and 30 only. The site is closed to the public on June 27 and 28 when re-enactors will perform “practice runs” of the scenarios.

Battle action includes fighting near McPherson’s Ridge, Culp’s Hill, Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, Wheatfield and Pickett’s Charge.

“We believe history is real. We experience it first-hand,” overall commander General Terry Shelton said. “And this event is an opportunity for the public to really immerse themselves in the experience.”

For more information, go to

A commemoration ceremony at the Gettysburg National Military Park that features country music star Trace Adkins and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on Sunday, June 30, will serve as a prelude to many of the 150th anniversary events.

The program “Gettysburg: A New Birth of Freedom” will be free, outdoors and public, near General Meade’s headquarters on Taneytown Road, beginning at 7:30 p.m. with a musical prelude.

Adkins will perform the national anthem, backed by the U.S. Military Academy Orchestra. Goodwin will deliver the keynote address. The ceremony will also include a “Voices of History,” dramatic reading of eyewitness accounts written by soldiers and citizens swept into the events of the Battle and its tragic aftermath.

The gathering will proceed to the Soldier’s National Cemetery to view luminaries marking each of the more than 3,500 graves of soldiers killed in the Battle.

Seminary Ridge

The new Seminary Ridge Museum will open on Monday, July 1, 150 years to the day that fighting raged on its grounds and the structure was thrust into service as the battle’s largest field hospital. Its historic cupola was used as a lookout point during fighting.

The museum on the campus of the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary tells the story of the early stages of the battle, Civil War medicine, and the role that faith played in the conflict.

Skirmishes, an encampment, living history, period music and the Virginia History Mobile exhibit will be on the grounds for three days, beginning Saturday, June 29. Camps open at noon.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting on July 1 will take place at 10 a.m., followed by a ceremonial cannon-firing.

On July 3, a Pickett’s Charge commemorative march will put visitors in the footprints of soldiers on both sides of the fateful attack, at the Gettysburg National Military Park, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Nine National Park Service rangers will lead groups from Seminary Ridge, representing each of the Confederate assaulting brigades, across the same fields of destiny on July 3, 1863. Across the way, three rangers will assemble groups on Cemetery Ridge, where men of three Union divisions awaited the attack.

Other events are planned on the battlefield during the anniversary.

Living history encampments of two full battalions of Union and Confederate infantrymen, with artillery, will present demonstrations near the Pennsylvania Monument and Pitzer’s Woods throughout the days, July 1-3.

Key moment programs from July 1-4 will be 30-minute overviews of action at specific locations on the day of certain battles, such as McPherson’s Ridge, Barlow’s Knoll, Little Round Top, Devil’s Den and the High Water Mark. Shuttles will move visitors from the stadium lot at Gettysburg College to program sites.

Also on the schedule are overview hikes and “Voices of Battle” audio eyewitness accounts of the soldiers and civilians who experienced the tragedy of the battle.

A Confederate field hospital will be set up at the historic Daniel Lady Farm on Hanover Road, June 28 to July 4, for visitors to see demonstrations of pill making during the 1860s and minor surgery, such as bullet extraction, amputations and more.

Actor Stephen Lang will perform “The Wheatfield,” the personal story of a Medal of Honor recipient, at the Park Museum and Visitor Center, Taneytown Road, July 1 at 7 p.m. The world premiere of the short film “The Wheatfield,” written and acted by Lang, will follow.

An Independence Day Parade will make its way through downtown Gettysburg on July 3 at 7 p.m.

The 1938 dedication of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial, off Mummasburg Road, will be commemorated on June 29 at 2 p.m., with Major General Anthony Cucolo, commandant of the U.S. Army War College, as the featured speaker. The Old Guard U.S. Third Infantry will also participate.

A free, commemoration Family Festival will take place at Adams County Winery, 251 Peach Tree Road, Orrtanna, on June 29, at 1 p.m., featuring living history figures, local authors, re-enactors, live music, family- and children-related activities, and official 150th anniversary wines.

On July 6, from 5 to 9 p.m., Confederate re-enactors will again take over the Shriver House on Baltimore Street in Gettysburg, as the original troops did during the Battle. Visitors will be able to learn first-hand from re-enactors. It is the only re-enactment in town at the place where original action occurred.

Special showings of the movies “Copperhead” and “The Gettysburg Story” will be offered at the Majestic Theater on Carlisle Street in Gettysburg throughout the 10 days.

Stage productions of the new Civil War drama “Children of Gettysburg” and the Broadway musical “The Civil War” will play at the Community Theatre on York Street in Gettysburg through July 6.

A complete schedule of 150th Anniversary events in Gettysburg can be found at


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WWII Museum To Sponsor Cruise to Normandy

The National World War II Museum will sponsor a 10-day trip tied to the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. The cruise aboard the vessel Silver Cloud will start May 30, 2014 in Lisbon, Portugal, a center of espionage during World War II. It will move along to key sites on the French coast, where on June 6, 1944, Allied troops came ashore.

The cruise will include presentations by journalist Tom Brokaw; Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author Rick Atkinson; author Donald L. Miller; historian and author, Robert M. Citino; Phil Reed, founder of the Churchill Museum in London; Gordon “Nick” Mueller, president and CEO of the National WWII Museum and Dr. Keith Huxen, the Samuel Zemurray Stone Senior Director of Research and History at the museum.

Participants will visit St. Nazaire on the Brittany coast, a German submarine base during the war. Other stops will include St. Peter Port, where many German military installations remain. The Silver Cloud will then visit the English port of Portsmouth before docking for five nights in the Caen Canal in Normandy.

During the Normandy stopover, daily touring opportunities will be offered to the D-Day invasion landing beaches and other local sites of importance to the invasion.

The group will also take part in ceremonies at the Normandy American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach and will visit the Utah Beach Museum.

Costs for the cruise vary depending on accommodations. Airfare is not included as part of the cruise package.

More information is available online at or by calling 877-813-3329, Ext. 257.

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WWII Vets Take to Twitter to Tell Their Story

Meredith Tibbets for Stars and Stripes, June 19, 2013:

For years, Hal Miller wouldn’t talk about landing on Utah Beach and the D-Day invasion. How, with his twin by his side in Normandy on June 6, 1944, he witnessed history.

But now — thanks to the social networking platform Twitter — his story is being shared to remind younger generations of the sacrifices and horrors of World War II.

“It was hell. … We lost a lot of my boys,” Miller, 89, recalled in a recent phone interview.

Miller’s story — and that of his twin brother, Tom — is being shared by Stacie Shain, a public relations volunteer with the Honor Flight Bluegrass Chapter out of Kentucky. Shain had been thinking of ways to connect teens and young adults with World War II veterans. She asked Miller and another WWII veteran, Charles Herd, if she could tweet in real-time during their honor flight to Washington, D.C., in June.

“I thought this was a great way to reach out to a younger audience,” Shain said. The men went along with the idea, “telling us what to tweet.”

The Twitter accounts, @WW2VetCharles and @WW2VetHal, each have several hundred followers. Shain decided to not only share their honor flight, but their battle stories as well.

Shain says it’s important to share WWII veterans’ stories as their numbers diminish. The National Museum of WWII Veterans estimates that there are just over 1 million of them still living.

“It’s good for the young people to recognize older people and to recognize that our country is the greatest country,” Herd, 91, said in an interview with Stars and Stripes. Herd said he was glad to offer a glimpse of history, even if he was a little unsure what Twitter was.

As he explored the World War II Memorial in Washington, the Louisville resident tweeted, “You can’t waste any day, kiddo. There are no reruns. When you’re gone you’re gone.”

Herd enrolled at the University of Tennessee and joined the ROTC program there. He was called to active duty and was sent to basic training at Fort Benning. He joined the 84th Infantry Division and was shipped overseas to Europe. He was later injured, spent months in rehab, then went back to active duty.

Hal and Tom Miller joined the Army after quitting high school in 1943. Hal Miller said an Army recruiter told them that if they waited until they graduated, the twins would be separated. The Millers would stay together for the course of World War II, becoming part of the 297th Combat Engineers.

“My brother and I didn’t talk about (the war). It was like it never happened,” Hal Miller said. Then came a 10-year reunion with their Army brothers. “After that, we couldn’t shut up about it,” he said. His brother died in 1974. As for sharing their message on Twitter, Miller was pleased, “It got the word out. I hope we never have to go through that again. The more they (the younger generations) are around it, the better all the way around.”

Miller said he thought about going back to Normandy, but decided to join 23 Kentuckians on the honor flight to Washington instead. “I made three reservations to go back to Normandy, but it was too tough to go,” he said.

For the June 6 honor flight, Shain spent hours with Miller and Herd, taking notes about their service and their lives after the war. “We had hoped people would care, and these stories are so important.”

She said the live tweeting by her and a student helper was just an experiment. “We weren’t sure if anyone would follow us, but it’s remarkable how many [we gained] in one day,” Shain said.

Throughout the day in Washington, they tweeted on behalf of Miller as he shared his story with them: “I landed on June 7, and my job was to clear the roads. Collected bodies for burial. I can’t talk about w/o getting emotional,” “On the bus headed to the Memorial. Getting an escort by the US Park Police. We get to run red lights!”

The honor flight, greeted by the Air Force Band when they landed, toured the Korean and the WWII Memorials.

Mixed in with the horror stories of the war — Shain said Miller teared up over friends he lost at Utah Beach — were good memories too.

He told how he was about to get a shore leave with his twin brother to celebrate their 21st birthday.

“We saved $3,000 by Sept. 4, 1944. … We were 100 miles from Paris and caught a ride on a 74-hour pass. We spent it all. I told someone about it,” he laughed, “and they said, ‘Those girls must have been expensive!’ ”

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WWII Comfort Women Rally in Demand of Apology

From, June 21, 2013:

Surviving “comfort women” continue to see each other in monthly gatherings, sharing stories or belting out love songs with the videoke machine.

Recently, they met at the office of Lila Pilipina, a survivors’ group in Quezon City.

It was the end of May and there was a heavy downpour that morning, but it didn’t drown out the sound of the voices of the lolas–grandmothers in Filipino–as they sang their own rendition of love songs from forgotten times.

They shared a bowl of hot soup and a loaf of cheese bread before discussing the next steps in their struggle for justice.

“We can no longer take back what happened to us but my hope is for future generations to not suffer the same thing,” said one survivor named Virginia Villarma.

The issue of so-called comfort women isn’t usually mentioned by the Japanese government.

Philippine authorities have also been quiet, afraid that the issue may strain economic ties with Japan, which accounted for 18 percent of the Philippine export market in 2011.

However, in early May a Japanese politician brought the issue to the surface when he drew international press attention by saying that sex slaves served a necessary role during the Second World War, particularly to provide relief to Japanese troops.

“For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest, a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone,” said Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, Japan.

Hashimoto’s words angered the women once part of the comfort system here and in South Korea.

“Such statement is unbecoming of a public official,” Lila Pilipina said in a statement. “Japan cannot rewrite history by justifying such wrongful acts and thus exonerate its crimes against women.”

The group asked the Philippine government to issue a diplomatic protest. Instead, the Filipino Department of Foreign Affairs reminded Japanese officials to be careful in making comments on the issue of comfort women.

Now, survivors are planning to stage a rally on July 22, coinciding with Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation address.

Seeking Apologies
Comfort women have long sought a public, worldwide apology from the Japanese government for the war atrocities committed. They want an apology, too, from Hashimoto, who has since claimed that he was misquoted by the press.

They are also seeking legal compensation from the Japanese government and for the Philippine government to join them in these demands.

“We want the Japanese government to recognize and apologize for its military policy of the use of comfort women during the war,” said Richelda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, which collects testimonies of Filipina comfort women. “Nobody has the right to use women in furtherance of their objectives.”

Lila Pilipina started in 1992 with 174 members. Today only 103 members of the organization are still alive.

They are part of the estimated 100,000 to 250,000 Asian women, many between the ages of 13 and 15, who were abducted by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II to serve as sex slaves.

The army kept them in military brothels where they were repeatedly raped, according to their own testimonies gathered by Lila Pilipina.

For seven decades these lolas have been searching for an apology and financial compensation for what they suffered.

“We will not waver,” said Pilar Frias, 87 years old and widely known as Lola Pilar.

Japanese soldiers abducted Lola Pilar in 1943. She was only 16 years old at the time. She was forced to walk with Japanese military men as they roamed far-flung villages in her province in Camarines Sur in search of Filipino guerilla camps. In between the hunt for rebels, the Japanese troops would take turns raping her. She said around 100 soldiers raped her.

Lola Pilar said there are no words for the pain she went through during this time. When she was pregnant with her second child her husband left her when he heard her story.

To her last breath, she vowed, to join her fellow survivors in the quest for justice.

It’s not easy.

The lolas are old. Their legs are wobbly and they easily get tired.

No Justice Yet
Lila Pilipina’s Extremadura said that their arduous and painful struggle hasn’t gotten them any justice yet.

“We have exhausted everything,” Extremadura said, referring to the legal actions taken by the group.

On April 2, 1983, 18 Filipino comfort women filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court of Japan. They demanded post-war accountability including compensation and reparation.

On Christmas Day of 2003, the Japanese Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, arguing that Japan’s legal system has limitations in complying with international laws.

The mayor’s words have now energized the survivors.

Survivor Villarma can’t remember how old she is. Her almond-shaped eyes squint and her wrinkles seem to double as she tries to remember. Her lips, covered with a faded purple lipstick, purse into an embarrassed smile. She says she is 81. Or 82. No, she is 83, she says finally after counting from 1929.

She forgets many things, such as what she did yesterday morning or the morning before that.

But Lola Virginia, as her family and friends call her, will never forget that scorching noon day in 1943 when three Japanese soldiers dragged her from an empty street in Manila, pulled her black wavy hair and forcibly put her in their car, a small sedan. She was 14. They brought her to an abandoned building not far from Manila Bay where she saw many other girls her age locked up in different rooms.

The soldiers beat her for hours until she could no longer scream. In the evening, more Japanese military men came. And it was then when they took turns raping her. She had lost count. The rapes went on every single night for three months until she and the other girls managed to escape.

Maria Rosa Luna Henson, known as Lola Rosa, was the first Filipino comfort woman to come out in public in 1992, a move that gave way for others who suffered the same plight to also tell their stories.

Lola Rosa died in 1997 but her story did not die with her. For three months in 1943, soldiers raped her from morning to evening, she said in a story she has told and retold and which joins other testimonies compiled in the book “Justice and the Comfort Women,” published by the University of the Philippines, Manila.

Every comfort woman has a story to tell. Many of them no longer remember their children’s ages or how many grandchildren they have. But they still remember the atrocities of war.

Iris Gonzales is a Manila-based journalist and blogger, writing economic, development and humanitarian stories. Some of her work may be read at

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Raoul Wallenberg and the Hungarian Resistance in WWII

Malin Rising in, June 22,2013:

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary, may also have had a secret military mission during World War II, a new book claims.

Citing documents from Hungarian archives, Swedish-Hungarian writer Gellert Kovacs says Wallenberg, whose fate remains shrouded in mystery, had closer links with Hungary’s non-Communist resistance movement than previously thought.

That, Kovacs said, could shed new light on why the Soviets arrested Wallenberg in Budapest in 1945 and why supposedly neutral Sweden remained so passive following his disappearance.

“For me it is very clear that it was also Wallenberg’s mission to act as some kind of co-ordinator between the resistance forces and the Allies,” Kovacs told The Associated Press.

Other researchers investigating Wallenberg’s fate called the information significant, but said it wasn’t enough to conclude that Wallenberg gave military support to Hungarian resistance fighters.

It’s well known that Wallenberg’s work as Sweden’s envoy in Budapest was a cover for a humanitarian mission as secret emissary of the U.S. War Refugee Board, created in an attempt to stem the annihilation of Europe’s Jews. He saved at least 20,000 Jews in Budapest by giving them Swedish travel documents or moving them to safe houses.

In his book, whose Swedish title could be translated as “Dark skies over Budapest,” Kovacs says documents he found in Hungary’s military history archives show how a member of the resistance movement communicated the position of Nazi Germany’s ships in the Danube river to the allies via radio equipment in the Swedish embassy. British planes based on Malta then bombed the ships.

While there is no documentation that links those activities directly to Wallenberg, Kovacs says his research shows Wallenberg had frequent contacts with leaders of the non-communist resistance movement including Kalman Zsabka and Zoltan Miko. Swedish assistance to the Hungarian resistance movement in military operations with the allies would have run counter to Sweden’s neutrality.

Previous research has also shown Wallenberg was in contact with high-ranking resistance leader Geza Soos.

Part of Kovcac’s work is based on research by Hungarian historian Jozsef Gazsi during the Cold War. Gazsi interviewed several former members of the resistance movement who said they had met Wallenberg. One of them, Ferenc Kalmanffy, even said that Wallenberg had given them “hand-grenades, pistols and some machine-guns,” according to Hungarian documents that Kovacs cites in his book.

Susanne Berger, a long-time Wallenberg researcher, called that information significant.

“This is clearly a military political activity and that really stirs up a whole new hornet’s nest,” she told AP.

“The sources and contents Gellert cites obviously have to be critically evaluated, but I see nothing in this material that would indicate that the alleged actions could not be true,” she added.

Swedish author Ingrid Carlberg, who published a biography of Wallenberg last year, said Kovac’s book “paints an entirely new and very interesting picture” of the resistance movement’s use of radio equipment in the Swedish embassy.

However, she said those activities were probably set in motion by the first secretary at the Swedish legation, Per Anger, who she said worked closely with the leader of the resistance group that used the radio equipment.

Wallenberg vanished after being arrested by the Red Army. The Soviets initially denied he was in their custody, but then said in 1957 that he died of a heart attack in prison on July 17, 1947.

If Wallenberg’s activities in Hungary extended beyond humanitarian work, that would make it easier to understand why the Soviets kept him in custody, Kovacs said.

“From their point of view it’s entirely rational,” he said. “They probably believed he had important information and saw him as a threat.”

The information also provides a broader context to Sweden’s passive reaction to Wallenberg’s disappearance, Kovacs said.

Sweden has been widely criticized for prioritizing its relations with the Soviet Union over finding out what happened to Wallenberg.

“He breached all existing diplomatic conventions. If he had made it back I think he would have been scolded by the Foreign Ministry and he would never have gotten another job there,” Kovacs said about Wallenberg. “I think this is the biggest reason why the foreign ministry was so feeble in the first years. They felt Wallenberg put the embassy at risk.”

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WWI and Facebook

Here’s an interesting concept from Facebook. Saya Weissman in, June 18, 2013:

Musée de la la Grande Guerre du pays de Meaux, a museum in France devoted to World War I, with the help of DDB Paris, came up with a fun way to use Facebook as a way to make history a more human experience through digital media.

For “Facebook 1914,” which is a Cannes entry in the “Social Media & Viral Marketing” category, DDB Paris created Facebook profile for a fictional French WWI soldier, Leon Vivien. The agency created Vivien and his identity as a teacher who was thrown into the war based on all of the museum’s information and with the help of historian Jean-Pierre Verney.

According to Vivien’s profile, he was born in Paris on Sept. 10, 1885. His first Facebook posts begin on June 28, 1914, the day of the shot heard ’round the world when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and set off the beginning of WWI. Vivien’s Facebook posts include comments between him and friends who have already joined the army, his life as a teacher, and then once he was accepted on April 10, 1915, his Facebook posts give people an inside look into what life was like for a WWI soldier. Vivien’s posts include details about training and weapons, historical images of WWI, descriptions of battles and life in the trenches. Vivien’s posts continue until May 27, 1915, the date of his death.

This isn’t the first time that social media has been used to recreate history. There is the @RealTimeWWII Twitter account that tweets out in “real-time” WWI events as they happened on the same date and time in 1941 and will continue for five years. However, the use of Facebook, rather than Twitter, for this campaign makes it much more of a personal narrative. The format and layout of the Facebook timeline really lends itself to this kind of historical depiction, and the use of comments from other fictional historical figures and status updates revealing Vivien’s fears about war, his family at home and details like the ground vibrating as explosions and battles wage on really create a vivid picture of what life was like then for WWI soldiers.

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UK Students To Visit WWI Battlefields

From, June 10, 2013:

Two pupils and a teacher from each state school in England will be sent to visit French and Belgian battlefields to mark the World War I centenary, the government has said.

They will be asked to research local people who fought in the war as part of the £5.3m government-funded scheme.

A four-year £50m centenary programme will also include a candle-lit vigil at Westminster Abbey on 4 August 2014.

It will end at 2300 BST – exactly 100 years after war was declared.
Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote

Those four years changed British society forever and it is absolutely vital that we all remember the price paid”

Maria Miller Culture Secretary

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said pupils sent on the battlefield trips, which will take place between spring 2013 and March 2019, would be able to “pay tribute to the fallen, to understand the scale of the suffering inflicted by the war to end all wars”.

“Above all, these visits are a reminder that the First World War is not ancient history but a shared history that unites our country,” he said.

“All of us have some connection with the conflict. No community was untouched by a family tragedy.”

Culture Secretary Maria Miller, announcing the “national acts of remembrance”, referred to a remark attributed to then-foreign secretary Viscount Edward Grey at the announcement of the war that “the lamps are going out all over Europe”.

“A hundred years later, we will extinguish the last candle in Westminster Abbey to commemorate that hour as a mark of respect and remembrance that will set the tone for the events to come,” she said.
Claude Choules in 1936 Claude Choules, the last known combat veteran of World War I, died in 2011, aged 110.

She also revealed the vigil would be preceded on 4 August 2014 by wreath-laying at Glasgow’s Cenotaph and at a military cemetery in Mons, Belgium, where British and German soldiers are buried.

She said the war saw “huge suffering and enormous sacrifice and our centenary programme will mark it with both sorrow and pride, as is fitting”.

“Those four years changed British society forever and it is absolutely vital that we all remember the price paid,” she said.
‘Share heritage’

Ms Miller said the “centrepiece” of the commemorations would be the reopening of London’s Imperial War Museum – founded in 1917 to record the ongoing conflict – following the refurbishment of its World War I galleries.

Other activities planned include:

Events to commemorate the start of the battles of the Somme, Jutland, Gallipoli and Passchendaele as well as Armistice Day
At least £15m from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help young people “conserve ,explore and share local heritage” of the war
An already-announced grant of up to £1m to transform HMS Caroline into a floating museum in Belfast
A £10m programme of cultural events

Meanwhile, critics say the government is not doing enough to explain the reasons behind the war.

Historian Sir Max Hastings said ministers had taken a “non-judgemental approach”.
Continue reading the main story
The First World War

The First World War began in the summer of 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918 – which subsequently became Armistice Day.
It involved all the world’s major powers, but centred on a conflict in Europe between the Central Powers (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottoman Empire) and the Allied forces (Britain, France, Russia).
It was sparked by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the killing and because Europe was linked by a series of diplomatic alliances the affair escalated into full-scale war.
Over 4.5m Britons served as soldiers during the war (in addition to over 3m troops from the British Empire).
Around 8m soldiers were killed – including 947,000 soldiers from the British Empire.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme they were “not willing to say outright what the historians I most respect believe, which is the First World War was not morally different from the Second World War – it was an unspeakable experience for Europe and the British people but it was for a cause worth fighting”.

He said it was “as important that we prevailed over the Germany of that period as it was over the Germany of the Nazi era”.

“The government is never slow to say that Hitler was to blame for the Second World War. I think the government is very frightened of taking any sort of view that might suggest we upset the Germans all over again.”

But Ms Miller, also speaking to Today, said: “I think the role of the government here is clearly to help to set out the facts so that people can make their own minds up.

“I think in Britain we have fantastic historians who are able to do that for us.”

The last known combat veteran of World War I, Claude Choules, died in Australia in 2011, aged 110.

Known to his comrades as Chuckles, British-born Mr Choules joined the Royal Navy at 15 and went on to serve on HMS Revenge.

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