World War One Commemoration Task Force Meeting Minutes, March 3, 2017
Mr. Vihstadt opened the first meeting by thanking the Task Force (TF) members for agreeing to serve. TF members introduced themselves and described their affiliations.
Mr. Vihstadt took a few minutes to outline the TF role as a County Board appointed body, that meetings were open to the public, that meeting minutes were to be kept and posted, and that the work of the TF was subject to the Virginia Open Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Mr. Vihstadt also explained that members should not engage in online or email “conversations” as such communication can be considered TF business and is also subject to FOIA. TF members are permitted to exchange messages regarding administrative information such as confirming meeting attendance.
The County will establish a TF webpage to highlight the anniversary, promote the work of the TF and communicate with the public on World War One related activities.
Mr. Vihstadt thanked Mr. Fountain for bringing the anniversary effort to the attention of the Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board (HALRB) and subsequently the County Board. Mr. Fountain then described the national World War One Centennial Commission which he co-chairs. He also described his vision for the efforts of the Arlington TF. He emphasized the value of incorporating recognition and commemoration into work already being done (e.g. Libraries, schools, groups outside government).
Additionally, Mr. Fountain mentioned an exhibition being developed at Arlington National Cemetery which will be open to the public beginning April 6. Mr. Simonelli will look into the possibility of the TF meeting at the cemetery in early April; Ms. Finkelstein, who worked on the display, offered to provide a short description of the exhibit at that meeting.
The Arlington Sister Cities Association will host a presentation by Mr. Robert Dalessandro, Chair, national World War One Centennial Commission, at the Arlington Central Library on April 22 at 3 p.m. Mr. Dalessandro will present “World War One and the American Century.”
There was discussion among the membership about possible activities to commemorate the anniversary with an emphasis on the near term. April 6 is the anniversary of the U.S. entry into the war and it was suggested that an event at the Clarendon War Memorial would be an opportunity to acknowledge the anniversary and promote the TF. Mr. Donahue, who represents the American Legion that owns the memorial, said his organization would support such an event. It was further suggested that a color guard could dress as “Doughboys” to present the colors; Mr. Perez from APS ROTC will look into the possibility. Arlington County staff will work on a draft program for April 6.
Mr. Donahue also indicated that the American Legion would make WWI the focus of their Memorial Day program also at the memorial in Clarendon. That is scheduled for May 29.
There was further discussion about suggestions for future commemoration events and activities to include:
- Book events at the County libraries
- Display of WWI poster art
- Film series from WWI era
- Work with students to develop videos (done successfully with the Civil War Sesquicentennial)
- Capturing recollections from surviving family members of WWI veterans
- Connect with honor flights of WWII veterans (as some of their fathers may have been WWI veterans)
- Look at developing the story of Arlington streets with names that tie to the war
- Explaining the history of the Clarendon War Memorial
- Encourage local theater groups to do WWI associated plays
- Promote community service for veterans
- Encourage Arlington Historical Society to do a WWI display
- Promote WWI genealogy
- Look at role of women in WWI
- Develop an APP for a walking tour of Arlington (Arlington National Cemetery has an APP for war sites)
- Musical arts with a WWI theme
- School quiz bowls or other academic contests or initiatives
Andrew McGreal of the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission staff provided a short presentation on State Commissions and the various tools and support that they may provide. His presentation was distributed and will be posted to the TF website.
Ms. Finkelstein and Ms. Steinberger were asked to serve as chair and vice chair respectively; both agreed. [This item revised and approved by TF at April 18, 2017 meeting.]
There was some discussion on a TF meeting schedule but no consensus was reached. County staff will poll the membership about the best next date near the end of March.