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‘Big Red One’ Soldiers commemorate history of World War I

By Sgt. Michael C. Roach | 19TH PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | April 14, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The 1st Infantry Division Band and the Commanding Gen­eral’s Mounted Color Guard took part in a ceremony April 6 commemorating the United States’ entry into World War I at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

     “We’re very proud to host this event here today,” said Sylvester “Sly” James Jr., may­or of Kansas City, Missouri, while speaking to the crowd. “The World War I museum is one of our crown jewels.”

     “In Sacrifice of Liberty and Peace: Centennial Com­memoration of the U.S. En­try into World War I” was presented by the United States World War One Cen­tennial Commission. A mul­timedia production, the event featured live musical perfor­mances, excerpts from up­coming documentaries on the war, guest speakers and read­ings from various correspon­dence of that period. Flyovers were executed by Patrouille de France — the French air force’s precision aerobatic team and a B-2 stealth bomb­er from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. As part of the ceremony, cannons were fired by Battery D, 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regi­ment, Missouri Army Reserve National Guard.

     Robert M. Speer, acting secretary of the U.S. Army, was one of many guest speak­ers at the event. Speer took the opportunity to explain the lasting impact World War I had on the Army.

     “As the Army Center for Military Excellence has point­ed out,” Speer said, “a Soldier from the 19th century would have been lost and amazed in the Army in 1919 at the close of the war. But, a Soldier from today would have felt right at home.”

     Speer went on to say the stan­dards and traditions begun during World War I not only helped de­fine the Army for a new era but also became a baseline for how the organization continues to func­tion in modern times.

     Commemorating the in­volvement of the U.S. in World War I, the event that marked the beginning of the 1st Inf. Div., the CGMCG donned historic “doughboy” uniforms to serve as the color guard for the ceremony.

     “It’s amazing; it’s the most unique thing I’ve done in my Army career,” said Staff Sgt. Jef­frey Fellin, the operations non­commissioned officer for the CGMCG. “It’s an honor to rep­resent Fort Riley. It’s an honor to represent the 1st Infantry Divi­sion and where we come from.”

     While the era-appropriate uniforms were a change of pace from the normal frontier garb that the CGMCG wears when on horseback, the group is al­ways prepared to dismount for events which help celebrate the heritage of the “Big Red One,” according to Fellin.

     “We often say that the story of the 1st Infantry Division is the story of America over the last 100 years,” said Brig Gen. Patrick D. Frank, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley acting senior commander, who attended the event. “We are here today to commemorate U.S. involve­ment in a war that would largely define the next century of world history. We also re­member the Soldiers who for­ever set the standard for what it means to be a Big Red One Soldier.”

 

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