Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee Meeting


MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Members Present

Dr. Shawn Fisher – Professor of History, Harding University
Dr. Raymond (Ray) Screws - Director, Arkansas National Guard Museum
Mark Christ - Designee, Department of Arkansas Heritage
Dr. Lisa Speer – Arkansas State Historian
Angela Kubaiko – Administrative Analyst

Members Absent

Peter MacKeith - Dean, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, University of Arkansas
Major General Mark Berry – Adjutant General, Arkansas National Guard; Director, Military Dept. of Arkansas
Lt. Col. Ken Griffin (Retired) – Military and Veterans Affairs Liaison, Office of the Governor
Sarah Jones – Designee, Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Lt. Col. Joel Lynch - Public Affairs Officer, Arkansas National Guard


Jake Sandlin – Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Laura Leger – American Legion
Julie Robbins – MHP/Team SI
Grace Burnhott – MHP/Team SI
Mary Claire Hill – MHP/Team SI
Mike Polston – Encyclopedia of Arkansas
Elizabeth Hill – Arkansas Women’s History Institute
Maggie Herrick – Arkansas Department of Education
Carolyn Ashcraft – Arkansas State Library

The meeting was called to order by Dr. Fisher at 9:34 a.m.


Dr. Fisher asks all of the guests to introduce themselves.


Approval of Minutes


Dr. Fisher asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the March 15, 2017, meeting. Dr. Speer made a motion to approve the minutes.The motion was seconded by Mr. Christ.A vote was taken, all approved the motion.No one opposed.The motion was passed to approve the minutes of the March 15, 2017, minutes.


Report on Kick-off Event


Mr. Christ reports that the kick-off event took place on April 8, 2017, at the Old State House.The Governor made an address officially kicking off the centennial of the Great War.There were living history performers and several jazz groups performing throughout the day.There was a steady crowd all day and counted 520 people attending.

Mr. Christ discusses Arkansas Heritage Month in May.The theme is State of War: Arkansas in WWI.Several dozen events are going to be held around the state that will address the theme of WWI.Those events are sanctioned as Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee events.

Dr. Fisher calls on Mr. Christ to report on the Memorial Tree Project.

Memorial Tree Project Update

Mr. Christ reports that the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee has a partnership with the Arkansas Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission has 100 Red Oak tree saplings set aside to be planted as WWI Memorial trees.The goal is to have one in each of the 75 counties in Arkansas.The goal is to get soil from the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France to put some battlefield soil with each planting.Mr. Christ applied in March for a permit from the USDA.It is currently in progress, but not approved yet.The plan is to receive the permit and begin the process of getting the soil to Arkansas to begin the program.The goal is to plant the first tree at the Old State House since that building was saved in part by being designated the State War Memorial for WWI back in the 1920s.

Dr. Fisher visited several cemeteries while he was in Italy.One of the WWII cemeteries was just outside of Florence.Over 2500 servicemen and servicewomen were buried there.Dr. Fisher spoke with the organization that runs the cemetery and they stated they had shipped soil to the state of Indiana for a memorial project.

Dr. Fisher also visited the WWII Normandy cemetery which had approximately 10,000 soldiers buried.Dr. Fisher also visited the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France which has approximate 20,000 soldiers, buried which is the largest overseas cemetery.He stated it is very large and a very somber place.He stated he had no luck finding an Arkansas grave to visit since they did not group them by state.

Dr. Fisher calls on Ms. Kubaiko to report on the WWI events.

WWI Events Update


Ms. Kubaiko reports that during the calendar year of 2017, 21 events have been sanctioned by the Commission. Since the inception of the WWI Centennial Committee, 29 events have been sanctioned and those events have resulted in 16,519 attendees.

Dr. Fisher calls on Dr. Speer to report on the traveling exhibit.

Traveling Exhibit Update

Dr. Speer reports that the traveling exhibit has visited nearly 30 locations. It has been almost continually booked except for inspections and for a name change when the History Commission became known as the State Archives.It is not currently booked for 2018.There is also an on-site WWI exhibit at the State Archives called “On the Fields and in the Trenches: Artifacts from the First World War.”It is similar to the traveling exhibit, but it has several artifacts on display from the State Archives collection.

Dr. Fisher calls on Dr. Screws to report on the Camp Pike Centennial Event.

Camp Pike Centennial Event

Dr. Screws reports that the event will take place on Saturday, September 16 with a few things scheduled on Friday, September 15.There is a golf tournament scheduled for the 15th with a possible hole in one contest.There will be a four mile trail run scheduled for the 16th.There will be food trucks and the museum will be open.

New Business/Public Input

Dr. Screws reports there will be a new permanent exhibit at the National Guard Museum inside Camp Robinson that will tell the history of Camp Pike beginning July 22.Dr. Screws also reminds everyone about the teacher workshop on June 28 – June 30 at Camp Robinson.

Mr. Christ reports that the Old State House will host two mini seminars on Arkansas in WWI.The first will be on October 23 and will feature Dr. Fisher giving an overview and context, Elizabeth Hill talking about the War on the Homefront, Carl Drexler from Southern Arkansas University will talk about manufacturing in Arkansas and how WWI affected it, and Cherisse Jones-Branch from ASU will talk about African-Americans during the War.

In 2018, the date has not been set.Dr. Screws will talk about the National Guard. A speaker will talk on veterans issues from the war, Grift Stockley will talk about the connection between WWI and the Elaine Race Riots, and another speaker will talk about WWI being the road to WWII.The goal is to self-publish the proceeding from the seminars.

Schedule Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, August 16, 2017, at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock.It will begin at 9:30 a.m.


Dr. Fisher asks for a motion to adjourn.Dr. Screws makes a motion and Dr. Speer seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 10:12 a.m.