Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee Meeting


Old State House Museum

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
Angela Kubaiko – Administrative Analyst

Members Absent

Peter MacKeith - Dean, Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design, University of Arkansas
Lt. Col. Joel Lynch - Public Affairs Officer, Arkansas National Guard
Dr. Lisa Speer – Arkansas State Historian
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
Bill Wussick – Designee, Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs


Laura Leger – American Legion
Michael Leger – American Legion
Jake Sandlin – Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Mary Claire Hill – Mangan Holcomb Partners

The meeting was called to order by Dr. Fisher at 9:36 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 August 16, 2017, meeting. Dr. Screws 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 August 16, 2017, minutes.

WWI Memorial Tree Project Update


Mr. Christ reports that the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration

Committee has a partnership with the State Forestry Commission and the chairman of the Forestry Commission is Joe Fox, whose grandfather was a doughboy.The State Forestry Commission has provided 75 Willow Oak trees so each county can have one tree.

The process includes contacting Mark Christ or Angela Kubaiko and processing the application on a first come first served basis.Once the application has been approved, the information is sent to the County Forester.Most counties have their own Forester and some of the Delta counties have a regional forester.The forester makes contact with the sponsor and makes plans to deliver and plant the tree.They also make sure the planting spot is optimum for the health of the tree to thrive.The trees are three years old.The inaugural tree was planted at the Old State House Museum on September 23, 2017, after the WWI Seminar.

On Dr. Fisher’s recommendation, the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France was contacted in order to provide three pounds of soil to be shared in all of the 75 tree plantings.

Since the beginning of the WWI Memorial Tree project on September 23, 2017, 35 counties have submitted applications. The application is on the WWI Arkansas website and there is a list showing all of the counties that have and have not submitted applications.

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, 66 events have been sanctioned by the Commission. Since the inception of the WWI Centennial Committee, 69 events have been sanctioned and those events have resulted in 39,898 attendees.

Dr. Screws reports that the National Guard Museum Minuteman Days was a success with 550 attendees.There were re-enactors and food trucks.There may be future Minuteman Days.

The War Remembers Project

The War Remembers Project is a digital exhibit that would display the names of all those who died in WWI.They need our participation to include the list of all the Arkansans who died in WWI.Dr. Fisher makes a motion for participating in The War Remembers Project.Mr. Christ seconded the motion. The motion passes.

Dr. Fisher calls on Mr. Christ to report on the WWI Podcasts.

WWI Podcasts


Mr. Christ reports that this is the second semester that the Committee has worked with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Mass Communications.A student named Eric Holsomback engineering. They are 3-5 minute audio mini lectures about different aspects of Arkansas and WWI. This semester there are three podcasts from Blake Perkins from Williams Baptist College about draft resistance in the Ozarks region.This was the topic of his dissertation.

Joe Fox, the State Forester, told his family story.His grandfather was from Pine Bluff and went to Officer Training School and was assigned to a Wisconsin unit.He went overseas and was wounded three times.When he came back he told his family that he buried the bloody shirt. Fox’s grandfather explained that his grandfather had been a Confederate cavalryman at the Battle of Yellow Tavern in Virginia and he was killed in this battle.The unit that they were fighting was the lineal ancestor of the same Wisconsin unit that Fox’s grandfather was serving with in WWI.

Michael Dougan, a retired historian from Arkansas State, did a podcast on John McGavock Grider, a noted airman from Arkansas.Grider Field in Pine Bluff is named after him.It was twelve minutes long so there will be a part one and part two.

Mark Christ did two on fliers with Arkansas Roots.David Sesser from Henderson State did a few about training troops in Arkansas.Don Bragg, an employee of the US Forestry service in Magnolia, did one about a regiment of foresters that included some Arkansans, some of whom died when their transport was torpedoed on the way to France.

Dr. Lisa Speer is working on a future podcast as well as Buck Foster from the University of Central Arkansas.

New Business/Public Input


Mr. Christ reports that Bill Wussick has replaced Sarah Jones as the Designee for the Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs on this committee.

Laura Leger reports that the American Legion is coming up with plans to introduce a WWI Centennial coin.

Schedule Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock.It will begin at 9:30 a.m.