Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee Meeting


MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Members Present

Mark Christ - Designee, Department of Arkansas Heritage
Dr. Raymond (Ray) Screws - Director, Arkansas National Guard Museum
Dr. Shawn Fisher – Professor of History, Harding University
Dr. Lisa Speer – Arkansas State Historian
Lt. Col. Joel Lynch - Public Affairs Officer, Arkansas National Guard
Sarah Jones – Designee, Arkansas Department of Veteran’s Affairs
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


Michael Westergren – American Legion
Melissa Whitfield – Department of Arkansas Heritage
Elizabeth Hill – Arkansas Women’s History Institute
Kent Goff – Mississippi Valley Educational Programs
Georganne Sisco – Education Director, Old State House Museum
Mike Polston – Butler Center for Arkansas Studies

The meeting was called to order by Dr. Fisher at 9:33 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 November 2, 2016, meeting. Lt. Col. Lynch 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 November 2, 2016, minutes.

Dr. Fisher calls on Dr. Speer to report on the WWI Traveling Exhibit.

Report on WWI Traveling Exhibit


Dr. Speer reports that the traveling exhibit brochures and panels were re-printed to clarify the joint effort of the Arkansas World War I Centennial Commemoration Committee and the Arkansas State Archives and to reflect the name change of the State Archives. Dr. Speer also passed around a sheet containing the places the exhibit has and will visit. It visited 4 locations in 2015, 9 locations in 2016, and will visit 14 locations in 2017. However, 2018 is available for booking.

Dr. Fisher calls on Dr. Screws to report on the Lesson Plans Subcommittee.

Report on Lesson Plans Subcommittee

Dr. Screws reports that they have planned a teacher workshop for June 28-June 30, 2017, to be held at Arkansas National Guard Museum inside Camp Robinson. This will be useful because teachers are required to get a certain amount of professional development every year so that they can maintain their teaching license. These workshops count as hours towards this maintenance. University of Central Arkansas will handle the appropriate way to credit the teachers for the hours.

The purpose of the workshop is to create lesson plans that will be available on the WWI website so that teachers around the state can use to teach their students about WWI in Arkansas.

Dr. Screws is working on plans so that the teachers will be able to stay at Camp Robinson.

Dr. Fisher calls on Ms. Sisco to report on the kick-off event.

Discussion of Kick-Off Event

Ms. Sisco reports that the event will be on Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Musical groups will perform throughout the day, short (less than 30 minutes) scholarly presentations, living history presentations including soldiers, Red Cross, and women’s land army.

Mr. Christ suggests asking the Governor to help open the event and having Dr. Screws say a few words. This would be a short part of the day approximately 15 minutes.

Ms. Sisco also asks the committee if they know any groups who would like to set up a table and talk about what they are doing to help commemorate the centennial of WWI.

Ms. Sisco states that attendance at these kinds of gatherings can range from 200-800 people. Nice weather helps, but there is a rain plan in place to accommodate everyone inside.

There is a plan to have advertising on RadioCals to help promote the event.

Dr. Screws calls on Ms. Whitfield to report on the Arkansas Heritage Month.

Discussion of Arkansas Heritage Month

Ms. Whitfield reports that 2017’s heritage month will be a continuation of April’s event. The theme will be “A State of War: Arkansas Remembers WWI.” Every year the Department of Arkansas Heritage gives grants to local communities to hold their own observance or exhibits. The Committee will meet at the end of January 2017. There are 20 applicants and the pool is $50,000 with up to $5,000 for each applicant to help sponsor an event that takes place during the month of May. Department of Arkansas Heritage has been celebrating May as Heritage Month since 1982.

Usually nonprofits, local museums, and historical societies take advantage of the grants.

The grants are announced in April and promoted through the website and media. There is also always a free Heritage Month poster available to the public.

Mr. Christ suggests including grantees’ events as sanctioned on the website.

Dr. Fisher suggests thinking ahead to November 11, 2018 to planning an event to commemorate Armistice Day.

Dr. Fisher suggests contacting the local judges and asking them to hold an event honoring the local veterans of WWI at the WWI memorial sites. There is an Association of Arkansas counties Judges organization. The committee could attend their annual conference to ask them to work on this.

Ms. Jones lets the committee know that the Arkansas Department of Veteran Affairs has the governor at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day as the official state ceremony. It usually runs around 30 minutes and they usually have a speaker talking about WWI.

Dr. Fisher and Ms. Jones think working together on this day is best.

Dr. Fisher calls on Lt. Col. Lynch to report on the Camp Pike centennial event.

Camp Pike/Robinson Centennial Event

Lt. Col. Lynch reports that September 5, 2017 is the centennial year for Camp Pike because that’s when they started receiving troops.

Lt. Col. Lynch wants to invite the public to Camp Robinson for the day. Lt. Col. Lynch and Dr. Screws are working on a committee to help commemorate the event. They are planning several events including the National Guard museum commemorating WWI and athletic events as well.

Dr. Fisher calls on Mr. Polston to report on a possible memorial tree project.

Possible Memorial Tree Project

Mr. Polston reports that there was a world-wide program to plant memorial trees. It started in Europe and spread to the United States to plant oak trees. His idea is to have every county in the state to plant a tree and everyone else who wants to participate.

Dr. Screws suggests some were planted at county courthouses and may have a plaque.

Dr. Fisher suggests tying this in with the 2018 Armistice Day. The goal is to hold a commemoration and plant a tree.

Mr. Christ suggests the Forestry Commission would be interested in partnering with us. They might even be able to provide the saplings. This might also be an activity to partner with the Boy Scouts and the American Legion.

Mr. Goff suggests collecting the nut crops from the original WWI memorial trees and starting a new generation of trees.

Dr. Screws also suggests looking for the trees where structures were built to commemorate WWI veterans.

Dr. Fisher wants to try to bring back something from the battlefields of Europe for the state level.

Mr. Westergren suggests bringing soil from Europe and planting it with the tree.

Dr. Fisher calls on Lt. Col. Lynch to report on the dedication of the Broadway Bridge.

Discussion of Broadway Bridge Dedication

Lt. Col. Lynch reports that the National Guard and Arkansas Highway Department are meeting later in January to try to nail down a date that is significant such as the declaration of war in April to re-dedicate the bridge.

Dr. Fisher calls on the committee to report on old business.

Old Business

Mr. Christ reports that the podcasts is a partnership with UALR Mass Communications Department. Last semester 13 were created. Mr. Christ hopes to create some video podcasts this semester as well as the usual audio podcasts.

Mr. Christ reports that he will be working with KUAR to record at least 3 WWI Minutes every month during the commemoration. The website will also hold all of the recordings as well. KUAF in Fayetteville and KASU in Jonesboro will be broadcasting the minutes as well.

Dr. Fisher suggests partnering with the radio station at Harding to see if they are interested.

Ms. Kubaiko reports that over half of the memorials have been uploaded to the National WWI website which includes all of the memorials in the United States.

Mr. Christ reports that the tree project will be good for forming new partnerships. Mr. Christ sent out an e-mail to all of the symphony orchestras to urge that they perform WWI musical programs. Sequoyah National Research Center provided a picture of a code talker from WWI and they are on the Sites and Memorials page.

New Business

Dr. Screws reports that he was awarded a grant to help renovate the Pike Room in the National Guard Museum from the Humanities Council. It was $4,900.

Schedule Next Meeting

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at The Old State House in Little Rock. It will begin at 9:30 a.m.


Dr. Fisher asks for a motion to adjourn. Lt. Col. Lynch makes a motion and Dr. Screws seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 10:32 a.m.