Tennessee Great War Commission (TGWC)
Confirmed Events/Articles for 2017


January 4: TGWC Commissioner Andy Pouncey’s presentation about the World War I Centennial at the East Memphis Rotary Club.

January 19: World War I Centennial presentation given to the Northeast Memphis Rotary Club by TGWC Commissioner Andy Pouncey. “A World War Without Tennessee,” by Maury Nicely, Chattanooga Times-Free Press (Sunday January 29, 1917). Each month a new article will run in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press concerning World War I and some period articles will be reprinted.

January 31(Tuesday) 4 p.m.: Josh Jeffery, “Losing My Religion: The Effect of World War I on the Theology of the Stone-Campbell Movement.“ (Talk in the AfterWars Seminar Series of the UTK Center for the Study of War and Society, Knoxville) E308 Melrose Hall on the UT Knoxville campus.

January-December, 2017: Educational website dedicated to the memory of World War I in West Tennessee, hosted by UT Martin. http://libguides.utm.edu/c.php?g=396116

January-December, 2017: State wide participation in the Poppies Project in conjunction with the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission (USWWICC).


February 6: (Monday) 12:15 p.m.: Robert Rennie. “Privileged Killers: The Role of Violence in First World War German Aviation,” E308 Melrose Hall (Talk in the AfterWars Seminar Series of the UTK Center for the Study of War and Society, Knoxville).

February 8: World War I Centennial presentation for the East Memphis Rotary Club.

February 15-16: “World War : The (Not So) Great War,” Chattanooga Theatre Center, performances 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. EST, Louis Varnell coordinating.

February 22-23: “Over There, Over Here,” TSLA digitization project, Blount County Archives, Maryville.

February 23 (Thursday), 5:30 p.m.: Dr. Chad Williams of Brandeis University, “Torchbearers of Democracy: The History and Legacy of African American Soldiers in World War I,” UTK Alumni Memorial Building Room 210, History Department’s Fleming-Morrow Distinguished Lecture in African-American History, co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of War and Society.

February 25-26: “Winter in the Trenches,” Living history demonstrations at the Alvin C. York Historic Site. “On the Border in Search of Pancho Villa: Tennessee’s National Guard on the Eve of the First World War,” Major Darrin Haas, Chattanooga Times-Free Press (February 26, 2017)


March 3: History Fair, Knoxville, featuring Living History, literature about the TGWC, etc.

March 4-5: Memphis Mid-South Military History and Civil War Show at the Agri-center Showplace Arena, 105 South Germantown Road.

March 18, 2:00 p.m. E.S.T.: “Forgotten Heroes: Cherokee Code Talkers and the First World War,” presented by Pat Gang at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Vonore, Tennessee.

March 24-25: Annual black powder match at the Alvin C. York Historic Site. “Rising Tide and Rising Fears: The Tennessee River Flood of 1917,” Michael E. Birdwell, Chattanooga Times-Free Press (March 26, 1917).

March - June

“Send Me Away With a Smile: Nashville and the Great War,” Metro Archives Exhibit featuring documents from their collection, and pertinent artifacts, TGWC Commissioner Ken Fieth, curator.

“Tennessee National Guard Medal of Honor Recipients in the Great War,” exhibit at Houston Barracks, 3401 Sidco Drive, Nashville, Major Darrin Haas, curator.


April 1: TGWC Commissioner Dr. Michael Birdwell will be speaking to the Chattanooga Area Historical Association at the Mountain City Club (Scott Seagle’s invitation) “Chattanooga and the First World War.”

April 1, 10:00-5:00: “World War I Comes to Belle Meade” at Belle Meade Plantation, hosted by Jesse Williams.

April 1, 6:00-8:00 p. m.: “Nerd Night: Remembering World War I,” Belle Meade Plantation, hosted by Jesse Williams.

April 6: Several events focusing on the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson’s Declaration of War. Venues include the National Cemetery, Chattanooga; East Tennessee War Memorial, Knoxville; War Memorial Courtyard; Memphis Doughboy Statue; Belle Meade Plantation; Blount County War Dead Memorial, Maryville, Jackson, and the Alvin C. York Site. Keynote speakers include Dr. Vejas Liulevicius of UT’s Center for the Study of War and Society, and Robert Rennie.

April 6: Over There, Over Here, TSLA Digitization Project, Franklin, Williamson County Archives.

April 6: Newspapers across the state will reprint the war declaration

April 6: Commemoration of the U.S. entry into WWI - Courtyard of War Memorial Auditorium 301 6th Ave. N., Nashville TN 37243
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Noon – Introduction by Jeff Wells, Master of Ceremonies
12:15 p.m. – Presentation of Colors and Pledge of Allegiance
12:30 p.m. – Remarks and Commemoration

April 7 (Friday) 1:00-3:00 p.m.: First Friday Open House at McClung Museum on the UT Knoxville campus. The event is devoted to the First World War, and hosted in cooperation with the UTK Center for the Study of War and Society.

April 8: Overton Park, Memphis event hosted by commissioners Andy Pouncey, Dr. Catherine Carls, and Richard Gonzales concerning the reactions in West Tennessee to President Wilson’s war declaration and special guest Chester Berryhill who was appointed to the American Battle Monuments Commission by President George W. Bush.

April 10, 7:00 p.m. Fellowship Hall, First Presbyterian Church, Cookeville: Dr. Jeannette Keith, “Rich Man’s War; Poor Man’s Fight: Tennesseans Reactions to the Draft 1917-1918.”

April 14-15: Tennessee Military Collectors Association Spring Meeting at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs Conference Center, featuring the life of World War I Medal of Honor recipient Buck Karnes.

April 21: TGWC Commissioner Dr. Michael Birdwell, guest speaker at the DAR annual convention in Nashville, “A Fight from the Start: Tennesseans in World War I”

April 22: World War I Film Series begins in Chattanooga with the screening of Charlie Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms and Buster Keaton’s Doughboys.

April: (Date yet to be determined), Publication of a historic study of the World War I memorial fountain in Jackson.

April 28-29: Fentress County Historical Society History Fair. Events will take place at York Institute on the 28th and at York Elementary on the 29th and feature exhibits and presentations to commemorate the First World War. Dr. Michael Birdwell is the keynote speaker at 6:00 p.m. at York Institute, “Alvin York: America’s Reluctant Hero.” Living History programs throughout the year working in conjunction with Tennessee State Parks. (e.g. Hobart Akin portrays Chattanoogan Ellsworth Brown.)

April - June, Erlanger Hospital;

September -November, Bessie Smith Center

“African American Doctors in WWI with a Tennessee connection,”panel discussion at the opening with Doug Fisher and Joann Buckley, etc. Of the 104 African American doctors who served in WWI, over half were from Tennessee or went to medical school in the Volunteer State. This exhibit will travel across the state through 2019.


“The Other Five: Forgotten Tennesseans who Earned the Medal of Honor (MOH),” Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Center, Charles Googe and James J.W. Scott, curators. This is a new exhibit that will travel after its designated time in Chattanooga through November.

May 18-20: Tennessee Preservation Trust Annual Conference in Jackson. “Preservation in Crisis,” featuring sessions on World War I and Tennessee’s commemoration of the Great War and preserving its history in the Volunteer State.

Date to be determined, Over There, Over Here, TSLA Digitization Project, Johnson City Public Library.


June 5: One hundred years ago the first draft went into effect, for all men between the ages of 21 and 31 required to register. Newspapers across the state should reprint period articles of the reactions across the state.

June 10-11: “Camp Greenleaf” exhibit at Fort Oglethorpe, Louis Varnell, curator.


Teachers’ Workshop, “World War I and Tennessee: From the Homefront to the Battlefield and Back,” led by Lisa Oakley, East Tennessee Historical Society, Kelly Wilkerson, Tennessee State Library and Archives, and Dr. Michael Birdwell. Venue to be determined, possibly Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. The 3-5 day workshop will be open to teachers across the state, and capped at 25 participants.


August 18, 4:00-7:00: “On the Homefront: Life in Nashville During World War I,” a kid-friendly event at Belle Meade Plantation, hosted by Jesse Williams.

August 19: East Tennessee History Fair, Knoxville. It will include living history, presentations, media, etc.


September 16-17: Living history events at the Alvin C. York Historic Site, Pall Mall.

September 27: USWWICC Upper Midwest Regional Meeting (Tennessee is included in that designation) at the Pritzker Military Museum, Chicago, Illinois with host Dr. Susan Menenga.

September 12, 2017-January 21, 2018

“Trench Art of the First World War,” Vanderbilt Fine Art Gallery, Margaret Walker, Curator.


October 8: Chamber Music concert featuring period music, and a discussion of the three Tennesseans who earned the MOH based on their actions that day, Sergeant Buck Karnes, Calvin Ward, and Alvin C. York. Venue(to be determined) Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall? Tivoli? Hunter Museum?

October 8: 99th Anniversary of Sergeant York’s battle in France: Living History Event; Debut “Sergeant Alvin York: World War I Hero,” a one-man play starring Randy Springer, written by award-winning international playwright Lisa Soland

October 23: Recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first American wounded in action near Bathelemont north of Luneville, France— George Ashburn of Fentress and Cumberland County. He survived his wounds and is buried in the Campground Cemetery in Clarkrange.

October: (Date yet to be determined) Roundtable about West Tennessee’s role in the Great War.


“In the Footsteps of Sergeant York,” exhibit, 6th Cavalry Museum, Fort Oglethorpe.

October 6-January 21

“World War I and American Art,” Ingram Gallery, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville.


Signature Events in Chattanooga, November 2-4

November 2-3: Symposium, featuring academic presentations, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

November 2-3: Over There, Over Here, TSLA Digitization Project in Chattanooga, venue yet determined.

November 2, 4: World War I walking tour of Chattanooga, led by Maury Nicely.

November 3: Guest Speaker–yet to be determined

November 4: Living history, demonstrations, etc. Coolidge Park. Signature Events at the Alvin C. York Historic Site, November 10-13

November 10-13: Living history and demonstrations.

November 11: Armistice Day observance, special music and speakers and one-man play “Sergeant Alvin C. York: World War I Hero.”


December 13, 2017: Sergeant York’s 130th Birthday, Christmas in the Valley Program.

Other events being planned for 2017, dates yet to be determined Lectures on African American contributions during the war at Bicentennial Mall. Musical element focusing on Harlem Hellfighters. Partner with Meharry to tell MD story and bring the traveling exhibit to Nashville.


February 2018: “Winter in the Trenches,” Living history event at the Alvin C. York Site. Exact dates yet to be determined.


March 2018: American Legion Exhibit commemorating its 1st Caucus (March15,1919) Paris, France. Organized by Theodore Roosevelt Jr., and Luke Lea, several Tennesseans were in attendance including General Lawrence Tyson, Colonel Cary Spence, Colonel Harry Berry, Sergeant York, etc. Sergeant York Memorial Black Powder Shoot, both events at the Alvin C. York Historic Site.


April 2018: World War I Film Festival in the Barn at the Alvin C. York Historic site and a new exhibit featuring the George Patullo’s Saturday Evening Post article that launched York’s fame “The Second Elder Gives Battle.” Living history at the Bicentennial Mall with the Ebony Doughboys. Concurrent exhibit at Robert Churchwell Museum Magnet School re. African Americans in World War I.


May 2018: Re-dedication of the Wolf River Bridge, to be christened the World War I Centennial Bridge; kick off Poppy Program with World War I period music in the barn at the Alvin C. York Historic Site.


June 7: Special hike to Wedding Rock on the anniversary of Alvin C. York and Gracie Williams wedding.

June 12: Special exhibit on the anniversary of Sister Cities Pall Mall, Tennessee and Chatel-Chehery, France.


July 4: Independence Day celebration and “Sergeant Alvin York: World War I Hero,” one-man play starring Randy Springer, written by Lisa Soland.


August 2018: Tennessee Day for all World War I Veterans in conjunction with a newTennessee Home Front Exhibit.


September 2018: Ceremony laying new wreaths upon the graves of Sergeant Alvin C. York (December 13, 1887 - September 2 1964) and Gracie Williams York (February 7, 1900 – September 27, 1984).


October 8, 2018: 100th anniversary of Sergeant Alvin C. York’s action in the Meuse Argonne near Chatel-Chehery, France.


November 1-3: World War I symposium, exhibits and period music at Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville.

November 9-11, 2018: 100th anniversary of the Armistice, International Veterans Day Ceremony and three-day Living History Commemoration with WWI Trenches and re-enactments at Sergeant York’s Home in Pall Mall

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