To honor the centennial of World War I and the integral role played in this conflict by New York State and New Yorkers, the State Legislature passed and Governor Cuomo signed Bill #6856 on November 29, 2016, creating the New York State World War I 100th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.
The Commission will work to further public engagement with the legacy of New York State and New Yorkers in World War I, serving until November 11, 2018—the centennial of the signing of the Armistice by the Allies and Germany. The Commission will collaborate with federal, state and local stakeholders to promote the wide variety of programs across the state that are designed to commemorate and explore the legacy of World War I, the event that ushered in the Modern Era and transformed the United States into a global power. These events include commemoration events, museum and library exhibits, speaker panels, film screenings, and musical events.
The Commission is made up of the following representatives:
- Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York
- Rose Harvey, Commission Chair, Commissioner, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- Michael F. Lynch, Director, Division for Historic Preservation, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
- Colonel Eric Hesse, Director of the New York State Division of Veteran’s Affairs
- Gavin Landry, Executive Director of Tourism, representing Empire State Development Commissioner Howard Zemsky
- Keith Swaney, archivist at the New York State Archives, as designee of Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, New York State Education Department
In addition, the Commission will invite participation by other stake-holders that may include other agencies, local veterans groups and descendants.
“On the centennial anniversary of America’s entry into World War I, New York’s commemoration activities will convey the pivotal role New Yorkers played in the War and help us preserve the names and stories of those who served. This war changed us as a nation, and no state dedicated more to the Allied victory than did New York.”
- Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
- Major General Anthony German
“New York played a pivotal role in America’s defense of the ideals of freedom and democracy. The New Yorkers who served during World War I faced a conflict that the world had never previously seen. They faced this challenge with courage and grace, for their service and actions we are eternally grateful. On this 100th Anniversary commemorating the United States entry into World War I, it important to remember the hero Veterans like Father Duffy and Henry Johnson who after their valiant service to our country, returned to New York to continue their work through public service to their state. It is the tradition of Veterans then and now to keep this spirit of service far beyond their Military experience and we honor that today as well.”
- Division of Veterans’ Affairs Director Eric J. Hesse
"The 369th gained their glory while fighting with the French 4th Army. The French Army had Moroccans troops and didn’t have the color problem that the U.S. Army had at that time. The 369th became the most decorated unit in World War One, earning the honor to be the first to cross over and occupy a German Town in Germany after the fighting stopped. They returned with great honors with a parade up 5th Avenue in New York City."
- Maj. General Nathaniel James (retired), New York Army National Guard, President, Harlem Hellfighters Historical Society
“New York and New Yorkers played a critical role in fighting what everyone hoped would be the “War to end all Wars,” from providing soldiers and supplies, to building planes and training pilots, and providing care to the injured. There are no surviving members of the military from WWI, but we can recognize and honor their service on this centennial, and commemorate the tradition of service above self that has been passed down through generations of New Yorkers to the present day.”
- Chair, Commissioner Rose Harvey, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation