The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is pleased to host an illustrated talk on World War I battlefields by local historian William Walker on Thursday, June 3, at 5:00 p.m. in the Presidential Library’s Dolores Lescure Center.  The talk is free and open to the public.                                                          

William Walker is writing a book about World War I.  He is a former Associate Vice President for Public Affairs at the College of William and Mary and worked in similar positions at Gettysburg College, Virginia Tech, and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  He earned Bachelors and Masters in degrees in English at the University of Virginia and completed his course work for his Ph.D. in English from Tulane University, where he was a Woodrow Wilson fellow.

The talk is related to the Presidential Library’s planned extensive tour of the World War I battlefields in October to be led by Mr. Walker and fellow World War I author Edward Lengel.  Scheduled for October 12-19, 2010, the tour will focus on the battlefields of General John J. Pershing’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive, including the site of Sergeant Alvin York's heroics, the area of the Lost Battalion, and the heavily fortified hill of Montfaucon, called the "Little Gibraltar" of the Western Front.  In addition, participants will spend a day in Paris before returning home.   

The Meuse-Argonne Offensive remains the country’s largest battle involving 1.2 million American soldiers.  The offensive, which broke the German's famed Hindenburg Line, was the pivotal battle for Americans who participated in World War I.  It involved numerous divisions, including the 29th Division (Blue and Gray Division) and the 80th Division (Blue Ridge Division).  Because many soldiers from the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia served in these units, the tour will visit sites connected with the two divisions.  Participants in the tour, which will also cover the brutal 1916 battle of Verdun, will be able to climb into original French and German trenches and bunkers, trace the attacks of significant units, and experience the dense Argonne Forest, which was the site of fierce fighting.               

The talk and tour continue a series of initiatives of the Presidential Library to recognize veterans and raise awareness about World War I, including a new World War I exhibit and a free Veterans Day program last November to recognize President Wilson’s involvement in the formation of Veterans Day.   

For more information on the talk, contact William Browning at the WWPL (540) 885-0897, ext. 119, or  For more information on the tour, contact Robin von Seldeneck at (540) 885-0897, ext. 114, or, or call Shenandoah Tours at (800) 572-3303.  

did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation