French cavalry with an aircraft overhead, 1916. World War I was a time of incredible technological innovation and so is its remembrance.
Technology & World War I: Then and Now
By Theo Mayer
Chief Technologist, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission/Doughboy Foundation
“The soldiers rode into World War I on horseback and rode out in tanks and airplanes,” is a popular quote about WWI. "The War that Changed the World" was a driving force for incredible technology advancement and innovation. So it is only fitting that WWI’s remembrance should also be imbued with innovation.
The industrialization of warfare and its horrific destructive forces such as machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, bombs, tanks and submarines were one aspect, but WWI also helped shape the modern world with incredible advancements in medicine, radio, automobiles, even personal technologies like wrist watches, and pocket cameras.
The point of this article is not those 20th century technologies. Instead, we are going to present the new 21st century technologies being used for the remembrance and commemoration of WWI including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, podcasting, streaming, photogrammetry, 3D printing and more.
Augmented Reality Used for a Virtual Field Trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In August of 2020, the Doughboy Foundation released a very advanced smartphone app called the: WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer”. The App allows anyone to take a virtual field trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. using a powerful technology called Augmented Reality or AR.
Many people have heard about AR but most people have not used it much. This virtual field trip brings the new National WWI Memorial to living rooms, classrooms and backyards anywhere, in a very realistic and experiential way. It is also filled with stories and information about WWI. Learn more with this video that provides a demonstration, as we explain a bit about AR and follow a group of first-time users, aged 17-48 while they discover and explore the App and its content.
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Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D. are on location, filming outside the crumbling walls of the redoubtable Fort Souville, near Verdun, France. Camera operators and a boom soundman are setting up to shoot a scene for the documentary movie, Pershing’s Paths of Glory. Some young American student cadets can be heard talking nearby with decorated Army veteran, David A. Poe. Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, is on set to talk about his accomplishments as the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in WWI. The filmmaking team of 32 people spends two weeks shooting on the battlefields, in the trenches, and at the graveyards left behind by this “war to end all wars”. The group will also discover small, home-built WWI museums whose proprietors/guides add emotional texture to the emerging documentary. Returning to the United States, the documentary team films in historic American locations such as Laclede, Missouri, the boyhood home of Pershing, Kansas City, Missouri, the WWI Museum, and Washington D. C., the Arlington National Cemetery where Pershing is buried. The resulting 45-minute documentary film, Pershing’s Paths of Glory, is distributed via Dreamscape, and available as a DVD on Amazon.com.
Pershing’s Paths of Glory Comes to Life
By Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site
Following careers in marketing and education, we (Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.) decided to direct and produce documentary films. Initially, Joe produced branded content and marketing documentaries. He was fortunate to have worked with Oscar-winning documentary director, Mark Jonathan Harris on the short documentary, A Delicate Balance, shot in 2005 at the City of Hope (Duarte, California), his marketing client. To raise funding for that effort, the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF), a 501c3 IRS-approved nonprofit was founded.
We then began a prison project, visiting and filming inside two California prisons, San Quentin and the Valley State Prison for Women in 2012. Unfortunately, the project was interrupted and subsequently cancelled by the closure of the women’s prison. However, the property is now in pre-production, entitled Female and Finally Free.
We produced and directed a documentary titled With One Tied Hand in 2013 which explores the fighting and subsequent liberation of Tuscany in WWII by American Buffalo Soldiers. During this process, we learned that Pershing had commanded the Buffalo Soldiers three times during his legendary military career.
After that, in late 2015, Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, reached out to the Pershing Rifles, a college drill fraternity Pershing had founded, originally called Varsity Rifles in 1894, offering to fund a film to help people understand the achievements of Pershing and his role in the defeat of the Central Powers in WWI. We were introduced to Captain David Poe, a former national commander of the National Society of Pershing Rifles. Poe, representing the organization, then recommended the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF) to make this film honoring Pershing and his diplomatic expertise in asserting the right from our Allied partners to have American commanders lead American troops.
We additionally decided to explore the importance of Pershing’s influence and legacy on contemporary students in the Pershing Rifles, Pershing Angels (female university cadets), and Blackjacks (high school cadets). These groups currently learn and practice leadership, teamwork, and competitive drilling in his name.
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