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Nov 14, 2018 | Metz, France
November 11, 2018, Armistice Day in France, marked the one hundredth anniversary of the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, ending World War I. To commemorate this event, Georgia Tech-Lorraine, the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies (CETS), and the Mayor's Office of Metz hosted a series of events in Metz entitled, “1918: End of the Great War, Emergence of the U.S. Role in the World, France and the Grand Est Region.”
The first of the events was held on November 8th and featured an address by General Philip Breedlove, USAF, Ret., a highly decorated retired general of the U.S. Air Force, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, alumnus of Georgia Tech, and a professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech. General Breedlove spoke on “The American Expeditionary Force and Coalition in World War One.”
Presentations followed by other distinguished speakers including Dr. John H. Morrow, twice selected Honors Professor of the history of Modern Europe and of warfare and society at the University of Georgia and recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal awarded to him by the Army for his service as a German teacher at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Dr. Morrow spoke on the subject of “African American Infantry in France 1918.”
The final presentation of the day was entitled, “The Conflict Did Not End in 1918,” and was given by distinguished speaker Dr. Seymour Goodman, Regents Professor and Professor of International Affairs and Computing, and Adjunct Professor of History at Georgia Tech who also serves as a National Affiliate of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, as well as Director Emeritus of the Sam Nunn Security Program and Co-Director of the Center of International Strategy.
The day finished up with a question and answer session with the speakers, a lunch break, and seminars on the topics of “Strategy and Technology on the Battlefield” led by Dr. Morrow and Colonel William Woodcock (USAF, Ret.) and “End of the Great War and New Alliances” led by General Breedlove and Dr. Goodman. Mr. Gilbert Kesse, who served in the French National Police and as Personal Protection Officer to President Charles de Gaulle and who carried the American Flag on Armistice Day for the 35thconsecutive year, attended the event as a guest of honor.
Day two of the event series focused on the topics of our “Devior de Memoire” or, “Duty to Remember” and “One Long Conflict? – World War One between the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 and the Second World War.” The day started with site visits to Gravelotte Franco-Prussian War Museum (the only museum in Europe to focus on the 1870 War and annexation of Alsace and La Moselle), Dornot-Corny Battle Site (the site of a 1944 battle with 945 casualties in 60 hours), Roman Aqueducts (which transported water to the fountains of Metz) and Maison Robert Schuman House and Museum (the home of Robert Schuman, who began the European Coal and Steel Community). A lunch between site visits included a conversation with Dr. Monique Seefried, the Commissioner on the U.S. WWI Centennial Commission in France.
A guided tour of Metz preceded a public conference co-organized by Mayor Dominique Gros, the mayor of Metz, who provided the welcoming remarks at the conference. Dr. Abdallah Ougazzaden, Director of Georgia Tech-Lorraine, Gen. Breedlove and Dr. Seefried also spoke at the event. General Gilles Lillo, the Military Governor of Metz, General Officer of the East Defense Security Zone, Commander of the North-East Earth Zone and Commander of the French Forces and of the civilian element stationed in Germany, attended the conference as a guest of honor.
Saturday, November 10thwas a full day of site visits with the first stop at Thiaucourt (the first French village liberated by Americans) and Montsec Memorial (a monument honoring the American Soldiers who fought there in 1917-1918) accompanied by site commentary by Professor Morrow. Next was a stop at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery (where the largest number of U.S. military are laid to rest in Europe) with commentary from Gen. Breedlove and Col. Woodcock. Finally, the group visited Verdun/Douamont (a memorial encapsulating the remains of the soldiers who died on the battlefield during the Battle of Verdun) with site commentary from Professor Goodman and Mr. Diego Ruiz Palmer, the Policy Advisor to the NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges.