A platoon of living history reenactors will bring World War I Doughboys to Governors Island National Monument on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, for a free exhibition. See demonstrations and hear stories as reenactors portray famous New York regiments, including the Harlem Hell Fighters, at Doughboy Day at Fort Jay.
The centennial of American involvement in the “Great War” is in 2017 and this group of volunteer reenactors will share the story of U.S. participation. Both men and women will be in full uniform and provide displays and talks about the role America played in World War I. It is free and suitable for all ages.
Participants: Long Island Living History Association, military historians whose main purpose is to educate the public on all wars America has participated in; the Ebony Doughboys, a group of African American living historians who are focused on telling the story of the outstanding record of service of African Americans during the First World War; Mark D. Van Ells, author of “America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide.” Actress Laurie Gaulke will represent women in the war with her show, “Doughnuts for Doughboys: A Salvation Army Lassie in Neuvilly.”
The events are free, open to the public, and run 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Governors Island National Monument. The displays will be on the Parade Ground and talks in and outside Castle Williams.
“We are proud to be part of ‘Doughboy Day’ on Governors Island,” said Dr. Libby O’Connell, Chair of the World War I Centennial Committee for New York City. “Events like this bring the diverse history of the Great War alive for new generations.”
Colonel Robert J D’Alessandro (Ret.) Chairman of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission observed, “This upcoming living history event on historic Governors Island will raise awareness of the innovations and the sacrifice that characterized America’s involvement in this ‘War to End All Wars’. I’m pleased that this commemoration will be part of the annual observances during the centennial.”
10:00-4:00: Displays of vintage artifacts, equipment, uniforms, and weapons. Parade Ground.
10:30: Opening remarks on Parade Ground.
11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 2:00, 3:30: “Eugene Bullard, America’s first black fighter pilot” (actor Chadd Gray). Presented by the Ebony Doughboys. Gazebo outside Castle Williams.
11:30 and 3:30: “Doughnuts for Doughboys: A Salvation Army Lassie in Neuvilly” Castle Williams.
12:00: “Harlem Hell Fighters and the Black Doughboy experience.” Stories of: Pvts. Jenkins Fennell and Lewis A. Taylor. Presented by the Ebony Doughboys. Castle Williams.
12:30: Doughboy March from Parade Ground to Fort Jay.
2:00: “America and World War I: A Traveler’s Guide” author Mark D. Van Ells. Castle Williams.
3:00: “Rediscovering the Doughboy Experience in WW1” artifacts presentation, Randy Gaulke, World War One Historical Association. Castle Williams.
4:00: Doughboy March from Castle Williams to Meuse-Argonne Point.
5:00: End of event
Governors Island National Monument manages 22 acres containing Fort Jay and Castle Williams. The U.S. National Park Service provides education and historic interpretation of the island.
U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was created by Congress in 2013 to provide public outreach, education programs, and commemorative events for American involvement in World War I. The Commission was also authorized to build the new National World War I Memorial in Washington DC.
If you are a Doughboy reenactor and wish to participate, email Kevin Fitzpatrick: info (AT) governorsislandguide (DOT) com.
Kevin C. Fitzpatrick has written and edited seven books with ties to New York history, including "The Governors Island Explorer's Guide" and "World War I New York: A Guide to the City’s Enduring Ties to the Great War." Kevin is a licensed sightseeing guide and has been leading walking tours since 1999. He resides in Manhattan.