American Battle Monuments Commission Shows Centennial Documentary
Cadets majoring in history interact with American Battle Monuments Commission Vice Chairman Daniel P. Woodward at the screening of the centennial documentary “Our Promise: 100 Years of the American Battle Monuments Commission” in Arnold Hall Aug. 21, 2023. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cadet 2nd Class Connor Brezenski)
By American Battle Monuments Commission Staff
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.- The U.S. Air Force Academy and the American Battle Monuments Commission, the federal agency established to care for America’s fallen service members overseas, hosted a screening of the commission’s centennial documentary Our Promise: 100 Years of the American Battle Monuments Commission in Arnold Hall August 21.
“We are honored to have the American Battle Monuments Commission come to the Academy to showcase their centennial documentary and to talk with our cadets about their mission,” said U.S. Air Force Academy History Instructor Maj. Christopher Reith regarding the collaborative opportunity.
“Our cadets had the unique opportunity to engage with the commission and learn how it manages its 26 cemeteries and 32 monuments while continuing to honor the service and sacrifice of the United States armed forces,” Reith said. “Our mission is to educate, train and inspire men and women to become future officers of character for our Air and Space Forces. The subject of historical memory and reflection of our past relates directly to the professional of arms and contributes to our core mission. For them to hear the [commission’s] story and to interact with their staff is an experience that will serve them well moving forward as future professional military officers.”
Reith continued to discuss the commission’s documentary.
“The documentary captures moments at [commission] sites and stories from its history,” he said. “The film highlights the voices of families of the fallen remembered by [the commission, its] employees and Americans visiting these sites abroad, and citizens of other countries who work at the sites and whose ancestors fought alongside Americans—all sharing what it means to be involved in the process of caring for, maintaining, and honoring the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.”
Cadet 1st Class Caitlyn McGarry introduced the American Battle Monuments Commission documentary at the screening at U.S. Air Force Academy in Arnold Hall Aug. 21, 2023. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cadet 2nd Class Connor Brezenski)
Cadet 1st Class Caitlyn McGarry introduced the documentary, along with ABMC Vice Chairman Daniel P. Woodward, a retired Air Force brigadier. Woodward explained how the documentary spotlights how ABMC’s staff continues to be devoted to the agency’s mission.
“While the film shares some very powerful stories from our past 100 years, it also looks forward to our next 100 years and the innovative ways we will continue to honor the service and sacrifice of those who gave all and those who fight beside them,” Woodward said.
The American Battle Monuments Commission was established March 4, 1923, when President Warren G. Harding signed into law a bill for a federal agency to build, and later maintain, cemeteries and memorials for fallen service members overseas. Today, the commission administers, operates and maintains American burial grounds and memorials, monuments and markers on five continents as they continue to uphold the promise made by the agency’s first chairman, General of the Armies John J. Pershing, that “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”
American Battle Monuments Commission historian Benjamin Brands and Vice Chairman Daniel P. Woodward participated in a panel question-and-answer session at the conclusion of the documentary screening at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Arnold Hall Aug. 21, 2023. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cadet 2nd Class Connor Brezenski)
Following the screening, the audience was able to ask questions during a panel discussion moderated by American Battle Monuments Commission historian Benjamin Brands.
The Academy is one of many screening sites for Our Promise. Previous screenings were held at the World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri; the World War II Museum in New Orleans; and Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago.
The American Battle Monuments Commission will conclude its centennial year with screenings at the USS Midway in San Diego, the U.S. Customs House in New York City, and a public screening at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
More photos of the screening are available on Flickr.
Cadet 1st Class Caitlyn McGarry introduced the documentary at the screening in Arnold Hall on Aug. 21, 2023. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cadet 2nd Class Connor Brezenski)