Difficult Journey Home: Upcoming Events

During 2021 Independence Seaport Museum will be commemorating the Centennial Anniversary of the Unknown Soldier's journey home aboard Cruiser Olympia through programming, panel discussions, and the opening of special exhibits.  Through these lenses, we will highlight not only the Unknown's journey home, but how important the concepts of home and loss are as it relates not only to civilians, but also veterans, active-duty military, and military families.

February 2021

ISM Presents the Brown Bag Book Club: February 2021 (Virtual Program)
Tuesday, February 23 | 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. 

100 years ago, USS Olympia carried the remains of the Unknown Soldier from Le Havre, France to the United States on the way to his final resting place, Arlington National Cemetery.  On the way, the Unknown Soldier (and his accompanying crew) were almost lost as they sailed through a category four hurricane.  Join us for our year-long Brown Bag Book Club where, inspired by this voyage, we will examine a wide range of difficult journeys home.  On the first of each month, we'll release the title of a book (or books!) related to our theme of the month.  Read along with us from home!

On the last Tuesday of each month, we'll come together over Zoom to reflect on all of what we've read.  In February, we'll reflect on the difficult journey home experienced by African Americans fighting in World War I:

 

 

 

The Unknown Soldiers: African-American Troops in World War I by Arthur E. Barbeau (Author), Florette Henri (Author), Bernard C. Nalty (Introduction)

During World War I, 370,000 African Americans labored, fought, and died to make the world safe for a democracy that refused them equal citizenship at home.  The Unknown Soldiers is an unforgettable, searing study of those wartime experiences that forced African Americans to realize that equality and justice could never be earned in Jim Crow America, but only wrestled from its strangling grip.

 

 

 

 

 

We Return Fighting: World War I and the Shaping of Modern Black Identity by the National Museum of African American History and Culture

We Return Fighting, based on a recently closed exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, reminds readers not only of the central role of African American soldiers in the war that first made their country a world power.  It also reveals the way the conflict shaped African American identity and lent fuel to their longstanding efforts to demand full civil rights and to stake their place in the country's cultural and political landscape.  Learn more during an interview with the (Guest) Associate Curator of the exhibit on Tuesday, February 23 at 6 p.m.

 

 

 

Interview with Dr. Kewasky Salter, (Guest) Associate Curator of We Return Fighting: The African American Experience in World War I (Virtual Program)

Tuesday, February 23 | 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Join Independence Seaport Museum for a discussion with Dr. Krewasky Salter, Executive Director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park and (Guest) Associate Curator of We Return Fighting: The African American Experience in World War I at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (the exhibit closed on September 6, 2020) and contributing author to the Smithsonian Books: We Return Fighting: World War I and the Shaping of Modern Black Identity.  During World War I, 370,000 African American soldiers labored, fought, and some died to make the world safe for a democracy that refused them equal citizenship at home.  In this free Zoom event, Dr. Salter will explore World War I's impact on the birth of the "New Negro" and the parallel between the Red Summer and the explosion of protest for racial justice across the United States after the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020. 

Dr. Krewasky Salter is a retired United States Army Colonel, who is currently serving as the Executive Director of the First Division Museum at Cantigny Museum and Extended Learning programs at Cantigny. 

 

March 2021

When the Women Returned: The Difficult Journey Home for Women in the Military (Virtual Program)
Thursday, March 18 | 6 p.m. - 7 p.m.  

Register Here

What happens when women return from deployment?  Join us for this free Zoom panel exploring the lives of military women and their uniquely difficult journey transitioning back to civilian life.  This panel will feature opening remarks by Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas, author of Invisible Veterans: What Happens When Military Women Become Civilians Again (our March Brown Bag Book Club selection) and an academic researcher, storyteller, and United States Marine Corps Veteran.  In addition to Dr. Hendricks Thomas, you'll hear about the real-life experiences of other women veterans, including:

  • Dr. Doreen Loury, member, The Philadelphia Commission for Women, Director of Pan African Studies at Arcadia University, and United States Marine Corps Veteran.
  • Lt. Commander Kristin Leone, Vice President of HAVEN Women. 
  • Sarah Plummer Taylor, MSW; Founder of Semper Sarah, Author, United States Marine Corps Veteran.
  • Julia Parsons; World War II Veteran of the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). 
  • Kerri Evelyn Harris; Community Organizer and United States Air Force Veteran. 

Before the panel, we encourage audience members to screen SERVICE: When Women Come Marching Home by Marcia Rock.  This documentary is available to rent by clicking here

 

Independence Seaport Museum Presents the Brown Bag Book Club: March 2021 (Virtual Program)
Tuesday, March 30 | 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Register Here

100 years ago, USS Olympia carried the remains of the Unknown Soldier from Le Havre, France to the United States on the way to his final resting place, Arlington Nation Cemetery.  On the way, the Unknown Soldier (and his accompanying crew) were almost lost as they sailed through a category four hurricane.  Join us for our year-long Brown Bag Book Club where, inspired by this voyage, we will examine a wide range of difficult journeys home.  On the first of each month, we'll release the title of a book (or books!) related to our theme of the month.  Read along with us from home!

On the last Tuesday of each month, we'll come together over Zoom to reflect on all of what we've read.  In March, we'll reflect on the difficult journey home experienced by women veterans returning to civilian life.

 

 

April 2021

A Conversation with Gavin McIlvenna, President, Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) (Virtual Program)
Thursday, April 1 | 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Register Here!

Join Independence Seaport Museum in a conversation with Gavin McIlvenna, President of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) as he discusses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the World War I Unknown Soldier (brought home for internment on Cruiser Olympia), and the Sentinels who stand eternal vigil.

 

Photo courtesy of the Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

 

 

May 2021

ISM Presents the Brown Bag FILM Club: May 2021 (Virtual Program)
Tuesday, May 25 | 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

Register Here

100 years ago, USS Olympia carried the remains of the Unknown Soldier for Le Havre, France to the United Sates on the way to his final resting place, Arlington National Cemetery.  On the way, the Unknown Soldier (and his accompanying crew) were almost lost as they sailed through a category four hurricane.  Over the course of this year, we will be hosting pop-up discussions where, inspired by this voyage, we will examine a wide range of difficult journeys home. 

In May, we will be joined by Opera Philadelphia and Johnathan McCullough (director and baritone star) to discuss their new film Soldier Songs, which can be found on the Opera Philadelphia Channel, and reflect on the sacrifices and impact that war has on military service members. 

Opera, rock, and film collide in David T. Little's exploration of the life of the Soldier.  Based on interviews with veterans of five wars, the piece boldly examines the impact of trauma, the exploitations of innocence, and the difficulty of expressing war's painful truths.

Directed by and starring baritone Jonathan McCullough, this film is a must see!

How to Watch: The film can be rented by CLICKING HERE

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: This film contains strong language, strobe lighting, and themes and depictions of violence, military combat, and PTSD that may be triggering to certain individuals.

**Special Offer for Military Service Members**

PROMO CODE: USMIL

Active-duty military and veterans are eligible to save 50% on all Opera Philadelphia Channel rentals with promo code USMIL.  Not valid on previous rentals or purchase; some restrictions may apply.  Offer not transferable, and may be withdrawn at any time without notice.  Cannot be combined with other offers.  Expires 5/31/21 at 11:59 p.m. 

 

Opening of Difficult Journey Home (Special Exhibit)
Memorial Day Weekend |  Aboard Cruiser Olympia 

Discover the dramatic story of Olympia's transport of the Unknown Solider across the Atlantic Ocean.  Opening Memorial Day Weekend, it will be on view until Thanksgiving Weekend.  
 

Unveiling of the Historic Marker
Memorial Day Weekend |  Aboard Cruiser Olympia

Independence Seaport Museum will unveil a permanent historical marker on Olympia  to commemorate the Unknown Solider and memorialize his story for future visitors during our annual Memorial Day Ceremony.  Located exactly where the coffin was positioned during transport, the following will be inscribed on the lower portion of the marker:

For this lost American who gave up his life and identity in service of his country, the unspeakable perils of World War One did not cease on the French battlefields.  The return home of his mortal remains to the United States, aboard U.S.S. Olympia, might have resulted in being violently lost at sea.

The Unknown Soldier's successful return home was the result of the bravery of Olympia's commanders, navigators, coal passers, common sailors, and stewards' valiant efforts to keep the ship functioning during the overwhelming challenge of heavy seas.  The crew submitted to the ship riding twenty to thirty foot waves for ten of the fifteen days of the voyage.

And, it was on this spot that the Marine Honor Guard heroically lashed themselves and the coffin to the ship to prevent them being washed overboard.

The crew became so anxious, "the chaplain and the captain got together and he held a special service praying to God that the ship wouldn't sink."