John Weiss Retires Leaving a History Assignment for the Future

By: Claire A. Perez, 
May 28, 2019

On the one-hundredth anniversary of the World War I Armistice, Associate Professor of History John Weiss addressed veterans, members of the Cornell ROTC, and the Tompkins County community. Weiss was a participant in the Armistice Day Memorial event hosted by Cornell ROTC and the Division of Alumni Affairs and Development.  It was held at the Baker Flagpole outside the War Memorial on West Campus.

Weiss' address began with these words, “First let us honor those Cornellians who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I while also remembering those who served with them and who served before and after them.”  He said that Cornell provided 4,598 commissioned officers to fight in World War I – more than any other institution, including West Point. Of nearly 9,000 Cornellians – students, faculty, and alumni – who enlisted in the U.S. military for that effort, 264 gave their lives before the war ended with the armistice Nov. 11, 1918.

 “There is much data to chronicle about Cornellians involvement in the US military. We have the details on file in our archives.” Weiss sited several examples of archival material and memorials on campus honoring military soldiers and leaders.  Two windows in Sage Chapel, for example, memorialize fallen World War I soldiers.

 Professor Weiss wishes to see an online database recording the Cornell effort during World War I.  During his speech, he said, “There is now a way of honoring that makes it possible to learn about individuals and their impact on those who have survived them.” He gave the example of Columbia University’s digital memorial acknowledging the sacrifice of war veterans: Columbia War Memorial. 

John Weiss celebrates his retirement today, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Weiss has taught about the political history of twentieth-century Europe, concentrating on the latter years of World War I and the Cold War. As he bids adieu to his position at Cornell to pursue other interests, Weiss hopes that the future finds just the person or group to carry out his last assignment: a professionally managed digital site that records information and honors World War I Cornellians.