Landmarks Illinois publishes WWI Monuments of Illinois Database containing more than 300 memorials of the Great War
via PR Newswire
CHICAGO, Nov. 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of Veterans Day, Landmarks Illinois has published its new online database of historic World War I monuments and memorials in Illinois. The Landmarks Illinois WWI Monuments of Illinois Database currently contains information on 311 monuments and memorials such as doughboy statues, plaques, sculptures and public spaces dedicated to honoring those who served in the Great War. Monuments included in the database are located in 158 different Illinois communities.
"We are proud to bring attention to the monuments that honor our fellow Illinoisans who fought or served in the First World War," said Bonnie McDonald, President & CEO of Landmarks Illinois. "Many of these memorials are now 100 years old or more. These historical markers, and those they honor, deserve to be recognized and celebrated."
The unique database is the result of a years-long survey of existing WWI monuments throughout the state, made possible through generous financial support from the Pritzker Military Foundation. In 2017, in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into WWI, Landmarks Illinois launched the statewide survey to better learn about the remaining WWI monuments in Illinois. In partnership with Landmarks Illinois Director of Reinvestment Suzanne Germann, former Landmarks Illinois Regional Advisor, the late Steve Thompson of Mattoon, and preservation consultant Matt Seymour, conducted the comprehensive survey of WWI monuments throughout Illinois.
"This unique program has shined a light on the large number of remaining memorials throughout Illinois dedicated to the Great War," said Suzanne Germann, Director of Reinvestment for Landmarks Illinois. "We are grateful to all those who helped with the extensive survey and shared information on memorials in their communities. We hope this new database sparks curiosity and inspires people to preserve the WWI memorials in their neighborhoods so they can stand for another 100 years and more."
In conjunction with the survey, Landmarks Illinois created and carried out a WWI Monument Preservation Grant Program during 2017 and 2018 to provide financial support to communities wanting to preserve their WWI monuments and recover their dedication-era quality and appearance. The Pritzker Military Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to Landmarks Illinois for the creation of the WWI monument database, survey and grant program. Nearly $75,000 of the funding went toward the WWI Monument Preservation Grant Program, which successfully helped preserve 13 aging WWI monuments and memorials in the state.
World War I Museum pays tribute to an ‘often-forgotten’ hero with faces of Kansas City veterans
By Carlos Moreno
via the KCUR Public Radio System station (MO) web site
Pvt. Henry Johnson, a Harlem Hellfighter and World War I hero, was denied recognition by the U.S. military until decades after his death. For Veterans Day, a mural at Kansas City's World War I Museum and Memorial immortalizes Johnson's story.
Two stern portraits of Army Sgt. Henry Johnson gaze across the east and west corridors of the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
At first, Johnson’s floor-to-ceiling portrait looks like one giant photograph. But as you move closer, the faces of thousands of individuals reveal themselves from within.
It’s through these photos — 3,500, to be exact — that the Museum and Memorial tells not just the story of Johnson but the story of all American service members this Veterans Day.
Service without recognition
Shortly after midnight on May 15, 1918, Johnson stood guard at his post at the edge of the Argonne Forest in France, when he came under attack by German snipers.
The 26-year-old Army private sent his sentry partner, Pvt. Needham Roberts, to alert the troops serving under French command. Then he started hurling grenades toward the sound of the wire cutters.
Roberts didn’t get far — he was struck by the Germans’ own grenades.
Johnson ran to Roberts’ aid, suffering gunshots from the descending German raiding party. After his rifle jammed, Johnson used the gun as a club. When that shattered, he used a bolo knife to fend off the attackers.
By sunrise, four Germans lay dead and another 10-20 were wounded. Johnson had 21 wounds himself, but managed to save Roberts.
Johnson was a native of Albany, New York, and a member of the all-Black 15th New York National Guard Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters.
He was promoted to sergeant, awarded the French Croix de Guerre — the “Cross of War” — and earned the nickname “Black Death.” Johnson planned to return to Albany to resume life as a Red Cap Porter, but his injuries were too severe for him to find sustained work.
However, those injuries were never documented by the U.S. Army. There was no Purple Heart waiting for him at home, and no disability pension for his shattered foot. He couldn’t hold a job and started drinking, and in 1929, he died at the age of 37.
It would take decades longer for Johnson to posthumously receive the Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross and The Medal of Honor — the highest recognition of valor from the U.S. military.
'It's about time': Loudoun Co. updates WW1 memorial so Black & white names are together
By Jay Corff
via the ABC News 7 television station (DC) web site
LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — On the very day we honor those who serve, an emotional ceremony unfolded on the grounds of Loudoun County’s historic courthouse. The event designed to right a nearly 100-year-old wrong inflicted upon this community’s Black veterans who died in the Great War.
Veteran Philip Rusciolelli says, “This is not an effort to change history ladies and gentlemen. It is a correction of injustice.”
The original World War 1 plaque, when dedicated in 1922, had the names of three Black men who perished separated and placed below the names of the white fallen servicemembers. Well, that didn't sit well with Marilyn Thornton and a lot of other people here.
Thornton says, “And I passed the plaque one day and saw it and noticed the names.”
Thornton started researching this injustice seeing that one of her relatives, Samuel Thornton, was among those whose service and humanity had been disrespected on the memorial.
“It’s not good. It’s terrible. The plague is segregated," says Thornton.
Thornton approached county leaders who, along with volunteers, embarked on a project to change the plaque. Thursday night, with several descendants in attendance, the new plague was unveiled. The names Ernest Gilbert, Valentine Johnson, and Samuel Thornton are now where they should be, which is in alphabetical order.
“A bullet doesn’t care if you’re black or white," says Marc Johnson.
Marc Johnson’s great uncle Valentine Johnson died of tuberculosis during the war.
America’s Long Lasting Legacy from World War One
By Alan Sunningham
via the History is Now magazine web site
World War One was notable for so many reasons. From understanding the current state of Eastern Europe to sewing the seeds of the Second World War, or understanding the falls of both the Ottoman Empire and Tsarist Russia. The war also influenced the way the U.S. conducts foreign policy.
American involvement in the First World War resulted from both the German Empire’s targeting of American ships via unrestricted submarine warfare and the sending of the Zimmermann telegram from Germany to Mexico. Wilson had the capability to claim that the U.S. was under threat from attack and did so, eventually contributing to the Western European war effort significantly and assisting in bringing the war to an end. From a strategic standpoint, Wilson’s overall stated goal was peace - he wanted the world to have the same ideals and beliefs that the United States itself had, or claimed to have. He repeatedly tried to broker a peace agreement between the warring factions.
I would argue that the most important result of U.S. intervention into the First World War was the retreat back into isolationism. Prior to WWI, the U.S. had been largely keeping to itself, largely engaging in domestic matters, and externally when the country was threatened (or perceived to be threatened) by a foreign nation within its sphere of influence. From the end of the Civil War to the First World War, the United States was becoming more involved in the global scene (with the taking of, what were essentially colonies, in the Philippines and Cuba in the Spanish-American War and multiple interventions in Mexico and Latin America). Despite this, the American public and political leaders retreated inward and left the global scene, instead focusing on “internal growth and development” by increasing tariffs, “that were enacted to restrict the influx of imported goods, thereby increasing domestic production”. While this was the initial motivation factor throughout the 1920s, the later collapse of the U.S. (and global) economy from 1929 further ingrained the idea that the U.S. should focus on domestic issues. The fact that congressional inquiries and anti-war books (USMC Gen. Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket among them) discussed wartime profiteering also put off many Americans on going to war for corporate desires.
Lack of commitment to the League of Nations
While these are certainly legitimate concerns for not going to war or becoming involved in the global stage, it is also possible that, had the U.S. been more committed to the League of Nations in the 1920s and 1930s, a stronger, global force may have been created that could have prevented Hitler’s rise to power, the rise of Fascism in Europe, and minimized the effect of the global economic depression of the 1930s.
The story of one forgotten 'national hero' of World War I
By Pete Mecca
via the The Citizens newspaper (GA) web site
Most Americans believe that Sergeant Alvin York of Pall Mall, Tenn., was the most decorated American soldier of The Great War, better known as WWI. Indeed, York was a national hero and a man of extraordinary courage; his feats in combat were certainly worthy of his various decorations, including the Medal of Honor. The 1941 film, “Sergeant York,” starring Gary Cooper, was the highest-grossing movie that year plus made Sergeant York a household name for the second time to new generations of Americans.
Nonetheless, the most decorated American soldier of WWI was born into the notorious Staffelbach gang from Galena, Kan., in 1892. His mother ran a house of ill-repute out of her home, and several grown sons, all of whom were disreputable characters, were in and out of trouble for a variety of petty crimes. By the time the baby boy, Charles, turned five years old in 1897, his father and two older brothers were arrested for the murder of a disruptive and a bit too persistent gentleman caller who kept demanding his ‘special girl’ in the wee hours of the morning.
Unable to manage family concerns, the mother gave up Charles for adoption. He did not see her again until after WWI. Charles was eventually adopted by Sidney and Phoebe Barger of Scotts City, Missouri, took their last name, and worked as a farmhand.
Charles D. Barger enlisted in the United States Army on April 1, 1918. He earned the Expert Rifleman Badge during basic and was eventually assigned to Company L, 354th Infantry Regiment, 89th Division. Arriving in France in June of 1918, Barger gained a promotion to private first class and due to his marksmanship was selected as an automatic rifle gunner. He fought bravely during the St. Mihiel Offensive but really proved his mettle in the famous Meuse-Argonne Offensive. A week-long German bombardment of high-explosive shells and mustard gas sent numerous American doughboys into hospitals and/or required medical care. The gas fumes lingered for days on end. No one escaped the effects, yet Barger never reported for any type of medical treatment.
On Oct. 31, 1918, his regiment sent out numerous patrols in broad daylight (a questionable tactic) into no man’s land to reconnoiter the German positions. Two patrols were quickly pinned down by heavy rifle and machine gun fire, leaving two officers seriously wounded. Another soldier managed to crawl back to Allied lines to report that the officers were trapped in no man’s land. No man’s land meant exactly that, neither side controlled the area yet had guns and artillery zeroed in on the barren ground. Darkness gave limited concealment; daylight turned no man’s land into a killing field.
Nevertheless, Barger and Pfc Jesse Funk volunteered to run the 500 yards through no man’s land to rescue the two officers. They also discovered a wounded enlisted man about 50 yards from a German machine gun nest. The two intrepid doughboys made three trips into the killing field to rescue their three seriously wounded brothers. That they survived one trip is unbelievable but to survive three trips into no man’s land is nothing short of a miracle. In February, 1919, General John Pershing presented Barger and Funk with the Medal of Honor. In total, by the end of WWI, Charles D. Barger was awarded the Purple Heart 10 times for different wounds suffered during combat.
In an interview after the war, Jesse Funk said of Barger, “Then there was Charlie Barger. He came from down at Scotts City, Mo., and he’d never had much of a chance in life. He was an automatic Chauchat gunner; I was his carrier, and I used to write letters for him and got to know him pretty well. He was scared, too, just as badly scared as any of us, but he had the grit to put it all behind him, and what was more, he’d force it down so far that he could cheer up the other fellows. Believe me, he sure had grit, and I’m proud to have been the running mate of a man that had as much fight in him as he had.”
Local Boy Scouts care for WWI memorial dedicated to those who died in war
By Parker Perry
via the Dayton Daily News (OH) web site
A local Boy Scout troop has for years cared for a memorial dedicated to Montgomery County veterans who lost their lives during World War I.
Kettering’s Troop 193 has cleaned Victory Oak Knoll Memorial, planted flowers in the area and created an information board to help visitors understand the significance of the monument.
“It’s about giving back to the community and recognizing those who gave everything,” said Chris Connelly, an assistant scoutmaster.
The monument is on Berkly Street in Kettering near Hills and Dales golf courses.
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, sent a letter on the centennial of the memorial.
“I appreciate this opportunity to thank the young men of Boy Scout Troop 193 for their hard work to maintain and protect one of our community’s forgotten treasures, and all those who raised funds and donated their time to restore this living memorial to the 189 Montgomery County veterans who lost their lives in the First World War,” Turner’s letter says.
Connelly said that the troop, which has about 50 kids from sixth grade to seniors in high school, learn a lot about service as they maintain the area.
“They learn the importance of being a good citizen,” Connelly said, noting that in their path to becoming an Eagle Scout, the kids must take civic courses. “It helps reinforce those values and apply what they’ve learned.”
Connelly said he expects the troop to continue working on and maintaining the monument for years to come.
Hopeful Eagle Scout Candidate Refurbishes WWI Memorial in Somerville
By Rod Hirsch
via the TAP into Sommerville (NJ) web site
SOMERVILLE, NJ - Alex Cleveland is following in the footsteps of his father, Larry, who became an Eagle Scout in 1984, and his brother, who earned his Eagle badge in 2017.
"I am hoping to continue the legacy," he said in the midst of his Eagle Scout Community Service project which he completed last month in time for Thursday's Nov. 11 observation of Veterans' Day.
One of the requirements for the coveted Eagle Scout award is to coordinate and complete a public service project from start to finish that will benefit the community. Fewer than one percent of those who join the Boy Scouts earn the Eagle badge.
Alex chose to refurbish the borough's World War I Memorial, which was erected 1931 by American Legion, John R. Stevenson Post No. 12 at the intersection of East High Street and Culver Street in a pocket park.
The cast bronze plaques affixed to the Art Deco styled monolith had tarnished over the years turning a deep greenish gray metallic color, but the raised names of those from Somerville who served in Europe during World War I - between 1917 and 1919 - are still easy to read
With an assist from members of Somerville Scout Troop 83, Alex scraped and painted the 90-year-old concrete monument, painted the concrete surface around the monument, cleaned the plaques and planted some shrubs alongside the pathway leading to the memorial
The inscription on the Honor Roll plaque reads:
"In commemoration of those from Somerville New Jersey who served their country in the World War. 1917 - 1919. To the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13"
Did food win World War I? A look at WWI food rationing rules
By Millie Vos
via the N’West Iowa web site
The U.S. Food Administration was an independent federal agency during the years of 1917-20 that controlled the production, distribution and conservation of food during America’s participation in World War I.
President Woodrow Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to serve as the food administrator. Iowa’s food administrator was J.F. Deems.
The purposes of this agency were to prevent monopolies, hoarding, and control of foods. The Food Administration’s slogan was “Food will win the war.”
It adopted concepts such as “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” to help ration food. The agency had few methods of enforcement, but it relied upon patriotic appeals and voluntary compliance.
The administration realized that food must be rationed. The Allied Nations were fighting and the men were not able to produce food on the farms as they were serving in the war effort. Neutral countries lacked manpower, fertilizer and machinery. Shipping food from faraway markets caused many difficulties.
There simply was not enough food in Europe, yet the soldiers must have food to maintain their full strength and their wives and children must not starve at home along with our own army in France.
The administration came to the conclusion that North America must furnish more food, so that meant that North America had to furnish food from their savings because we had already sent normal supplies of food.
Actually, America had plenty of food, and the Food Administration did not want our people to eat less than what was necessary to maintain good health and full strength. It suggested that some foods could be substituted for another kind of food without jeopardizing the health of the American people.
The agency felt the American people could sacrifice for the sake of our armed forces.
The Allies already had restricted the food consumption to the minimum for their people that was necessary for their health and strength. Belgium people were experiencing starvation. The Allied countries needed wheat, meat, fats and sugar. Americans were eating and wasting more food than we needed.
So, the Food Administration printed a card to be hung in the kitchen of every home in the United States. The title of this card was: “WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP WIN THE WAR.” It read:
Veterans planned to honor WWI soldiers with a statue. Vandals damaged it before Veterans Day
By Colleen Wixon
via the Treasure Coast Palm newspaper (FL) web site
VERO BEACH — A statue honoring World War I veterans on the Veterans Memorial Island Sanctuary has been vandalized, less than two weeks after it was installed.
The $29,000 monument, paid for through private contributions and local veterans organizations, features a bronze statue of a World War I doughboy carrying a Springfield 1903 rifle and bayonet. The statue was placed so the doughboy appears to look at the sanctuary's central walkway that honors local veterans who have died.
City workers noticed Tuesday that the bayonet was bent, City Manager Monte Falls said.
Footprints were noticed near the statute, said Police Chief David Currey. Someone may have grabbed the bayonet and hung from it, which caused it to bend, he said.
"These monuments are not toys. They are not playground equipment," Falls said. "It's really disappointing this has happened."
The statue was installed about two weeks ago, so it would be ready for a dedication during the Veterans Day ceremony on Thursday, Falls said. The Veterans Council of Indian River County organizes the Veterans Day event.
It's the only statue on the island, said Carroll Oates, president of the Indian River County Military Officers Association of America, which helped raise money for the statue, along with the Marine Corps League and private donations. Most other memorials are monuments honoring veterans and each branch of the military.
"We don't want to turn the island into a museum piece," Oates said.
This statue was an exception, designed to honor World War I veteran Alex MacWilliam Sr., whose vision in 1921 inspired the Vero Beach sanctuary.
"He felt that the island was something special," Oates said.
How this World War I Choctaw Code Talker captured 171 Germans
By Matt Fratus
via the Coffee or Die web site
German intelligence intercepted Allied military correspondence throughout October 1918 during the Meuse-Argonne campaign. In response to the Allies’ need to deliver coded messages to various front-line positions, the US Army enlisted the help of Choctaw Nation soldiers within the 141st, 142nd, and 143rd Infantry Regiments.
These ingenious men were a part of the original group of “Code Talkers,” or Native American interpreters, from World War I who relayed sensitive military communications to officers in the field. These messages were translated from their native languages into English.
Pvt. Joseph Oklahombi of the 141st Infantry Regiment went beyond his duties as a translator, however, when he and 23 other members of his unit participated in a French-led diversionary attack at the Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge near Saint-Etienne-a-Arnes in France on Oct. 8, 1918.
Oklahombi braved a violent artillery barrage and scampered some 210 yards through barbed wire entanglements across no man’s land to ambush a series of German machine-gun nests. Leading his force from the front, he stormed the German stronghold and captured more than 50 machine guns, several trench mortars, and 171 prisoners. According to some accounts, Oklahombi and his men also seized an artillery site and killed nearly 80 Germans in their assault.
Under relentless shelling (including the use of chemical gas), Oklahombi held the line for the next four days. Without resupply of food, water, or ammunition, Oklahombi crossed no man’s land many times to acquire intelligence on enemy forces and assist his wounded comrades.
At that time, no Native American service members from World War I had received the Medal of Honor. The US didn’t consider Native Americans as US citizens until 1924, some eight years after Oklahombi’s battlefield heroics. Still, the French government awarded Oklahombi the Croix de Guerre, one of the country’s highest medals for gallantry. For its part, the US military issued Oklahombi the Silver Star medal, the third-highest achievement for valor.
It wouldn’t be Halloween without candy. We have World War I to thank for that.
By Lora Voght
via the Washingtin Post newspaper (DC) web site
In 1918, a girl named Bernadine Cox sent a postcard to her brother, then serving in France. She wrote, “Don’t suppose we’ll have much Halloween here on account of the epidemic and suppose you have enough Halloween every day on No Man’s Land for every person.” It was a reminder of the dire circumstances that came at the end of the war: The second wave of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic was hitting major U.S. cities, while service members were hunkered down in trenches across the Western front, facing illness and death.
When World War I broke out, candy had no real connection to the spooky season, which instead focused on macabre imagery, parades, parties and Halloween night pranks. It was more about “tricks,” than “trick or treating.” However, within a generation, Halloween would become a candy season, and the roots of Americans’ love of manufactured candy trace back to WWI itself.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Americans developed a reputation for a sweet tooth. Home cooks across the country prepared caramel recipes. Most towns had a corner store at which penny candy or a confection made in-house might be purchased. By the early years of the 20th century, industry transformed the manufacturing of food products, and names like Hershey, Necco and Mars, among thousands of other confectioners, became household names.
Many candies were initially marketed as being healthful. The burgeoning field of nutritional science was beginning to unpack the importance of calories and vitamins. Because of the need to mobilize the country to prepare for war, the U.S. government was paying special attention to perceived nutritional deficits among young men, and candy offered a ready solution.
When the United States joined World War I in April 1917, officials thought the additional calories in sugar might help soldiers go the extra mile. Service members were issued, gifted and could purchase candy. Talk of candy was common in correspondence between families at home and troops in Europe. “You spoke of sending me some homemade candy,” wrote one U.S. soldier to his girlfriend on Oct. 26, 1917. “Now kiddo, candy is my middle name and I can eat all of it I get.”
Mixed candies, chocolate candies, chewing gum, licorices and gum drops, all made in the United States, found their way into thankful U.S. doughboy hands. Some of these gifted treats were homemade. Meanwhile, for friends or family who didn’t feel comfortable creating candies in their kitchens but still wanted to send sweet care packages, manufacturers were there to meet the need.
Well-known manufacturers of the day produced a range of goods that could be purchased or donated in support of the troops. Individually wrapped bars, like New York-based Auerbach might be mixed with marshmallow or nougat and could be purchased for five or 10 cents. Other companies like Lovell & Covel sold or donated chocolates in 20-pound blocks to be divided and individually wrapped on military posts. Whitman’s even sold a “Service Chocolates” package that included popular, pocket-size books to satiate both the belly and the brain.
In 1917, the Pennsylvania-based Goldenberg Candy Company created Peanut Chews specifically intended for the U.S. military. The candy was a sweet, easily traveling, high-protein treat that was thought to increase energy. The Clark Bar, also launched in 1917, fed popular appeal with its peanut butter and taffy core. The U.S. government even purchased an entire year’s production of Necco Wafers for military use.
The Unknown Soldier's voyage home, remembered
via the American Legion web site
On Oct. 25, the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia hosted a ceremony aboard USS Olympia, marking the 100th anniversary of the historic warship's transport of an unknown American soldier from France to the United States.
Ogden Doughboy Statue Restoration Recognized with a 2021 Heritage Award
100 Cities, 100 Memorials was a WWI Centennial project where the US WWI Centennial Commission in partnership with the Pritzker Military Museum and library offered $200,000 in a matching grant challenge to rescue and focus on 100 local World War One memorials. These Memorials were then designated as official WWI Centennial Memorials.
One of those designated 100 WWI Centennial Memorials is known as the Ogden Doughboy Statue. The restoration project was submitted by the Weber County Historical Society & American Legion Post 9 in Ogden, Utah.
The Ogden Doughboy Statue restoration has been the focal point of a larger restoration of the 90-year-old Gold Star Driveway, an area of the Ogden City Cemetery that commemorates soldiers killed in WWI.
Over time, the plaques had tarnished, and some had fallen from crumbling cement bases. The Dougboy had taken fire from pellet guns. A well meaning group simply painted the bronze with gold radiator paint to clean it up. The doughboy's helmet was lost and replaced with a gold painted miner's helmet, and parts of his rifle had been broken off.
In other words, the Gold Star Driveway, which was intended to be a poignant place of remembrance honoring the local's service in WWI, had gradullay lost much of its dignity.
With the grant as a catalyst (it only represented a seed amount for the required restoration cost), the community came together including Ogden City, Weber County, The American Legion, The Daughters of the American Revolution, and various other local supporters such as the Kiwanas. Together they made things right!