Memorial Park in Houston honors those who trained at Camp Logan and served in WWI
By Michael Williams
One hundred years after the outbreak of World War One, it is often hard to see the remnants of the conflict that so affected communities across the nation. Unlike other wars of the twentieth century, there are no veterans of World War One left to tell their story; film and photography, still in their infancy at the time, provide only an incomplete and dated record. Instead, World War One is remembered silently, through monuments and parks that dot the country.
In the heart of Houston lies Memorial Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country. Thousands of Texans take advantage of the park’s running trails, softball fields, swimming pools, tennis courts, and golf course everyday, often without realizing the history below their feet.
“Somehow our appreciation of what went on in World War One has been lost,” says Louis Aulbach, a local historian, “ and most people don’t realize that it’s named Memorial Park as a memorial to the soldiers of World War One.” Furthermore, most people aren’t even aware that the park sits on land formed out of Camp Logan, a World War One training camp that saw tens of thousands of Americans prepare for war.
“Most people don’t know the story of World War One and how the country had taken on the task of entering this global war, and that’s what we have to talk about when we talk about Camp Logan.”
In 1917, after years of watching the war from afar, America plunged into a frenzy of preparation. In the span of only two years, over 4.7 million men, many of whom had never left their hometown, were shipped across the country to training camps, and across the world to battlefields. Two aspects of Camp Logan underscore the nation’s commitment to the war effort: the speed of construction, and its massive size. In the span of only a few months, a camp half the size of the island of Manhattan was built to train 50,000 soldiers, all in a city whose population clocked in at only 100,000 citizens. Additionally, camps like Camp Logan trained soldiers from across the country, further highlighting the national character of the war effort.