"The First State” Honors its First World War Servicemen with new Memorial at State Capitol
By Steven Jones
Ebony Doughboy Living History Unit
DOVER, DELAWARE — One hundred years after America’s entry in that great, war to end all wars just to the south of where Delaware’s General Assembly meets, Legislative Hall, stands the nation’s latest monument commemorating The First State’s servicemen.
It was the vision of Delaware’s Historical Commission Chair Richard B. Carter two years ago along with the commitment of a dedicated community led by Lori Christiansen Director of Legislative Council-Division of Research that produced the stately granite monument which was unveiled on a cool November 4th before elected officials, residents and visitors.
Personal reflections and recollections of great uncles and grandfathers who mentioned those days to much younger speakers or their parents, marked the moment. The connections were real.
Speakers included: Governor John Carney; State Senator David McBride; Major General Francis Ianni (DE NG ret.) State Senator Colin Bonini and author of “Delaware in World War I” (2015) Brigadier General Kennard Wiggins, Jr. (DE ANG ret.). Unveiling the memorial: State Representative Earl Jaques of Chair of Veterans Affairs; State Senator Bruce Ennis and Major General Carol Timmons and Veteran’s Commission Chair William Farley.
Delaware had approximately 10,000 WWI servicemen and it was noted that 14 percent were African-American. On hand to provide a powerful visual of the First State’s servicemen were five Dover High School JROTC program students, outfitted courtesy of the Ebony Doughboys, in period uniforms.
Each student represented five Delaware servicemen:
- John Henry Temple who served with the 312th Infantry Regiment
- Lewis A. Taylor & Jenkins Fennell, who were killed in action, and served with the 369th Infantry Regiment
- William Ambrose Ross who served with the 808th Pioneer Infantry
- Littleton Van Mitchell who served with the 152nd Depot Brigade. and father of a Tuskegee Airman.
“The goal was not only for them to look the part, but know why it is important” said Steven W. Jones, director of development and education for The Ebony Doughboys. “They look like authentic ‘doughboys’, and connected with the past; what these servicemen accomplished, especially those African Americans given their status in America at the time, was remarkable.”
The new monument complements the collection of additional sculptures and outdoor artwork depicting previous accounts of Delaware’s contribution since the Revolutionary War positioned around the Colonial Revival style building by E. William Martin and Norman Isham which was constructed in 1931