World War One was a watershed in American history. The United States' decision to join the battle in 1917 "to make the world safe for democracy" proved pivotal in securing allied victory — a victory that would usher in the American Century.
In the war's aftermath, individuals, towns, cities, counties, and states all felt compelled to mark the war, as did colleges, businesses, clubs, associations, veterans groups, and houses of worship. Thousands of memorials—from simple honor rolls, to Doughboy sculptures, to grandiose architectural ensembles—were erected throughout the US in the 1920s and 1930s, blanketing the American landscape.
Each of these memorials, regardless of size or expense, has a story. But sadly, as we enter the war's centennial period, these memorials and their very purpose—to honor in perpetuity the more than four million Americans who served in the war and the more than 116,000 who were killed—have largely been forgotten. And while many memorials are carefully tended, others have fallen into disrepair through neglect, vandalism, or theft. Some have been destroyed. Watch this CBS news video on the plight of these monuments.
The extant memorials are our most salient material links in the US to the war. They afford a vital window onto the conflict, its participants, and those determined to remember them. Rediscovering the memorials and the stories they tell will contribute to their physical and cultural rehabilitation—a fitting commemoration of the war and the sacrifices it entailed.
We are building a US WW1 Memorial register through a program called the Memorials Hunters Club. If you locate a memorial that is not on the map we invite you to upload your treasure to be permanently archived in the national register. You can include your choice of your real name, nickname or team name as the explorers who added that memorial to the register. We even have room for a selfie! Check the map, and if you don't see the your memorial CLICK THE LINK TO ADD IT.
South of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Near 17th Street NW, across from Corcoran Gallery
October 4, 1924
Cass Gilbert, architect; Daniel Chester French, sculptor
The First Division Monument sits on a plaza in President's Park, west of the White House and south of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (EEOB) at the corner of 17th Street and State Place, NW. (The EEOB was originally known as the State, War, and Navy Building and then as the Old Executive Office Building.) The monument was conceived by the Society of the First Division, the veteran's organization of the U.S. Army's First Division, to honor the valiant efforts of the soldiers who fought in World War I. Later additions to the monument commemorate the lives of First Division soldiers who fought in subsequent wars. The World War II addition on the west side was dedicated in 1957, the Vietnam War addition on the east side in 1977, and the Desert Storm plaque in 1995. Cass Gilbert was the architect of the original memorial and Daniel Chester French was the sculptor of the Victory statue. Gilbert's son, Cass Gilbert Jr., designed the World War II addition. Both the Vietnam War addition and the Desert Storm plaque were designed by the Philadelphia firm of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston, and Larson. Congressional approval was obtained to erect the First Division Monument and its later additions on federal ground. The Society of the First Division (later called the Society of the First Infantry Division) raised all the funds for the original monument and its additions. No federal money was used. Today, the monument and grounds are maintained by the National Park Service. (Courtesy National Park Service)
This monument commemorates the birth of U.S. Marine Corps Aviation. Under the leadership of Florida-born Captain Roy S. Geiger, also remembered here, who was the fifth Marine pilot, the “old Curtiss Flying Field” (as it was initially referred to in USMC documents) on the Miami River became the first Marine airbase, housing all four squadrons who are also memorialized by this monument on Curtiss Parkway. Bombing and strafing practice was done over the Miami River Canal and where the nearby Miami Springs Golf Course is today. The 135 Marines trained here served in France and the Azores during WWI.
Erected by American Legion Post 72.
This memorial plaza features two P251 US military cannons (c. 1841), one of E.M. Viquesney's iconic "Spirit of the American Doughboy" statues, a dedication plaque, and a flagpole. It is located on the grounds of the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls.
The plaque reads: Dedicated to the memory of our comrades who entered the service of their country from Flathead County and who gave their lives in the World War
Veterans Park Drive
Historical Marker in Veterans Park
listing 46 Lauderdale County deaths
The grave of Private Charles Graves.
A beautiful gravesite of memorial brick pavers and guarded by two machine guns. Graves was selected as the national "Known" soldier. He died and was buried in France during World War I. His body was later disinterred and moved to the United States, selected to be buried at Arlington Cemetery alongside the Unknown Soldier. His mother later had his body brought home to Rome where he was buried in the family plot, and finally was reinterred by the American Legion at Myrtle Hill Cemetery. His grave is the center of the New Veterans Walkway.
September 24, 1919
Originally placed in the Carnegie Library in New Albany which now houses the Carnegie Center of Art and History.
June 17, 1949
"The Merci Train was a train of 49 French railroad box cars filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from at least that many individual French citizens. They were showing their appreciation for the more than 700 American box cars of relief goods sent to them by (primarily) individual Americans in 1948. The Merci Train arrived in New York harbor on February 3rd, 1949 and each of the 48 American states at that time received one of the gift laden box cars. The 49th box car was shared by Washington D.C. and the Territory of Hawaii. Parades and ceremonies of welcome were conducted in the state capitols and major cities of almost all the states. The largest and most attended was in New York City where more than 200,000 people turned out to welcome that state's assigned box car."
-Excerpt from http://mercitrain.org/
Marble honor roll of 81 Jewish doughboys was unveiled Nov. 11, 1920, and embedded in a wall at Fort Worth's Hebrew Institute. The marble montage was 10 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide. It was made from 5 tablets. The frieze across the top was inscribed with 2 Jewish stars and 2 American flags. The title reads: TRIBUTE TO OUR BOYS=WORLD WAR=1914-1918. In 1951, the marble montage was broken into 5 slabs and stacked in a storage closet. Rediscovered in 1980, four panels were framed and hung in a garden by the entrance to a Congregation Ahavath Sholom's new synagogue at 4050 S. Hulen. The 5th tablet, inscribed with the dedication date and the sponsors, the Ladies Auxiliary to Hebrew Institute, was discarded. Exposed to wind, sun, and rain, the colors on the monument faded until it was white-on-white and only legible up close. Because of the WWI centennial, it is being restored, with the 81 names inked in . Many soldiers' descendants still live in Fort Worth.
4050 South Hulen, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, west entrance facing 4800 Briarhaven Lane
Fort Worth, TX, 76116
Somerset County Courthouse
This WWI plaque is mounted on a mortared stone "boulder" on the grounds of the Somerset County Courthouse. The bronze plaque contains the American Legion logo flanked by L-shaped garlands with flower corner blocks.
The plaque reads, "To the citizens of Somerville in appreciation of their hospitality in 1917 to the Fourth New Jersey Infantry. We also speak for those who sleep in France."
It was presented by the Fourth Infantry Post of the American Legion on Decoration Day 1920.
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Veterans Memorial Park, McFarland Blvd
This 1916 gun was used by the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I as part of a horse drawn caisson. During the war, American forces were loaned guns, planes, and other equipment from the French Arsenal. This gun was moved to Veterans Memorial Park in 1993 when Capitol Park was renovated. -Marker
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