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John B. Kane

Submitted by: Gus and LaWanda Zimmerman {Grandson}

John B Kane

John B. Kane born around 1893. John Kane served in World War 1 with the United States Army. The enlistment was in 1917 and the service was completed in 1919.

Story of Service


The Khaki Road

My grandfather, John B. Kane, an architect who lived in the Philadelphia area, died when I was twelve years old. He never discussed his time in the service during WWI.

When my mother was an adult, she discovered a book he wrote to her when she was ten years old. The "little story" was typed on fragile onion skin paper, written as though he were telling his young daughter stories about his military service. We speculate that he wrote the book because WWII was just starting, and he couldn’t imagine how the leaders would allow such monumental sacrifice to occur again.

WWI was the first time Americans fought overseas, consequently resulting in the formation of the Graves Registration Service. His drafting experience was put to good use by designing and plotting the first of many American cemeteries in France.

John B Kane Book CoverWhen I first read my grandfather's book, learning of events taking place one hundred years ago, I realized he could be reporting on the current events of today. In each chapter he explains the lessons he wanted his daughter to learn. In the book, he writes “people are eager to inherit synthetic success, so try to keep selfishness, jealousy and greed for power out of your heart”, what he warned as “the treacherous trio”. He met a prisoner and wrote, “I do not want to impress upon you that bad men should not be punished for what they do against society. What I do leave you with is this ... do not judge persons too harshly. Remember, all persons who walk the streets and enjoy the freedom of the laws are not good people, and all people behind bars are not bad people. So, do not be critical in your appraisal of people who have slipped from the crown of the road, just remember we all have a long way to travel in this ever-changing path".

Without his book I would have never learned the wisdom of my grandfather during the prime of his life. He was honored to wear his uniform and represent his country. The dignity and respect shown for the fallen is so heart warming: “Being a soldier broadens your mind and strengthens your character, but the discipline is the great leveler, it makes you lose that air of self-importance that so easily creeps into your system in civil life. You soon learn to realize you are one of many gathered for one objective". I am grateful for the opportunity to read his experiences and his commentary from WW1. His last sentence of his book reads "The twine is unraveled, the spool is bare, and now I turn it over to you to pass along the journey of life". as written by my grandfather as the finale of his little story.

The story for my mother is now available in book form on Amazon, with the following description:

An autobiography about a young man, John B. Kane who enlist in the Army with his brother Jim. As an original member of the newly formed organization in the US Army "Graves Registration Service",he would use his skills as draftsman plotting the graves of the American fallen soldiers creating the first American cemetery on foreign soil. He unfolds his experiences in France during WWI, including a short romance with a French maiden and receives Commendation from General Pershing for working under heavy shell fire and gas while plotting addition cemetery space. When he returns home after 22 months of service, he meets a young widow "Sara." They marry and he becomes a well known architect in Philadelphia. He writes this book for his 10 year old daughter "Sashie" in 1940. Sashie is now 88 and lives in Cary NC. After 78 years she wishes to share this wisdom of her father to others.

John B Kane 2John B. Kane (age 24) is located on the bottom row, far right side. His brother Jim (age 19) is on the bottom row center.

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