World War I Centennial Ceremony to Mark American Operations in Belgium
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission
Attendees stand at the start of the Flanders Field Centennial Ceremony on 27 Oct.Flanders Field American Cemetery in Belgium hosted a ceremony on October 27, 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of American operations in Belgium during World War I.
Among the attendees were military officials from the U.S. and Belgium, to include Belgium's Chief of Defense General Marc Compernol, and the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, William M. Matz, Jr.
Featured speaker was our Vice Chair of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission Edwin Fountain. In his remarks, he talked about the partnership between our two countries.
Fountain also told the story of American poet Archibald MacLeish, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and a future Librarian of Congress.
"MacLeish was a veteran of the Great War. He volunteered as an ambulance driver in the Yale Mobile Hospital Unit, before joining the U.S. Army. MacLeish commanded a battery in the 146th Field Artillery, in the second battle of the Marne.
The young dead soldiers do not speak
Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them? . . .
They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.
They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.
They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.
"Archibald MacLeish’s younger brother Kenneth also served in the Great War. Kenneth left college to join the U.S. Naval Reserve Flying Corps. One hundred years ago, on October 14, 1918, Kenneth was shot down, and killed, over Schore, Belgium, about 30 miles from here. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.
"Kenneth is one of those American servicemen who today lies beneath the crosses, row on row. He is buried over there, in Plot B, Row 4, Grave 1."
Read more: World War I Centennial Ceremony to Mark American Operations in Belgium
Perkins’s nephew James Barry (shook hands with Colonel Brett Conaway after the unveiling. Barry’s daughter Jackie looked on.
Natick armory dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient from South Boston
By Emily Sweeney
via the Boston Globe newspaper web site
NATICK, MA — One fateful October day a century ago during World War I, Private First Class Michael J. Perkins crawled up to a nest of enemy machine gunners that were throwing grenades at his platoon and waited for just the right moment. When the Germans opened the door, he tossed a bomb inside. Then forced his way in and attacked the machine gun crews, and single-handedly forced them to surrender.
The courage that the South Boston war hero displayed on the battlefield was recalled Friday morning, when the Massachusetts National Guard dedicated its armory on Speen Street in his honor.
Among those in attendance at Friday’s dedication ceremony were Gary W. Keefe, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard; state Representative David Linsky; Colonel Brett Conaway, the brigade commander for the 26th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; as well as Perkins’s nephew and grand-niece.
“His story is the stuff of legends,” Conaway said.
Born in South Boston in 1892, Perkins was a member of the Company D, 101st Infantry Regiment, 26th Yankee Division when he was killed in action on Oct. 27, 1918.
Perkins’s nephew, James Barry, 84, said he grew up hearing about his uncle’s heroic acts on the battlefield, and was happy to see his uncle still remembered after all of these years.
“I kind of thought [his story] might have been” forgotten, Barry said. “But it wasn’t. Apparently it wasn’t.”
When Conaway spoke at the ceremony, he told the audience about the events that unfolded in France on that fateful day in October, and how Perkins bravely took on the machine gunners by himself.
Conaway said Perkins “voluntarily and alone” crawled up a hill to a German “pillbox” machine gun emplacement. After throwing the bomb inside the pillbox, he pulled out his trench knife and rushed inside, and fought off the machine gun crews. He killed or wounded several of them, and took about 25 of them as prisoners.
“He did what he had to do to silence those machine guns,” Conaway said. “He was as tough as nails.”
Read more: Natick armory dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient from South Boston