French cavalry with an aircraft overhead, 1916. World War I was a time of incredible technological innovation and so is its remembrance.
Technology & World War I: Then and Now
By Theo Mayer
Chief Technologist, Director of Public Affairs, United States World War One Centennial Commission/Doughboy Foundation
“The soldiers rode into World War I on horseback and rode out in tanks and airplanes,” is a popular quote about WWI. "The War that Changed the World" was a driving force for incredible technology advancement and innovation. So it is only fitting that WWI’s remembrance should also be imbued with innovation.
The industrialization of warfare and its horrific destructive forces such as machine guns, poison gas, airplanes, bombs, tanks and submarines were one aspect, but WWI also helped shape the modern world with incredible advancements in medicine, radio, automobiles, even personal technologies like wrist watches, and pocket cameras.
The point of this article is not those 20th century technologies. Instead, we are going to present the new 21st century technologies being used for the remembrance and commemoration of WWI including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, podcasting, streaming, photogrammetry, 3D printing and more.
Augmented Reality Used for a Virtual Field Trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In August of 2020, the Doughboy Foundation released a very advanced smartphone app called the: WWI Memorial “Virtual Explorer”. The App allows anyone to take a virtual field trip to the WWI Memorial in Washington, D.C. using a powerful technology called Augmented Reality or AR.
Many people have heard about AR but most people have not used it much. This virtual field trip brings the new National WWI Memorial to living rooms, classrooms and backyards anywhere, in a very realistic and experiential way. It is also filled with stories and information about WWI. Learn more with this video that provides a demonstration, as we explain a bit about AR and follow a group of first-time users, aged 17-48 while they discover and explore the App and its content.
Read more: Technology & WWI: Then and Now
Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D. are on location, filming outside the crumbling walls of the redoubtable Fort Souville, near Verdun, France. Camera operators and a boom soundman are setting up to shoot a scene for the documentary movie, Pershing’s Paths of Glory. Some young American student cadets can be heard talking nearby with decorated Army veteran, David A. Poe. Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, is on set to talk about his accomplishments as the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in WWI. The filmmaking team of 32 people spends two weeks shooting on the battlefields, in the trenches, and at the graveyards left behind by this “war to end all wars”. The group will also discover small, home-built WWI museums whose proprietors/guides add emotional texture to the emerging documentary. Returning to the United States, the documentary team films in historic American locations such as Laclede, Missouri, the boyhood home of Pershing, Kansas City, Missouri, the WWI Museum, and Washington D. C., the Arlington National Cemetery where Pershing is buried. The resulting 45-minute documentary film, Pershing’s Paths of Glory, is distributed via Dreamscape, and available as a DVD on Amazon.com.
Pershing’s Paths of Glory Comes to Life
By Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site
Following careers in marketing and education, we (Joe Hartnett and Dayle Hartnett, Ph.D.) decided to direct and produce documentary films. Initially, Joe produced branded content and marketing documentaries. He was fortunate to have worked with Oscar-winning documentary director, Mark Jonathan Harris on the short documentary, A Delicate Balance, shot in 2005 at the City of Hope (Duarte, California), his marketing client. To raise funding for that effort, the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF), a 501c3 IRS-approved nonprofit was founded.
We then began a prison project, visiting and filming inside two California prisons, San Quentin and the Valley State Prison for Women in 2012. Unfortunately, the project was interrupted and subsequently cancelled by the closure of the women’s prison. However, the property is now in pre-production, entitled Female and Finally Free.
We produced and directed a documentary titled With One Tied Hand in 2013 which explores the fighting and subsequent liberation of Tuscany in WWII by American Buffalo Soldiers. During this process, we learned that Pershing had commanded the Buffalo Soldiers three times during his legendary military career.
After that, in late 2015, Sandra (Sandy) S. Pershing, the granddaughter-in-law of General John J. Pershing, reached out to the Pershing Rifles, a college drill fraternity Pershing had founded, originally called Varsity Rifles in 1894, offering to fund a film to help people understand the achievements of Pershing and his role in the defeat of the Central Powers in WWI. We were introduced to Captain David Poe, a former national commander of the National Society of Pershing Rifles. Poe, representing the organization, then recommended the Pacific Film Foundation (PFF) to make this film honoring Pershing and his diplomatic expertise in asserting the right from our Allied partners to have American commanders lead American troops.
We additionally decided to explore the importance of Pershing’s influence and legacy on contemporary students in the Pershing Rifles, Pershing Angels (female university cadets), and Blackjacks (high school cadets). These groups currently learn and practice leadership, teamwork, and competitive drilling in his name.
Read more: Pershing’s Paths of Glory Comes to Life
A page from the new book International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voice, edited by Connie Ruzich.
“Here is poetry’s abundance in the face of horror”
By Connie Ruzich
Special to the United States World War One Centennial Commission web site
I’ve always loved browsing used bookstores: the beauty of decorated book spines, the smell of well-loved volumes, and the surprise of finding a treasure you didn’t know you were searching for. In 2014, I was granted a Fulbright Scholar award to live in England and research the ways in which poetry was being used in commemorations of the First World War.
In my free time, I visited second-hand bookshops and developed a passion for volumes of poetry published during the war. Although these one-hundred-year-old books were often dirty and tattered, their poems were alive with the voices of ordinary soldiers, nurses, and sweethearts from a century ago.
I began to collect these lost poems and share them on a blog I’d created, Behind Their Lines (endorsed by the USWW1CC). After six years, 250 posted poems, and over 500,00 views, the research from the blog has been extensively revised and published as a book: International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices. One reviewer has described the collection as “an astonishing feat of literary archaeology… [that] cuts through the smoke and noise of the First World War to present us with poems that have been hidden in history's unforgiving mud for far too long…. Here is poetry's abundance in the face of horror.”
For me, the most important part of the journey has been rediscovering and sharing these lost voices, for they show us that there was no single representative experience of the First World War, nor was there a typical response to the conflict. This new anthology is not intended to challenge the value of previous anthologies, the poets, or their work, but rather to supplement the familiar poetry of the war and to provide a richer understanding not only of war poetry, but of the war itself.
The most famous poems of the war are those written by British soldiers who fought in the trenches of the Western Front, writers such as Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas, and Wilfred Owen. But some of the most haunting poems I discovered were written by Americans: the loneliness of John Allan Wyeth’s “The Transport,” written aboard a ship sailing for France by a soldier who served with the 33rd Division of the A.E.F.; the power of Mary Borden’s “Song of the Mud,” in which an American nurse describes “the vast liquid grave of our armies”; the tragedy of Gladys Cromwell’s “The Extra,” written by an American nurse volunteer who was overwhelmed by the trauma she witnessed in France and who took her own life; or the devotion expressed in John Hunter Wickersham’s “The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat,” the poem written by this Congressional Medal of Honor recipient the night before he led his men over the top at the Battle of St. Mihiel.
Read more: “Here is poetry’s abundance in the face of horror”
Researchers and descendants are working to dust off the stories of the Golden Fourteen.
The Hidden History of First Black Women to Serve in WWI U.S. Navy
By Giulia Heyward
via the Atlas Obscura web site
When Jerri Bell first wrote about the Golden Fourteen, their story only took up a sentence. These 14 Black women were the first to serve in the U.S. Navy, and Bell, a former naval officer and historian with the Veteran’s Writing Project, included them in a book about women’s contributions in every American war, co-written with a former Marine. But even after the book was published, Bell couldn’t get their story out of her head.
“It made me kind of mad,” Bell says. “Here are these women, and they were the first! But I think there was also a general attitude at the time that the accomplishments of women were not a big deal. Women were not going to brag.”
Bell was one of a few researchers who have been able to track down documents that acknowledge the lives and work of these Black women. She knew that during World War I, the Fourteen had somehow found employment in the muster roll unit of the U.S. Navy in Washington, D.C., under officer John T. Risher. One was Risher’s sister-in-law and distant cousin, Armelda Hattie Greene.
The Golden Fourteen worked as yeomen and were tasked with handling administrative and clerical work. They had access to official military records, including the work assignments and locations of sailors. At the time, Black men who enlisted in the Navy could only work as messmen, stewards, or in the engine room, shoveling coal into the furnace. They performed menial labor and weren’t given opportunities to rise in rank.
Read more: The Hidden History of First Black Women to Serve in WWI U.S. Navy
Loudoun County’s World War I monument on the county courthouse grounds in Leesburg.
Supervisors Vote to Replace Segregated WWI Memorial Plaque
By Renss Greene
via the loudounnow.com (VA) web site
A memorial in the courthouse square to Loudouners who died serving in World War I will be replaced with one that does not segregate those service members by race.
The plaque, on a stone monument, lists 30 names. Three of those are at the bottom of the plaque, separated by a line—the three Black people on the list, Pvts. Ernest Gilbert, Valentine B. Johnson and Samuel C. Thornton. The memorial was erected 1921, three years after the war, donated by the American Legion. It will be replaced with a new one with a similar design, but with all of the names listed together.
The push to replace the plaque is led by Supervisor Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn). He previously contacted American Legion Post 34 to ask about replacing the plaque, receiving its support as well as a letter from the War Memorial Trust Committee that includes local veterans, members of American Legion Post 34, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1177, which also endorsed the idea of simply listing all names on the plaque alphabetically.
They also suggested rededicating the memorial on its 100th anniversary next year.
Supervisors unanimously supported the change.
“Thank you, Supervisor Turner, for putting this up so that we can make the changes that are needed in our county, that we see that soldiers fought side by side for our country, and that we should not delineate the person because of their color or their race,” said Supervisor Sylvia R. Glass (D-Broad Run).
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said “all history should be told, all history should be learned, but not all history should be celebrated.”
“These people made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War, so how are we going to separate them not just in life, but separate them in death?” Randall said.
Read more: Supervisors Vote to Replace Segregated War Memorial Plaque
The 1919 Model E Packard Truck before (right) and after restoration by "Packard Dave" Lockard.
Confessions of a Sledge Hammer Antique Truck Restorer
By Dave Lockard
via the baltimorepostexaminer.com (MD) web site
YORK SPRINGS, PA — As a fossil at the ‘seasoned’ age of 74 years, I must confess to my fellow hobbyists that I am not a vehicle restoration specialist. I have, however had many folks over the years provide me with Packard motor truck literature & complete many mechanical jobs/new manufacturing of parts projects that were way beyond my capability. Personally, I can only claim skills of appearing pathetically incompetent, pleading, begging and knowing only enough to be dangerous with engines to be able to have such wonderful friends that help me to bring back to life deceased commercial vehicles.
At the Hershey Fall Meet I have had numerous chance encounters with really knowledgeable experts (Matt, don’t get too swelled up with pride, OK?) with their commercial vehicles who put me to shame, so I must rely on my acid tongue/wise guy stupid comments that the public identifies as humor. Such was the case with my 1919 Packard truck. For 32 years on the day after the Hershey Fall Meet my friends along with the full support of my wife Joan, we held the ‘Packard Truck Organization’ meet that came to a screeching halt in 2018.
Over the years I got to know an elderly & true gentleman by the name of Charles White who for years lived just north of Philadelphia. Charles was a regular attendee at the PTO meet held at my home in York Springs, about a half hour above Gettysburg. Charles owned a fascinating original ex-Connecticut chemical fire truck chassis long after the body had been removed years ago — inheriting the Packard from his late father James, who purchased the Packard back in 1955. In the interim, following James passing, the Packard was stored in a south Philadelphia warehouse & home of the ‘Anthracite Battery Company’, was then taken south to Waverly, Florida Charles had residence. Sometime later Charles moved back north to South Carolina, his final residence.
The Packard remained in Florida where a local garage was supposed to begin restoration, however, that never happened. In early 2000 I had sold Charles a spare engine for his truck along with a spare transmission as his Packard truck did not run.
Moving forward to March 2008, I received a phone call from Charles who sadly,told me he had sold his White truck he had so coveted and now had to pass the Packard onto someone else. I explained to Charles that having seen pictures only of this original Packard truck that I knew several fellows who would be thrilled to buy the Packard (I cherish my solid capitalist business ethic of being a ‘Zero Commission Agent’). When asked, I constantly answer “I lose a little bit of money on every sale, but I always make it up in volume.” (Duh!) Charles emphatically told me not to contact anyone and he would get back to me shortly.
So, I waited.
Read more: Confessions of a Sledge Hammer Antique Truck Restorer
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman Aimee Jorjani (left) with memorial designer Joe Weishaar, and Edwin Fountain of the American Battle Monuments Commission.
ACHP Chairman Tours Upcoming National World War I Memorial
via the achp.gov web site
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman Aimee Jorjani on December 21 toured the site of what will be the National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C. Located in Pershing Park one block from the White House, the memorial is expected to open to the public in April 2021. Of the four major wars of the 20th century, World War I is the last to have a national memorial in the nation’s capital.
Pershing Park, a memorial to General John J. Pershing, commander of American forces in World War I, was redesignated as the site of the National World War I Memorial through legislation signed by President Barack Obama, as part of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission activities.
The tour was led by Edwin Fountain, general counsel for the American Battle Monuments Commission, who had the idea for the memorial. At first, he thought the DC War Memorial on Independence Avenue might be expanded from honoring only District of Columbia World War I dead to become the national memorial, but the process led them to Pershing Park.
The existing memorial to General Pershing will remain, and the park will include a water feature and a statue wall to honor those who fought in the war. The site is being made more accessible and will have many interpretive signs to educate the public about World War I.
Read more: ACHP Chairman Tours Upcoming National World War I Memorial
Charlie Bauer is seated in the center of the front row of this group of U.S. soldiers who served in World War I. Charlie was the son of Heinrich and Katherine Bauer from Norka and was born in Oregon in 1894. This photograph was taken in Trier, Germany in 1917 and was provided courtesy of Kris Dillman.
The Volga Germans in Portland, Oregon during World War I
By Steven H. Schreiber
via the volgagermansportland.info web site
The outbreak of World War I on July 28, 1914 was met with anxiety and fear by both the Volga German colonists living in Russia and their family and friends who had immigrated to the United States.
The war exacerbated Russia’s Germanophobia and Slavophile tendencies. Despite the fact that the Volga Germans had lived peacefully in Russia for 150 years, Russian Foreign Minister Zazonov called for a “final solution” to the ethnic German problem in Russia, noting that the time had come "...to deal with this long over-due problem, for the current war has created the conditions to make it possible to solve this problem once and for all.” Russian General Polivanov wrote in a pamphlet that was distributed among Russian soldiers on order of Grand Duke Nicholas, the Tsar's uncle:
"Russia's Germans must all be driven out, without respect of age, sex, any supposed usefulness, or their many years of residence in the empire."
Despite their loyalty to Russia, the following insult was not uncommon:
"You are Germans--Nemski," they were charged. We are going to fight the barbarians, your brothers. Woe to you, you scoundrels, if you make any effort to help your Kaiser Wilhelm."
Despite all of the rhetoric, thousands of Volga German men were conscripted to serve in the Russian military. However, they were not allowed to speak German or sing German songs. They were watched closely as if they were the enemy. Their situation worsened in 1915 after a major defeat of the Russian army by the German forces. Without evidence, the ethnic Germans serving in the Russian army were conveniently blamed for the defeat.
War hysteria was spread by vilifying publications and wide-spread rumors. The millions of semi-literate and non-literate Russians had no way of ascertaining the facts and readily accepted the absurd propaganda. For example, it was claimed that a Volga German flour-mill magnate was shipping a weekly trainload of flour from Saratov to Riga for Kaiser Wilhelm's forces. No one asked, and it was never explained, how an entire trainload of flour could travel hundreds of miles through Russia and across a war front manned by Russian troops on a weekly basis.
Despite the fact that there was no documented case of a German colonist having been charged with treason or sabotage, the anti-German campaign continued. Most German language newspapers were closed or suppressed. Approximately 190,000 to 200,000 ethnic Germans living in Russia were deported to Siberia from 1915 to 1916, including several pastors. The number of losses is unknown, but a mortality rate of one-third to one-half (63,000-100,000) is estimated.
In 1916, an order was issued to deport the entire Volga German population (around 650,000 at the time) to the Siberia. The 1917 Socialist Revolution prevented that wholesale deportation from being carried out. About this turn of events, the author and poet Peter Sinner wrote:
When the storm had subsided, our German colonists saw themselves betrayed once more. The temporary government immediately halted the fierce expulsion law, but they did not rescind it. The general quartermaster of the temporary government renewed the prohibition of the German language. The war would be continued.
The situation was also growing dire for ethnic Germans living In the United States. Anti-German sentiment and propaganda reached extreme levels after America entered the war in April 1917. The German language was forbidden to be used in many places. German language newspapers were closed and several editors were sent to interment camps. Germans were tarred and feathered in 13 states, including Oregon. German books were banned in libraries and burned in public ceremonies.
Read more: The Volga Germans in Portland, OR during WWI
This ca. 1918 photo has failed to reveal the identify of the US soldier buried beneath the single grave marker for more than a century — that’s until two WWI researchers took on the challenge of discovering who was commemorated in the image.
A Lone World War I Doughboy’s Grave
By Charles G. Thomas and Austin Osman
via the Military Trader web site
A photographic image captured by Sgt. Owen G. Williams of the 3rd Photo Section, American Expeditionary Force (AEF) of a lone American grave north of Flirey, France, sparked the interest of the authors, both avid WWI researchers. Who was the soldier marked by the rudimentary cross? Despite excellent details the photo was able to reveal, the sparse caption on back (Flirey), and a diary entry left by Williams, the identity of the soldier has remained unknown for over a century.
The question was, could the Doughboy in the poorly marked grave finally be identified? We thought we could.
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS PHOTO
As seen above, the grave is surrounded by cheval de frise barricades and the wreckage of war. The barricades would have been used to block the nearby road (seen in the background). Note the fired artillery shells, numerous Hotchkiss machine gun ammunition clips, and even US and German bayonets stuck into the ground marking the edge of the grave. A US Enfield rifle (with bolt removed) rests on top while a holed overseas cap is seen near the head of the grave.
What catches most eyes is the interesting name plate and identification disc (“dog tag”) nailed to the cross. A high-resolution scan revealed that there is a name scratched on to the plate: “Eugene something.” The Model 1917 dog tag, however, was unreadable.
BEGINNING TO PIECE THE PUZZLE TOGETHER
From here, we were able to piece together some clues:
*The location written on the reverse is Flirey. This lies between St. Mihiel and Point Au-Mousson.
*From that, we could surmise the subject was most likely killed during the St Mihiel Offensive, when the US presence there was greatest.
*Per the the AEF’s order of battle, Flirey was in the IV Corp’s zone for the offensive. IV Corp consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 42nd, and 89th Divisions. Of those Divisions, the 1st, 2nd, and 42nd were all equipped with M1903 Springfield rifles. Remember, there was an Enfield rifle shown with the grave.
*The 89th Division, however, were equipped with M1917 Enfield rifles. In checking the Corps combat map for the battle, we see that the 89th (carrying Enfield’s) started out of Flirey.
Read more: A Lone WWI Doughboy’s Grave
Close-up of the recently-restored Doughboy statue in Wheeling Park, Wheeling, WV. The return of the statue after restoration was delayed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wheeling Park Doughboy has his rifle back after year of restorations
By Stephanie Grindley
via the wvnstv.com CBS 59 television station (WV) web site
WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Over one year later, the Doughboy statue in Wheeling Park is back, and near a century old, is looking better than ever!
Lester was taken to Detroit last November where ‘Venus Bronze Works’ set out to restore him.
Covered in dents, bird droppings, rust head to toe, a missing rifle and a hand poorly reattached… The elements were not kind to this 88-year-old figure, but Wheeling was.
Individuals and local foundations raised a whopping $21,000 to fix him up… A cost the friendly city deemed deserving as he stands to remind the Ohio Valley of all who fought for our freedom.
"This guy, to me, represents the common soldier. He’s not an officer. He’s an infantry man; a Doughboy. These are the guys who died in large numbers in all of the wars really. And so, I think it’s important to remember that. And it’s our legacy. So, I’d like to see him stay here for an indefinite future."
--Sean Duffy, Chairman of the Wheeling Doughboy Restoration Committee
This WWI statue was supposed to be back in May but the pandemic even affected his arrival… Which the history buff says was ironic since Lester represents the soldiers during 1918, who were impacted by a pandemic…but one by a different name; the H1N1.
Charles McAllister poses in his World War I uniform in this undated photo.
‘Unsolvable’: Forensic sleuth says he’s identified a long-dead WWI Doughboy, but whose job is it to bring him home?
By Wyatt Olson
via the Stars and Stripes newspaper web site
When Beverly Dillon’s home phone rang on a late summer evening in 2019, she ignored it. She didn’t recognize the number and assumed it was a pesky marketing call to her home in a small Montana town near Glacier National Park.
But as the caller began leaving a message on her old-fashioned answering machine — mentioning the surnames Vincent and McAllister — Dillon raced to pick up the phone.
“Yes! I was a Vincent before I was a Dillon, and my grandmother's maiden name was McAllister,” the self-described “genealogy nut” recalled saying. “I nearly jumped out of my skin I was so excited.”
On the other end of the line was Jay Silverstein, a forensic anthropologist who said he believed he had identified the remains of Pfc. Charles McAllister, her great uncle who died in battle during World War I.
Silverstein had just retired from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii, the U.S. government’s official agency tasked with bringing home the remains of the nation’s missing war dead, but this was the one case he could not bear to leave unresolved. The remains had been stored at the agency’s Hawaii lab for 15 years.
Dillon, now 80, and her son, Sean, submitted DNA samples to the Department of Defense DNA Registry in August 2019, for which she received a letter of receipt a few weeks later. It was the last contact she had from the government concerning the samples, she said. More than a year later, the case has gone nowhere.
Silverstein, who now teaches forensic anthropology in Russia, is frustrated with what he regards as DPAA’s foot-dragging on a case he insists could have — should have — been completed years ago.
Read more: ‘Unsolvable’: Forensic sleuth says he’s identified a long-dead WWI Doughboy, but whose job is it...
A New Jersey dive crew has found a World War I-era U.S. Navy submarine near the Delmarva Peninsula. It is the SS-85, an R-8 class submarine built in 1918.
WWI-era U.S. submarine found frozen in time on ocean floor by N.J. dive team
By Bill Duhart
via the nj.com (New Jersey) web site
A post-World War I-era submarine has been found on the ocean floor near the Delmarva Peninsula and appears to be fully intact and upright, a salvage rescue company said Thursday.
The vessel is believed to be a decommissioned U.S. navy R-8 class submarine sank during a practice bombing exercise in 1936, the salvage company said. It was one of 27 R-class submarines commissioned by the Navy during WWI but was completed until after the war. It was built in 1918 in Quincy, Massachusetts.
“The discovery is historically important because R-8 is one of few American submarines resting in [accessable] East Coast waters that had yet to be located,” a statement from Atlantic Wreck Salvage said.
Atlantic Wreck Salvage is operated by Joe Mazraani and Jennifer Sellitti, a crew member and diver on the D/V Tenacious, the vessel the salvage company uses for explorations. When they are not at sea, the pair work as criminal defense attorneys for the New Jersey Public Defenders Office and live on a farm in Freehold.
“It’s in pristine condition,” said Sellitti. “When we find these it’s not just hunks of metal at bottom of the ocean. It connects it to a moment of history.”
Atlantic Salvage is not releasing additional information about the depth or the location of the vessel until the crew can dive to the wreckage and make a formal identification. But sonar images matched with historic photos and information about where SS 85 went down have convinced the crew this is the vessel.
The crew has not dived to the wreck to explore it. Sellitti said that won’t likely occur until the spring, because the end of the mid-Atlantic diving season is in December.
Read more: WWI-era U.S. submarine found frozen in time on ocean floor by N.J. dive team
The Doughboy Monument in Lynbrook, which turned 100 in October, has had a storied history filled with controversy.
Lynbrook's Doughboy Monument, 100, once center of 'village civil war'
By Mike Smollins
via the Long Island Herald newspaper (NY) web site
The following information came from the archives of Lynbrook American Legion Post 335, and old newspaper clippings, including the Nassau Daily Review and Nassau Daily Star newspapers. The period of the newspaper articles is from 1931 to 1936.
In this day and age when some want to take down statues from past generations and wars, Lynbrook has its own statue that has stood for 100 years. as of this past October. However, the statue did cause some controversy in the 1930s, with one newspaper saying it caused a “village civil war.”
That statue is the veteran’s Doughboy Monument (also called the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the 1920s), a statue of a World War I soldier which stands on a small plot of an island in Saperstein Plaza behind Lynbrook’s Long Island Rail Road station. It is the centerpiece of the village’s war monuments. On the four-sided pedestal below the statue are the names of 15 local soldiers killed in action in World War I.
The inscription on the back of the statue reads, “Erected by the citizens of Lynbrook and vicinity, dedicated on 12th day of October A.D. 1920.”
The Doughboy did not always stand in Saperstein Plaza, and one of its past locations caused the controversy that pitted Lynbrook’s American Legion members against village fathers, and especially against the Lynbrook Library board of trustees.
Back in the mid-1930s, Lynbrook’s American Legion Post 335 numbered 270 members, with championship county and state baseball teams, a boy’s club, and even a 30-piece band. It also sponsored an annual week-long village carnival at Sunrise Highway and Atlantic Avenue and highlighted an annual contest “to decide the most popular policemen, fireman, letter carrier, boy and girl in Lynbrook.” The post also hosted musical plays, and its former building on Union Avenue was a center of community activities, including parties, meetings, and other village events.
The Doughboy statue, which reportedly cost $5,000, was commissioned by Lynbrook’s Militia Unit, Company B, 23rd Regiment of the New York National Guard. Philip Stauderman, former Lynbrook village president, and a captain in the Regiment, told the Nassau Daily Star in 1936 that the statue was built through public subscription and “turned over to the Village of Lynbrook after its dedication by Gen. John F. O’Brien, on Presidents Day.”
The inscription on the bottom of the Doughboy said the that the general’s last name is O’Ryan.
The statue with its pedestal of names of those killed in action was originally placed on the corner of Merrick Road and Blake Avenue where an Esso gas station stood and where a village fountain now stands.
Read more: Lynbrook's Doughboy Monument, 100, once center of 'village civil war'