Who are the vets on the WWI Bremerton Memorial and why are some missing?
By Josh Farley
via the Kitsap Sun (WA) newspaper web site
Twenty bronze plaques on a chunk of concrete.
It seemed a simple enough assignment for researcher Elisabeth Demmon as she copied the names of 11 soldiers, five sailors and four Marines off a memorial for those who “fought and died” in World War I at Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park.
Her mission: learn who these men were.
“I thought it was going to be a straightforward project,” said Demmon, a library research associate at Kitsap Regional Library working on her master’s degree in genealogical studies. “I had no idea what I was in for.”
Close to 100 years after the conflict ended, Demmon’s many months dredging the early 20th century for clues about the 20 men led to some perplexing discoveries and startling inaccuracies. She found not every man from Bremerton who died in the “war to end all wars” is actually listed. And some of those who were immortalized there didn’t die in the war at all. There was even one who would make it through the war and come home only to be murdered by his wife.
“I never knew what I was going to find from one man to the next,” Demmon said. “They were each very unique in so many ways.”
Demmon examined birth certificates, obituaries and stories from the newspapers of the day. Slowly, as she verified and vivified each man’s story, other questions about the memorial itself began to pop up. Who picked these names for the memorial, when did they decide to create the memorial and why?
“To this day, I do not know the criteria used for choosing these men,” she said.
Read the entire article on the Kitsap Sun web site here:
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