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.
On the four bridge abutments are metal plaques honoring four branches of the military who participated in WWI. At the southeast are three infantrymen charging ahead, one down and one throwing a grenade. At the northwest, there are four biplanes amidst clouds. At the northeast are five artillery soldiers firing a cannon. At the southwest are two warships with smoke billowing from their stacks. These plaques were placed here in 1925 by the city as a tribute to Broome County citizens who served in WWI and in all other American wars.
There are two memorials for the Black Tom explosion - one at Liberty State Park in NY Harbor; the other, a stained glass window at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in Jersey City.
Black Tom was an island in New York Harbor, next to Liberty Island, that received its name from an early African American resident. By 1880, a railroad connected it to Jersey City & it began its use as a shipping depot. By 1916, its mile-long pier housed a depot and warehouses for the National Dock & Storage Company.
In 1914 Imperial Germany sent Count Johann von Bernstorff to be its new ambassador in Washington D.C. But von Bernstorff's staff of diplomats were not all as they seemed for these bureaucrats were a veritable army of undercover spies and saboteurs, arriving with millions of dollars to aid the German war effort by sabotage and illicit destruction.
Among their principal targets were the endless supplies of munitions that the neutral US was selling to Great Britain and France. In 1916, over 2,000,000 tons of explosives were in storage on Black Tom, ready to sail across the Atlantic. The island soon caught the attentions of von Bernstorff and his saboteurs.
On the night of July 30, 1916, Black Tom island disappeared. Just after 2 am, slow burning pencil bombs planted by the German agents ignited an explosion so colossal it registered 5.5 on the Richter scale. As glass windows shattered in Times Square and St.Patrick's Cathedral, the blast shook the Brooklyn Bridge and was felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland. The Statue of Liberty felt the full blast and was showered with shrapnel, exploding bullets and shells.
Federal investigations named two guards at Black Tom as the likely culprits; the guards turned out to be German agents Kurt Jahnke and Lothar Witzke, but both escaped. An explosion in 1917 at the Mare Island naval shipyard in Vallejo, CA was also attributed to them. When the US finally responded to German's secret war of attrition by declaring war in 1917, Jahnke and Witzke fled to Mexico.
Black Tom Island was reconstructed with landfill and is today the southeastern part of Jersey City's Liberty State Park. Today the park is a popular recreation area, with families taking advantage of the close up views of the Statue of Liberty. But in the corner of the picnic area is a simple plaque, often passed by, which reads, "You are walking on a site which saw one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history."
It is not known exactly how many people died or were injured in the explosion. Possibly, the congregation of Our Lady of Czestochowa were hit hard, which led to the commemorating of the attack with their stained glass window memorial.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad who owned Black Tom Island sought compensation against Germany, who settled on a payment of $50 million which was finally paid as recently as 1979.
The attack may be long forgotten and little known, but it has an ongoing repercussion. Structural damage caused by the explosion is the reason today's visitors to the Statue of Liberty are prohibited from going up into the torch. It has been closed to the public since that fiery evening.
Narrative adapted from Atlas Obscura website.
Photos courtesy of:
Memorials - Luke J. Spencer, Atlas Obscura
Vintage photos - NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks & Forestry
Flame of Freedom Monument on courthouse grounds.
Inscription: “ Presented By Bleckley County and the American Legion Honoring Veterans of All Wars, March 15, 1969, Rededicated Memorial Day 1991”.
The WW1 portion of this monument contains the names of 7 service members.
"This Tablet is Erected in Honor of the Men and Women of the Town of Blooming Grove who Served Their Country in the World War and in Memory of Those Who Gave Their Lives 1917-1919"
This bronze WWI doughboy is depicted as running with a rifle in his left hand, with his right hand raised. Beneath is a square base of granite blocks. It was sculpted by John Paulding and dedicated on July 4, 1921, honoring the three men of Bolton who died in service in WWI, and the total of 70 who served.
Here there are two monuments to the local veterans. The WWI Monument consists of a tall white stele flanked by two wings, all engraved with approximately 200 names of veterans. The Vietnam War Monument is a small upright slab, listing eight local citizens who served in the war.
No additional information at this time.
This memorial park contains three monuments honoring the veterans and fallen servicemembers of Boundary County and one honoring the explorers who established the "first route of travel and trade across what is now the state of Idaho." The monuments honor veterans of all wars, including WW1. The park is located near the library, with its 100-foot flagpole making it hard to miss.
This memorial is dedicated to the servicemembers of Box Elder County "who sacrificed their lives in the cause of freedom and liberty in the great World Wars." The base of the soldier statue features three bronze plaques: one listing the names of the fallen in both World Wars, one listing the fallen from the conflicts since WW2, and one reading: Freedom Is Not Free: In Solemn Recognition Of The Sacrifices And Leadership Of The Men And Women Of Box Elder County Who Gave Their Lives To Preserve A Free Society, Built The Peace And Gave To Future Generations The Precious Gift Of Freedom.
The memorial is located in front of the Boyd County NE Courthouse
Named in memory of PVT William C.N. Boylen CD.L 101st Infantry 26th DIV A.E.F. killed at vaux. Chateau thierry second battle of the marine July 20, 1918
First Melrose man with the American Forces killed in action in the World War
This monument lists the names of the boys of St. Peters parish in Mt. Clemens, MI. that served their country in The Great War from 1917-1918.
World War I was a global war which took place primarily in Europe from 1914 to 1918. Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths. Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilized from 1914 to 1918.
World War I Monument/Joan of Arc (sculpture)
Is described as Full-length figure of Joan of Arc dressed in armor and standing in contrapposto (weight-bearing leg, proper right). She gazes towards sky. Proper right hand grips the pole of a flag or banner; proper left rests on the upper edge of a shield which is balanced upright, tip resting on the ground, behind bent proper left leg. Shield emblazoned with upright sword, pommel down, and crown, flanked by fleurs-de-lis. Figure wears a sword, belted to hips and slung behind legs. Between the feet, a spiked war club lies on the ground.
The statue is made from zinc or lead with a granite base.
Statue: approx. 8 x 2 x 2 ft. Base: approx. 8 1/2 x 11 3/4 x 11 3/4 ft.
An inscription of Deprato Foundry Co. unsigned Founder's mark appears. Other than that there is a bronze plaque (SE Side) which reads;
This Monument erected to perpetuate the memory of the boys of St. Peter’s Parish. Mount Clemens, Mich who served their country in the world war 1917-1918
(then listed are 178 names, of which 5 died and 8 were wounded)