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.
This World War I monument stands just outside the gates of Greenville's historic Springwood Cemetery. It reads: "In Memory of 81st. Wildcat Division which trained at Camp Sevier Apr. to July 1918, Maj. Gen. Chas. J. Bailey, Commanding. Erected Oct. 13, 1956."
Although officially organized as the 81st National Army Division, the battalion came to be known as the Wildcat Division and entered the war theater in France toward the end of the war in 1918. With draftees primarily from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, the group took on the name to reflect the fierce fighting and tenacious wild cats of the South and adopted a patch made from the silhouette of the cat as their insignia. They fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918 and were in combat against the Germans in Verdun when fighting ceased on November 11 with the armistice. The Wildcat Division suffered 1,104 casualties during their short time in the war.
This obelisk monument is dedicated to the memory of the members of the 82nd in WWI, WWII, the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, and actions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama.
On May 30, 1930, an impressive monument was dedicated at Fort Lewis honoring the Army's 91st Division. The monument, featuring six statues and a 40-foot tall shaft, recalls the division's wartime contribution and honors its war dead. Sculptor Avard Fairbanks (1897-1987) designed the statues and noted Seattle architect John Graham Sr. (1873-1955) designed the monument. Frank McDermott, president of the Bon Marche Department store, donated the funds to build it. Since its dedication, the monument has become a prominent Joint Base Lewis-McChord symbol, where it continues to honor national sacrifice.
"The 9th Infantry Division was organized on 18 July 1918 at Camp Sheridan for service in World War I. When the War ended, 11 November 1918, deployment of the Division to France was canceled and it was demobilized of 15 February 1919." -Alabama Historical Association marker, 1993.
Located in front of the Fairfax Court House, this World War I memorial hosts the names of the soldiers from Fairfax County who died in the war.
"I've attached the pic associated with the World War One Memorial at Ada, Minnesota. Since it's dedication (date unknown) other sides of the base have had plaques added listing the fatalities from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam."
-Mr. Johannes R. Allert, M.A., CTL
Photo and description courtesy of the Association for Public Art
This bronze "celestial sphere" is dedicated to the aviators who died during World War 1. It also illustrates the signs of the zodiac and is inscribed with the Latin names of the constellations and planets. The sculpture is located opposite the main entrance of the Franklin Institute.
In Memory Of
Those Aitkin County
Who Lost Their
Lives In The
Northland Chapter D.A.R.
This cast bronze statue of a WWI infantryman has been painted mustard yellow. It depicts him advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of No Man's Land, carrying a rifle and grenade and wearing a steel helmet, gas mask, bag and ammunition belt. Beneath is a granite slab and sandstone base, with a plaque dedicated to the memory of the men and women who served in WWI from Summit County. Other plaques list the 65 men and one woman from the county who died in service during the war. It was installed at the Armory in 1934 and moved to the present site in 1982.
Erected in 1968, this monument consists of a marble obelisk and fountains, with life-size figures of military personnel. It honors the Alabama citizens who have served in America's wars. A Hall of Honor commemorates those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Alaska Veterans Memorial is an outdoor memorial grove in Denali State Park in Interior Alaska. The memorial honors Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Alaska National Guard, and Merchant Marine veterans from Alaska, as well as specific Alaskans who were awarded the Medal of Honor. There are also small memorials to the passengers and crew of military plane crashes in Alaska. The site was selected because of the scenic beauty of the area and its location between Alaska's two largest cities. On a clear day visitors can see Denali from just outside the memorial. It is 147 miles (237 km) from Anchorage and 214 miles (344 km) from Fairbanks, on a hill above the Byers Lake campground. During the main visitor season (May–August) there is a staffed visitor center and bookstore. The main memorial alcove was constructed in 1983. Governor Bill Sheffield, himself a veteran, dedicated the site in 1984.
The base of the flagpole is a square column of granite eight feet tall and two and a half feet on a side. It has three rectangular panels with relief images of two soldiers with a dog and birds, two soldiers with a horse, and a soldier walking with nurses. On the fourth side are the names of 145 who died in WWI. It was sculpted by Gertrude Katherine Lathrop (1896-1986) and dedicated in 1933.
This bronze WWI infantryman is advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of No Man's Land, holding his rifle in one hand and a grenade in the other. Beneath is a rusticated marble or granite base. This was sculpted by E.M. Viquesney and dedicated on May 30, 1926, to the Gentry County citizens who served in WWI. It was rededicated on August 24, 1984.
"LEST WE FORGET" / ERECTED IN MEMORY / OF THE / VETERANS OF BORO PARK / WHO MADE THE / SUPREME SACRIFICE / DEDICATED BY / PVT. BUD H. ALBEN POST / NO. 1436 / VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS / OF THE UNITED STATES / 1935 /
Honoring the WWI Veterans interred at Jackson's Pioneer Cemetery has included working with the local community to identify all WWI Veterans on site, seeking family contact and service information on each WWI Vet, publishing a map of graves with brief name and service description of each, restoring the seriously impaired grave-site of WWI Veteran Albert H. Bode, and flagging each WWI Veteran grave when holding a WWI commemoration ceremony for families and community members. Due to local interest in the project and promised support of the American Legion and Jackson City Cemetery Board, the project has expanded its vision to include a potential WWI Centennial plaque at cemetery entrance with the names of each WWI Veteran engraved as a secondary project for the following year. Sierra Amador Chapter NSDAR is thankful to the WWI Centennial for inspiring this project.
This is a metal flagpole installed in the center of a low semicircular granite wall decorated by an American Legion emblem. On each end of the wall is a bronze plaque. The memorial was erected in 1930 as a tribute to Albert T. Wood, the only Longmeadow soldier killed in action during WWI. He died in the Battle of Argonne Forest on October 20, 1918.
A bronze plaque mounted on a granite boulder was placed here in 1962, designed by sculptor Worg. It commemorates the 1,750 men from Bernalillo County who fought in WWI, approximately 50 of which were killed in service.
A resident and lover of Mount Desert Island who commanded the United States Naval Radio Station upon this site from its establishment on August 28, 1917 until December 12, 1919.
At the end of the World War he was awarded the Navy Cross. His citation stated that under his direction the station became the most important and the most efficient station in the world.
This tablet is erected by his friends and fellow townsmen in testimony to his patriotic service, high character and endearing qualities.
Four life-size marble figures stand back-to-back, each facing one of the four cardinal directions. South represents a Naval Marine, east is a Sailor, north is a soldier wearing WWII Army combat gear, and west is an Air Force soldier in dress gear. Beneath them is a marble base atop a brick planter, adorned with plaques representing their military branch. This memorial was sculpted by Bernhard Zuckerman and placed in the Pinecrest Memorial Park cemetery in approx. 1968.
In 1910, Freemasons in the United States created the George Washington Masonic National Memorial Association (GWNMMA) to construct a memorial to George Washington somewhere in Alexandria, Virginia. A site atop Shooter's Hill was chosen, and ground for the massive memorial building and tower was broken at noon on June 5, 1922. Laying of the memorial's cornerstone occurred on November 1, 1923. By February 1924, the foundation was complete. To support the tower eight massive granite columns were placed on the floor of the first story. The floor of the second story was built atop them, and eight more massive granite columns placed above the first story columns. The roof of the second floor was supported by this second set of columns. The tower above rested on these second-floor columns. In December 1924, the installation of eight green marble columns (each weighing 11 to 18 tons) occurred on the first floor. Each column was 18 feet (5.5 m) high and 4.5 feet (1.4 m) in diameter, and arrived at Alexandria's Union Station by train from Redstone, New Hampshire. It was provided by the Maine & New Hampshire Granite Corp. One columnar section was damaged, and given to the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The VFW turned it into a memorial to American war dead, and erected it in front of Alexandria's Union Station in 1942.