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.
The Mother's Army and Navy League, organized in 1917, raised $20,000 in order to erect this monument to honor their sons lost during the Great War. The monument was designed by renowned Mobile architect, George Rogers, and is constructed of Alabama marble. Construction of the monument began in 1926.
The monument was placed on the original site of the Liberty Pole. Designed by architect Douglas Orr and sculptor Michele Martino, the flagpole is surrounded by a white marble frieze on a six sided base. Flattened figures of "Peace" and "War," along with two female personifications of the armed services appear on the frieze.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Plymouth, Pennsylvania, honoring those from the area who died during the fighting of World War I.
The monument is the work of the sculptor George Brewster. It was dedicated on November 11, 1920.
This granite & marble obelisk monument stands on a small, landscaped traffic island in Cape May. The square cube base, placed on a larger, square stone slab, has bronze plaques mounted on each side. The plaques contain its dedication to Cape May vicinity residents who served in World War I, as well as an Honor Roll. Thirteen Cape May residents perished during World War I. The tall stone shaft is square in cross-section & tapers slightly toward the top where a ball with corner finials rests atop a small square slab. Perched on the orb is a large bronze eagle with wings outstretched upward, looking to the side. The shaft also has bronze plaques & medallions attached to its sides. The plaques were refurbished and the monument was rededicated on November 11, 2018, the centennial of Armistice Day. Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office. Vintage Postcard courtesy of: Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
The Waterloo Memorial Hall Commission has developed Soldiers and Sailors Park
at 655 Cedar Street. The park displays granite monuments, a fountain and bronze
plaques along the 400-foot brick walkway. The walkway will begin near the west
side of the 5th Street bridge and meander through the beautifully landscaped park
to the 4th Street bridge. The monuments, historic fountain and plaques will stand to
commemorate all wars and conflicts our service men and women have fought in. It
will also include a POW/MIA - “…Known But To God" Memorial Monument.
To help pay for the current, future development and maintenance of our Soldiers and
Sailors Park, the commission is selling bricks to honor anyone who has served in the
military. These bricks will make up the entire walkway.
The earliest elements of Soldiers Field were started by the Rochester American Legion, William T. McCoy, Post 92.
The Poist was started in 1919, soon after the end of the World War. In the mid 1920’s the Post focused its attention
on the project of building the Soldier’s Field Athletic Complex. There are two original bronze plaques from the mid to
late 1920’s are mounted on either side of a granite monument at the entrance to the Memorial and Sports Complex
(see gallery photos).
Text from original Plaques:
SOLDIERS MEMORIAL FIELD
VETERANS OF ALL WARS
DEDICATED TO THE YOUTH OF OLMSTED COUNTY
WM. T. MCCOY POSTNO. 92. THE AMERICAN LEGION
The second plaque contains the Emblem and the Preamble to the Constitution of the American Legion.
Fast forward about 70 yers, when in October of 1995, the Memorial Committee was formed. Then on June 13th, 1997
the Ground Breaking Ceremony was held. On June 25th, 2000, the Dedication of the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial.
This Memorial, conceived in 1995, was built without tax dollars due to the time, talent and treasure contributed by the
Memorial Committee and the countless other volunteers who also contributed to honor those who served.
The Wall of Remembrance was created to honor American Service Members from Southeast Minnesota who died while
serving our country undedicated to all who served and now serve to keep us safe and free. May it remind future
generations that our nation must be protected from forces, both outside and inside our borders, that would deny us
our liberty. Please pay special attention to the sculpture of the Woman and Child who is holding the most dreaded
telegram an American family could receive during World War 1 and World War 2.
The Wall of Remembrance honors over 2,500 Service men and women from Southeast Minnesota, who gave their lives
in service to their country.
The Walk of Remembrance is made up of about 6,500 pavers honoring U.S. Veterans and our Allies living or dead for
The Trees of Remembrance consists of 50 sponsored trees representing every state in these United States.
Let Us Not Forget those who made the Supreme Sacrifice and our Veterans, for they have shown the world that
Freedom Is Never Free
The Soldiers Memorial, better known as The Doughboy, is located in front of the Hampshire County Courthouse and has been recently restored in honor of the centennial of World War I. Approximately 490 men from Hampshire County served in World War I.
This memorial is dedicated to Kearny residents killed in WWI. It consists of a tall Vermont granite shaft topped with a sphere & a bronze eagle with outstretched wings.
Projecting from the bottom front of the shaft is a pedestal with an inscribed plaque.
Atop the pedestal stands a bronze statue of a woman in classical dress, her arms partially extended from her sides.
The other three sides of the shafts have granite reliefs of World War I military operations. The back panel depicts two fighters in a dogfight. One side panel shows warships firing on a surfacing submarine. And the other side panel features several doughboys charging out of a trench.
The memorial was erected by the American Legion, Frobisher Post, with $11,000 of personal donations and $14,000 supplied by the town government. It was unveiled on May 27, 1922 by General Pershing!
Narrative adapted from Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) inventory #NJ000159.
Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
The Soldiers Memorial Military Museum in downtown St. Louis is a memorial and military museum owned by the City of St. Louis and operated by the Missouri Historical Society. Interior east and west wings contain display cases with military displays and memorabilia from World War I and subsequent American wars. The open-air central breezeway contains a massive black marble cenotaph upon which are engraved the names of all of St. Louis' war dead from World War I. The building was designed by St. Louis architectural firm Mauran, Russell & Crowell and was dedicated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 and officially opened to the public on Memorial Day 1938.
A bronze walking Civil War soldier has his rifle resting on his shoulder, and his long belted coat blows open slightly at the bottom. He stands on a tall granite base flanked by two granite markers added in 1989 honoring the men from Holbrook who died in the Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Ir was sculpted by John Horrigan and dedicated in 1918, with half of the funds coming from the Holbrook family.
This monument was made by Smith Granite Co. and dedicated on May 30, 1913 as a tribute to the Griswold men who served in the Civil War. Nearby granite slabs list the names of those who served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The monument and park were rededicated on April 30, 1989.
This triangle park, just south of downtown North Woodstock, contains Monuments
and Memorials to the soldiers from this community who served and those who
Made The Supreme Sacrifice in “The World War”, World War 2, Korean War and
the Vietnam War. It also has an MIA Plaque on the reverse side of the Vietnam
Memorial Monument and a plaque In Memory of an Army Air Corps crew killed in
the crash of a B-18 Bomber on a training flight during WW2.
IN HONOR OF 1917-1918
WORLD WAR SOLDIERS
DEDICATED MAY 30, 1921
Followed by the names of 25 residents who served, followed by the names of those
who, to quote Abraham Lincoln, “…gave their last full measure of devotion…”
KILLED IN FRANCE
JOSEPH N. SMITH
GORDON B. CANN
This is a life-sized granite statue of a civil war soldier, erected in 1906 and made by the Thomas F. Jackson Company. He wears a jacket, trousers gathered at the boot tops, and has a knapsack slung over his shoulder. He holds the muzzle of his bronze rifle in front of him. Beneath him is a neo-classical revival style granite pedestal with bronze plaques on three sides. This monument was originally dedicated in 1907 to honor the Prospect citizens who served in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. The plaque with the World War I names was added in 1920 (it is the only one with some decoration, which consists of vertical lines of anthemia on each side). On a low stele in front of the monument is incised a May 30, 1977 dedication to the Prospect veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
This new war/veterans memorial in the Solomon, Kansas city park commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I and includes a time capsule to be opened on the 150th anniversary of the war. The building of the memorial, which serves to educate and commemorate our past wars and veterans, involved civic groups, school groups, and veterans from the community.
Dedicated on September 6, 1920, this is a square granite shaft about eleven feet tall. Near the top are reliefs of an eagle perched on a shield, crossed anchors and ropes on the east face, an eagle perched on a laurel branch on the south, crossed rifles on the west, and the city seal including a soldier holding a flag on the north. lt was erected to honor the Somerville natives who died in WWI.
Dedicated in 1937, the World War I Somme American Cemetery and Memorial is sited on a gentle slope typical of the open, rolling Picardie countryside. The 14.3-acre cemetery contains the graves of 1,844 of U.S. military dead. Most lost their lives while serving in American units attached to British armies, or in operations near Cantigny. The headstones, set in regular rows, are separated into four plots by paths that intersect at the flagpole near the top of the slope. The longer axis leads to the chapel at the eastern end of the cemetery.
A massive bronze door surmounted by an American eagle leads into the chapel, whose outer walls contain sculptured pieces of military equipment. Once inside, light from a cross-shaped crystal window above the marble altar bathes the subdued interior with light. The walls bear the names of 333 of the missing. A rosette marks the name of the soldier listed on the Walls of the Missing that has since been recovered and identified.
The World War I Sommepy American Monument, dedicated in 1937, commemorates the achievements of the American units that served in combat with the French Fourth Army during the summer and fall of 1918. More than 70,000 Americans served in the region during this time. The architect of the monument is Arthur Loomis Harmon of NY, NY.
The monument, situated on Blanc Mont Ridge, is surrounded by vestiges of World War I trenches, dugouts and gun emplacements. It is essentially a tower of golden-yellow limestone with an observation tower on top affording an excellent view of the battlefields. Inside the entrance to the monument is an inscription describing American operations in the vicinity. The monument's site was captured by American troops.
On the front of the monument: "ERECTED BY THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO COMMEMORATE THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF HER SOLDIERS AND THOSE OF FRANCE WHO FOUGHT IN THE REGION DURING THE WORLD WAR"
Engraving on the inside of the monument: "IN EARLY JULY 1918 THE 42D AMERICAN DIVISION ENTERED THE BATTLE LINES WITH THE 13TH AND 170TH FRENCH DIVISIONS NEAR SOUAIN. THERE IT GALLANTLY ASSISTED IN REPELLING THE LAST GERMAN MAJOR OFFENSIVE OF THE WAR. WHEN THE ALLIES BEGAN THEIR GREAT CONVERGENT OFFENSIVE IN LATE SEPTEMBER, THE 2D AND 36TH AMERICAN DIVISIONS WERE ASSIGNED TO THE FRENCH FOURTH ARMY. ON OCTOBER 3 THE 2D DIVISION, SUPPORTED ON THE LEFT BY THE 167TH, IN A BRILLIANT OPERATION CAPTURED BLANC MONT RIDGE ON WHICH THIS MONUMENT STANDS. THE 36TH DIVISION RELIEVED THE 2D ON OCTOBER 10 AND CONTINUED THE ADVANCE NORTHWARD AS FAR AS THE AISNE RIVER. THREE INFANTRY REGIMENTS OF THE 93D AMERICAN DIVISION, SERVING WITH THE 157TH AND 161ST FRENCH DIVISIONS, ENGAGED IN INTERMITTENT FIGHTING DURING SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER TAKING PART IN THE CAPTURE OF RIPONT, SECHAULT AND TRIERES FARM."
On the outside of the town hall of Souilly, France is a bronze tablet identifying this building as the headquarters of the American First Army towards the end of World War I. Inscribed in French and English is the following:
Headquarters of the American First Army
occupied this building from September 21, 1918
to the end of hostilities, and from here
conducted the Meuse-Argonne Offensive,
one of the greatest operations of the war.
These memorial plots outside the historic Pacific County Courthouse are dedicated to the John C. Fremont Post No. 69 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a fraternal organization composed of veterans of the US Army, Navy, Marines, and now-defunct Revenue Cutter Service. One memorial honors service in WW1 and the other honors service in WW2.
This Memorial consists of 99 gold-tone, etched portraits made from photographs of Boston men that died during World War I. These portraits are located inside the South Boston High School. They were commissioned by Mayor James Curley of Boston and dedicated on Nov. 11, 1932 to a crowd of 2000 people at South Boston High School. Originally, there were over 1100 of these portraits dedicated throughout various Boston public schools. Sadly, the whereabouts of the rest of the other 1000 portraits is unknown since most of the other schools where they resided have since closed. The portraits inside South Boston High School are the only known remaining surviving Memorial portraits to Boston men and women that lost their lives in WWI.
Contact information for responsible party: Anyone that wishes to view these portraits must do so during school hours, and it is advisable that one call the school in advance. Sgt George Machado is the JROTC director at the high school, and an excellent contact. He can be reached at 978-503-4421.
Questions or Additional Information::
Photo Credit: Mr. Kevin Conroy
License: Place these works in the public domain
The Soldiers & Sailors World War Memorial is a rare and elegant example of the Neoclassical style of architecture and an illustration of what Americans have done to honor those who served the nation in the military.
The memorial is constructed of steel and has sandstone facing. The front of the building has an impressive entry pediment with dentil molding and six Ionic columns as well as individual pediments over each of the doors. The interior contains a central hallway that opens to the second floor and flanking galleries, which are on both the first and second floors.
The idea for the memorial came after World War I, and the first fund drive to build it was in May 1919. A. N. Walters directed the drive. When this drive failed, the plan lay dormant for 10 years until the Chicago and North Western Railroad Company made a gift of land to the State. The State accepted the land in 1931 with the sole purpose of erecting a Soldiers Memorial Building to house the South Dakota State Historical Society.
In 1930, the State hired the firm of Wilford F. Blatherwick and John C. Hugill to design the memorial building.
The Soldiers and Sailors World War Memorial building currently houses the South Dakota Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. It was also the home of the State Historical Society and Robinson Museum.
This is a life-size metal sculpted by John Paulding, depicting a WWI infantryman advancing through the slumps and barbed wire of No Man's Land, carrying a rifle in his left hand and a grenade in his upraised right hand.
It is sometimes referred to as "Over the Top" and others as "The American Doughboy". The original was cast at the American Art Bronze Foundry and like so many of these statues copies placed around the country.
The two-acre War Memorial Park located on Fair Oaks Avenue provides a site for the two-story 12,000 square feet War Memorial building.
The War Memorial building was built in 1921 and is identified as a city cultural heritage landmark. The building was built on the former Oak Lawn Park with funding from city bonds and donations from the American Legion. The upper floor of the building includes a kitchen and a large multi-purpose room for dancing, meetings, banquets and other activities for groups up to 200 people. The lower consists of smaller rooms, storage and restroom facilities.
In 1921, Marshal Ferdinand Foch laid the cornerstone of the building. In 1923, General John J. Pershing planted a redwood tree on the grounds. The building is #2 on South Pasadena's Register of Cultural Heritage Landmarks. North of the building, grounds are dedicated for a landscaped memorial garden.