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 E. M. Viquesney Spirit of the American Doughboy statue, sitting on a base of Georgia granite, was dedicated on November 21, 1921 at the intersection of Lee and Lamar Streets, and was moved during World War II to its present site. It honors the men of Sumter Country who died in World War I. It depicts a life-sized copper WWI infantryman, in a running stance, amidst the barbed wire and stumps of No Man's Land.
The bronze plaque on base of statue reads: “Sumter County affectionately remembers her sons who died, and those who offered themselves, as willing sacrifices in the cause of our country. 1917*World War*1918.
Sunrise Peoples Monument to World War I, World War II, Korea & Vietnam
The residents of Chestertown erected a monument here in 1989 to honor the local veterans who served in four American wars.
The Veterans Memorial was designed to honor local native and non-native individuals who have served in the armed forces. The site overlooks the Community House and has views to Mt. Rainier and the waters of Agate Pass. At its heart of the design are four House Posts carved by a local tribal artist Andrea Sigo. These House Posts welcome visitors to view the granite canoes, located on a low wall with names of local service members. The site offers the perfect context for one Suquamish myth “Sea to Sky,” the same quote that was carved in a previous Totem commissioned and located on this site during the 1960 Seattle World’s Fair.
This Veterans Memorial building was erected in 1926 in honor of all World War I veterans and future veterans who have served the U.S. and Lassen County, CA.
The inscription on the Sussex County World War I Memorial reads:
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THOSE SUSSEX COUNTIANS WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN WORLD WAR I
JAMES W. BROWN • PARIS T. CARLISLE • JACOB H. CRANFIELD • ROGER W. GUNSBY • ULYSSES S. ISAACS • LAURENCE C. LAYTON • HARRY MILLER • LEVIN D. MORRIS • FRANK C. QUAILS • RAYMOND REYNOLDS • ERNEST RUSSELL • WALTER SMITH • ALEXANDER TAYLOR • ROLAND C. TEAGUE • ALBERT R. THOMPSON • ELWOOD E. WALTERS • WALTER J. WEST
Erected in 2016 by American Legion, Sussex Post 8.
On a square granite flagpole base is a bronze inscription plaque with the images of eagles pushed on each corner. This honors the men of Swampscott who died in WWI, and their names are listed on the plaque, erected in about 1930.
Cast bronze statue by Mose Sawyer (J. W. Fiske Iron Works, founder) on a fieldstone base.
Found in the center of Bunning Park, this E.M. Viquesney "Spirit of the Doughboy" Statue stands tall and proud. At the base are the names of Sweetwater County residents who died in World War I.
The inscription on this memorial reads:
These men of the Swiftwater Valley put their country’s need above opportunity, ease and private gain and served with the armed forces in the World War.
These mountains and the folks who find peace among them shall ever hold them in grateful remembrance.
[A listing of 24 servicemen follows]
The inscription on this memorial reads:
THIS TABLET PERPETUATES THE MEMORY OF THE
SWISSVALE MEN AND WOMEN
WHO SERVED HONORABLY IN THE WORLD WAR
1917 -- 1919
LET AMERICANS OF THIS AND FUTURE GENERATIONS REMEMBER THAT AMERICA TAUGHT THEM HOW TO LIVE AND HOW TO DIE AND SHE WILL PRESERVE FOR HER CHILDREN THE PRICELESS MEMORY OF THEIR SACRIFICE, HEROISM AND DEATH
[listing of names]
ERECTED BY THE BOROUGH OF SWISSVALE, PENNSYLVANIA.
It was in 1918, at 7:40pm when the first of a series of explosions spanning two days went off in Building 6-1-1 of the TA Gillespie Shell Loading Plant in rural Morgan, NJ. The building contained equipment which melted and poured Amatol - a Trinitrotoluol (TNT)-based explosive - into 155mm artillery shells for shipment to France for use in WWI.
The remains of 14-18 unfortunate souls, who were so badly disintegrated by the blasts, were buried in a mass grave in nearby Ernst Memorial Cemetery (Parlin, NJ). The task of trying to identify the unidentifiable and to witness & certify each burial fell to South Amboy resident, Michael Nagel, who later became the Commander of American Legion Luke A. Lovely Post #62.
In 1929, 11 years after the blast, the South Amboy Lions Club erected this monument at the site of the 20' x 35' grave.
Narrative adapted from Morgan, NJ website.
Photos courtesy of:
Gillespie Explosion crater 1918 & Power House - Atlas Obscura
Locomotive - National Archives
Morgan residents fleeing - New York Times
Monument - NJ State Historic Preservation Office
The Talerhoff Internment Camp Memorial was erected in 1964 by members of the Russian-American community to pay tribute to the memory of the men & women placed in the Austrian camp during World War I.
Jackson, NJ has a Russian community due to the employees at the Russian ordinance proving grounds in adjacent Lakehurst, NJ. These were "White Russians," originating from Minsk (today's Belarus) around the time of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. These citizens formed the Russian Consolidated Mutual Aid Society of America (ROVA), who helped create this memorial.
This monument consists of a granite tapered pillar atop a two-tiered rectangular stone base. It has two identical sides - one in English, the other in Russian - consisting of a relief of the Russian Orthodox cross encircled in a laurel wreath above an inscription dedicating the monument.
Photos courtesy of: Ocean County Cultural & Heritage Commission
Sculpted by Joseph R Pollia, this ten foot tall memorial features a WWI soldier standing at a gravesite, with his eyes gazing down at a grave. His left foot is on a small mound of dirt, and his left hand rests on his knee. He holds in his hands his rifle and helmet. It was dedicated on May 30, 1927, as a tribute to those who died in WWI and all from Tarrytown who served.
A tow-backed granite bench has a higher center section with a bronze plaque attached to it. On the plaque is an image of an eagle and inscription dedicating it to those from Tatnuck who served in WWI. It was dedicated on September 10,1927.
Beneath the main plaque is another placed there in memory of Pvt. Herbert O. Whitaker, who was killed in action at Belleau Wood, France, on July 18, 1916.
This is a gray limestone soldier, approximately 13 feet tall, wearing a World War I uniform and standing on a marble base. On the front of the base is an inscription honoring Taylor County Veterans. On the other sides are lists of names of war dead from WWI, WWII, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Two stone figures approximately six feet tall stand next to each other atop a seven fool tall stone base. The bearded one is from the Civil War, holds a gun in front of him and has his hand on the other's shoulder. The other is from WWI is younger and has one hand on the barrel of the gun, with the other one raised. This was dedicated to the memory of "our country's defenders" in the Civil War, Spanish-American War and WWI and to "Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty."
Memorial contains the inscribed names of eighteen WW1 soldiers.
Also on the site is a stand-alone monument to James E. Livingston, USMC, Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded May 2, 1968.