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.
A bronze figure of a nude boy sits on a stump, holding in his lap an open book. Water flows from a spout at the top of the stump into a basin near the bottom. It was sculpted by Arthur Ivone and was dedicated in 1938 to honor those who served in WWI.
This monument was provided by the All American Legion Post 120; an unveiling was held on May 30, 1936. Names on the Monument are: Joseph Biart, Carl Boesel, George Fender, Thomas Pruitt (s/b Prewitt) and Rueben Hotchkiss
This World War I monument consists of a quarry-faced stone slab with a bronze plaque mounted on the front. The plaque is topped by the image of an eagle with its wing spread extending beyond the raised frame. The honor roll lists the names of all Butler residents who served in the war.
Photo courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
The Oak Ridge monument is located in a community cemetery. It consists of a massive structure of quarry-faced stone blocks topped by a pyramidal concrete cap, all resting on a square stone slab.
A bronze plaque is set beneath a stone lintel on the front face, listing an honor roll of Oak Ridge area residents who served in WWI.
Photo courtesy of: Bill Coughlin & Historical Marker Database
A concrete monument with a full-length bas-relief female figure clad in flowing robes and wearing a laurel wreath. Her arms are outstretched, and she holds a ribbon in her hands. The monument is topped with a round ball below which are four bronze bas-relief panels depicting scenes of war. The monument stands on a multi-tiered base.
Narrative adapted from Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) inventory #NJ000575.
Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
Vintage postcard - Rutgers University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
This World War I monument is a two-columned structure.
On the right is a bronze doughboy statue atop a rectangular granite pedestal engraved with a dedication to the men who served the US in the war. It was erected by the town of West Hoboken, NJ (now part of Union City, NJ).
The uniformed soldier is ready to throw a grenade with his right hand; in his left he holds a rifle, the butt of the gun resting on the ground.
On the left is a taller rectangular granite pedestal topped by a granite orb. It contains a bronze honor roll plaque with a bas-relief across the arched top. The image is of a striding Liberty flanked by a soldier on her right & a sailor on her left. in the bottom two corners are images of a tank & an airplane. The plaque lists those men of West Hoboken who gave their lives in the war.
Narrative adapted from Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) inventory #NJ000574.
Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
This tablet erected in 1924 by the Carroll County War Mothers to hold in remembrance the sons and daughters of the county who so gallantly responded to the call of our country for service in the World War 1917-1918.
Placement of this plaque and the location of it was sanctioned by Elmer Dunlap, architect of the Carroll County Courthouse in February of 1924 during a visit to Delphi, Indiana.
"The tablet will be placed on the west wall of the south entrance vestibule." - Carroll County Citizen Times, Saturday, February 9, 1924.
This is a white granite full-sized figure of a WWI soldier standing at attention, dedicated on May 30, 1930, as a tribute to the WWI veterans. It was rededicated in 1950 to include the veterans of WWII.
This is a life-size marble WWI soldier, holding an Enfield rifle in his right hand and a grenade in his left. He wears a hip-length jacket, spiral leggings, an ammunition belt, and a helmet. Beneath is a rectangular concrete with a tapered bottom. lt was dedicated on November 11,1923, as a tribute to the men of High Point who served in WWI.
Several thousand people were in attendance for the statue unveiling. The principle speaker for the day was the Commander of Ft. Bragg, General A.J. Bowley. The day’s events included a parade, a 21 gun salute and music provided by a combined choir from various churches. The monument was unveiled by Miss Frances Walsh as the Elk Band played the national anthem. High Point businessman Robert Brockett presented the statue which was accepted by Mayor John W. Hedrick. During his speech Bowley said that he was afraid that the fighting had stopped several months too soon, saying that he believed “the present conditions in Europe show that we should have continued the push for about three months longer, and it is possible that the work left incomplete must yet be done.”
About 100 people gathered for the 2004 re-dedication. One of those in attendance was city resident Mary Lou Brinson, whose father A. Coke Cecil is one of heroes listed on the plaques at the statue’s base. “It’s a lifelong dream (to see it prominently displayed),” Brinson said. “Nobody saw it on the back (streets).”
This bronze flagpole base is decorated with sphinxes on each corner and wreaths beneath inscriptions on each side. On the top is a tulip-shaped holder for the flagpole. It was created by Joseph G. Cowell and Gorham Manufacturing Company and dedicated in 1935 to honor the Wrentham citizens who served in WWI.
This monument is in the Veterans Memorial Park in Saginaw, Michigan.
The plaque reads:
"This monument erected and the road of memory established as loving memorials to the brave men from Saginaw County who gave their last full measure of devotion in the World War that government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth
By Saginaw chapter Daughters of the American Revolution Patriotic Citizens and Societys of Saginaw County
The side plaques list the names of all who died.
This artillery piece, located on a memorial island within Columbia Park, was a gift from the people of France.
World War 1 Memorial Cenotaph Honoring:
U.S. Army PFC. Elmer W. Kinsey,
Company L, 59th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division
Pfc. Kinsey was declared Missing In Action on August 10, 1918
His Name appears on the Tablets of the Missing in the American Battle Monuments Commission’s,
Oise-Aisne American Cemetery, Seringes-et-Nesies, France
Pleasant Ridge Cemetery
The monument is located in Veterans Park at the city of Dearborn's municipal complex. The monument was erected in 1991 as a lasting tribute to the city's war dead.
In addition to this World War I monument, the park include walls dedicated to World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
This is the World War 1 Memorial Monument located in the Heritage Society Plaza, 1100 Bagby Street, adjacent to Sam Houston Park in the City of Houston, Texas.
The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 283 in Pacific Palisades, CA worked to restore The World War I Memorial Plaque originally placed at the Santa Monica Memorial Open Air Theater in 1921. Along with the WWII memorial plaque that was added in 1946, the WWI plaque was cleaned and its surface restored. Both plaques had their mountings replaced with corrosion-controlling bolts and their mounting wall surfaces stabilized. A rededication ceremony was held on July 3, 2017 when the restored plaques were gifted back to the Santa Monica Unified School District. The ceremony was attended by local veteran groups, high school students, and descendants of several of those memorialized.
This monument consists of an oblong boulder with a bronze plaque dedicated to Bernards Township residents who served in WWI & WWII. The plaque contains a relief of an eagle with wings spread along with several military branch logos.
Photos courtesy of: Alan Edelson & Historical Marker Database
A cast bronze plaque has an eagle with outstretched wings at the top and beneath bears the names of WWI and WWII veterans, with asterisks by the names of those who died. It is mounted on the front of a high cemented fieldstone base resembling an armchair, with an inlaid cement seal. It was dedicated on August 13,1944, to honor the veterans of WWI and those then fighting at the time it was erected.
This memorial is a WWI long gun placed in a carriage constructed of stacked concrete blocks with courses tapering to the top. The carriage is placed on a granite slab, and a bronze plaque on the front of the carriage provides information about the monument.
Photo courtesy of: Frances Knowlden