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 bronze plaque on front of base:) HONOR ROLL/DIED IN SERVICE/(list of names)/LEST WE FORGET/THOSE FROM BLACKFORD COUNTY WHO/ANSWERED THEIR COUNTRY'S CALL IN THE WORLD WAR/APRIL 6TH 1917 TO NOV. 11, 1918/OUR BOYS
(On bronze plaque on east side of base: list of names)
(On bronze plaque back of base:) WHEN THE SERVICE FLAG HAS FADED,/AND THE HANDS THAT IT CARESSED/HAVE BEEN FOLDED CALM AND PEACEFUL/ON EACH MOTHER'S LOVING BREAST,/THEN, "THE TORCH THEY PASSED UNTO US"/WE WILL BEAR FOREVER ON,/WITH OUR LIVES WE WILL DEFEND IT/ -WE, LIKE THEY, WILL "CARRY ON."/(list of names)
(On bronze plaque on west side of base: list of names)
Dedicated in 1927
Managed and maintained by the Veterans Memorial Commission. The Veterans Memorial Building,
is on the National Register of Historic Places, and boasts numerous memorials
to U.S. Veterans with a magnificent stained glass window by artist Grant Wood.
A Cenotaph stands proudly atop the eight story section; an empty coffin stands
above the Cenotaph represents The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1926
Memorial Building architect Henry Hornbostel modeled the cenotaph Memorial
after the famous monument that stands in Whitehall, London, England. The
Commissions Museum and galleries contain over 2,500 artifacts, with many on
display in two galleries that flanks the stained glass window on the 1st floor.
The building, with its location on May’s Island in the middle of the Cedar River,
offers stunning views from the ballrooms.
This World War I memorial of a bronze doughboy is depicted striding forward with his rifle held over his left shoulder and a large pack on his back. In his extended right hand, he carries his helmet and an olive branch.
The memorial was erected in 1924 under the sponsorship of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, who raised $10,000 in contributions from the community.
The figure was designed by Robert Tait McKenzie of Philadelphia; the Indiana limestone base by Paul P. Cret, head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania.
Narrative adapted from James D. Carpenteer, “History of Woodbury” (1936) and Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS) inventory #77002574.
Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
Following the end of the Great World War, the citizens of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans erected a "Victory Arch." The carved stone arch, reminiscent of the ancient triumphal arches of the the Roman Empire (such as the Arch of Titus), was originally located in the center of Macarty Square, bounded by Alvar, N.Rampart, Pauline, and Burgundy Streets. In 1951 it was moved to the edge of the square near Burgundy Street, where it remains today.
Inscription: Erected A.D. 1919 by the people of this the Ninth Ward in honor of its citizens who were enlisted in combative service and in memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice for the triumph of right over might in the Great World War.
Originally located at the Douglas-Leavenworth county line, the Victory Eagle was rededicated in May 2019 and moved to Memorial Drive on the University of Kansas campus. This bronze sculpture, cast in 1920, was a part of the Victory Highway project, which intended to place these sculptures at each county line of U.S 40. A plaque at each sculpture would list those from the county who had served during WW1. The Great Depression disrupted these plans, and only six victory eagles were installed. After having been vandalized and toppled in the early 1980s, the sculpture was moved from the county line to the university campus. The original plaque has been lost to history, as has the name of the artist and foundry.
The Victory Highway monument is a representation of the earlier bronze eagle markers of the 1920s. Original eagle markers were to be located at each county line with a plaque dedicated to the sons and daughters who served their country in World War I, sacrificing their lives for our freedom. Only five original bronze eagles are known to be in existence, two in Kansas and three in California. The Victory Highway is a near-forgotten relic of the early 20th century roadways, a path traversed by early auto-pioneers from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. The road you are standing on today was completed in 1925 and used until the 1940s. Highway U.S. 40 replaced the Victory Highway to the south, which is now known as Wendover Boulevard. The arch represents the Victory Highway sign, used at the only documented official ceremony opening the Victory Highway. The ceremony took place on June 25, 1925, just east of Wendover on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Officiating were Utah Governor George Dern, Nevada Governor James Scrugham, and Secretary of Agriculture William Jardine.
The Victory Highway Association incorporated in Topeka, Kansas, late in 1921 to locate and mark a transcontinental highway. Victory Highway, dedicated to American Forces who died in World War I, traversed the United States from New York City to San Francisco. In 1925, the transcontinental route offered a panorama of the mid-section of the country that epitomizes the western expansion of the Nation from Colonial days to the present time. For 3,205 miles, this great motorway follows the same course, or one closely parallel, as that of the earliest settlers of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri valleys, crossing 14 states in all. Less than 14 per cent or 788 miles of the highway was unimproved.
From Salt Lake City, the Victory Highway skirts around Great Salt Lake over the famous Wendover Cutoff. The crossing of the salt flats between Salt Lake City and Wendover on the Utah/Nevada border was costly, involving five years of labor. The remarkable engineering feat bridged what was once a great obstacle to transcontinental motor travel, the Bonneville Salt Flats. This accomplishment blazed a new auto-route across northern Nevada to Reno, parallel to the Lincoln Highway to the south. In the early to mid-twenties, only 81 miles of the 371 miles of the Victory Highway across Utah were paved, 107 miles consisted of gravel surfacing, and 183 miles were relatively unimproved. The Victory Highway was designated Route No. 40 by state and federal highway officials shortly after the Wendover Cutoff was completed, and the Victory Highway was used until it was replaced in the 1940s.
An original culvert to the east of this marker still exists today. When a newer portion of Highway 40 was constructed in the 1940s, this section of the Victory Highway, along with culverts, was left intact. Constructed of stone and galvanized steel, these culverts are a testament to the skills of road engineers and rock masons of the early 19th century.
This is a bronze sculpture of a German Shepherd wearing a red cross blanket, standing atop a rough hewn granite boulder. The dog's ears are perked up and its tail is extended straight, in an alert stance. By its front paws are a canteen and a helmet with an indentation, perhaps a shrapnel hole. The War Dog was dedicated in 1923 to honor the 7,000 military dogs killed during World War I. The original cost of the monument was $2,500, which was considered to be an enormous amount of money at the time. It was designed by Walter A. Buttendorf and sculpted by Robert Caterson, a well-known designer and builder who had worked on many distinguished buildings including Grand Central Station in New York City.
DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF THE WAR DOG. ERECTED BY PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION BY DOG LOVERS TO MAN’S MOST FAITHFUL FRIEND FOR THE VALIANT SERVICES RENDERED IN THE WORLD WAR 1914 - 1918.
The War Dog - Military War Dogs have been fighting alongside our men and women in uniform in many of our conflicts. In WWI they were called Ambulance Dogs, they were trained to find wounded soldiers in No-Man’s land after a frontal attack. In WWII they were trained in many disciplines; scout, tracker, sentry and messenger. According to Military records War Dogs saved 15,000 lives during this conflict.
In Korea there were only one War Dog platoon deployed consisting of about 28 dogs. Of those 28 dogs on patrol, thousands of ambushes were averted. Thousands of lives were saved. In Vietnam further disciplines were added to their training; explosive detection and booby traps. According to the Military they saved 10,000 lives during this conflict. In Iraq their main function were detecting IED's. Their other duties were sentry and road side check points. They continue on duty today in Afghanistan. There are currently 600 teams deployed saving lives every day.
Today the War Dog is referred to as Military Working Dog (MWD)
Honoring the Lamar County men who died in “The War To End All Wars,” this unique design is a somber memorial compared to the more common “Doughboy” statues seen around the United States. The extinguished torch symbolic of young lives cut short. Designed by architect J. L. Wees. Funded by John James Culbertson, local philanthropist. Dedicated 1925
Located at: 231 Lamar Ave., Paris, TX
The Wheeling Doughboy was dedicated on Memorial Day 1931. The statue, affectionately known locally as "Lester", is named in honor of Wagoner Lester Scott, a doughboy from Wheeling who was killed during WWI. It is one of many identical "Spirit of the American Doughboy" monuments designed by Ernest Moore "E.M." Viquesney. Following years of neglect, in a state of disrepair (dented, rusted, missing bayonet and rifle, cracked base), the doughboy was restored and rededicated in 2020.
The inscriptions on the left and right lower sides of the cenotaph read:
SERVICE STAR LEGION
IN WORLD WAR
1917 - 1918
This World War I Memorial is located in Veterans Plaza, Overton Park, Memphis, Tennessee. Veterans Plaza contains memorials to the veterans of Memphis and Shelby County who were killed defending our freedom.
The statue of the WWI Doughboy soldier lists 236 names. The statue is made of copper, which came from pennies that were collected by school children. Those pennies were melted down and used to create the Doughboy.
U.S. Army American Expeditionary Forces ★ 1917 - 1918
Missouri State History Museum
This stone plaque mounted on a wall in the Museum is engraved with the names of
and “Dedicated to the memory of…” 257 members of the 35th Infantry Division of
the Missouri National Guard, 139th Infantry Regiment “…who fell In the service of
their country during the World War…” 1917 to 1918 “..by the Relatives Auxiliary of
the St. Louis National Guard A.E.F.”
“That these dead shall not have died in vain” MCMXX (Erected - 1920)
U.S. Army American Expeditionary Forces ★ 1917 - 1918
Missouri State History Museum
This stone plaque mounted on a wall in the Museum is engraved with the names of
and “Dedicated to the memory of…” 114 members of the 89th Infantry Division
“…from St. Louis & St. Louis County Missouri who died In the service of their country
during the World War… 1917 ~ 1918”
Division's Losses By Unit:
164th Depot Brigade - 3
314th Engineers - 3
340th Field Artillery - 1
353rd Infantry Regiment - 4
354th Infantry Regiment - 68
355th Infantry Regiment - 9
356th Infantry Regiment - 22
341st Machine Gun Battalion - 1
342nd Machine Gun Battalion - 3
“LEST WE FORGET” MCMXX (Erected - 1920)
Doug Betten, brother of California WW1Centennial Task Force Co-Director Bill Betten, found this monument in Newberry, SC, about 30 miles north-east of the state capitol of Columbia, SC. The WWI monument, located in Memorial Park, (at Main St. & Nance St.) in downtown Newberry is one of the famous bronze statues erected after the war in honor of those from Newberry who served. The beautiful little park in downtown Newberry is adjacent to the historic Newberry Opera House. In this cozy, one block square park one can visit memorials for the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World Wars, Korean War, and Vietnam War. Many of Downtown Newberry's events take place in this lovely shaded green-space. Since no other South Carolina monuments had been listed at this date, Bill helped his brother to post his find.
Large granite boulder with brass plaque attached.
Georgia - American Legion - T.L. Spence, Jr. Post No. 31 - This memorial is erected by the citizens of Thomas County and dedicated to the following Thomas County men who lost their lives during the World War of 1917-1918.
The listing is divided into two sections: “White” (30 names) and “Colored” (32 names).
The opposite side of the granite boulder holds a similar brass plaque, listing the Thomas County casualties from World War 2.
In a small park surrounded by monuments to the Civil War, World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars stands Thomaston's World War I Roll of Honor, which was dedicated “by the town of Thomaston to those who served their country in the World War.” The Roll of Honor monument, which has an iron fence in front of it, also bears a quote from President Woodrow Wilson reading “in a righteous cause they have won immortal glory and have nobly served their nation in serving mankind.” The monument also features a stylized representation of Liberty standing between a soldier and a sailor, who are surrounded with symbolic flourishes including an airplane, a lighthouse, a cannon and other decorative elements. Below these elements is a bronze plaque with four columns of names honoring members of the Army, Navy, Marines and, in an uncommon but rather nice touch, 10 Red Cross and Army nurses.
Boulder: TO THE DEAD / OF THE / 307TH INFANTRY A.E.F. / 500 OFFICERS AND MEN / 1917-1919 /
Boulder Plaque: 1917 ---- 1919 / HONOR ROLL OF THE 307TH INFANTRY / 77TH DIVISION / A.E.F. / BACCARAT / OISE / AISNE / MEUSE / ARGONNE / [honor roll]
This park contains memorials for all wars starting with WW1. Pictured above is the new WW1 memorial wall. The old WW1 memorial marker is currently undergoing repair; once repairs are complete, the new header sign will look like the Korean War header pictured in the gallery below. A POW/MIA memorial stands at the entrance to the memorial section of the park.
This memorial was dedicated to Fair Haven resident Timothy Francis Ahearn in 1937. Sculpted by Karl F. Lang, it depicts a standing male figure in the uniform and helmet of World War I. He is writing in a tablet with a pen. Ahearn, after all officers in his company had become casualties, took over command and later rescued a wounded officer in the face of heavy machine gun fire. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. A dedication on the front (north) face of the monument’s base includes biographical information about Ahearn, and adds the inscription, “He best exemplified the spirit of the enlisted men of the Yankee division.” Ahearn survived the war and, after returning to New Haven, was unable to find work. He traveled across the country as a migrant farm worker. He died in his 20s in California, and his family buried him in St. Lawrence Cemetery, not far from this monument. This is the only monument in New Haven produced under the city's WPA art program.
United States Army Private Tobias “Tobey” Bilyeu was attached to the
Student Army Training Corps at Eureka College and was a ministry student,
which gave him an exception from military service, but to quote his obituary
"…but he disdained the idea of taking advantage of such exemption and
chose rather to go in the service of his country as other men are obliged
to do. He has now paid the supreme sacrifice and no hero in France
ever laid down his life more willingly than he.” Private Bilyeu succumbed
to influenza on October 12, 1918 just six days after he was reported ill.
Because of Private Bilyeu’s forthright determination to serve his country,
the high admiration he received from other students, the utmost
confidence the faculty had in him, noting that he was “One of the finest
men that ever attended Eureka College…”, the founding members of the
New Douglas American Legion chose him as Post 710’s Namesake.
Private Bilyeu is buried at the New Douglas Cemetery under a white
marble military headstone.