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.
Directly in front of the historic Todd County Courthouse is a monument dedicated to the memory of the soldiers and sailors who died in the service of their country. In 1918 William E. Lee approached the county commissioners and offered to build the monument at his own personal expense. The specifications were drawn up by Clarence H. Johnston, architect; and the sculpture was done by John K. Daniels, St. Paul.
The granite memorial is centered on a 14-foot tall shaft topped by a sculpted urn. On the front of the shaft is a small shelf on which sits a large bronze sculpture of a winged angel holding an olive branch. Underneath the angel is inscribed the commemoration to the men of Delaware who served in World War I and on the side is a bronze plaque with the names of all those from the state who died during the conflict. The memorial was sculpted by Augustus Lukeman and dedicated on November 11, 1925; as indicated on the inscription for the memorial it was presented to the state by the shipbuilder William H. Todd in honor of his parents. The Memorial was restored to coincide with the centennial of the Great War and was rededicated in 2018.
Dedicated to the memory of all veterans who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States of America
Inscribed with the names of 15 WW1 servicemen. Located between Vidalia and Lyons, GA
3099 East 1st St. corner of US280 and Peter Philips Dr.
Vidalia, GA, 30474
The Wayne Olds Family has donated this two-sided veterans memorial dedicated to the Arthur and Lottie Olds Family. The front face of this two-sided black slab memorial lists those from Toquerville who served in the two World Wars and Korea. The rear face lists an entirely different set of names of those who served in the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Iraqi Freedom Campaign, and those who served during times of no formal conflict. Along with these names are listed the branch(es) in which each veteran served.
The inscription on this memorial reads:
ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF TORONTO AND VICINITY IN HONOR OF THE MEN OF THIS COMMUNITY WHO ANSWERED THE CALL OF THEIR COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WAR
Near the center of Coe Park is a large flagpole with a six-sided base that honors veterans from conflicts including World War I, World War II, the Civil War, the American Revolution, the Spanish-American War, and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Veterans of World War I are listed, while the other wars are honored with more generic descriptions. A plaque also singles out local Italian-American veterans for recognition.
The World War I Tours American Monument commemorates the efforts of the 650,000 men who served during World War I in the Services of Supply (SOS) of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and whose work behind the battle lines made possible the achievements of the American Armies in the field. The city of Tours was its headquarters during the war. It is located just east of the southern end of Pont Wilson which crosses the Loire River in prolongation of the main street (Rue National) of Tours, and consists of a handsome fountain of white stone with a gold gilded statue of an American Indian holding an eagle. The surrounding area was developed into a small park by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
The fountain’s column between the lower and upper basins displays sculptures of the coats of arms of Bordeaux, Brest, Is-sur-Tille, Le Mans, Neufchâteau, Nevers, St. Nazaire, and Tours. Important installations of the SOS were located in those cities during the war. Four sculptured figures appear on the column above the upper basin. They represent the four principal divisions of the SOS: Administration, Construction, Procurement, and Distribution. A bronze sculpture gleams from the top of the monument. Successful execution of those functions enabled the combatant forces to concentrate on defeating the enemy.
By the time of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, a total of 2,057,907 American troops had come to European soil. Among them were almost 645,000 soldiers and 24,000 civilians of the SOS. Here are examples of SOS accomplishments:
General John J. Pershing, commander of the AEF, said this about the Services of Supply in his final report: Magnificent efforts were exerted by the entire Services of Supply to meet the enormous demands made on it. Obstacles which seemed insurmountable were overcome daily in expediting the movements of replacements, ammunition and supplies to the front, and of sick and wounded to the rear.
Initially a display in the window of The College Shop on Main Street, this granite monument is now a permanent fixture at the center of Memorial Park. Its Roll of Honor lists the names of every Durham citizen who served in the First World War.
"In Honor of Those of the Town of Monroe who Answered Their Country's Call to Serve Humanity"
Dedicated-November 11th, 1921
The planning for this memorial began in 1921 and was to serve as the home of the American Legion while providing a large auditorium for the community. It was designed by Joseph Bell DeRemer and Samuel Teel DeRemer of Grand Forks and built by C.A. North. Ultimately, Works Progress Administration funds were used for the project and it was dedicated in 1937. The plaster frame decorated with an eagle and scroll that once graced the lobby is now in the Veterans Service Office
The World War I Memorial in Trafford was first dedicated on November 11, 1919. Following the wars that took place in Iraq and Afghanistan, a group of Trafford residents came together to plan for the installation of a new memorial to honor all those from Trafford who served in the Global War on Terror. While planning for this new memorial, the Trafford Veterans Memorial Renovation committee recognized the need to restore the aged World War I Memorial and address the overall disrepair of the park that occurred over time from the effects of age and weather. Work began in the park on November 15, 2011 and the project was completed and dedicated on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. The group was honored to add the name of Nicola Elmo to the roster of veterans listed on this memorial. He was a Trafford resident who was killed in action during the Great War and his name was missing from the memorial roster for 95 years. The overall beauty of the park, and the luster of the restored World War I Memorial, provides a place of solemn reflection and inspiration to the residents of Trafford. It is an honor to recognize these former citizens of Trafford who answered the call so that liberty justice and equity might not perish. For a complete list of names on the bronze plaque and some photos of these men, please visit TraffordHistory.org
The Trenton War Memorial was built in 1930 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. It was designed by Louis S. Kaplan, who as a young architect won the design competition for a Trenton memorial to its dead from World War I. Kaplan then supervised the building of the War Memorial, and after its dedication became the leading architect in Trenton until the early 1960s.
Built as a concert hall, it fell into disrepair before being restored by the State of NJ in the 1990s. It was rededicated in 1999. The 1,807-seat theater at the War Memorial was renamed the Patriots Theater in 2001.
Photos courtesy of:
Contemporary images - New Jersey Department of State
Historic images & vintage postcard - New Jersey State Archives
These memorials, along with a vintage U.S. Army tank, are located in Milaca's Trimble Park.
Troy Grove is best known as the birth place of the American Frontier icon
Wild Bill Hickok. Across the street from the Veterans Memorial and GAR
Memorial Park is the Memorial dedicated to Hickok.
This Memorial Monument consists of two low gray granite walls on stone
bases. These walls contain the names of 160 U.S. military veterans from
the Troy Grove community. There are no notations as to the conflicts these
veterans served in. I did confirm that the names of World War 1 veterans
are listed on the walls. There is a center gray granite marker which reads,
“Dedicated To All the Men And Women Of The Village Of Troy Grove Who
Served Our Country In War And Peace”.
This "Lest We Forget" WW1 memorial is located in Tucson's Armory Park.
Built by Tufts University (then Tufts College) in 1929, the Memorial Steps commemorate members of the Tufts community who died in military service from the Civil War to Post 9/11 conflicts. The steps feature multiple prominent inscriptions carved into black granite, circled by insets of green granite cut to resemble wreaths of ivy. Each inscription recognizes those who gave their lives in a different conflict. The inscription for World War I, located on the fourth landing from the bottom reads: "Dedicated to those members of Tufts College who by taking part in the Great War answered a challenge to the ideals of their generation". Largely built with funds donated by alumni, the steps were refurbished in 2015.
The Tuscania Memorial is a bronze relief sculpture that commemorates the rescue of more than 1,900 American soldiers on the night of February 5, 1918 by the British Royal Navy after their troopship, the Tuscania, was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the northern coast of Ireland. More than 2,100 Americans were aboard the Tuscania when it was torpedoed; altogether 215 Americans died, including 20 men from Wisconsin. The Tuscania Memorial was designed by local sculptor Homer Daehn. Every effort was made to capture the drama and historical authenticity of the rescue operation as it actually happened. The memorial was officially unveiled to the public on November 10, 2018.
This metal statue known as "The Spirit of the American Doughboy" was sculpted by E. M. Viquesney, it depicts a World War I Doughboy carrying a rifle and grenade through the barbed wire and stumps of No Man's Land. It stands on a stone base with an emblem of the American Legion and a plaque that reads "In memory of the men and women of Tuscarawas County who served their country in the World War. Erected 1929."
The residents of the Twenty First Ward as a lasting expression of their gratitude and affection have placed this tablet as a testimonial to the young men of this community, who in a spirit of unselfish patriotism answered their country’s call in the Great War and made the supreme sacrifice.
The memorial consists of a tall granite obelisk adorned at the base with a bronze sculpture depicting two WWI soldiers engaged in battle, one armed with a bayonet and the other with a cocked 45-caliber pistol. The soldiers stand on a rocky ledge and aim their weapons at the unseen enemy below them.
The bronze sculpture rests on a low granite base attached to the front of the granite obelisk. The base now contains incised lettering honoring those who gave their lives and served in each war from World War I forward, but originally only commemorated World War I.
The memorial, designed by sculptor, Gaetano Federici, was dedicated in 1930.
Narrative adapted from Smithsonian Institution Research Information Systems (SIRIS) inventory #77002948.
Photos courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)