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.
In 1923 plans were drawn up for a memorial at the Myrtle Avenue entrance to Forest Park’s main thoroughfare, signifying a new “Memorial Drive,” and 70 pine trees were planted to commemorate those from the neighboring community who died in combat during World War I. This monument, including a sculpture of a soldier, an ornamental flagstaff and bronze honor rolls, honors their valor and sacrifice. A gift of the Richmond Hill War Memorial Committee and the Gold Star Mothers Association of Richmond Hill, the monument was dedicated on November 10, 1925.
The sculpture by Joseph Pollia (1893-1954) represents a standard infantryman known as a “doughboy.” This name is commonly attributed to the rudimentary biscuits consumed by troops, though derivation of the term doughboy remains in question. It was first used by the British in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to describe soldiers and sailors. In the United States, the nickname was coined during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and was widely popularized during World War I (1914-1918) to refer to infantrymen. After the war, in which Americans saw combat in 1917-18, numerous communities commissioned doughboy statues to honor the local war heroes.
The Richmond Hill War Memorial is one of nine such doughboy statues erected in New York City’s parks. Pollia’s conception depicts a mournful soldier whose head is bowed in contemplation, his rifle and helmet slung over his right arm. Some observers have noted the resemblance of the subject to silent film star Francis X. Bushman, whom Pollia may have used as a model for the statue. The sculpture has also been referred to as My Buddy.
The monument was designed by William Van Alen (1882-1954), who is best known as the architect of Manhattan’s famed Chrysler Building. Italian-born sculptor Pollia was responsible for nearly two dozen public monuments, and also sculpted in 1936 the statue of General Sheridan in Christopher Park in Manhattan. Pollia sold a second cast of My Buddy to the Storm Lake Service Star Legion in Storm Lake, Iowa, and it was installed in that city’s Chautauqua Park in 1926.
The adjoining flagstaff, dedicated in 1926, includes a pedestal of granite with ornamental bronze elements including decorative waves, garlands and acanthus leaves, as well as ram’s heads. In 1987 the adjacent oval plaza was dedicated to Sergeant Joseph E. Schaefer (1918-1987), a resident of Richmond Hill who distinguished himself in World War II, and in 2001 the City restored the Richmond Hill War Memorial and flagstaff.
At the dedication ceremony in 1925, Queens Parks Commissioner Albert C. Benninger accepted the memorial on behalf of the City, and the sculpture was unveiled by Mrs. Mathilda Burling, President of the Richmond Hill Mothers Association. The proceedings were disrupted by a rain storm, and were transferred to a nearby auditorium. The chief speaker, United States Senator Royal S. Copeland used the occasion to comment on a proposed government takeover of the coal industry, and commented, “Someone has said that the purpose of government is to protect property…I believe that the people in general hold that the purpose of government should be to protect humanity.” Several generations later, the Richmond Hill War Memorial still stands as a tangible reminder of those who fought in defense of this principle.
This small memorial is located in Mc Phelemy Park in Buena Vista, Colorado. The memorial consists of an obelisk with the names of the fallen engraved on the base.
The Buffalo Soldier Museum in Houston is dedicated to displaying and exploring the stories and contributions of African-American soldiers in the U.S. military. On November 10, 2018, this World War I centennial memorial to the Texas and Houston African-American soldiers who served in the Great War was unveiled, a long overdue tribute to the men and women who served in combat and labour to defend the freedoms abroad that they did not enjoy at home.
The Burke County World War I Memorial Building, known in the county as Flaxton Memorial Hall, was It was constructed to honor and commemorate the Burke County veterans of World War I. Built in 1931 in the Art Deco style, it was designed to accommodate all aspects of the rural existence: educational, recreational, civic, cultural, and political functions, and over the years has been utilized for athletic events, political events, social events, weddings, funerals, dramatic presentations, concerts, and movies that were shown on weekends. The Flaxton WWI Memorial Hall is one of only seven remaining buildings in North Dakota constructed as living memorials to the historic sacrifices of those who served in the greatest war the world had seen up to that date and to house government offices and community events. These World War I commemorative structures share the archetypal quality of strength and resolve portrayed by the architects and builders to reflect the public sentiment of reflection on the war, but only Flaxton’s Hall remains preserved, renovated but not remodeled, and continuously in service as a city government office and meeting center in the Northwest Quadrant of the state.
At the south entrance of the building is a concrete bust of a soldier, high on the wall of the building in an ornately decorated niche. The soldier wears a uniform and a helmet. It was placed here in 1931, when the building was constructed to honor the veterans of World War I.
City memorial park consisting of inscribed black granite. Names of service members who died in service are inscribed on main tablets. Eight names from WW1 are listed here. Names and information of others that served are inscribed on adjacent tablets.
Inscription: “All Gave Some, Some Gave All….In This Hallowed Place We Remember The Sons and Daughters of Butts County Who Died So That Liberty Might Live”
This park became a national monument in 1913 and the primary focus is on the explorations of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542. It became important as a coastal defense site for WWI and WWII, and several remnants of defense facilities can be visited here. On the ocean side off Gatchell Road are two Panama mounts which held WWl vintage 155 mm guns that could track and shoot at a moving ship, or be turned toward Mexico in case the Japanese were to attack from that direction.
Also open are a base line station used in determining the range and position of the enemy for directing artillery fire, and a 60" search light installation, where the light rose out of a concrete bunker when needed. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1854-55 and used for storage and as a radio tower during WWII, has been retored.
Fort Rosecrans was located here on Point Loma during WWI and WWII, and in November of 1999 a museum exhibit was opened to the public, portraying the stories of the soldiers stationed here. It is located in a small three-room building erected in 1916 as the Army Radio and Meteorological Station. Visitors can see film clips of the coastal defense guns being fired, personal memorabilia, a 16-inch shell, and displays explaining the operation of the guns. On site is a library collection of 2,000 volumes relating to the history of the site.
This iconic 1922 Doughboy statue - originally dedicated to honor the 48 Caddo County men killed during World War I - has been recently restored and now includes the names of those fallen or MIA in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and post 9-11.
This memorial is located in downtown Shreveport, Louisiana in front of the Chamber of Commerce. It is dedicated to the soldiers from Shreveport who died during the Great War.
On a river rock base sits a bronze sculpture dedicated on Armistice Day 1921. The eagle was added 4 years later. The sculptor is unknown. On the south face is a plaque dedicated to the soldiers and sailors from Calhoun County who served in the Great War, and on the north face is an honor roll of the 41 names. The south face inscription reads: "This Tablet is Erected in Honor of the Soldiers and Sailors from Calhoun County Alabama who Served in the Great War 1917-1919". The north face inscription reads: "Better the shot, the blade, the bowl, than crucifixion of the soul." [from the Maryland state song "Maryland My Maryland" by James Ryder Randall]. Forty-one names are listed.
A lower plaque reads: "In 1921, Calhoun County memorialized its casualties of World War I
with this monument, unveiled on Armistice Day, as a proud testament to the bravery of these men.
Nearly a hundred years later, in 2014, military research conducted by The Anniston Star's editorial board discovered at least nineteen additional U.S. military personnel whose names, for reasons unknown, were not included on the original plaque. In 2016, the City of Anniston erected this memorial, providing these nineteen Calhoun County casualties of the Great War their deserved place of honor. Nineteen names are listed.
Dedicated in 1927, this 20-ft tall fieldstone arch is flanked by 8-ft tall iron statues of aged soldiers from the Civil War and World War I. The World War I soldier faces east and stands with a rifle, wearing a wide-brimmed hat, open-collared shirt, and boots. Beneath the statue is a plaque which says : "Calhoun honors her World War heroes 1917-1918"
Dedicated on Veterans Day in 1992, this memorial honors the more than 5 million Californians who have served in the U.S. military since 1850. It was sponsored by the California Veterans Memorial Commission and consists of a small plaza in a grove of mature trees, bordered by a low curved natural berm along which benches have been placed. In the middle of the plaza is a sculptured granite obelisk representing a united force reaching upward to recognize the heroic determination of the state's veterans. It also represents the devastation of war, being decorated with a blend of smooth black surfaces and almost ghostly images of people in determined defense of their country. The obelisk is split into four sections, set on the four main compass points, to represent the limitless boundaries of their determination. The split itself represents the destructive nature of war and the potential fragmenting of our nation.
Memorial was removed. Exact location unknown.
Camp D. D. Gaillard
15th U.S. Engineers. World War Volunteers. Enlisted at Pittsburgh. Trained here May 23, 1917 to July 8, 1917. Embarked from New York July 9, 1917. England July 19, 1917, to July 23, 1917. First Armed foreign troops to land in England since Sixteenth Century. France July 28, 1917, to April 13, 1819. Debarked at New York, April 27, 1919. Mustered out of service at Camp Sherman May 15, 1929. Pittsburgh’s Pioneer Engineers. Erected by Allegheny County 1928.
Marker is on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Oakmont Service Plaza.
IN JUNE 1917, ON THE PRARIE WEST AND SOUTH OF HERE. ONE OF THE GREAT TRAINING GROUNDS OF THE
FIRST WORLD WAR WAS ESTABLISHED. NAMED IN HONOR OF MISSOURI’S COLONEL ALEXANDER W. DOLIPHAN OF MEXICAN
WAR FAME THE HUGE NATIONAL ARMY CANTONMENT OCCUPIED 1,200 ACRES AND WAS LAID OUT IN MTHE FORM OF A
HORSESHOE, OPENING TO THE EAST. THE MARKER IS AT THE SITE OF THE NORTH ENTRANCE TOL THE CAMP.
FRAME MESS HALLS, STOREHOUSES, CANTEENS AND OTHER FACILITIES WERE ERECTED BY THE SELDEN-BRECK
CONSTRUCTION COMPANY OF SAINT LOUIS. THE REST OF THE CAMP WAS A CITY OF PYRAMIDAL TENTS HEATED BY SIBLEY
STOVES.”JITNEYS” AND A TROLLY LINE PROVIDED TRANSPORTATION TO LAWTON.
INFANTRY UNITS OF THE OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD, PART OF THE 36TH DIVISION COMMANDED BY MAJOR GENERAL
EDWIN ST. JOHN GREBLE, TRAINED IN THE SUMMER OF 1917 BEFORE JOINING THE DIVISIONS TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD
ELEMENTS AT CAMP BOWIE. ON 13 SEPTEMBER THE 35TH DIVISION, COMPRISING THE KANSAS AND MISSOURI NATIONAL
GUARD, AND COMMANDED BY MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM M. WRIGHT, WAS ACTIVATED HERE, CAMP DONIPHAN WAS ITS
HOME FOR THE NEXT SIX MONTHS.
THE 50,000 MEN WHO TRAINED HERE WOULD REMEMBER WITH NOSTALGIA THE WIND, THE DUST, THE HEAT OF SUMMER,
THE COLD OF WINTER IN CANVAS TENTS, THE STRENUOUS DRILLS AND MARCHES, AND THE ENDLESS DIGGING OF TRENCHES,
DUGOUTS, AND ARTILLERY EMPLACEMENTS IN HARD-BAKED SOIL AND HARDER ROCK IN “NO MAN’S LAND” NEAR
AMONG NOTED MISSOURIANS PRESENT WERE 1ST LIEUTENANT HARRY S. TRUMAN, BATTERY F, 129TH FIELD ARTILLERY,
LATER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, AND CAPTAIN DWIGHT F. DAVIS, COMPANY L, 138TH INFANTRY, LATER SECRETARY
OF WAR, MAJOR GENERAL ROBERT M. DANFORD, LAST CHIEF OF FIELD ARTILLERY, COMMANDED THE 129TH FOR A PERIOD
HERE. A MARKER ON GRIERSON HILL OVERLOOKS THE ENCAMPMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMEN’S BATTERY F.
IN THE SPRING OF 1918, TO THE HAUNTING STRAIN OF “OVER THERE;’ THE MEN OF THE 35TH LEFT FOR THE BATTLEFIELDS
OF FRANCE. THERE, WITH THEIR COMRADES-IN-ARMS OF THE 36TH, THEY FOUGHT AND DIED IN THE MEUSE-ARGONNE
OFFENSIVE, ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST DECISIVE CAMPAIGNS.
AFTER THEIR DEPARTURE, CAMP DONIPHAN BECAME A FIELD ARTILLERY BRIGADE FIRING CENTRE, COMMANDED BY
BRIGADIER GENERAL EDMUND L. GRUBER, COMPOSER OF THE “CAISSON SONG.” IN THE LATER YEARS THE SITE WAS AS THE
SUMMER TRAINING CAMP FOR THE OKLAHOMA NATIONAL GUARD.
THIS PLAQUE, TOGETHER WITH THE SIMPSON GUN ON SIGNAL MOUNTAIN THAT OVERLOOKS THE CAMP DONIPHAN AREA, STAND AS
LASTING AND GRATEFUL MEMORIALS TO THE HOST OF BRAVE SOLDIERS WHO TRAINED HERE IN FREEDOM’S CAUSE IN WORLD WAR ONE.
The monument was erected to honor the men who trained for World War One at Camp Greene. The most striking feature is a tall fluted column with an elaborate carving at the top holding the earth. The column stands on a large granite plinth on a triple base with inscriptions naming all the units stationed at the camp. The south face also has the spinning wheel insignia of the Daughters of the American Revolution above the inscription. It is surrounded by a black wrought iron fence.
In August 1919, Bergen County purchased land for a monument commemorating the role of Camp Merritt during the Great War at the intersection of Madison Avenue & Knickerbocker Road in Cresskill - marking the center of the largest embarkation camp in the US during WWI. Modeled after the Washington Monument, the obelisk is 65 feet tall and made of granite. Inscribed on the base are the names of the 578 people who died at the camp, mostly as the result of the 1918 influenza epidemic. A large carved relief by the sculptor Robert Ingersoll Aitken shows a striding doughboy with an eagle flying overhead.
Set into a large boulder is a copper plaque with a relief of the Palisades, illustrating that the Camp Merritt site was used as an area of embarkation. The plaque was designed by artist Katherine Lamb Tait.
The monument was dedicated on May 30, 1924. A crowd of 20,000 heard a dedicatory address given by famed Army General Pershing.
Narrative adapted from Bergen County, NJ official website.
Photo courtesy of: Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS)
In Proud and Happy Memory
of the members of Camp Merryweather
who gave their lives for their country
in the Great War 1914-1918
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
ALFRED MONTGOMERY GOODALE
EDMUND PIKE GRAVES
FREDERICK CHESTER LADD
PHILLIPS QUINCY MUIRHEAD
But yet-but yet-ah! ne'er forget
In tempest or in night
That clear and true still shines for you
The Merryweather Light
This memorial is located on an active military base at the Camp Robinson Chapel.
This memorial, the older of the two in Gillette, honors "all who served our country in time of war" and lists the names of those from Campbell County who gave their lives in World War 1, World War 2, and the Korean Conflict. It is located outside the courthouse.
This WWI Memorial is located along the road in a small park in Canaan, Vermont. It honors the soldiers from Canaan who served during World War I.