Sunday, March 20, 2011

Honoring the memory of US service in WW I

                            (picture taken of the District of Columbia World War I memorial in 2007)

The recent passing of the last World War I U.S. veteran , Frank Buckles ,  reminded me of our 2007 discovery of the D.C. WW I memorial , where I wrote at the time:

While walking from the Korean War memorial to the World War II Memorial, we passed a small memorial that you could barely see from the walkway. When we decided to check it out, we walked on a dilapidated pathway towards a white structure that was covered with black,sooty dirt.

I had tears in my eyes before we even got to the structure, because I could read across the top something about "World War"...with no number after it....and I said "This is so sad, they built this Memorial thinking there would be no more wars like that one, this Must be a World War I memorial" this time, I was openly crying, saying"This is so Wrong, this memorial should not be this dilapidated!" and also, "I never knew this was here before, how could I have visited here so many times and missed this?"
and I also wrote "What still upsets me enormously is, if we allow the memorials to those who have fallen in a war to become dilapidated and in need of repairs, are we not dishonoring the memory of those who served and gave their all? "

Others have asked similar questions, I came across a blog post on DC Like a Local from 2009, in which the author while writing about the DC WW I memorial asked .."Are Memorials transitory, and only for the recent wars, or are they there to remind future generations of the cost and sacrifice of those that passed before us?"

and on this page from DC Watch  (which is where I found a great deal of my information originally when researching the DC WW I memorial in 2007 after our discovery of it) from a 2002 Memorial Day post, I was greatly saddened by reading this from an editorial published two days before the memorial's dedication in 1931: 
"It is a pleasing thought to believe that when many, many years have rolled over the hill and the children of our children pause a moment over the names carved on this memorial they can look about them at the things that men have sought to do and say, "They built well." " 

because although the memorial was indeed "built well" ? it had been allowed to fall into disrepair.

As you can see here on The World War I Memorial website  , in the latter years of his life Mr. Buckles called for the 'restoration and re-dedication of the DC memorial as a National and District of Columbia World War I Memorial'.

While you can sign the petition on the website to rededicate the Memorial, you can also contact your state's US Senators to express your support of Senate Bill S.253 A bill to establish a commission to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of World War I, and to designate memorials to the service of men and women of the United States in World War I.

Here is a link for  How US Senators  and also the page to search for and contact them by email

Please consider doing this, not only in honor of Mr.Buckles, but also in remembrance of the many who served, and those who gave their lives, in the 'War to End All Wars', as the First World War was once called.

The Washington Post, in writing about Frank Buckles being laid to rest, had a great deal of information about the veterans of WW I whom Mr. Buckles came to represent, in this article
Frank Buckles, last U.S. veteran of World War I, laid to rest at Arlington

which is well worth the read.

Lastly, again from the World War I Memorial website:

In 2014 the world will mark the centennial of World War I. Nearly 5 million Americans served during the war, and 116,516 Americans died in defense of democracy overseas. America’s support of its allies in World War I marked the first time in this nation’s history that American soldiers went abroad to defend foreign soil against aggression -- and it marked the true beginning of “the American century.”

Let us hopefully honor their memory by seeing that their service is memorialized not with a dilapidated memorial in disrepair, but once again with a memorial that is "built well."
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