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.
Front: (Names of 590 men are listed in 9 columns.)
Rear: To The Dead / of the / 307th Infantry A.E.F / 590 Officers and Men / 1917-1919 /
After American entry into World War I in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson ordered all of Michigan's National Guard to Camp Grayling. Eight thousand of these troops then went to Texas where they joined Wisconsin soldiers to form the 32nd Division. Arriving in France in 1918 the division earned the name "Red Arrow" for its swift assaults through German lines. During World War II the 32nd Red Arrow Division fought courageously in the Pacific Theatre and received a commendation from General Douglas MacArthur.
The inscription on this memorial reads :
THEY GAVE THEIR ALL
WORLD WAR I 1917-18
[Followed by an Honor Roll listing the 49 men from Greenfield, Ohio who served in the 42nd "Rainbow" Division during World War I].
Inside the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore is a Maryland Museum of Military History. Although the armory is usually closed to visitors, the building's facade is home to a number of WW1 memorials.
This 75mm field gun is a modification of a French gun that was designed in 1917. The 75mm was the most effective light field gun in W.W.I. It was also used against infantry, tanks, and other armored targets in W.W.II.
This gun is 17'-3" long, and weights 3,400lbs. Its range was 13,870 yards, and fired 6 rounds per minute. The 75mm shell weighed 19lbs., and could be fixed, high-explosive, chemical, smoke, or armor-piercing.
The 105mm has now replaced the 75mm gun as the light artillery weapon.
This 19 foot tall monument was designed by architect Charles W. Stoughton (1871-1945) and installed here in 1924, as a memorial to the veterans of WWI.
This World War I monument stands just outside the gates of Greenville's historic Springwood Cemetery. It reads: "In Memory of 81st. Wildcat Division which trained at Camp Sevier Apr. to July 1918, Maj. Gen. Chas. J. Bailey, Commanding. Erected Oct. 13, 1956."
Although officially organized as the 81st National Army Division, the battalion came to be known as the Wildcat Division and entered the war theater in France toward the end of the war in 1918. With draftees primarily from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, the group took on the name to reflect the fierce fighting and tenacious wild cats of the South and adopted a patch made from the silhouette of the cat as their insignia. They fought in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918 and were in combat against the Germans in Verdun when fighting ceased on November 11 with the armistice. The Wildcat Division suffered 1,104 casualties during their short time in the war.
This obelisk monument is dedicated to the memory of the members of the 82nd in WWI, WWII, the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, and actions in the Dominican Republic, Grenada, and Panama.
On May 30, 1930, an impressive monument was dedicated at Fort Lewis honoring the Army's 91st Division. The monument, featuring six statues and a 40-foot tall shaft, recalls the division's wartime contribution and honors its war dead. Sculptor Avard Fairbanks (1897-1987) designed the statues and noted Seattle architect John Graham Sr. (1873-1955) designed the monument. Frank McDermott, president of the Bon Marche Department store, donated the funds to build it. Since its dedication, the monument has become a prominent Joint Base Lewis-McChord symbol, where it continues to honor national sacrifice.
"The 9th Infantry Division was organized on 18 July 1918 at Camp Sheridan for service in World War I. When the War ended, 11 November 1918, deployment of the Division to France was canceled and it was demobilized of 15 February 1919." -Alabama Historical Association marker, 1993.
Located in front of the Fairfax Court House, this World War I memorial hosts the names of the soldiers from Fairfax County who died in the war.
"I've attached the pic associated with the World War One Memorial at Ada, Minnesota. Since it's dedication (date unknown) other sides of the base have had plaques added listing the fatalities from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam."
-Mr. Johannes R. Allert, M.A., CTL
Photo and description courtesy of the Association for Public Art
This bronze "celestial sphere" is dedicated to the aviators who died during World War 1. It also illustrates the signs of the zodiac and is inscribed with the Latin names of the constellations and planets. The sculpture is located opposite the main entrance of the Franklin Institute.
In Memory Of
Those Aitkin County
Who Lost Their
Lives In The
Northland Chapter D.A.R.
This cast bronze statue of a WWI infantryman has been painted mustard yellow. It depicts him advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of No Man's Land, carrying a rifle and grenade and wearing a steel helmet, gas mask, bag and ammunition belt. Beneath is a granite slab and sandstone base, with a plaque dedicated to the memory of the men and women who served in WWI from Summit County. Other plaques list the 65 men and one woman from the county who died in service during the war. It was installed at the Armory in 1934 and moved to the present site in 1982.
Erected in 1968, this monument consists of a marble obelisk and fountains, with life-size figures of military personnel. It honors the Alabama citizens who have served in America's wars. A Hall of Honor commemorates those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Alaska Veterans Memorial is an outdoor memorial grove in Denali State Park in Interior Alaska. The memorial honors Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Alaska National Guard, and Merchant Marine veterans from Alaska, as well as specific Alaskans who were awarded the Medal of Honor. There are also small memorials to the passengers and crew of military plane crashes in Alaska. The site was selected because of the scenic beauty of the area and its location between Alaska's two largest cities. On a clear day visitors can see Denali from just outside the memorial. It is 147 miles (237 km) from Anchorage and 214 miles (344 km) from Fairbanks, on a hill above the Byers Lake campground. During the main visitor season (May–August) there is a staffed visitor center and bookstore. The main memorial alcove was constructed in 1983. Governor Bill Sheffield, himself a veteran, dedicated the site in 1984.
The base of the flagpole is a square column of granite eight feet tall and two and a half feet on a side. It has three rectangular panels with relief images of two soldiers with a dog and birds, two soldiers with a horse, and a soldier walking with nurses. On the fourth side are the names of 145 who died in WWI. It was sculpted by Gertrude Katherine Lathrop (1896-1986) and dedicated in 1933.
This bronze WWI infantryman is advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of No Man's Land, holding his rifle in one hand and a grenade in the other. Beneath is a rusticated marble or granite base. This was sculpted by E.M. Viquesney and dedicated on May 30, 1926, to the Gentry County citizens who served in WWI. It was rededicated on August 24, 1984.