Archive for December 4th, 2009

A number of years ago, while wandering around the National Mall in Washington, DC, Cheri and I stumbled across this older memorial just off  to the side.  There was nobody there and it was a nice respite from the crowds.  We had no idea what it was, having never seen it in any literature, but deduced it was a World War I memorial from the inscription across its crown.

It was very rundown.  The marble was severely stained and appeared to be in disrepair.  The foliage around it was untrimmed and though there was a lovely peacefulness there befitting a memorial to brave warriors, it was a sad sight.  We walked on to other, more well known monuments.

Today there is one surviving soldier from World War I, Frank Buckles.  One last witness to the war that was the first to earn the moniker of world war.  Horrible enough to be called The Great War.  The war to end all wars. Over 115,000 of our soldiers died from 1917-1918.  To put that into perspective, around 4000 of our troops have perished in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was a war that changed the world.

And our national memorial to it sits unattended and passed by.  A great shame and testimony to the shortness of our collective memory.  Frank Buckles is the honorary chairman of the World War I Memorial Foundation which is trying to raise funds to renovate the monument and bring it to the attention of the public.  It’s a worthy effort for the old soldier.

My hope is that other soldiers from later wars will recognize the need for stepping forward to champion this cause.  If the memory of the blood and sacrifice of the 115,000 Americans killed in that war can be lost after a mere 90 years, their own efforts and self-sacrifice may soon go the same route and be forgotten as well.

And that would be a great shame.

So take a look at their site and if you’re in DC  stop in and honor the fallen of the First World War.

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