Remembering World War I

ESCALANTE – Escalante, in co-operation with American Legion Post 114, raised the Official World War I Centennial Commission flag on Labor Day Monday September 7th. The $114.00 proceeds for this flag (and a second one for replacement as needed) came from the donations from several Post members and other concerned folks in the community. The commission, by resolution, has the American Legion’s support. Most proceeds from the flags will go towards the creation of a long-awaited National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, D.C.. Plans call for starting construction this winter, and a dedication sometime after Nov. 11, 2018.

American Legion

Bill Kuhns (left) and Paul Tramontano of American Legion Post 114, raised the Official World War I Centennial Commission flag in Escalante.

There’s also 100 Cities/100 Memorials a project of the commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library to encourage restoration and maintenance of Work War I monuments nationwide.

The men and women who went to war 100 years ago founded the American Legion even before they left Europe. They wrote in their charter: “The sacred purpose of the American Legion is to preserve the memories and incidents of their associations in the Great War.” There are no survivors of that war, the last veteran died 2011 at 110 years old. He’d probably wanted us all to realize why his war was not popular in the American consciousness. Indeed, remembrance was overshadowed by aviation advances, gangsters, prohibition, the roaring twenties, the Great Depression and of course, World War II, a mere twenty years later. It was seldom bolstered by television nor Hollywood and world movies as was the Second World War and the Vietnam War for example. Therefore, just as with all great human struggles, sacrifices and achievements, it is up to us, the sentient ancestors, to continually pass down recognition and knowledge of important events. Whether these be noble, foolhardy, with failed or successful conclusions, we may all be touched in a profound way. Perhaps in doing so, we learn/question something about our individual selves and/or our country’s decisions. Consider, for example, that understanding the flawed Armistice of the Great War has living repercussions extending forward to all of today’s conflicts.

The U.S. suffered more casualties in the “Great War, to end all wars” than Korea and Vietnam combined. It took the Vietnam Conflict eight years to produce the fatalities of six months in the First World War. The U.S. suffered 375,000 casualties, including 116,516 deaths.

Utahans sent some 21,000 of their sons and daughters to this carnage, with 10,000 volunteering and 11,000 drafted. 655 Utahans lost their lives, including 219 from battlefield wounds, 32 from accidents, and 414 from disease and other health-related issues, and another 864 were wounded. Forty-three Utah servicemen received the Distinguished Service Cross of the Navy cross, the second highest military decoration for valor. Almost 5% of Utah’s 1917 population served!

This was at a time when some questioned the patriotism and loyalty of Utahans to the United States of America. Utah’s contribution on the battlefield and on the home front was substantial, with almost $81 million in war bonds and donations to the American Red Cross recorded, averaging approximately $190 for every man, women and child living in Utah at the time. Utahans viewed their participation and support of the war effort as a means to help end the horrors of war once and for all, and to demonstrate their fidelity and loyalty to the United States.
This article is presented in the spirit of State Resolution H.C.R. 2. Recognizing the United States and Utah’s participation in World War I. If you wish to learn much more about the War, Doughboy-MIA’s, the centennial period and/or the official memorial being constructed in Washington, D.C. (called “the Weight of Sacrifice”) go to www.wwIcentennial.org. Certainly you will not be disappointed.

—Linda Tramontano

 

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