Where are the Doughboys?

My friend Sue Smythe (“Trainer to the Stars!”) gave me an article that follows up to yesterday’s post on the WWI soldier’s letters home.

For some reason, it had never penetrated my tiny brain that this country does not have a national WWI memorial. We have lots of small ones–my own tiny hamlet has a drinking fountain dedicated to a local boy killed in France–but among all the heaps of bronze and granite in our country’s capital, the Doughboys are nowhre to be seen.

With the last living WWI soldier now 104 years old, perhaps it’s time to think about one?

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  1. Lauren on February 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

    The only national WWI memorial is in Kansas City, MO. You can see information about it here: http://www.libertymemorialmuseum.org/.

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve lived in KC most of my life and never been to the memorial (driven by it many, many times, but never gone to the museum). I have heard that it is a great museum with much information. Perhaps on my next trip home I’ll visit.

  2. Younger Son on February 29, 2008 at 10:48 am

    The World War Memorial in Indianapolis is not small — it covers a city block and is reported as 210 feet tall. The cornerstone was laid by General Pershing in 1927.

    I am hard-pressed to remember any general Federal memorial or veterans’ monument before World War II (and I seem to remember that was recent). As recently as World War I, major army units were raised per-state (at least the National Guard divisions, which I’d imagine were at least as big a fraction of the Army as they are today). The 42nd Infantry Division, drawn nationwide, was unusual enough that it’s called the “Rainbow” to this day. So it may make sense that if the experience of the War was state-by-state, so would be its remembrance.

  3. Pat Mathews on February 29, 2008 at 11:00 am

    It took us 50 years to get a Korean War memorial. But you’re right. It never occurred to me we didn’t have one. We do, however, have the Unknown Soldier. And a November holiday that originated with the end of WWI.

  4. penprickle on February 29, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    There is a rotunda memorial in the District of Columbia somewhere, or at least there was–there’s a huge photo of it at my workplace. I don’t know if it’s “national” per se, but I’ll try to read the carving on it the next time I pass it.

  5. Carlina on February 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I can assure the World War Memorial in Indianapolis is huge. It’s actually right in front of the Federal Building too. During the winter it is decorated for the holidays and is gorgeous. I can’t pull my photos out at the moment, but it is a staple of our capital here in Indiana.

    You can also go inside of it. There’s a museum and memorial inside. In the vicinity there are also other monuments to wars and fallen heroes including the Civil War, Korea, and the Spanish American War.

    Some historic photos:


    Actually, every town that is a country seat in Indiana has a moment to the G.A.R. and the fallen heroes of the wars throughout time in front of their courthouses. It’s the Hoosier way :).

  6. ladonna on March 1, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis was the topic of my senior history thesis for my B.A. (Indiana Central Univ. now Univ of Indpls — UINDY!!!) (and no, I won’t give you the date). The memorial and the American Legion are closely tied — at their 2nd annual convention in 1920 the Indiana AL urged the state legislature to grant bonuses to veterans and to build a suitable memorial. Based on that the national AL selected Indianapolis as their national headquarters and part of the memorial compound is their office building. The memorial ended up being a plaza (4 city blocks?) and took long enough to complete that it has memorials to veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. It was started in 1924 and not completed until the early 60’s. http://www.in.gov/iwm/

  7. vicki on March 1, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Wow–all that is really interesting about the Indiana memorial–thanks for that background, ladonna! I’d love to see that someday. If I ever get to Indianapolis, I’ll have to put that on my itinerary.

  8. Strawberry Curls on March 1, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Start packing your bags, Vicki, although it is a bit early. The 2009 B’Con is in Indianapolis. Here is the link http://bouchercon2009.com/

    It’s called “Elementary, My Dear Indy!” and runs Oct. 15-18. Perhaps we should plan on a trip to the memorial.

  9. vicki on March 2, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Oh, that’s right–I should’ve remembered that’s where B’con 2009 is! I’m so there! We definitely need a VBC trip to the memorial, and a group picture there, too. We should have a wiki or something to list all these events/preparations/etc. Hmmm. *Dons thinking cap*

  10. Carlina on March 2, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Yep…don’t think I’ll be here then though. I’ll be biting my nails about the quest to tenure elsewhere. I know…for all you Holmes fans out there…they are planing an excursion to my alma mater, to the Lilly Library, to see the impressive Holmes collection there. Nice to have it at my fingertips at the moment..Now if I could only find time to peruse it.


    You shouldn’t miss the Memorial. It’s not too far from the Hyatt or Circle Center, the main mall downtown. Aww hell, let me see what I can plan for 2009…*crosses fingers*

  11. ladonna on March 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    And while you are at it look in at Oldfields — the Lilly mansion on the grounds of the Indpls. Museum of Art http://www.ima-art.org/oldfieldsLHAG.asp It was designed and built in the 1920s. Nice gardens too (in a vaguely English country house sort of way).

  12. Roxanne on March 3, 2008 at 9:55 am


    Thanks for the info. You are (of course) correct about closing the browser and trying again. It worked.

    Oooohhh. ” “Private Message.” I get it. Well, I sent one. So nk1669 (am I close?), I sent you a Private Message over the VBC, if you would like to check it out.

    Roxanne 🙂

  13. Siddika on March 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

    As someone who has worked for peace (and thus against war) since 1965, I feel we already have too many memorials to our war dead. It is very sad that these young people perished in the nation’s numerous military adventures, especially since most of them died for nothing worth losing their lives for. What is needed (but unlikely) is an entire national change of consciousness in which the glory of memorials in small towns and large is awarded to persons who have made the world better by compassionate and positive actions.

  14. vicki on March 6, 2008 at 2:54 am

    There definitely should be more glory and recognition for the unsung heroes who make the world better through positive action (speaking of which, kudos for your work to promote peace, Siddika!). I think it’s possible, however, for a well-designed memorial to underscore the tragedy and loss caused by war (ie the Vietnam Memorial), rather than romanticizing it, which may help–in a way–to promote peace. I hope so, anyway.

    Thanks for the B’con 2009 itinerary ideas, Carlina and ladonna! I hope y’all can be there to join in the fun!

    I’m glad I could help, Roxanne!

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