A Destiny of Undying Greatness: Kiffin Rockwell and the Boys Who Remembered Lafayette
By Mark M. Trapp
Special to the doughboy.org web site
Most Americans with a passing knowledge of history know of General Pershing’s July 4, 1917, march through Paris with the newly arrived American troops to the tomb of Lafayette where, on behalf of America, Pershing’s aide Colonel Charles Stanton uttered the famous words “Lafayette, we are here.” But too many are unaware of the actions and sacrifices of Kiffin Rockwell and other American boys dating back to the outset of the Great War more than two and a half years before Pershing’s arrival.
My own knowledge came about more by happenstance than anything else when, in the Fall of 1997, I began law school at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. On my first day, I took a walk around campus to familiarize myself with my new surroundings. Upon entering Lee Chapel, I came across a small plaque honoring a W&L alumnus by the name of “Kiffin Yates Rockwell” who, the plaque indicated, had been “killed in aerial combat” in France in September 1916. Because my wife was eight and a half months pregnant with our first child, baby names were at the front of our minds, and I believed I had just come across the coolest name ever. But what was the bearer of that name doing in France in 1916, in aerial combat, no less? Like many Americans, I knew next to nothing about World War One, but I knew that we had not entered the war until 1917.
During the next few years, I tried to learn more about this boy named Kiffin, and of how he came to be fighting and dying in France during the time that the United States was officially neutral and President Woodrow Wilson was campaigning for re-election using the slogan “he kept us out of war.” Through sporadic research over the years, I learned the basic outlines of a remarkable story: long before their own country entered the conflict that would redefine the world, a handful of young American men ignored President Wilson’s declared neutrality and risked their lives fighting on the side of France and, as they saw it, civilization itself.
Initially fighting in the trenches, many of these idealistic volunteers eventually took to the skies as part of the first generation of fighter pilots. A good number of these boys, many from some of the wealthiest and most privileged families in America, willingly sacrificed everything to repay what they saw as a debt owed by their nation based on the heroic actions and support of the Marquis de Lafayette and France when America was engaged in its struggle for independence from Britain. Kiffin Rockwell was one of these boys, and with his brother Paul in early August of 1914, he was likely the very first volunteer to leave America’s shores to defend France.
While many history buffs are familiar with the broad outlines of the story of the Lafayette Escadrille, as the all-American flying squadron fighting for France would eventually be called, I was amazed to learn of the noble sacrifices made by these boys who had everything to lose. But as a practicing attorney with young children and a very busy life, my interest in the story never advanced beyond a general desire to know more.
That all changed when, in 2014, my son was born on the exact 100-year anniversary of the day that Kiffin and Paul Rockwell enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in Paris. We named our little boy Kiffin and, my interest in the story rekindled, I began five years of research and writing that truly changed my life. Working at nights, on weekends, and during my daily commute to downtown Chicago where I still practice as an attorney, I began to uncover the details of the remarkable story of “the boys who remembered Lafayette,” as I began to think of them.
Biographies of 140 WWI veterans published in “Greene-Dreher in the Great War”
By Lyle T. Galloway
via the River Reporter newspaper (NY) web site
HONESDALE, PA — Bethel School may have closed decades ago, but there has been no shortage of learning there. Many tours, spelling bees, lectures and other special events have been conducted in the tiny building. On Sunday, July 11 Bethel School held an open house and a lecture.
About Bethel School
Bethel School was built in 1870. Despite some minor renovations to the stairs and other parts of the outside of the building, the interior looks relatively unchanged. A large blackboard is at the front of the room, a pull-down wall map from 1897 hangs above it, too fragile with age to be fully displayed. Rows of wooden desks are placed all over the room, topped with vintage books in all kinds of subjects from American History to Basic Arithmetic.
Before the school’s closure in 1951, it saw 31 different teachers, with Mary Agnes McCarthy being the last. She taught from 1946 to 1951.
For some, the small, central room was home to many happy memories. “I went to school here and enjoyed every minute of it... Across the road was an apple orchard, and if you felt like eating your lunch in the apple orchard, that’s what you did,” said Dorothy Kieff, former student at Bethel School and member of the Wayne County Historical Society.
She remembered wading in the nearby brook, playing marbles in the middle of the dirt road and playing “Haley Over” with the other children.
Kieff attended during the school’s final years. She recalled that there were 21 kids in her class. It comprised kids across different grade levels. Classes were called up in order to the front of the room to present their work. Afterward, the next group was called and others did individual work.
“If you were stuck on something, there was always an older kid to ask, or if you were one of the older kids, there was always a kid to help. I always said that was cooperative learning at its best,” said Kieff.
‘The army within the Army’
The old wooden desks were occupied with those eager to learn something new once again as local historian Bernadine Lennon presented a lecture entitled “The Army within the Army.” The lecture focused on the volunteers and other unsung heroes that kept the American armies fighting.
Lennon is part of the Greene-Dreher Historical Society. In 2016, the group wanted to take on a project related to WWI as America’s centennial anniversary of joining the war was approaching.
Lennon visited local cemeteries, taking note of gravesites with flags. The project grew from there. By the time research was completed in 2019, the biographies of 140 local WWI veterans were published in Lennon’s book “Greene-Dreher in the Great War.” Three more were discovered after the book’s publishing.
WWI soldier Farley Lafore Lock and his namesake VFW post
via the State Journal-Register newspaper (IL) web site
Springfield, IL’s Lafore Lock Post 755 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this month, is named after World War I U.S. Army Pvt. Farley Lafore Lock.
Lock died Oct. 18, 1918, of wounds he suffered from an artillery shell the day before in the Verdun sector of France. Born in 1896, Lafore was one of 10 children (eight of them boys) of Nelson and Gretta Lock.
Lock’s death was described in a letter written to his family in January 1919 by Russell Burleigh, Lock’s sergeant in the medical unit of the 133rd Regiment, 33rd Division.
“Twice in our army life I called for volunteers to go with me on perilous journeys under enemy shell fire and twice Lafore and Neal (full name not given) volunteered to go with me regardless of what our prospect was or our chance of return.
“It was during the trying times when the enemy was trying to stop the rush of American manhood throught the impregnable Argonne Forests that Lafore after going to the front line and assisting in establishing a first aid post, volunteered to return and bring the remainder of the men up after dark.
“He started on his perilous errand with the same smile and joking way that he always wore while doing his duty. He never finished his errand, but we all know and God knows it was not through any fault of his.
“A high explosive shell from the gun of the unseen enemy came within five feet of him and not hearing it he failed to drop on the ground and a piece of the shell cut the lower third of the thigh of his left limb nearly severing it, and also cut the right limb. …
(H)e was immediately put on an ambulance and rushed by special request to the field hospital and the last words we heard him say was, with a faint smile, “Well they got both my legs.” …
“The day after Lafore was injured, he succumbed to his injuries… . The shock from the shell, the pain from the injuries, the loss of blood all were too much for anyone to bear or sustain. …
“We were 68 days in the woods and strewn battlefields, no baths and very little water and unable to claim our lives from one moment to the next.
“Lafore was the only one in the corps to succumb to wounds although several more of the men received wounds.
“LaFore left us nothing to remember him by but his personality which will never leave us.
112 years young: Houstonian Elizabeth Francis celebrates her big day in a big way
By Melissa Correa
via the KHOU television station (TX) web site
HOUSTON — Elizabeth Francis celebrated her 112th birthday on Sunday.
At 112, Francis deserves the parade neighbors put on at her north Houston home. She had an escort, wore a tiara, set up a well-positioned fan and was serenaded. The front-row seat to see her friends and family was all she needed to enjoy the day.
She even got a visit from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Francis' granddaughter, 66-year-old Ethel Harrison, said the pandemic put a damper on the celebration last year.
"Last year, with the pandemic, we didn’t get to do a whole lot," Harrison said. "So, we're just so blessed that we still have her."
At 112, Francis still recognizes her loved ones, watches the news and carries hope.
"She’s very, very spiritual. And a lot of her strength comes from her faith that she has in God," Harrison said.
Francis was born in 1909. William Taft had just become President of the United States. The NAACP was in its infancy, only a few months old. At 7, Francis watched women fight for the right to vote. She lived through World War I and the Spanish Flu. She survived the Great Depression and lived through World War II. The March on Washington happened days after her 54th birthday. She saw the images from Vietnam and kept up with the space race. She's seen technology evolve and saw a monumental shift in civil rights for Americans.
History Informs the Future Of American Sea Power at the U.S. Naval War College
via the U.S. Naval War College Foundation web site
The U.S. Naval War College (USNWC) and the Naval War College Foundation (NWCF) have used the centenary of the first “great war” and the pandemic of 1918 to reconsider the historical influence upon contemporary discussions of future maritime strategy. Research in original documentary sources has enabled practitioners at the USNWC to develop fresh strategic perspectives about the future of American sea power. Just as Admirals Stephen B. Luce and Alfred Thayer Mahan used history with an applied purpose, the NWCF has encouraged contemporary historical research with the gracious support of the Pritzker Military Foundation, on behalf of the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.
Led by the experts at the Naval War College’s Hattendorf Historical Center, we have continued to discover fresh historical perspectives about the lasting influence of the First World War upon contemporary concepts of American sea power and the future of maritime strategy in the twenty-first century. The Naval War College Museum exhibit, To Win or Lose All, features singular artifacts recently donated to by the family of Admiral William S. Sims. As the first to command foreign naval forces in combat during the First World War, Sims also twice served as President of the Naval War College. Having learned from the methods pioneered by Sir Julian Corbett in the “Historical Section” of the Imperial Staff in London, Sims returned to the Naval War College to establish a “Historical Section” with Captain Dudley W. Knox and reserve Lieutenant Tracy Barrett Kittredge. The organization established in Newport later influenced the development of the “Historical Section” within the Office of Naval Intelligence under Dudley W. Knox. Within twenty years, the Historical Sections of the Naval War College and Office of Naval Intelligence evolved into the Office of Naval History within the context of the Second World War.
Naval War College efforts to use history as the foundation for achieving decisive results in both peace and war remained a guiding principle for the Office of Naval History. Notably, the President of the Naval War College, Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus, served as the first Director of Naval History with Commodore Dudley W. Knox serving as the deputy director. Meanwhile, Captain Tracy Barrett Kittredge helped synthesize the efforts of the Naval War College and the Office of Naval History. During service in Europe during the Second World War, Kittredge worked at the direction of Kalbfus and Knox to drive efforts behind enemy lines to secure enemy intelligence sources. In this role, Kittredge worked directly with U.S. Army Reserve Colonel John Nicholas Brown II. Brown remained closely involved with Kittredge during their postwar work together at the Naval War College, and, later, Brown became a founding member of the Naval War College Foundation.
Pursuant to understanding the influence of sea power upon history, the Naval War College continued developing means to use the past as a foundation for future strategy. After 1943, the President of the Naval War College, Vice Admiral William S. Pye expanded the historical research mission at the College — working in direct collaboration with the Office of Naval History, Office of Naval Intelligence, and joint service equivalents for the primary postwar purposes of establishing conditions for a sustainable peacetime end under the United Nations. Pye also built from the earlier work of the Naval War College. As the Second World War ended, Commodore Richard S. Bates also formed the Battle Studies Group with the assistance of other former Naval War College historians, including Knox and Kittredge. Notably, Bates also later joined forces with John Nicholas Brown II as a founding member of the NWCF. The Bates papers and those of the Battle Studies Group in the historical collections of the Naval War College remain a rich repository of documents and other sources, which will keep historians busy for many years to come.
The American and Joint Origins of Operational Depth in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign
By Thomas Bruscino, PhD
via the Marine Corps University Press web site
Abstract: A common view is that the U.S. military adopted wholesale the Soviet concept of operational depth in the 1970s and 1980s. However, a closer look at U.S. Army concepts, doctrine, and planning reveals that the concept, word, and definition of depth existed in the U.S. military prior to the 1970s. The beginnings of depth in the U.S. Army predate even the great interwar Soviet theorists. The American idea traces to the World War I era, during which it was made manifest in the Joint campaign and operations known as the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
In the mid-1970s, the U.S. military was trying to recover, like the rest of the country, from the travails of the Vietnam War. Since it seemed safe to say that the United States would avoid Vietnam-type interventions for a while, much of its armed forces returned to a more singular focus on a potential war with the Soviet Union in Europe. This focus helped the Services rebuild, and the armed forces improved tremendously in their recruiting, training, education, and technology. Revitalized schools and rigorous training events, especially in Europe, led to a closer look at the Soviet armed forces and their fighting doctrines and theories. Out of such studies of the enemy came the formal adoption into U.S. doctrine of the Soviet concept of operational art, the level of war between strategy and tactics. With Soviet operational art came the tenet of depth.1
Or at least so the story goes. The Soviets, led by such thinkers as Alexander A. Svechin, Mikhail N. Tukhachevsky, Vladimir K. Triandafillov, and Georgii S. Isserson, had invented the concepts of operational art and depth during the interwar period between the First and Second World Wars. Their focus was on the activities of large units—armies, corps, and divisions—in the field, along with a Marxist-Leninist emphasis on revolutionary changes in warfare. For them, operational art was a deviation from the old strategy of a “single point,” whereby armies would maneuver until they came together for a decisive battle. Greater numbers of soldiers, extended ranges and rates of firepower, and the extension of continuous lines had created the necessity of campaigns that consisted of multiple large units engaged in simultaneous, successive, and distributed operations. Depth was the central feature of modern operations that drove operational art. This had been evident in World War I, with deep-echeloned defensive formations and long-range artillery. But the Soviets quickly moved past that depth and focused on the advent of faster and more durable tanks, longer-range attack and bombing aviation, and large long-range airborne units. Their deep operations included deep fires, especially using aviation, simultaneous to the advance of a ground attack on the front lines to achieve a penetration, which would be followed by a breakthrough of mechanized and motorized forces deep into the enemy’s defensive echelons and reserves, causing shock and collapse of enemy forces.2
In the 1970s, the U.S. Army, the confidence of which had been hit especially hard by the Vietnam War, took the lead in the United States in developing more well-defined operational concepts. Through an agreement with the U.S. Air Force, Army leaders developed the operating concept of AirLand Battle in the 1980s. This new operating concept explicitly used operational art and emphasized depth. In Operations, Field Manual (FM) 100-5, published in 1986, offensive depth was described as follows:
Ernest Peixotto: The Enlisted WWI Artist on the Western Front
By Pamela D. Toler
via the historynet.com web site
In late July 1914, American artist Ernest Peixotto and his wife, Mary, returned from a sketching trip in Portugal to the small studio-home in the French village of Samois-sur-Seine that had been their base for 15 years. The town was filled with people enjoying the summer weather: families boating on the river, ladies hosting outdoor tea parties under colored awnings, soldiers on leave sauntering along the streets.
A week later, Germany and France declared war on each other. Overnight, the atmosphere of gaiety disappeared. Five days after the French government posted an order for general mobilization, Peixotto joined the local communal guard. For six weeks, from early August to the First Battle of the Marne on September 12, Peixotto helped patrol the local roads, woods, and fields, watching for spies and deserters.
The Allied victory at the Marne dashed hopes on both sides that the war would be brief. Faced with the prospect of a long and brutal conflict, the Peixottos decided to return to the United States.
Four years later Ernest Peixotto would return to France as one of eight artists attached to the American Expeditionary Forces. As a unit, the uniformed artists were charged with the often conflicting tasks of documenting the war for the historical record while creating stirring images of American soldiers in battle that could be used for propaganda at home.
Peixotto recorded his experiences in sketches and paintings he produced for the War Department and in a powerful memoir of his months as an official army artist, The American Front, published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1919.
Peixotto was born into a prominent San Francisco merchant family in 1869. He studied painting first at San Francisco’s School of Fine Arts and then at the Académie Julian in Paris, one of the most respected art schools in the world at the time. By the time the war began, he was well established as a painter and illustrator. He showed paintings at important exhibitions in Paris, New York, and San Francisco and acquired an international reputation as a muralist. He wrote and illustrated his own travel books, and he illustrated books written by others, including Theodore Roosevelt’s Oliver Cromwell: The Story of His Life and Work (1904).
Check Out Mammoth Cave's Hidden World War I Memorial
By Blake Stilwell
via the Military.com web site
In the years between the first and second world wars, most people thought World War I really was the “War to End All Wars,” and they reacted appropriately. Memorials were raised all over the country to men who died in the trenches “over there.”
At the time, there weren’t really national memorials dedicated to those who died in America’s wars, and those that were built weren’t in Washington, D.C.
A national memorial to the Civil War’s Union soldiers was dedicated on the grounds of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 1897. The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri -- then called the Liberty Memorial -- was dedicated by Congress in 1926.
There are dozens of federally administered monuments, cemeteries and memorials around the world. The nation’s first national memorial was erected in 1780, dedicated to Revolutionary War Gen. Richard Montgomery. Montgomery was killed during the battle to take the war to Quebec.
World War I saw the return of the remains of the Unknown Soldier, who was interred at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a national memorial to those whose remains are unidentified long after the war’s end.
Until the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall was finished in 1982, there were no national memorials to all soldiers and veterans of a single war. Memorials and monuments were built and administered at the state and local level.
After the unprecedented destruction and loss of life that came with World War I, municipalities across the United States began dedicating memorials to their local war dead. Barren County, Kentucky, was no different. Through the local American Legion post, the people of the county placed the tribute to their fallen loved ones inside of nearby Mammoth Cave.
Free speech wasn’t so free 103 years ago, when ‘seditious’ and ‘unpatriotic’ speech was criminalized in the US
By Eric P. Robinson
via The Conversation web site
Just over a century ago, the United States government – in the midst of World War I – undertook unprecedented efforts to control and restrict what it saw as “unpatriotic” speech through passage of the Sedition Act of 1918, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 16 of that year.
The restrictions – and the courts’ reactions to them – mark an important landmark in testing the limits of the First Amendment, and the beginnings of the current understanding of free speech in the U.S.
As a scholar and lawyer focused on freedom of speech in the U.S., I have studied the federal government’s attempts to restrict speech, including during World War I, and the legal cases that challenged them. These cases helped form the modern idea of the First Amendment right of free speech. But the conflict between patriotism and free expression continues to be an issue a century later.
Government’s pursuit of ‘radicals’
The onset of war led to a patriotic fervor, fed by an intense government propaganda campaign. It also led to new challenges to the concept of free speech.
Within a few weeks of declaring war in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act.
This law, which is still largely in effect, makes it a crime to do three things. First, to convey false information in order to interfere with the American military, or promote the success of America’s enemies. Second, to cause or attempt to cause insubordination within the military. Third, to willfully obstruct military recruitment or enlistment.
Both the Obama and Trump administrations used this law to investigate unauthorized leaks of government information, including obtaining reporters’ phone records.
The more restrictive Sedition Act of 1918 went further, amending the Espionage Act to criminalize “disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive” speech about the United States or its symbols; speech to impede war production; and statements supporting a country with which the U.S. is at war.
Turning Sons into Sammies: Just Call It “Camp Quick”
By Mike Nichols
via the Hometown by Handlebar (TX) web site
Imagine the Fort Worth of a century ago. Imagine what the Star-Telegram at the time described as “a wind-swept, untrampled tract of a prairie” on the western edge of town (today’s Casa Manana would be at that edge).
Now imagine that in just three months that wind-swept, untrampled tract of prairie would become decidedly trampled, would become transformed, would become a city of thirty thousand people—the population of Cleburne or Waxahachie or Farmers Branch.
But this instant city would be different. It would have a rifle range, an artillery range, battlefield trenches. And its population of thirty thousand would be mostly male. This was the Army’s Camp Bowie in the summer of 1917, and in terms of America’s response to our declaration of war against Germany in World War I, Camp Bowie was Camp Quick.
Think of it: The United States declared war on April 6. In late May Fort Worth city officials proposed that the Army build one of its planned mobilization camps just west of town.
On June 11 the War Department announced that Fort Worth had indeed been selected for a National Guard mobilization camp.
Camp Bowie would be “operated like a separate city, with the best of water, gas, electric, telephone and street car service.” Northern Texas Traction Company said the route of its Arlington Heights line would be changed to accommodate the camp. Part of the line would also be double-tracked.
Construction of Camp Bowie began on July 18, 1917 as the Army’s 36th Infantry Division was organized from Texas and Oklahoma National Guard troops. Camp commander was Edwin St. John Greble (he not only graduated from West Point but also was born at West Point).
Honoring the Doughboys: Taps at the National World War I Memorial
via the Taps Bugler web site
Taps is sounded each day at 5 pm at the New National World War I Memorial in Washington DC. The National World War I Memorial is located in Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Ave between 14th and 15th Streets.
Taps is sounded by a bugler each day at 5 pm to honor the memory of 4.7 million Americans who finished a fight they did not start, in a land they had never visited, for peace and liberty for people they did not know. We honor those Doughboys who did their ‘bit’ for their country.
The daily sounding of Taps began Monday May 24th and will continue through Veterans Day. The call will be sounded at the foot of the flagpole at the Memorial.
The daily sounding is with cooperation of The WWI Commission, The Doughboy Foundation, The America Battlefield Monuments Commission, the National Park Service and Taps For Veterans.
More than its statuary, the new National World War I Memorial is a public gathering place for reflection on the war that changed the world. It is here in the Nation’s Capital that the playing of Taps—the sonorous 24-note melody embodies egalitarianism, patriotism, democracy, and equality—will enable us to fulfill an obligation to keep faith with the American Doughboy.
17 photos that show how great-grandpa got ready for WWI
By Logan Nye
via the We Are The Mighty web site
Basic training sucks, but it follows a predictable pattern. A bunch of kids show up, someone shaves their heads, and they learn to shoot rifles.
But it turns out that training can be so, so much better than that. In World War I, it included mascots, tarantulas, and snowmen.
Check out these 18 photos to learn about what it was like to prepare for war 100 years ago:
1. If the old photos in the National Archives are any indication, almost no one made it to a training camp without a train ride.
The National World War I Memorial in Washington, D.C.
By Thomas J. Brown
via the HISTORY@WORK (The NCPH Blog) web site
Public monuments chart development within a cultural form at the same time they commemorate historical events. Maya Lin found inspiration in British architect Edwin Lutyens’s enduring World War I monuments when she designed her brilliant Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1981-82). In contrast, the World War I Memorial recently inaugurated with the raising of its first flag in Pershing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C., renews the longstanding American tendency to base commemoration of that conflict on a vocabulary forged in the making of Civil War monuments that glorified war rather than promoting a just peace. This formulaic thinking presents an ironic remembrance of what the World War I Memorial Commission rightly calls “the war that changed the world” and misses an opportunity to participate in an extraordinary period in the history of public monuments.
The projected focal point of the new memorial, Sabin Howard’s sixty-foot-long frieze “A Soldier’s Journey,” tells a stock tale about warfare as maturation. The sequence of thirty-eight larger-than-life-sized figures scheduled for installation in 2024 begins with a soldier taking leave of his family. Most figures appear in scenes of combat, imagined as a dramatic charge into a tumultuous battlefield where some doughboys fall dead or wounded. A sculpture in which the hero stands upright and looks directly outward in the aftermath of the ordeal highlights the forward momentum of the composition. Triumphant soldiers marching beneath the American flag separate the war zone from home, to which the protagonist returns at the end of the frieze. The narrative proposes a parallel between the individual and the nation both “coming of age through the conflict.”
Hundreds of Civil War monuments told similar stories in the quarter-century before World War I, and American remembrance of the Great War was remarkable for the extent to which the country stuck to its established patterns rather than sharing in Allied responses to the unprecedented event. Jennifer Wingate’s Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (2013) reports that more than 60% of American soldier statues depicted combat scenes. The centerpiece of Howard’s frieze follows directly from E. M. Viquesney’s best-selling Spirit of the American Doughboy (1920) and Karl Illava’s 107th Infantry Memorial in Central Park (1924-27). British and French monuments generally did not exalt danger and aggressive energy. Within the figurative tradition endorsed by the American centennial commission, for example, veteran Charles Sargeant Jagger’s Royal Artillery Memorial in Hyde Park (1922-25) demonstrated the potential for innovation in designing a monument as a powerful, sensitive witness. The most widely adopted British stock statues featured soldiers in a mourning pose with weapon inverted rather than modeling the belligerence common in US Civil War monuments since the 1890s.
Persistence in pre-World War I commemorative convention is especially disappointing in a monument commissioned a century after the event, when the passage of time and a vast scholarship have further illuminated its significance. Philippe Prost’s The Ring of Remembrance in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire, France (2011-14), shows that a thoughtful memorial might animate a past that no longer draws on the force of living memory. This variation on monumental listing of names honors 579,606 soldiers from forty different countries who died in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. The monument recognizes the tragic results of militarized nationalism in World War I and underscores that European cooperation since the 1950s, especially the partnership of France and Germany, is one of the central achievements of modern history. The emphasis of the Washington centennial project on American emergence as a world power is a less timely theme and disregards the disastrous World War I consequences for which the United States shared responsibility.