Category: neverforgotten

                                   “They did not cheer at the sight of their native shores”

“The return voyage was lacking the
excitement and adventure of the trip to France, more than two years before.
Those veterans who were fortunate enough to come back had developed character
and seriousness: to them, life could never again be the same. In the lines of
their faces was written the inflexible resolution that had swept them over the
enemy’s strongest resistance, and in their steady eyes was the look that had
calmly faced death in every form. Their early excitement had given place to
sober contemplation, and they did not cheer at the sight of their native
shores.”

September 5 1919, part of the
famous 1st Division arrives home, in Hoboken, New Jersey, see photo History
of the First Division During the World War, 1917-1919 
Photos: September 1919,
“1st Division at Sea”. The close-ups

show these soldiers’
stern and weary faces –
National Archives

Note: The First Infantry Division also known as
the “Fighting First” earned the distinction of being:The First
permanent division in the regular Army – The First American
division to land in France – The First American division in the
trenches – The First American division to fight
in WW1 and suffer combat casualties – The First
to use modern, combined arms operations – The First
to defeat the enemy at the Battle of Cantigny.

First Division Museum

                              
“We are going to do a bit of landscape work in a small
way”

‘August 27 1919, Paris – Yesterday morning I
received my Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Army after two years and two months of service, long enough
for me – Am now a civilian – Today I signed a contract with the American Army
to take care of the work at the cemetery at Suresnes, just thirty minutes from
Paris. The A.E.F. has a cemetery there with over a thousand graves which has to
be in good shape. The work will be done by French labor and does not amount to
very much after things are once put in to shape. My salary is 150 dollars a
month which will just about let my wife and I live but then it was a case of
take that or starve to death while I was awaiting developments…’

Several
weeks later, Allen Peck writes about his work for the cemetery:

‘Spent the day in inspecting and obtaining
prices on evergreen
trees and various species of plants for forming hedges – Walked through miles
of nurseries – We are going to do a bit of landscape work in a small
way: about forty trees of about six or seven varieties, and a hedge across the
back of the grounds to form a sort of back curtain or screen to set off the
white crosses and the various shades of evergreens. I don’t know
how it will finally look, but I trust, all right.’

American
aviator who just married a French lady and decided to settle in France for a
while – Allen Peck’s WW1 Letters Home 1917-1919 – Photos: 1918 & 1919, scenes at the
American Cemetery of Suresnes – Gallica, Library of Congress, APS Library

                                                           “He is a ten-second man”

The Inter-Allied Games, June 22 to July
6, 1919

“Early in July, General Pershing, commander of all American troops in Europe, proudly presented a medal to private Sol Butler after Butler won
the broad jump competition in Inter-Allied games in France”

“Solomon Butler, sprinter and broader jumper lived up to his reputation of being an athlete who would never disappoint his followers. At the
Pershing Stadium in Paris, France, as a member of
the American Team which
participated in the Inter-Allied games, Solomon Butler added new laurels to his
crown already studded with symbols of many victories. As a sprinter he is a ten-second man, a slow starter, but a whirlwind finisher. For some reason, which has not come to our attention,
he was eliminated in the sprints overseas. Undaunted by his failure to place in the sprints, Butler came back in the broad jump, his specialty, with a vim. With his usual
perfect take-off and a vicious kick in mid air, he landed 7.48 metres (a little
more than 24 feet and four inches) from the take-off, a test which ranks
him among the great broad jumpers of all times. The world’s record is 24 feet
11½ inches…”

Red
Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America

Half-century Magazine, Volumes 6-7 – Photos: July
1919,
American athlete Solomon Butler

at the inter-allied games, Paris,  –
Gallica, France & University of Massachusetts
Amherst

Note: Video of Solomon Butler
jumping in the 1919 Inter-Allied Games here. He is the second jumper

                    “toward the magnificent,
awesome New York skyline”

‘The USS Alaskan was tied to the docks
at St. Nazaire
, France. It was July 3, 1919, one day before Jack Dempsey’s
famous bout with Jess Willard
. The stinking odor of aged mutton had
followed us from the embarkation barracks. The Alaskan is a slow old tub and it
took her twelve days to reach New York. When she steamed and wheezed into the harbor,
tugs and ocean liners tooted a heart-warming welcome.
I looked toward the magnificent, awesome New York skyline. For a brief moment,
I envisioned the broad expanse of America, stretching from
the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, and to the beautiful Pacific Coast.
The mental picture thrilled me to the bone. It had been well worth fighting for.’

American soldiers’ July 4th 1919, at sea – Hobo trail to nowhere – Photo: July 3 1919, these same
American soldiers returning home on the Alaskan – The USS Alaskan

While serving in Coblenz,
Germany, American soldier Henry Gerber found the Hirschfeld’s
Scientific-Humanitarian Committee
. He later wrote:

“In Coblenz on the Rhine, I subscribed to German gay magazines and made
several trips to Berlin, which was then not occupied by American forces. I had
always bitterly felt the injustice with which my own American society accused
the homosexual of ‘immoral acts.’

“What could be done about it, I thought. Unlike Germany, where the
homosexual was partially organized and where sex legislation was uniform for
the whole country, the United States was in a condition of chaos and
misunderstanding concerning its sex laws, and no one was trying to unravel the
tangle and bring relief to the abused.”


Note: the large, organized movement to secure
civil rights for gay people in Germany gave Henry Gerber
a new sense of possibility. After serving 3 years in Germany, he returned home to Chicago determined to
begin a parallel effort in America.

However, few others were willing to take the risks that such
activism entailed. Even though gay communities were growing in Chicago and
other cities during the 1910s and ‘20s, official repression could still come
down swiftly and heavily. Finally, in December, 1924, Gerber and his allies founded
the Society for Human Rights, America’s first-known gay rights
organization.

Text Sources:
Henry Gerber

Washington Blade PBS – Photo: 1920, partying in Berlin @ Janwillemsen

                                   

“Cut out the flags and the
hurrahs”

 

June 1919, Richmond, Virginia

A returning African-American soldier
saluting a personification of Virginia implores her: “Your Honor Miss — Cut out the flags and
the hurrahs. Abolish the Jim Crow laws… 
Do something of consequence for us.”

Note: American troops returned to the United States to joyous homecoming parades.
Nonetheless, Virginia’s entrenched segregation mandated that black soldiers
march on different days and along different routes from their white comrades.

Photo:
WW1 American soldier Harvey Elm Braxton of Virginia served in the
Infantry and participated in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive – “True Sons of Freedom”, Library of
Virginia & Richmond Free Press

“You learn a lot about someone when
you share a meal together” Anthony Bourdain

1918, France, “The Banquet”,  American ambulance drivers and French soldiers eating al fresco together – Library of Congress

                                            
   

“waiting, waiting, waiting”

   

“Why we’re here:
we’re here because we can’t
get home. The ocean is too wide, If it was narrow as the
Rhine, We’d swim to the other side. So we’re waiting, waiting waiting
until the ocean’s dry, then we’ll hike back to God’s country to Mother and
mince pie.”

June 1919, American
soldiers in France & Germany, waiting to go home – The Amaroc News: The Daily Newspaper of the
American Forces in Germany
  – Photo: spring 1919, American soldiers
in Brest, France, waiting to sail home –Tom Caulley

                                      

“Leave
me unknown where long sweet grasses stir”

‘I cannot love these trim and ordered graves,

Set in straight rows, each with its monument,

So heavily defying earth’s intent.

Leave me unknown where long sweet grasses stir,

With flowers and little wild feet overrun;

Where the spring wind shall be my messenger,

Voicing the radiant freedom I have won.

Let the wide planet be my sepulcher—

My casual ministrants her storm and sun.’

1919, “In a Cemetery” by Marion Couthouy Smith – Photo:
WW1, France, “left unknown where long sweet grasses stir” – Anzac Portal

Memorial Day 1919, Suresne American Cemetery, France

    “Pour votre demain, ils ont donné
leur aujourd’hui – For your tomorrow, they gave their today”

Speaking of the high respect of the French people
for Memorial Day, an American volunteer writes: “For
three days men, women and children gathered flowers and
foliage for wreaths to decorate the American graves on May 30. All over France, the day was
set apart, and even isolated resting-places of American soldiers
were remembered.” Source

Photo: Memorial day 1919, French people and children bringing flowers to decorate the American graves – Ministère de la Culture, France

Note: 2 years later, in 1921, same high respect:  Photos
showing children decorating American graves all over France –
“Memorial Day in France – All American Tombs Decorated by French Children”