Normally this is the day I post the poem, Flanders field
. This morning I came across a touching article about the first Veterans honored in America. They should not have been forgotten
So here we are now, 101 years after the Armistice of 1918, and many Americans have all but forgotten World War I. Americans reenact the Civil War, salute the remaining veterans of World War II with Honor Flights to the monuments and Arlington National Cemetery and for years have remembered Vietnam War Vets with Rolling Thunder on Memorial Day. (That holiday honors all war dead.) But where are the World War I remembrance ceremonies on this important day that ushered in the many wars of the last century?
The nation's capital has a tremendous World War II memorial, a moving Korean War Memorial and an iconic Vietnam War Memorial. The only World War I memorial in the city is a small stone gazebo, dedicated to those who served from Washington, D.C. A new national World War I memorial is planned near the White House, but it's now more than 100 years since the guns were silenced. It's too late for those troops. They're long gone and mostly faded from our collective memory. But, here's the story of one of them.
Sgt. Charles Kelley, Company C of the 12th Machine Gun Battalion, joined Gen. Pershing's American Expeditionary Forces in France in late summer of 1918. He was 18 years old. During the Meuse-Argonne offensive, which began in September 1918, Kelley, according to Pentagon records, "led his platoon in the attack with great bravery against strongly held enemy trenches. Shortly after reaching his objective he was wounded in the throat. He refused to be evacuated, but continued to actively command his men until the night of Oct. 1, by which time, due to his wound, he had lost the power of speech."
The Meuse-Argonne offensive was the single bloodiest battle in American history with more than 26,000 Americans killed. For his heroism, Sgt. Kelley was honored with the Distinguished Service Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. My family has worked to get him upgraded to a posthumous Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery, but the Army says too much time has passed. There are no more eyewitnesses. It's true. We â€” his family â€” had never realized his heroism while he was alive. We never realized what the initials DSC meant on his gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery. It was only a few years ago that we looked up his records to see what he'd done to earn this high honor.
I have been to the Memorial of which she writes. It's not far from the MLK Jr Memorial. It is small and almost forgotten to many, very much symbolizing those who have gone away since the first World War.
I pray we don't have a third. Thank you to all who served.