"This chill November morning the Cenotaph is surrounded by serried masses of men. Up and down Whitehall as far as one can see are thousands and thousands packed in so tightly they cannot move...Suddenly from St. James Park comes the sound of a gun. They used to say it was impossible for a British crowd to be quiet. That was before Armistice Day. For the hum of London dies at the sound of the gun...Somewhere in the distance a horse paws the ground and neighs. A flag flaps in the breeze. Never such a silence as this. A King and his people pause sixty seconds in solemn celebration for the dead. It is the Great Hush."
Aside from scanning and posting vast numbers of historic magazine articles, the only other activity that has heightened our sense of inner tranquility has been our various walks through British and Commonwealth World War I graveyards. They are truly unique and beautiful gardens that can be appreciated on a number of different levels and it was not surprising to learn that many of the finest aesthetic minds in Britain had a hand in their creation.
This article, printed six months after the last shot was fired, is about the Imperial War Graves Commission (now called The Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and their plans as to how the dead of the British Empire were to be interred.
Click here to read about a 1920 visit the grave of poet Rupert Brooke.
*Watch a Quick Clip About the Commonwealth War Graves Commission *
Eighteen years after the last shot was fired in World War I, Americans collectively wondered, as they began to think about all the empty chairs that were setting at so many family dinner tables, "Do the French care about all that we sacrificed? Do they still remember that we were there?" In response to this question, an American veteran who remained behind in France, submitted the attached article to "The American Legion Monthly" and answered with a resounding "Yes" on all six pages:
"...I can assure you that the real France, the France of a thousand and one villages in which we were billeted; the France of Lorraine peasants, of Picardy craftsmen, of Burgundy winegrowers - remembers, with gratitude, the A.E.F. and its contribution to the Allied victory."
The article is accompanied by eight photographs of assembled Frenchmen decorating American grave sites.
Click here to read about the foreign-born soldiers who served in the American Army of the First World War.
A printable piece from a 1945 COLLIER'S MAGAZINE outlining how Sergeant Edward F. Younger (died August 6, 1942) selected which of the four unidentified Doughboys set before him would be interred in the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery.
An article that appeared in an American veterans magazine concerning the pageantry that would mark the Memorial Day of 1920 at each of the primary A.E.F. cemeteries in France.
"More than 127,000 American soldiers, sailors and Marines gave up their lives during the war...Total battle deaths in the A.E.F. killed in action and died of wounds were 50,329 including casualties in the Siberian force. Deaths from disease including the A.E.F. and men in the home cantonments, were 58,837...No American field of honor will be without it's Memorial Day ceremony, no American grave without its flag and its flowers..."
An interesting article that was written at a time it was believed that the A.E.F. cemeteries were going to be closed and the interred repatriated. There is a photograph of an early prototype headstone that was later rejected in favor of a stone cross; references are made to Suresnes Cemetery in Paris.
Ten years after Congress decided to enter the war in Europe, James Truslow Adams (1878 – 1949) wrote this article that appeared in THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY in which he noted that one of the maladies of the modern era was the creation of a new type of collective thinking that celebrated "the common man":
"Man has always delighted to honor the great...But now for the first time whole nations, and those the most enlightened, have come to honor the man of whom we know nothing: the Unknown Soldier. As a matter of unfortunate fact, the particular body may be that of one who fought the draft to the last ditch and was a slacker in service. That, however, is of course wholly irrelevant; for it is not really the Unknown Soldier who thus receives the almost religious adoration of his people, but the Common Man, for that is what he is intending to typify..."