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..."
An eye-witness account of the construction of the American Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in Romagne, France:
"They are now gathering up the bodies of the 26,000 American boys who were killed on the Argonne-Meuse battlefield, and are burying them in a great cemetery at Romagne, a little town in the heart of the region where the fighting took place. Here and there all over the battlefield are stakes, each marking the grave of an American soldier who was buried where he fell."
"In one of the office buildings a large force of clerks is keeping the records of the dead; no banking firm could be more careful of its accounts than are these clerks...and their superiors of their registration of graves."
"France has given three fields of honor at Romagne, Thiacort and at Beaumont".
This short notice from an American military newspaper reported that four percent of the American dead were considered unidentifiable.
Written five years after the Armistice, this is an article about the eight U.S. W.W. I cemeteries that were erected in Europe (with the help of German P.O.W. labor) and the money that was set aside by the veterans of The American Legion to aid in the upkeep of these memorials:
- from Amazon:
The American flag is still in Europe, even tho the last Doughboy has left the Rhine. It floats over eight cemeteries, six in France, one in Belgium and one in England...It is the high honor of the American Legion to represent the American people in the fulfillment of the sacred national obligation of decorating the graves of our soldiers abroad on Memorial Day. The Legion pledges itself always to remember and honor our dead on foreign soil on the day when the heart of all Americans is thrilling with reverence for them."
The difficult task of wandering the war-torn countryside of Europe in search of fallen World War I American pilots fell to a U.S. Army captain named E.W. Zinn. A combat pilot himself, Zinn had roamed France, Belgium and Germany interviewing the local population to see what they knew of American crash sites:
"Many times he has come upon a grave with a rude cross on which was scrawled:
'Unidentified American Aviator' or 'Two Unidentified American Aviators'"
"Captain Zinn has found that in a great many cases American fliers were buried either by the Germans or by civilians with no mark of identification left on them."
Click here to read some statistical data about the American Doughboys of the First World War.