Friday, January 25, 2013

Saint Louis Native, Nancy Coonsman Hahn, sculpted WWI Memorial for Missourians who died in France during the War

Nancy Coonsman Hahn (1887-1976) studied sculpture at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and won many commissions for large memorials and public fountains.  One such commission was to sculpt a memorial to Missouri soldiers who died in France during WWI. This commission was unique because the memorial was to be located in France. According to an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on June 25, 1922, the memorial was to be erected on the historic highway between Cheppy and Varennes on a triangular piece of land about half a mile from Cheppy.  This location was significant because it was “connected with some of the most stirring annals of the Thirty-Fifth Division." This Division along with the Eighty-Ninth Division contained the bulk of Missouri troops that participated in the War.

The Memorial to the U. S. 35th Division and the Men of the State of Missouri. The monument was erected in 1922 and is located south of the village of Cheppy, France on the D19, between Varennes en Argonne and Montfaucon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Missouri Farmer to General of the Armies: The Transformation of John J. Pershing

During nearly forty years of service, General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing  rose from a frontier cavalry officer to the leader of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. His military skill transformed the nearly nonexistent American Army into a professional fighting force that changed the course of the Great War.  In 1919, Pershing was promoted to General of the Armies of the United States - the highest possible officer rank in the US Army. The only other man to ever hold this rank was George Washington. 

This week, Over There project staff visited Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site to gain insight into how a humble upbringing in Laclede, Missouri, influenced one of the greatest military leaders in American history.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Myrl Billings & The Harlem Hellfighters

Photo Courtesy of Shannon Kelly
A grave marker, flanked by both an American and French flag, rests in the Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Springfield, Missouri. The name on the marker is Myrl Billings. Billings was a Springfield native African American who fought in World War I with the 369th Regiment of the New York National Guard. He was the only African American soldier from Springfield to receive the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action during World War I.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Day Over There

Jan 1st New Year's Day.

We are beginning a new era in our lives today. I started the New Year by peaceful sleep, unaware of its entrance. There was no celebration by the German people. The question is what have we to look forward to? One conversation is that it cannot be any worse than last year. Moral - some do and some don't. Ask them all.