Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, August 11, 2017

Inscriptions Needed for the new WWI Memorial at Pershing Square

Readers of Roads to the Great War and the St. Mihiel Trip-Wire know that I have been a strong supporter for building a National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC.  You may have read that the National WWI Commission's design has been unanimously approved by both the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission, the agencies that have primary design approval authority for the memorial.  With those approvals, the detailed design work is proceeding with the aim of holding a ground breaking on the site in November.

One Perspective of the Approved Design

Mr.  Edwin Fountain, Vice Chairman of the WWI Centennial Commission, who is heading up the effort to design and build the memorial, has contacted me to ask for assistance from our readers.  Mr. Fountain provided a nice summary of what is now needed for the memorial project: 

"Apt quotations are often powerful elements of memorials, and we plan to include similar inscriptions at the WWI memorial.  Hence, this request to you:  Could you please identify what you consider to be worthy quotations for inclusion on the memorial.  There are no restrictions on what might be a suitable quotation (other than probably being limited to a paragraph in length)–we are looking for:

  • Quotations from generals and statesmen as  well as Doughboys, loved ones, and civilians
  • Quotes from Americans as well as allies and adversaries
  • Quotations not just about the accomplishments of American troops, but about the nature of the battle, the costs and sacrifice, geopolitical aspects of the war, the socio-cultural aspects of the war in the U.S., the effects of the war on the home front, etc.
  • Quotations from those who experienced the war and those who served in it. 
  • Quotations reflecting the diversity of service and contributions from all segments of American society
  • Quotations from speeches, press reports, official reports, and histories as well as diaries, letters, memoirs, poems, songs, etc.
There is a general preference for contemporary writings, but retrospective commentary some years after the fact might be considered as well."

Here are some examples from other American war memorials:

"Uncommon Valor Was A Common Virtue"  and "Semper Fidelis"
U.S. Marine Corps Memorial

"We have met the enemy and they are ours."  and "Sighted sub, sank same"
U.S. Navy Memorial

"Kilroy Was Here,"  and
"Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln one the eighteenth century father and the other the nineteenth century preserver of our nation, we honor those twentieth century Americans who took up the struggle during the Second World War and made the sacrifices to perpetuate the gift of our forefathers entrusted to us: a nation conceived in liberty and justice."
U.S. World War II Memorial

Another View of the Memorial, General Pershing in Distance

Mr. Fountain and I would like you, our readers, to check your memories and your own libraries for appropriate quotes and submit them for considerations.

There are  three ways to submit your recommendations. These can be done anonymously or with your name and  address or hometown included. Submittals are needed by 1 October 2017.

1.  Through Roads to the Great War, just publish in the comments section to this page.

2.  Send it to me via email to:

(For methods 1&2 I'll aggregate them with your name and seen them to Mr. Fountain.)

3.  Send directly to Mr. Fountain at

This is a chance for you to make a lasting contribution to the effort to honor the service and sacrifices of all those American who served in the war.

Mike Hanlon, Editor/Publisher

PS:  Don't worry that someone else might have sent in the same quote.  The commission needs to know if a quote is widely admired.


  1. No fountains or water. They erode and have to be fixed all the time. Plus pets and people get in them often.
    T. Morgan

  2. "Young lads crying for their mothers as they went over the top." It's what my great Grandmother reported from the boys who came home.

  3. From Secretary of War Newton Baker to MG William S. Graves upon receiving the mission to go to Siberia: "Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite."

    from John House

  4. "I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold."

    Author: 1st.Lt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC, at Soissons, 19 July 1918

  5. I have found your American Army the most honorable of all our enemies. You have also been the bravest of our enemies and in fact the only ones who have attacked us seriously in this year’s battles. I therefore honor you, and, now that the war is over, I stand ready, for my part, to accept you as a friend.”
    —Chief of Staff for General v. Einem, commander of the Third German Army

  6. "Today I can look back on those days and appreciate what they meant to me. Even now I relive the unforgettable days spent above the fields of France. What is life without memories?"

    "Nothing compares to the pleasures of flying in an open cock pit."

    "There was always an element of fear deep down in every man seated there (in an SE5a), but very few allowed this feeling to come to the surface. Most men in the business faced the fact: 'that what is to be, will be.'"

    William C. Lambert, 24 Squadron

  7. The woods was a trackless jungle and there was Germans in trees, behind woodpiles, in ravines, hid in piles of stone. We had to advance tree to tree, looking all around to see where those shots were coming from. It was like playing Hide & Seek, only if you lost you were out for keeps. ---- Corporal Joseph E. Rendinell