About 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois, answered the call to serve their country between 1917-1919 during World War I. About 65 of them died during the war and never made it back home. The following pages are from “An Honor Roll, containing a pictorial record of the gallant and courageous men from DeKalb County, Illinois, U.S.A., who served in the Great War 1917 – 1918 – 1919,” published by the DeKalb Chronicle Publishing Company shortly after the conclusion of the war. These men are among the “gallant and courageous men” who did not make it home. They had earned their families a “Gold Star,” which was a designation that started in WWI, and denoted that the family had lost a loved one in combat. This was a visual symbol to the community that the family had lost a loved one in the war. (Learn more about the Gold Stars tradition here.) This Memorial Day, I’d like to remember the service of these men who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Continue reading “DeKalb County’s Gold Stars, 1919”
Christmas on the German Front — 100 years ago
One hundred years ago, my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser wrote a Christmas letter home to his mother. He had just received his Christmas box that his mother sent. Below is a transcription of that Christmas letter.
(Click here to read the full letter.)
Continue reading “Christmas on the German Front — 100 years ago”
Film Review: “They Shall Not Grow Old”
A stunning portrayal of soldiers’ lives during WWI
This past Monday, I went to a screening of Peter Jackson’s new WWI documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old. I went into the theater with high expectations, and this film definitely surpassed all of them. It brings to life the old archival footage in a way that has never been seen before. It truly allows you to travel back in time, and to experience history as the soldiers saw it. This film will be the closest you’ll ever be to actually experiencing the life of a WWI soldier on the Western Front, and horrors of war that they saw. It is a fitting tribute to the men and women who lived and died during this war. Continue reading “Film Review: “They Shall Not Grow Old””
A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago
Remembering the end of WWI, 100 years ago today
One hundred years ago today, the Armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, which ceased the hostilities on the Western Front, and that ended World War One. When the war ended, my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser had been serving in the Army for 14 months, and had been on the front lines with the U.S. Army 32nd Division for many of the major military campaigns of the war. He was one of about 1,000 men from DeKalb County, Illinois to enlist in the service, and was one of the 4.7 million American soldiers to serve during the war. He was sent to the European front in February of 1918. This photo (right) was taken with some of his (unidentified) fellow soldiers near Haute Alsace just after they arrived in France. Glenn sent it to his mother along with this letter in June 1918. He had participated in battles in the Aisne-Marne Campaign, the Oise-Aisne Campaign, and finally the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. Like many of the soldiers on the Western Front, my great-grandfather could tell that the war was drawing to a close, but was very anxious to see it finally end. Glenn and his unit were engaged in battle until the last hours before the Armistice took effect. He and his unit had indeed been up for two nights getting into battle positions and marching through tough roads. When the guns finally fell silent at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, I’m sure that the men were relieved that the war was over, and also in that moment, relieved that they could get some sleep. He wrote to his mother on Nov. 12, the day after the Armistice took effect, to describe his relief and his commitment to making the peace last.
Below is an excerpt from the letter that Glenn sent his mother the day after the Armistice was signed. See the original letter and read the entire text here. Continue reading “A Kaiser at the War’s End: 100 years ago”
Letters from a Kaiser in the Great War
In celebration of my 50th blog post, and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, I have a very special announcement! In a previous post, I introduced my great-grandfather Glenn Kaiser, who served in the American Army during World War I. During 1918-1919, he was stationed in France and Germany along the front lines. Like many soldiers at the front, he sent frequent letters home to his family. I am currently scanning and transcribing some of the surviving letters that he sent home during his time abroad. I’ll be sharing these letters on a special section on my blog, starting today! The first batch of letters include some of his letters from training before he was sent overseas.
As a special preview of the project, here’s a letter from Glenn Kaiser to his mother, Jennie Holbrook, written 100 years ago today. Continue reading “Letters from a Kaiser in the Great War”