Veterans Day, 2021

It’s November 11, 2021, and time to remember those who serve now, those who’ve served our country in the past, as well as all those on the home front, all doing their best to keep us safe.

This is also a day to reflect on and remember all those who served in WWI, “the War that Changed the World,” and to remember that the WWI Armistice went into effect at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. We should honor all Americans who served in WWI. We lose all those who served during WWII each day, and too few are left, but the veterans of WWI are now all gone.

Soldier C.E. Jacob at Camp Hancock, Dec. 1917; collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

A military base that was active in Georgia during WWI is in the Augusta area. “During the war, Augusta was home to one of the largest military camps in the United States, Camp Hancock, which opened in 1917. The area experienced all aspects of the First World War including the Spanish Influenza, the expansion of female and African American military roles, and the impact of the war on civilians.”

An online exhibit about Camp Hancock, compiled mostly with images donated by my late friend Joseph M. Lee III, is found online at the Augusta Museum of History.

Postcard postmarked 1918, Camp Hancock, Augusta, GA, “exchange”; colllecton of E. Lee Eltzroth

A soldier posted to Camp Hancock during WWI, the brother (“Encr.”?) of Miss Gertie Moor Holmes of Pennsylvania, wrote a chatty note to her that he’d read there was already “enough snow up there” on a postcard scene of the “post exchange” (pictured) where candy and tobacco products could be had.

That note is quite different from that written on Nov. 6, 1918, by a soldier named Roy who was stationed at Camp Gordon, near Atlanta [see my prior post about Camp Gordon]. He was more realistic than the fellow writing his sister, when he wrote to a friend that he hadn’t written before because “my time here has been taken up with drilling and studying from morning until night that I barely found time to write home. The work here is different. It is physically strenuous & mentally taxing. I have met with many obstacles & overcame them in such manner as to instill confidence in my outcome.”

In closing and regarding WW I, here is an Archibald MacLeish poem with which I was unfamiliar prior to composing this post.

The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak

Nevertheless they are heard in the still houses: who has not heard them? 

They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.

They say, We were young. We have died. Remember us.

They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.

They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.

They say, Our deaths are not ours: they are yours: they will mean what you make them.

They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say: it is you who must say this.

They say, We leave you our deaths: give them their meaning: give them an end to the war and a true peace: give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards: give them their meaning.

We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs, without written permission from this blog’s author, is prohibited. With permission, excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

3 comments

  1. Excellent and thank you for this! Such a poignant reminder of what this day really means. This poem really brought it home to me.

    1. Thanks for reading, Katrina.

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