Read short biographies of each person depicted on the panel below.
On July 25, 1873 Anne Tracy Morgan was born at her family’s country estate, “Cragston”, on the Hudson River at Highland Falls in New York. She is the youngest of four children to parents John Pierpont Morgan and Frances Louisa Tracy Morgan.
Being the daughter of finance magnate John Pierpont Morgan, Anne was educated privately and grew up among the immense wealth amassed by her father. This upbringing influenced her toward charitable works, and Morgan built significantly on the efforts of her father in helping others through targeted philanthropy during and after both WWI and WWII.
As early as 1903, Morgan lived and worked in France near the town of Versailles. Owing to this she travelled frequently between her villa there and her home of New York City. A very active member of the socialite class, Morgan participated in many social and charitable groups. She hosted a salon at her residence in Versailles beginning in 1903, where “intelligent, self-educated, and educating women … adopted and implemented the values of the Enlightenment.” (Dena Goodman, Republic of Letters). Also in 1903 she worked with other wealthy heiresses such as Ann Vanderbilt to found the Colony Club – the first women’s social club in New York City.
In addition to these social activities, beginning in 1910 Morgan worked as an activist for workers unions. In 1912 she began her first organized forays into public relief by co-founding the Society for the Prevention of Useless Gift Giving. In 1915 she was awarded a medal by the US National Institute of Social Sciences for her contributions to the field. With the outbreak of WWI Morgan established a home for the wounded staffed by international volunteers and paid local workers. During this time she also became very active with the American Fund for French Wounded and would remain so for the rest of her life. After the war, along with Anne Murray Dike, Morgan founded the American Committee for Devastated France. This group restored homes, shops, churches, and monuments; built barracks for the homeless; provided seed and livestock; established medical dispensaries, clinics, rest houses, and traveling canteens for soldiers; and provided training for the disabled, along with schools, libraries, and summer camps.
This work continued with the onset of and following the end of WWII, and Morgan was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and was made a commander of the Legion of Honor – the first American woman to receive that award.
She passed at the age of 78 on January 29, 1952 in Mount Kisco, in New York.
In memory of Morgan, a four story townhouse built in Sutton Place in 1921 for her was donated as a gift to the United Nations in 1972. Today it is the official residence for the United States Security- General.
John Arthur Johnson was born March 31, 1878 in Galveston, Texas. Johnson was the third child of nine and raised by parents, Henry and Tina Johnson who worked as a janitor and a dishwasher. Both parents were former slaves. Johnson went to school for five years before being expected to go into the workforce. Although he was growing up in the south, Johnson recalls his activities in his non-racial childhood of “ growing up with a "gang" of white boys, in which he never felt victimized or excluded.”
As a scrawny kid, Jack Johnson quickly became a carriage painter apprentice to Walter Lewis, who loved boxing. Lewis’ passion rubbed off and it was during this time that Johnson learned how to hit — and hard. His first official fight was against Davie Pearson, a man who accused Johnson of turning him into the police over a game of craps. While in jail Johnson met Joe Choynski who he credits he learned his boxing skills from. Johnson grew to become the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915) at the height of the Jim Crow Era.
Noted documentarian Ken Burns said “for more than 13 years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth.” This fame extended outside of the ring to the Allied war effort at the outset of WWI. The day before Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, Johnson had successfully defended his heavyweight title in Paris. When war broke out several weeks later, Johnson – then in Russia – set out for Paris and announced that he would donate the vehicles in his motorcade to the French Army. He received an ecstatic welcome and an honorary post as a colonel in France’s Army.
Johnson’s lavish lifestyle and flamboyantly confident personality were at odds with the “gentleman boxers” who had defined the sport from the beginning. His talent as a fighter, and the money that came with it, made it impossible for the establishment to ignore Johnson. In these ways, Johnson foreshadowed one of the most famous boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali, who spoke often of how Johnson influenced his fighting style as well as how much he identified with him in feeling ostracized by much of America.
Jack Johnson became a charter member of the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 – eight years after his death in a car crash – and also is included in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Johnson’s story still lives and was the basis for the 1970 play and movie The Great White Hope. His fight with Tommy Burns became a contemporary documentary the Burns- Johnson Fight in 1908. In 2005 Ken Burns created and produced a two part documentary about Johnson’s life called Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. Daniele Bolelli created a three part podcast about Johnson’s life called History on Fire. Miles Davis created an album in 1971 in honor of Johnson called A Tribute to Jack Johnson.
Walter Lippmann was born into an upper middle class German- Jewish family in New York City in 1889 to parents Jacob and Daisy Baum Lippmann.
Lippmann was a highly influential writer, reporter and political commentator during the first half of the 20th century. He won two Pulitzer Prizes and is regarded by many as the “Father of Modern Journalism.”
Lippmann attended Harvard University after graduating at the age of 17 from New York’s Dwight School to pursue studying philosophy and languages ( he spoke German and French). Upon graduation, he immediately went to work writing. Journalism, media criticism, and amateur philosophy all fell within the sphere of his interest and quickly came within the pull of his influence. In 1913 he started The New Republic magazine with Walter Weyl and Herbert Croly, the latter of whom – at the request of Lippmann – would back Woodrow Wilson for the presidency using his considerable political sway. This connection led Lippmann to be commissioned as a captain in the Army on June 28, 1918 rather than being conscripted as a foot soldier. He was a member of the American Commission to negotiate peace in December of that year and returned home in February 1919 after just 8 months in the military. In 1920 he published his book Liberty and the News in hopes to reconcile the tension between liberty and democracy.
Lippmann secured a post as an advisor to President Wilson and helped draft the “Fourteen Points” speech. He also was severely critical of the President’s appointee for head of wartime propaganda, George Creel. He advised Wilson that censorship should “never be entrusted to anyone who is not himself tolerant, nor to anyone who is unacquainted with the long record of folly which is the history of suppression.”
Lippmann examined the coverage of news stories and saw many biased and inaccurate reports. He collaborated with Charles Menz in a 1920 study entitled A Test of the News exposing that The New York Times’ coverage of the Bolshevik revolution was biased and inaccurate. Later on, Lippmann was the first to coin the term “Cold War” in his 1947 book by the same name.
Following WWI, Lippmann served as an unofficial advisor to several presidents and was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon B. Johnson for his decades of service helping to safeguard the freedom and objectivity of the press.
Lippmann retired from his column and most writings in 1967. He died a few years later in 1974 due to cardiac arrest.
The United States Postal Service honored Lippmann by creating a six cents stamp of him in the Great Americans series.
George Smith Patton Jr. was born on November 11, 1885 in San Gabriel, California, to George Smith Patton Sr. and his wife Ruth Wilson. He was the first born of two children.
You could say George Patton was born to be “Old Blood and Guts,” as his troops would call him. He was a boy in California fed a diet of family war stories ranging from the American Revolution to the Civil War. Inspired to keep this service tradition, Patton applied to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point at the young age of 17. He applied to many universities through the Reserve Officers Training Corps programs, was accepted into Princeton, but eventually attended the Virginia Military Institute just like his father and grandfather, where he would perform exceptionally well in uniform inspections and drill. California’s senator nominated him for West Point in 1904. He would have to repeat his first year due to poor skills in reading and writing, but Patton graduated from West Point on June 11, 1909 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Calvary branch of the United States Army.
And though he’d been selected for the 1916 Olympics team and would travel overseas, it was not for the games. By then, the First World War was underway and Patton was assigned to a new tank corps. With this new technology, Patton established himself as gifted strategist. He would earn a Distinguished Service Medal for brigade leadership and for organizing a tank school.
While on short duty in Washington D.C. in 1919, Patton met Dwight D. Eisenhower who would help him in the future tremendously. During and after Patton’s assignment in hawaii the two would correspond frequently. Patton would send notes and assistance to help Eisenhower graduate from General Staff College. With help from Eisenhower, Walter Christie, and many other officers, Patton kept pushing for further advancement in the development of armored warfare.
This led to the high point of Patton’s military career: World War II. President Roosevelt gave him command of the 3rd U.S. Army, which would eventually march into Germany liberating it from the Nazis.
On December 8, 1945, Patton’s chief of state, Major General Hobart Gay, invited him out to go pheasant hunting in hopes of rising Patton’s spirits. While observing cars on the side of road Patton collided into an American army truck at low speed right after saying, “How awful war is. Think of the waste”.
Gay and others were slightly injured but Patton himself hit his head on the glass partition on the back seat. Taken to a hospital in Heidelberg, it was discovered he had a compressed fracture and dislocation of the vertebrae. He was paralyzed from the neck down. When told he had no chance of ever resuming to normal life he commented, “This is a hell of a way to die”. He died in his sleep of pulmonary edema and heart failure at about 18:00 on December 21, 1945 at the age of 60. He was buried at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial alongside wartime casualties of the third army, per his request to be buried with his men.
Christy Mathewson was born in Factoryville, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1880. He played baseball at Keystone Academy and attended college at Bucknell University. His school activities include baseball, football and class president. He was also a member of the fraternity Phi Gamma Delta. He was given his first chance at semi professional baseball at the young age of 14 when the manager of the Factoryville baseball team asked him to pitch in a game against rival team Mill City. Matthew helped the team win 19-17, but with his batting and not his pitches. Five years later he was selected as a drop-kicker to the Walter Camp All-American football team.
In July of 1899, Mathewson was playing for the Norfolk team of the Virginia- North Carolina League, during which the New York Giants purchased his contract for $1,500. Between July and September, he played six games for the Giants, and compiled a 0-3 record. Displeased, the Giants returned him to Norfolk and demanded a refund of their contract money. Months later, the Cincinnati Reds picked him up to later trade back to the Giants for Amos Rusie. Mathewson became a National League baseball star of the early twentieth century, famous for his wits, good looks, and religious devotion. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, playing 17 seasons with the New York Giants. Mathewson’s pitching so dominated his sport, he ranks in the All-time Top-10 Major Pitching Categories for wins, shutouts, and ERA.
In 1918, he enlisted in the Army against his wife’s wishes, and although he never saw combat, he was accidentally gassed during a training exercise. He was sent overseas as a captain in the newly formed Chemical Service with Ty Cobb and was discharged in February 1919 for medical issues involving the accidental gassing. He returned to coach the Giants from 1919-1921. With damaged lungs, he struggled with tuberculosis for the rest of his life. He died of the disease in 1925 in the house he had built himself.
Mathewson was one of the first inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, and Honus Wagner. He was the only one of the five to not live to see his induction. His jersey has been retired.
Jazz pianist Dave Frishberg wrote a song in memorial of him called “Matty”, and Christy Mathewson Day is celebrated in his hometown.
In 1999, Mathewson was listed as number 7 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.
George Leach was born on July 14, 1876, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His father was part of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Leach was raised in Minneapolis and graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1897. He started a career in the insurance business inspecting grain elevators through Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Leach enlisted with “B” Battery of the 1st Minnesota Field Artillery, Minnesota National Guard. On June 18, 1916, the Minnesota National Guard was sent to aid along to the Mexico border. Having risen to the rank of Major, Leach commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Minnesota Field Artillery Regiment. That August, he was given command over the whole regiment, distinguishing himself as a strong leader. The regiment returned to Minnesota in February 1917, but was quickly sent overseas on April 6, 1917 following the declaration of war against Germany. The unit was transformed into the 151st Field Artillery Regiment and assigned to the new 42nd “Rainbow” Infantry Division. In France, newly promoted Colonel Leach’s leadership shined and the 151st rendered distinguished combat service and received five campaign stars. After the war, Leach remained in command of the 151st until 1921 while resuming his career in the insurance business. In 1923, he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of the 59th Field Artillery Brigade, Minnesota National Guard. From 1940 to 1941, Leach was promoted to Major General and commanded the 34th Infantry Division, preparing them for World War II.
Outside of his military career, Leach took part in many different pursuits. He was elected as a Republican mayor of Minneapolis for six two-year terms, and ran for governor twice, but was never elected. Being an athlete and an excellent skier, Leach managed the first U.S. Olympic Ski team in 1924 and was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame 14 years after his death. In 1937, he was elected president of the National Guard Association of the United States. Leach also owned a vending machine company, George E. Leach, Inc., and served as Chairman of the National Automatic Merchandising Association.
Leach passed away on July 17, 1955 and is buried at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery.
John Snader McCloy was born on March 31, 1895, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to father John. J. McCloy, an insurance man, and mother Anna McCloy who died when John was only five years old.
Back in New York and working as a lawyer, McCloy was an associate at Cravath, Henderson & de Gersdorff. During his time at this law firm he worked with many wealthy clients, including the St. Paul Railroad and Lehigh Valley Railroad. In 1934 he found new evidence which allowed him to re-open the Black Tom explosion case. In 1916, a munitions depot on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor was sabotaged by agents of Imperial Germany in order to prevent the contents of the depot from being sent to the Allies in WWI. The explosion was massive, registering the equivalent of an earthquake measuring 5.0 to 5.5 on the Richter Scale and felt as far away as Philadelphia. It even damaged the Statue of Liberty, resulting in the closure of the statue’s torch to visitors. McCloy successfully re-opened an action almost 20 years later in order to pursue damages incurred by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which included the death of the company’s Chief of Police in the explosion. The Railroad subsequently won this legal action and settled on damage claims of $50 million in 1953, the payment of which was made in 1979.
McCloy’s most lasting impact came during WWII as Assistant Secretary of War, and after the war as US High Commissioner for Germany. He was a major component of several notable military decisions, including: internment of Japanese-Americans, not bombing rail lines leading to Auschwitz, and the method of ending the war with Japan. He also served on the task forces that built the Pentagon, helped found the predecessor to the CIA, proposed the United Nations and the war tribunals, chaired the predecessor to the National Security Council, proposed ending segregation in the military, and helped convince President Truman to reject the Morgenthau Plan which would strip Germany of its industrial capacity. Later in life he was selected by President Lyndon Johnson to serve on the Warren Commission which investigated and reported on the assassination of President Kennedy.
John McCloy died March 11, 1989.
If you enjoyed some ice cream lately, you have African-American inventor Frederick Jones to thank.
Frederick Jones was born in Ohio on May 17, 1893 to a mixed family with a white farther and black mother. His mother left when he was just a child. His father raised him until, at the age of 7, Jones was sent to live with a priest. His father died two years later. At the age of 11, Jones ran away to fend for himself and began working odd jobs. He found his way to an automobile shop where he rose to become the shop’s foreman.
Although not formally educated, Jones fine-tuned his curious mind with reading and independent study. At the age of 19, he moved to Hallock, Minnesota and found work as a farm mechanic. There, he further educated himself on electronics and created a transmitter for the local radio station. He also helped create a moving picture with audio abilities that he helped create for the local film industry.
With mechanical experience, Jones became a valuable soldier in World War I. He often was called upon to make repairs to machines and other equipment. It was his later inventions in refrigeration, however, that would help more drastically in the next war. Jones created an air-cooling unit designed for trucks in 1935. This turned into a life-saving invention during World War II, sustaining blood, medicine and food for use in hospitals and battlefields. Thanks to Jones’ mechanical prowess, his invention helped keep perishable supplies – greatly needed in the Allied war effort – from spoiling or going to waste.
His inventions in refrigeration, sound technology and electronics earned him 61 patents for various devices, including a portable X-ray machine. Jones was recognized for his incredible achievements both during his lifetime and after his death. He was elected to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and was the first African American inducted into the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers. He later consulted with the U.S. Department of Defense, and in 1991, President George H. W. Bush awarded Jones the National Medal of Technology. He was the first African American to receive this award. He was inducted into the Minnesota Inventors Hall of Fame in 1977.
He died of lung cancer in Minneapolis on February 21, 1961.
Anna Coleman Watts was born on July 15, 1878 in Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia and was educated in Europe where she studied sculpture in Paris and Rome. She moved to Boston in 1905 when she married Dr. Maynard Ladd and studied with Bela Pratt for three years at the museum school there.
She liked to challenge herself and even wrote two books, Hieronymus Rides, a medieval romance, and The Candid Adventurer, about Boston society in 1913. She also wrote two unproduced plays, ironically one about a female sculpture who goes to war.
Ladd became a sculptor who made face masks for soldiers disfigured during the War, setting up the American Red Cross Studio for Portrait Masks in Paris in 1917. Her sculpting process was very labor intensive; she spent time getting to know her clients and their families so she could get a clear idea of what their face and facial expressions looked like before their injury. Then she molded a mask and painted it to match their skin color. Her work was honored by both the French and Serbian governments.
After WWI she created a decayed corpse on a barbed wire fence for a war memorial commission by the Manchester-by-the-Sea American Legion.
She retired in 1936 and lived in California, where she died in 1939 at the age of 61.
Laurence Tucker Stallings was born in Macon, Georgia on November 25, 1894. His father, Larking Tucker Stallings, was a banker, and his mother, Aurora Brook Stallings, was a homemaker and avid reader who inspired their son’s love for literature and hard work ethic. He attended Wake Forest University in North Carolina in 1912 and became the editor for the campus magazine.
After graduating from the university in 1916, Stallings got a job at the local recruiting office writing advertisements. He was so convinced by his own writings that he joined the United States Marine Reserves. He left overseas for France in 1918 on board on the USS Henderson, where he served as the platoon commander with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines during the fighting at Château-Thierry. He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Belleau Wood. He was sent home where he continued his career in writing.
Stallings worked as a reporter, critic and entertainment director of New York World. It was as a critic that he became impressed by playwright Maxwell Anderson. The pair decided to work together, writing “What Price Glory,” a play depicting the rivalry between two U.S. Marine Corps officers fighting in France during World War I. Their debut work was well received by the public, running for 435 performances and adapted into two films.
The collaborators went on to write several more plays and ventured into books. Stalling’s solo book, “The Doughboys: The Story of the AEF, 1917-1918,” was a nonfiction account of World War I. The work explored the racism and discrimination faced by the black troops. He also wrote a groundbreaking autobiographical novel called Plumes, which explored the personal trials of a soldier returned from WWI disillusioned and disabled. Written in 1924, the book was an immediate success and remained Stallings only novel.
Like the main character in his novel, Stallings’ right leg was badly injured during an assault on a machine gun nest in the Battle of Belleau Wood during WWI. Though able to save it during the war, his leg was eventually amputated in 1922 after a bad slip and fall on a patch of ice. Through his writing and public life, Stallings helped to raise public consciousness about disabled veterans and the immense challenges they faced.
After being divorced in 1936 and remarrying his secretary in 1937, Stallings died of a heart attack on February 28, 1968 at the age of 73 in Pacific Palisades, California. He was buried with full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma, San Diego.
Jose de la Luz Sáenz was born May 17, 1888 in Realitos, Texas. He was one of eight children of Rasalio Sáenz and Christina Hernández. The family moved to Alice, Texas, where Sáenz graduated from high school in 1908. He then attended business college in San Antonio, obtained his teacher’s certificate, and began working as a teacher throughout South Texas. Family lore states that Sáenz moved frequently because he often antagonized the local school authorities and other influential people with his open critiques against the segregation of Mexican children.
Sáenz volunteered in 1918 after the U.S. declared war against Germany. He served in the 360th Regiment Infantry of the 90th Division from Texas, and was stationed in France and occupied Germany. Sáenz kept a diary during his time overseas that was later published in 1933. He drew comparisons between the Mexican American civil rights struggle and as he called it, the “rhetoric of democracy” used by Americans in World War I.
After he returned home, Sáenz helped establish LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and served on the board of trustees from 1930 to 1932. He fought discrimination through writings published in newspapers and his leadership in local activist organizations. He also continued to work as a teacher through the Great Depression. When his children joined the World War II effort, Sáenz was reinvigorated in his belief that the defense and promotion of American democracy made Mexican Americans deserving of equality.
Jose de la Luz Sáenz died on April 12, 1953 and is buried at the National Cemetery at Fort Sam Houston.
Tokutaro was born in Japan in 1895 and came to the U.S when he was just ten years old. When his father moved to Canada to escape the harsh discrimination he faced in the US, Tokutaro was adopted by the Slocum family of Minot, ND. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and was enrolled at Columbia Law School, but left Columbia to fight in WWI.
He took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and the Battle of St. Mihiel, and for the rest of his life he suffered the results of being gassed during the war.
Like many other Japanese immigrants, Slocum saw his military service as a path to US citizenship, which he applied for in 1921. After much struggle and delay, Slocum eventually was granted his US citizenship and immediately set to work helping others to do the same. Because of Slocum’s work, FDR signed the Nye-Lea act in 1935, granting citizenship to 500 Japanese who had fought for the US during WWI. This did not alter the Immigration Act of 1924, however, which had banned the immigration of Japanese and other Asian peoples.
Throughout the 1930s Slocum was intensely patriotic, even arguing that American-born children of Japanese immigrants should turn in their own parents if necessary. Despite his collaboration with the FBI, Slocum and his family were forcibly removed from their homes following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with more than 120,000 other Japanese-Americans, Slocum entered the Internment Camps in the spring of 1942. He remained in federal custody until the end of WWII, and worked for the Social Security Administration until his retirement in 1958.
He passed away at the age of 78 in Fresno, California, January 5, 1974.
James Reese Europe was known as the Martin Luther King, Jr. of Jazz for both advancing music and the African Americans who performed it. In the 1910s, the genre was not well known and it delighted and bemused those who heard it.
Born in Mobile, Alabama on February 22, 1880, the young musician moved to Washington and leveraged his considerable talent to land gigs for his fellow black musicians. It was in 1914 that Europe met the dancers Vernon and Irene Castle. Together they showed the world a new dance: the Foxtrot!
With America edging closer to war in 1916, the bandleader signed up for the Army, hoping to inspire other African Americans to do the same. His assignment was changed from artillery to military bandleader for the Hell Fighters Band. In February and March 1918, Europe and his military band travelled over 2,000 miles in France, performing for British, French and American military audiences as well as French civilians. The “Hellfighters” made their first recording in France for Pathe Records.
On the night of May 9, 1919 Europe performed for the last time. He had been feeling ill all day already. During intermission he went to talk with his drummer about walking off stage during a performance. His drummer grew agitated and angered. He threw a penknife and stabbed Europe in the neck. Europe went to the hospital and died of blood loss hours later.
Europe was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.
Henry Johnson was born approximately in 1892 and was raised in Winston Salem, North Carolina. He was born into poverty and little was recorded about his childhood. Johnson moved to Albany, New York when he was a teenager, and worked multiple jobs, including as a redcap porter at Albany’s Union Station.
Johnson enlisted on June 5, 1917, and was assigned to the 369th Infantry Regiment, a group that would later be known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” He was sent to France in 1918, where his unit was sent to the front lines under the command of a French colonel. Johnson served his one tour of duty on the Western edge of the Argonne Forest in France’s Champagne region.
Johnson’s moment of fame occurred on May 15, 1918. He and Needham Roberts were on sentry duty that night. Between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning, a group of around 20 Germans attacked their position. Roberts was incapacitated by a grenade, but continued to hand grenades to Johnson before he was nearly taken prisoner by the Germans. Johnson fired off his three rounds before using the butt of his rifle to fight off the Germans. When his rifle busted, he pulled out his knife and began slashing at the Germans, eventually saving Roberts. Reinforcements arrived and chased the Germans off. When the fighting was done, Johnson was taken to a French hospital to be treated for about 20 wounds to his left arm, back, feet, and face. , Johnson later stated, “There wasn’t anything so fine about it. Just fought for my life. A rabbit would have done that.”
Johnson received the French Croix De Guerre and returned to the United States to a ticker-tape parade through New York. He was used to promote liberty bonds for a while after his return. However, after his moment of glory, he was faced once again with reality. Transitioning home to a segregated country was difficult, and his injuries caused him to be unable to work. Johnson separated from his wife and children before dying July 1, 1929. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery and posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.
Joseph Oklahombi was born May 1, 1895 in Bokchito, Oklahoma.
An American soldier of the Choctaw Nation, Joseph Oklahombi was the most decorated soldier from Oklahoma during WWI. On October 8, 1918, Private Oklahombi was at St. Etienne, France with the 141st Regiment in the 36th Infantry Division. He and 23 other soldiers attacked an enemy position and captured 171 Germans while killing some 79 more. They held their position for four days while under attack, frustrating German attempts to advance or out-maneuver allied forces. Oklahombi was awarded the Silver Star with Victory Ribbon, and the French Croix de Guerre for his efforts.
He also served as a Choctaw Code Talker, the first Native American code talkers employed by the US military. Oklahombi, with the rest of his Choctaw brothers-in-arms helped circumvent the fact that German wiretaps and other interception of US communication had by early 1918 rendered US military codes useless. Owing to the fact that the Germans could neither understand the Choctaw language, nor did they have the means to learn it, US military communications were once again safe from being decrypted by German agents. This greatly improved battlefield maneuvers by US forces, and it surprised and confused the German military in the waning days of WWI.
Oklahombi’s medals, awards, and other honors are now on display at the Oklahoma Historical Society. Current leader of the Choctaw Nation, Chief Gary Batton, is working to have the Congressional Medal of Honor awarded to Oklahombi in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the US war effort during WWI.
He passed away April 13, 1960 after being hit by a truck while taking a walk along the road.
He was buried with military honors at Yahshua Cemetery in Broken Bow, Oklahoma.
Harvey Williams Cushing was born on April 8, 1869 in Cleveland, Ohio as the youngest of ten children.
Cushing was one of the first great neurosurgeons in the United States and considered a pioneer of brain surgery. And as if that wasn’t enough, he also founded the study of endocrinology — the branch of physiology concerned with glands and hormones.
At the beginning of World War I, Cushing was commissioned a major in the Army Medical Corps. He directed a base hospital and also served as head of a surgical unit in France. It was in this role he initiated the use of electromagnets to extract metal shrapnel lodged within the brain.
The next year he was promoted and became the senior consultant in neurological surgery for the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe. His contributions to wartime surgery earned Cushing the Distinguished Service Medal by the U.S. Army.
On the side, Cushing was also an amateur historian. He wrote a biography of Sir William Osler, which won a Pulitzer Prize.
Cushing died on October 7, 1939 from complications of a heart attack and a small tumor in his brain.
Robertson was born June 2, 1886 in Woolwich in Southeast London, but at the age of one, he emigrated with his parents to California, settling in the San Joaquin Valley.
Oswald Robertson is the “father of the blood bank” and through this work continues to play a critical role in nearly every surgery and dozens of therapies.
While on vacation in Germany, he met an American medical student who encouraged him to leave his study of biology to become a doctor. His academic career took him to the Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, but World War I got in the way. He joined the forces in France on a medical team.
With so much need for blood at field hospitals, Robertson experimented with preserving human blood cells for use in transfusions. This work led to the concept of a blood bank, saving countless lives on and off the battlefield.
After World War I, he accepted an associate professorship at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, China. He became a Full Professor at the institution in 1923. In 1927 he returned to the United States, and accepted a position as head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago.
He retired in 1951 and moved to California where he died in Santa Cruz on March 23, 1966.
John Joseph Pershing was born on September 13, 1860 on a farm near Laclede, Missouri. Shortly after graduating high school, Pershing taught young African American children while pursuing a bachelor degree in science. Shortly after, he applied to the United States Military Academy, later admitting it was just a step towards getting into West Point.
John Pershing was selected as commander of the American Expeditionary Force following the United States declaration of war against Germany in April 1917. In many ways new to the international stage, Pershing vigorously resisted calls from the British and French to merge American forces with their own. The addition of hundreds of thousands of American troops by the autumn of 1918 proved decisive in tipping the scales against Germany and in favor of England and France. An armistice was adopted on November 11, 1918, despite Pershing’s desire to push the German army forces back beyond the political boundaries from before the war.
During the war, Pershing prohibited blacks soldiers serving alongside whites. This blatant segregation was in line with Wilson administration policies. After the war ended, he was joined by his counterparts from France, Britain, Belgium, and Italy at the groundbreaking of Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.
On July 15, 1948, Pershing passed away due to heart failure and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near the gravesites of the soldiers he commanded in Europe.
George Catlett Marshall was born into a middle class family in Uniontown, Pennsylvania on December 31, 1880.
Marshall was a top assistant to General John Pershing during WWI and went on to have a distinguished 30 year military career through WWII. He oversaw the rapid expansion of American forces during this time. In the years following WWII, Marshall served as both Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under President Harry Truman. He is credited with the Marshall Plan, also known as the European Recovery Program, which proved effective in rebuilding the war torn European countries in the late 1940s following WWII. Marshall was named Time’s Man of the Year in 1943 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 10 years later.
Marshall died at the age of 78 at Walter Reed Hospital on October 16, 1959 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in the spot he picked beside his first two wives.
Harry Truman was born in Lamar, Missouri on May 8, 1884, the oldest child of John Anderson Truman and Martha Ellen Young Truman. His parents chose the name Harry after his mother's brother, Harrison "Harry" Young.
Truman volunteered to serve as soon as the United States declared war in 1917. He served in France as the Captain of Battery D, a field artillery unit. His men quickly respected him for his bravery and leadership.
Later serving as vice president, Harry Truman was thrust into the Oval Office on April 12, 1945, the day Franklin D. Roosevelt died. The timing was difficult. Americans mourned their leader of 12 years and were weary of World War II. Truman was presented with an option to end the fighting with the successful testing of atomic bombs in the secret Manhattan Project.
On August 6, 1945, Truman ordered the bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima, a decision that is still debated today. Some 80,000 people were immediately killed, while tens of thousands would die later of radiation. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, killing 40,000 more. It was not long after that Japan surrendered and thousands of Allied troops came home.
It was also under the Truman administration that the United States embraced international foreign policy and founded the United Nations. In 1947, the Marshall Plan was passed to help rebuild Western Europe from the effects of WWII.
On December 5, 1972, Truman was admitted to Kansas City’s Research Hospital and Medical Center for lung congestion from pneumonia. He suffered from multiple organ failure and died at 7:50 am on December 26 at the age of 88. Truman was buried in private as a request from his wife.
Douglas MacArthur was born January 26, 1880, at Little Rocks Barracks, Arkansas as a military brat. His father was an army captain and his mother was a housewife. He was the youngest of three children, his brothers were Arthur III and Malcom. Malcolm died of measles in 1883.
MacArther graduated first in his class from West Point in 1903. During WWI, Douglas MacArthur served as a Major in the office of the Secretary of War and is now regarded as the Army’s first press officer. Following the US’s entrance into the war, MacArthur helped create the 42nd – or ‘Rainbow’ – Division, which was organized of units from different states throughout the United States. MacArthur was a part of the Champagne-Marne Offensive following his promotion to the rank of Brigadier General in June 1918. He then led the Rainbow Division effectively through the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, being gassed twice and eventually earning seven Silver Stars, two Distinguished Service Crosses, and a Distinguished Service Medal.
As Chief of Staff of the US Army, MacArthur was sent to the Philippines in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt in order to establish a defensive military presence there. When the US entered WWII in 1941 MacArthur was recalled to active duty and oversaw several successful offensives in the Pacific Theater, eventually being promoted to Supreme Allied Commander by the end of the war. Following Japan’s surrender in 1945 General MacArthur remained there for six years to oversee the rebuilding of the country.
In 1950, MacArther was charged with leading a multinational UN force against the North Korean invasion of South Korea. MacArther was successful and could have potentially reunified the Koreas if the Chinese had not poured their forces into North Korea, forcing MacArther and his troops to retreat. In April 1951, after a disagreement regarding how to handle the Chinese involvement, President Harry Truman relieved MacArther of his command.
MacArther passed away on April 5, 1964 at the age of 84 at the Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. MacArther was buried with full honors on April 11, 1964, exactly thirteen years after his dismissal by President Truman.
During World War I, Julia Stimson served as head of the Red Cross Nursing Service and later as chief nurse of the American Expeditionary Force, receiving a Distinguished Service Medal from General Pershing. After the war, she became the superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps and became the first woman in the military awarded the rank of major. She served as an army nurse again in World War II, and was promoted to the rank of colonel six weeks before her death in 1948.
“[E]very available spot-beds, stretchers and floor space-was occupied by a seriously wounded man. The overflow cases lay on the wet ground, waiting their turn to be moved under cover: We stood, tears mixing with the rain, feeling anger and frustration.”
Katherine Stinson wanted to be a music teacher. But her plan to earn money for school was particularly unusual — become a stunt pilot. While it took some doing for this petite young woman to convince her parents (and later an instructor), Stinson took flight. She was the fourth woman to earn a pilot’s license.
Soon she was flying stunts and made a career of touring the U.S. as the “Flying Schoolgirl,” making nervous audiences cover their eyes at her antics.
As the United States entered the First World War, Stinson early applied, twice, to use her skills as a volunteer pilot. And twice she was rejected. Undeterred, Stinson later was accepted as an ambulance driver. This gig, with its extreme cold and conditions, gave her a lifetime of health maladies. She gave up aviation for a quieter life in architecture.
You might know that Ernest Hemingway could write a good book, but did you know he could drive an ambulance?
Hemingway was recruited by the Kansas City Red Cross to become an ambulance driver in 1918. When he arrived in Paris, the city was under bombardment from German artillery. The next month he was transferred to Milan and immediately dispatched to an exploded munitions factory. He and other rescuers had the gruesome task of retrieving worker remains — a scene included in his nonfiction book Death in the Afternoon.
Just a month later at age 18, Hemingway was seriously wounded by mortar fire. Despite his own injuries, he assisted Italian soldiers to safety and earned the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. Hemingway spent six months at the hospital where he fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse. They became engaged before Hemingway returned stateside. However, she later wrote saying she was to marry an Italian officer.
War and heartbreak became major themes of much of Hemingway’s work. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two nonfiction works. In 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Ray Kroc, not yet the mogul of the McDonalds empire, had Walt Disney all figured out back when the two were teenagers serving in a WWI Red Cross Ambulance Corps. Kroc called Disney a “strange duck,” because when the stateside trainees had time for gallivanting, Disney stayed in camp and drew pictures.
Disney had brothers in service overseas and he was itching to have an experience. Though only 16, Walt convinced his mother to fake his birthdate by a year on his corps application. A case of influenza during his Chicago-based training kept him from being shipped overseas during wartime. But he did get to go to France, arriving after the armistice in December of 1918. He celebrated his real 17th birthday there.
Disney drew on camp walls, the sides of ambulances and made drawings for soldiers. When he wasn’t driving ambulance, he served as an able tour guide in a country he found fascinating. Disney would spend 10 months overseas and would receive an early stateside discharge for doing a portrait of a superior officer.
The “odd duck” continued his fascination with film, and cartooning, to world acclaim.
Ray Kroc couldn’t wait to be part of World War I. At age 15, he fibbed about his birthdate and became a Red Cross ambulance driver.
Following the armistice, Kroc worked in a restaurant for room and board just to learn the food service business. This led to a gig as a traveling milkshake machine salesman — and how he met the McDonald’s brothers. While demonstrating the shake machine, he witnessed their novel assembly-line food prep.
Soon Kroc was their franchising agent, which eventually led to his buying the fast food chain. He grew the business through carefully selected franchise owners, putting them through a training course at “Hamburger University.” The restaurateurs earned certificates in “Hamburgerology with a minor in French Fries.” His focus on providing suburban areas with a low cost and consistent meal paid off. McDonald’s had 7,500 locations in 31 countries in 1984, the year Kroc died.
It was a fluke that brought Amelia Earhart to aviation. While visiting her sister in Toronto in 1918, Earhart was moved by all the hospitalized war causalities there. She joined Canada’s Voluntary Aid Detachment program and became a nurse.
But it was while taking in an air show there that a plane swooped toward the crowd. Earhart later said the rush she got from that moment gave her the “aviation bug.”
She went to Long Beach, California where flyer Neta Snook ran her own commercial airfield — and gave pilot lessons. By 1935, she became the first person to fly solo over both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. She was at her height of fame with speaking engagements, a clothing line and writing for major periodicals when she attempted a flight around the world. Her plane disappeared somewhere in the Pacific. The details remain a mystery today.
Ever know anyone who went to college because of their service? You have a quiet lawyer from Topeka to thank.
As America entered World War I, Colmery enlisted as a second lieutenant in 1917. Eventually he was promoted and trained as a pilot. He would go on to serve a decade in the Officers Reserve Corps. His career, though admirable, was not outstanding — but his commitment to veterans was.
Wanting to keep in touch with army buddies, Comery joined the American Legion and became an active member. He served on numerous national boards, always advocating for veterans.
As World War II was ending, Colmery worried about the desperate circumstances that veterans of his war had faced. After much work, Colmery crafted the original draft of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the G.I. Bill. As thanks for his work on drafting the legislation, Colmery was invited to witness President Roosevelt signing the bill into law, changing the trajectory of millions of American’s lives.
The author F. Scott Fitzgerald – named after Francis Scott Key, a distant relative and author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” – was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. As a youngster he published stories in his school newspaper despite his terrible spelling.
In 1918, Fitzgerald left Princeton University to join the fighting in World War I. Worried he’d be killed in battle, Fitzgerald rushed to write a novel so he would leave a literary legacy. Fitzgerald needn’t have worried, however, as the armistice was signed before he was even deployed. This freed the young man to polish another novel, “This Side of Paradise,” which became a smash hit. Now with royalties in his pocket, he married his sweetheart, Zelda. Their relationship was both glamorous and rocky, epitomizing modern perceptions of the “Roaring Twenties.” Fitzgerald – with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound – often is considered one of the greatest members of the “Lost Generation” who came of age during WWI. His work often was used to define the age in which he lived.
Sadly, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece “The Great Gatsby” was little appreciated in his lifetime. The book sold only modestly and Fitzgerald died destitute in 1940 of a heart attack at the age of 44. Then in World War II, his title was selected as an Armed Services Edition and shipped to servicemen overseas, and became a beloved classic. The novel that once barely turned a profit still sells some half a million copies a year.
Omar Nelson Bradley had a long and distinguished military career that took him to the highest places of power, but it all started when his Sunday school teacher insisted he take the U.S. Military Academy entrance exam. Bradley’s test was second highest for West Point, and when the first-place winner couldn’t accept the scholarship, Bradley stepped onto his life’s path.
World War I broke out just as Bradley was graduating. His unit was scheduled for deployment, but the armistice came first. However, there was plenty of service ahead of him. In World War II, Bradley rose to command 1.3 million men, the most to ever serve a single American field commander.
In peacetime, Bradley directed the Veterans Administration and became Army Chief of Staff. Later, he was appointed the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and held a rare five-star rank in the United States Armed Forces.
Dwight D. Eisenhower never left the United States during World War I. Stuck in his home state of Texas training recruits, the 1915 West Point graduate was disappointed not to see action. Despite his stateside assignment, Eisenhower showed great aptitude in the intricacies of war planning. Everywhere he went, higher-ranking officers noticed his acumen. In 1919 the Army assigned Eisenhower to a transcontinental convoy with the aim of testing vehicles and equipment. Throughout the trip the convoy averaged just 5 MPH from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, CA, highlighting the need for new and better roads in the US.
Although his abilities had been noticed, he had never held active command above a battalion. Thus, it wasn’t until the bombing of Pearl Harbor that Eisenhower showed his true wartime skills. He was assigned to war planning in the Pacific and then the European theater where he was supreme commander of Allied forces in Western Europe.
By 1952, the war hero was elected president, serving two terms in the White House. One of his most enduring acts while in office was the development and enactment of the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System. His experience leading the transcontinental convoy over 30 years earlier was instrumental in the success of this project – the results of which are the backbone of personal transportation in America today.
Eisenhower, who had a philosopher’s viewpoint on war and world relations, presciently warned Americans of the “military industrial complex.” He believed war profiteering was an issue to be dealt with, and more than 50 years later, his words still echo in the complex struggles and military economies across the world.
Norman Rockwell’s wartime efforts are usually associated with his famous “Four Freedoms” portraits from the Second World War – so moving are these takes on everyday life they’ve inspired a legion of waiting room calendars. But actually, Rockwell’s affinity for Americana and patriotism can be traced all the way back to World War I when he attempted to enlist in the Navy in 1918.
He was underweight, but on the advice of a doctor, the skinny wannabe sailor gorged himself on bananas, donuts and water and the next day made weight. But he would see no action. He was called to a South Carolina post to create illustrations for Navy publications. He also did portraits for military men to send to their families as a keepsake.
Rockwell became the art director for Boy’s Life, an attachment with the Boys Scouts of America he would hold all his life.
Victor Fleming lived the “rags to riches” trope seen in many films, only his success unfolded behind the camera. His first real break came because of his World War I service in the photographic corps. He was assigned as President Wilson’s personal motion picture cameraman during the Paris Peace Conference.
This would blossom into a directorial career in film including the classics, “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Both films earned spots in the top 10 of an American Film Institute’s 2007 list of 100 movies. It is notable that Fleming was brought into both films to clean up when earlier directors had failed to impress the studios.
Although Fleming didn’t receive much acclaim for his work while alive, his craft is now widely studied and attracts many present-day admirers.
George Mallon was born June 15, 1877, on a farm in Kansas in the shadows of Fort Riley. Mallon enlisted and mustered into the 22nd Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment on June 18, 1898 as a Private, in response to the USS Maine exploding in Havana Harbor while protecting American interests in Cuba on the eve of the Spanish American War. Things moved quickly, and the 22nd Kansas men never made it past Virginia and were mustered out of service on November 3, 1899.
Mallon did not want this to define his military career, so he enlisted with the 12th U.S. Infantry heading to the Philippines just two months later on January 17, 1899. Mallon saw action for the first time fighting in Filipino rice paddies during the rainy season against Filipino Freedom Fighters. During his time in the Philippines, Mallon won the Army Boxing Championship. In late 1900, Mallon was struck in the chest by a bullet, which would remain there for the rest of his life. Upon his return home, Mallon was noticed and recruited to box amateurly. In his first heavyweight fight, Mallon knocked out his opponent with time still remaining in the first round. His boxing career was short, and in 1906, he married Effie Campbell, and by 1909, they had moved to Minneapolis where Mallon worked for General Fire Extinguisher Company, installing water sprinklers.
After the United States declared war on Germany, Mallon volunteered for officer’s training and was accepted into the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Fort Snelling on May 15, 1917. He was then commissioned as Captain of Infantry and assigned to the 132nd Regiment, 33rd Division. Mallon took part in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, which was a major part of the Allied Offensive in World War I on September 26, 1918, stretching along most of the Western Front. In a dense fog, Captain Mallon lead his men forward and attacked nine hostile machine gun nests, successfully capturing all of them without losing a man. Continuing on through the woods, he led his men in attacking a battery of four 155-millimeter howitzers. During this encounter, Mallon attacked and knocked out one of the enemy with his fists. The bravery and determination displayed by Mallon resulted in the capture of 100 prisoners, eleven machine guns, four 155-millimeter howitzers and one anti aircraft gun. He was injured five days later and given medical care in Mars, France. Before he was sent back home, General John Pershing presented Captain Mallon the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. He also received the French Legion of Honor and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.
Mallon returned to Minnespolis, Minnesota and did a brief period in politics, running for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican ticket. He became active among veterans, joining many organizations, and worked to unionize the common working man and to get farmers to organize. He also served as Hennepin County’s commissioner for eight years. George Mallon died August 2, 1934 and was buried in a private cemetery. However, five years later in 1939, Fort Snelling National Cemetery was established, and Captain Mallon’s body was reinterred and was the first burial in the National Cemetery on July 5, 1939. The main road through the cemetery, Mallon Road, is named after him.