The United States didn't enter World War I until April 1917, and it took several months to draft, organize and train troops, as well as to produce the necessary war equipment and supplies; thus it wasn't until 1918 that the U.S. actually sent troops to Europe to aid the Allies in their fight against the German army. By the Spring of 1918, when French and British troops had been depleted and the outlook was bleak, General John J. Pershing's American troops brought much needed support and strength to the Allies. The American troops took the lead in several offensive attacks in the Alsace-Lorraine region, and by September the German troops were in retreat.
My mother took the above picture of Daddy standing over the graves of fallen American soldiers at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery. The Battle of Meuse-Argonne was, at the time, the largest battle ever fought by U.S. troops in American history. Fought between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forrest, over one million American soldiers participated in this battle, which lasted nearly two months and eventually resulted in an armistice with Germany on November 11th. Originally, this day was celebrated and remembered in the U.S. as Armistice Day but in 1954 the day became known as Veterans Day to honor all veterans. Memorial Day is a similar holiday, a day set aside to to commemorate U.S. men and women who died in military service to our country. It used to be a tradition to observe the Memorial Day holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials, but most folks these days view the day as part of a three-day holiday weekend.
The Meuse-Argonne Cemetery is the largest American cemetery in Europe. Its 130 acres hold the graves of 14,246 American soldiers who died during this great battle. Each Cross or Star of David is engraved with the name of a fallen soldier along with his unit and state of residence. The names of an additional 954 soldiers whose bodies were never recovered or identified are engraved on a monument within the cemetery.
St. Mihiel, where my parents lived during their stay in France, also was the site of a major offensive during World War I, and it too has an American cemetery honoring the dead soldiers from that battle.