Galveston's World War I Memorial
Rosenberg Treasure of the Month
During the month of May, Rosenberg Library will display a souvenir pin-back button from a 1926 fundraising campaign to erect a World War I Memorial in Galveston. The memorial monument was placed in Menard Park near the corner of Seawall Boulevard and 28th Street in 1927.
|Pins like this one were distributed to Galvestonians who donated to the World War I monument fund on Tag Day, May 1, 1926.||Gift of Frank Patten, 79.169|
On May 1, 1926 the George Washington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution organized a fundraising event called a “Tag Day.” The group was seeking financial contributions to erect a memorial to the seventy-five Galvestonians who lost their lives while serving in the First World War. Volunteers were stationed on street corners throughout downtown Galveston and solicited donations for the project. Donors were “tagged” with metal pin-back buttons which bore the phrase “Lest We Forget.” Nearly $4,000 was collected on Tag Day.
The War Memorial Committee, headed by Mrs. Edward Randall, selected Charles Ott of Ott Monument Works to design and erect the memorial. The memorial was erected at a cost of $4,500 (nearly $70,000 in today’s dollars) with Ott donating his design and labor fees. Texas red granite was selected for the piece which included a central structure on a terraced base flanked by benches on either side. The central portion included a bronze Honor Roll plaque with the names of the 74 men and 1 woman from Galveston who lost their lives in service to their country. Four of the men—G.M. Alston, William Blake, James Bates, and T.P. Perkins—were African-Americans and are listed separately as “colored.”
|Photo from the formal dedication of the World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927.||Image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library|
|Members of the American Legion stand in front of the newly unveilved World War I Memorial, November 11, 1927.||Image courtesy of Galveston and Texas History Center, Rosenberg Library|
The memorial was formally dedicated on Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day), November 11, 1927. This date marked the ninth anniversary of the end of World War I. An invocation was given by Rabbi Henry Cohen followed by a benediction by Rev. Marius Chataignon (who himself had served as a military chaplin in France during the war). Miss Ethel Hilton, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas, unveiled the monument, while Daniel J. Wilson, Assistant City Attorney for Galveston, accepted the gift on behalf of the City.
On November 11, 2017, the George Washington Chapter of the D.A.R. held a re-dedication ceremony at the World War I Memorial in remembrance of the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the Great War. For more than 9 decades, this monument has served as a reminder of the selfless patriotism of the 75 brave Galvestonians who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
|Galveston’s World War I Memorial is located near the McGuire-Dent Recreation Center at 28th and Seawall Blvd.||Image courtesy of Galveston.com|
(See the “Honor Roll” inscribed on the memorial.)