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"I am writing this letter in memory of my uncle, Clyde Ramage, from Nashville, Arkansas, who died in 1918 in France. When I was a child and looking in my grandmother's house for stamps to add to my collection, I found letters from Clyde to his mother. When he enlisted in the army, he was studying to become a dentist at Southern State College. His death greatly affected my grandmother and all his brothers and sisters."

Charlotte Williams Jeffers
AR

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MEANING & HISTORY

World War I

Photo of Tony Danza In 1917, two million brave soldiers went overseas to help our allies and make the world safe for democracy.  Nineteen ninety-seven marked a great milestone – the eightieth anniversary of America’s entrance into World War I. On our 1997 “National Memorial Day Concert,” we were honored to have as guests in our audience some of the soldiers who fought in the Great War.  To show our country’s gratitude toward these august soldiers, popular actor Tony Danza brought back the rousing patriotism of that time by singing songs inspired by that conflict. 

Backed by the National Symphony Orchestra and accompanied by the World War I veterans in the audience, Mr. Danza performed the following songs:  “Over There,” “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” Piece of the Rhine,” “Goodbye Broadway, Hello France,” “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” “Smile Smile Smile,” “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” and “Grand Ole’ Flag.”

On our 1998 “National Memorial Day Concert,” Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss transported the audience back to World War I, a time when patriotism went hand-in-hand with jarring sacrifice for Americans at home and on the battlefields.

He narrated chilling documentary footage of the horrors of trench and chemical warfare and shared a picture of the treacherous weather conditions that caused widespread disease and death. 

The Great War left more than 116,000 American soldiers dead and more than 200,000 wounded.  And throughout Europe, the casualties dwarfed those of previous wars.  Almost 22 million lost their lives.  Nine million of the victims were soldiers; the rest were civilian men, women and children caught in the war’s cross-fire.
 
Out of the ruin and desolation of WWI, a poem was created that became the war’s most powerful memorial.  In remembrance of the American doughboys who still lie in Flanders Fields, and for all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in war, Mr. Dreyfuss read this poem written by John McCrae.

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

 

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