Mark David Richards
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14
Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
Elections and Ethics
Housing and Community Dev.
Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Public Service Commission
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Issues in DC Politics
DC General, PBC
Public Benefit Corporation
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
What Is DCWatch?
District of Columbia Service in World War One and the
DC World War Memorial
by Mark David Richards
with a special thank you to Olivia Walling of the
Washingtoniana Room of the DC Public Library. Most information for this
paper was drawn from articles published in the Star in the 1920s
and 1930s. Articles were assembled in a 1930s scrapbook at the
Washingtonian Room, "Memorials and Monuments, Washington, DC,"
+9859w M513 R-Y, v.5).
Memorial Day 2002
Washington, DC residents built a Temple to
memorialize local heroes who served the nation in World War One. It was
completed in 1931. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
It was the first memorial on the Mall to list women and African Americans
with white men.
The District of Columbia War Memorial
- An Act of Congress authorized the District of Columbia War Memorial
on June 7, 1924.
- A memorial commission, formed of Washington citizens, was
established to organize a campaign for popular subscriptions (nearly
$200,000) to build a white marble Doric temple to honor DC citizens
who served in World War I.
- The Fine Arts Commission chose the site of the memorial on marshy
land in a grove of trees in West Potomac Park.
- The memorial was designed as a marble bandstand, 40 feet in
diameter, large enough to accommodate the entire membership of the
Marine Band, to honor the living and the dead.
- The Noyes family took the lead in two campaigns—the campaign to
build this memorial and the campaign to pass a Constitutional
amendment. Frank led the campaign to build the District of Columbia
World War Memorial, described in this paper.
- By that time, Theodore Noyes had published a series arguing for a
Constitutional amendment to give D.C. citizens representation in
Congress and members in the presidential Electoral College. Theodore
led the Citizens’ Joint Committee on National Representation for the
District of Columbia, composed of about 30 local organizations,
established in 1916. World War One slowed the Amendment campaign. An
Amendment was eventually passed in 1961 to grant DC residents the
right to vote for three electors for President, equal to the number
granted to the least populated state. His dream of equal rights has
not yet been realized. Mr. Noyes left the income from a $25,000 trust
bequeathed to the cause of DC suffrage. He wrote, "I create this
trust in order to continue to participate in a small way even after my
death in the campaign for District national representation, because I
am convinced no other legislation is so essential to the welfare of
the men and women of my home community." Theodore Noyes was a
founding member and early president of the Board of Trade. He died
July 4, 1946.
- Frank B. Noyes, the son of Crosby S. Noyes, was chairman of the
memorial commission. Frank Noyes was President of The Evening Star
Newspaper Co., a Washington, DC newspaper purchased in part by his
father. He was also president of the Associated Press.
- Other members of the memorial commission included Col. E. Lester
Jones, secretary; John Poole, treasurer and chairman of the campaign
committee; Charles A. Baker, Gist Blair, Edward F. Colladay, John Joy
Edson, Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis, Isaac Gans, John M. Gleissner,
Edward B. McLean, J.R. McDonald, G. Logan Payne, Julius I. Peyser, and
- The memorial campaign headquarters was located in the Gridiron room
of the New Willard Hotel.
- Janet T. Noyes, Frank’s wife, headed the women’s committee of
the Memorial Commission. Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis, vice chairman;
Mrs. James F. Curtis, executive secretary; Mrs. John Philip Hill,
chairman of personnel, Miss Eppes Hawes, vice chairman of personnel,
with Mrs. Wallach Meriam directed women’s activities in the campaign
to build the memorial.
- Newbold Noyes, the son of Frank Noyes, was chairman of the campaign;
John Poole, treasurer; and Edmund F. Jewell, publisher of The
Washington Times and The Washington Herald, secretary.
- The architect of the memorial was Frederick H. Booke, with Nathan
Wyeth and Horace W. Peaslee associated.
- Harry King, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said,
"Construction of the war memorial by out-of-town agencies would
violate the principle and do injustice ot the people of our
city." A local construction company was chosen: James Baird Co.,
- A model of the memorial was placed in the corner window at Woodward
& Lothrop, 11th and F Streets NW. A placard explaining
the memorial read, "Model of a memorial to the armed forces of
the Untied States from the District of Columbia, who served their
country in the great war [sic] to be erected by popular subscription
in Potomac Park and used for military concerts. The names of the
District’s heroic dead will be inscribed on the inner face of the
dome." [Note—the design was changed to inscribe the names
around the base.]
- The Star (July 27, 1926) reported that the commission’s
statement said, "The memorial is now the privilege of Washington
to signalize the honor and love and remembrance in which we hold
those, the dead and living, who represented us in the defense of our
national ideals and security. The memorial, which, as the great bridge
across the Potomac shall speak a Nation’s remembrance for her
defenders shall speak our own more intimate gratitude to those more
intimately bound to us; is to be built by subscription from the people
of Washington. … [I]t will stand through the years as the expression
of a city’s pride in the men who fought in its behalf."
- Captain Paul J. McGahan, American Legion executive committeeman for
the DC, criticized DC residents and Congress for not having acted
sooner to build a memorial. He said, "Washington lags behind
every State in the Union in expressing its appreciation of the
services of its sons and daughters who ‘went to war’." He
said, "Native Washingtonians have been hiding behind the cloak of
Congress and Congress has not localized its treatment of veterans in
the District of Columbia to the extent that is their due because of
its paternal legislative relationship to the disenfranchised Capital
- Numerous local civic organizations and men and women were involved
in distributing pledge cards and raising funds, including the street
car and bus companies, the two radio broadcasting companies, the
motion picture theaters and vaudeville houses, hotels, banks, large
stores, the Boy and Girl Scouts, the police and fire departments, and
women’s clubs and organizations. Women’s clubs held luncheons and
set up about 40 booths in government buildings and places of business.
Men and women organized into teams, with captains, members, and
- Dr. Frank W. Ballou, superintendent of schools, and members of the
Board of Education, made preparations to involve the 70,000 school
children by asking each one to contribute 5 cents. All children who
contributed 5 cents were given buttons with the number "535"
representing DC’s war dead, and a sketch of the Doric temple. While
The Star reported that "While contribution from school children
usually are discouraged, it is pointed out by school officials that in
this case the school children should be acquainted with the purposes
of the memorial as a part of their education as future citizens of the
nation. In years to come they will remember their participation in a
movement which has for its purpose, it was point out, the perpetual
commemoration of patriotic men and women who gave their lives for
- At the direction of President Calvin Coolidge, his cabinet, chief
clerks of all federal departments and establishments were authorized
to receive subscriptions to fund the memorial. President Coolidge
called the memorial "an exceedingly worthy proposal" and
enclosed a contribution with a note to Frank Noyes on March 13, 1926.
- The chief engineer of the Army’s Office of Public Buildings and
Grounds was responsible for parks and buildings until 1925. The Office
of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital, headed
by an army engineer officer, succeeded that organization. It was
reorganized in 1933. The National Capital Parks-Central (NCPP) was
established in 1965 to administer the National Park Service units in
the memorial core of Washington, DC capital, and is responsible for
the DC World War Memorial. http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/mackintosh1/sts2b.htm.
- Organized labor threw its support behind the memorial, sending the
building fund over the top by October 1, 1927. The Central Labor Union
held an Exposition and Fair to benefit the memorial. They awarded
prizes to attendees.
- Newbold Noyes donated two silver cups that were awarded to the
police precinct and the fire station turning in the largest
contributions to the memorial fund. The Detective Bureau of the Police
Department and No. 8 Engine Company of the Fire Department won the
- The white marble for the memorial was purchased from the Vermont
Marble Co., from the Danby quarry at Danby, Vermont. Two months were
required to quarry and finish the stone.
- The foundation for the temple was laid on piles that were driven
into the soft subsoil, to the solid rock far below.
- A special committee was established to compile a complete list of
names of those who died. The committee was composed of Maj. Gen. Anton
Stephan, Maj. Gist Blair, Frederick H. Brooke, DR. B.C. MacNeil, and
Col. Nevitt, secretary. The Star published the committee’s
list as it was made (see "The District’s Honor Roll,"
published September 20, 1931).
- A memorial grove of fine hardwood native trees was planted around
the memorial. A number of large elms were planted about 50 feet around
the temple. Large tulip trees were planted at a greater distance, and
oaks, beech, and elms were planted irregularly in between the two
types of trees. James L. Greenleaf, a distinguished landscape
architect and former member of the Fine Arts Commission, approved the
memorial grove design.
- On September 30, 1931, Abner L. Roe placed the keystone in position
using the same trowel used to lay the corner stone of the Folger
Two days before the memorial was dedicated, The Star (November
9, 1931) published an editorial, "The War Memorial."
Healing time has softened in some degree the sharp
pain of those blows that severed heart strings thirteen years ago as
casualty lists brought home grim tidings of how the battles fared. Harsh
grief has given way to the sweet memory and thought of those who died no
longer is obscured by the dust and turmoil of angry battle, but shines
white and clear, like the first star of a calm Summer evening. Some of
this purity and dignity of death for a cause has been expressed by the
skillful artisans who conceived and fashioned the District of Columbia
War Memorial, dedicated by the President of the United States on this
the thirteenth anniversary of the signing of the armistice.
The exercises today crown the efforts of those
thousands of Washingtonians who, through generous subscription and
unselfish service, have made the memorial possible. More than any of the
splendid monuments in this city of monuments, its erection represents
the achievement of Washingtonians. Carved in the solid stone of its base
are the honored names of those sons and daughters of this city who lost
their lives in the war. Inclosed [sic] in the firm foundations, sealed
against the ravages of age and decay, are the names of those who
answered the call of duty sounded by the war. And the completed work
itself, standing in a grove of friendly trees in West Potomac Park is
testimony of the success of the members of our Washington community who
labored to build this memorial.
Not so long ago the ground upon which now stands this
memorial was treacherous marsh. Now it is solid and firm underfoot. We
build, and leave the still unfinished work for those who follow us to
accomplish. It is a pleasing thought to believe that when many, many
years have rolled over the hill and the children of our children pause a
moment over the names carved on this memorial they can look about them
at the things that men have sought to do and say, "They built well."
The shrine was dedicated on Armistice day. Informal invitations to the
services were issued to the public through the press. The colors of
official military units of the Government and of the military organization
of the World War were draped and flown around the memorial for the event.
John Philip Sousa came to Washington to lead the United States Marine
Band—crowds applauded warmly when the 77-year-old Washingtonian rose to
lead the Marine Band in "The Stars and Stripes Forever," but
listened in silence during the performance. Sousa dressed his rank,
wearing the uniform of a lieutenant commander of the Navy.
A Gold Star Mother of one of the war dead laid a wreath upon the
Frank Noyes officially introduced and presented the memorial to the
United States, "In fulfillment of the trust confided to it, the
commission offers, Mr. President, this memorial for acceptance and
dedication." During his introduction, Noyes described the memorial as
a testimonial to the community’s gratitude and pride. He said, "We
feel that this memorial fittingly typifies the pride and love in which we
hold the 26,000 men and women from the District who served their country
in the armed forces of the Great War and more especially of the 499 of
Washington’s sons and daughters who gave their lives in that service.
The inscription on the memorial reads, "The names of the men and
women from the District of Columbia who gave their lives in the World War
are here inscribed as a perpetual record of their patriotic service to
their country. Those who fell and those who survived have given to this
and to future generations an example of high idealism, courageous
sacrifice and gallant achievement."
President Herbert Hoover dedicated the memorial in an address at 11 am.
That was the same hour—the 11th hour of the 11th
day of the 11th month—the war ended. General John J. Pershing
also spoke at the event. The entire proceedings were broadcast throughout
the nation on Columbia Broadcasting system and the National Broadcasting
system. President Hoover appealed for world peace at the memorial’s
The text of President Hoover’s address at the dedication of the
District of Columbia War Memorial, as reported by The Star on
November 11, 1931, follows:
Great shrines in our National Capital mark reverent
remembrance of those who have given sacrifice and glory to the Nation.
Marble and bronze, in their eloquence of silence and beauty, tell the
deathless story of heroic deeds done for our country.
We gather here today to dedicate a new shrine to
those residents of the District of Columbia who served in the World War.
This temple will recall for all time their services and sacrifices.
It is particularly fitting that these services should
be held on Armistice day, when, throughout the Nation, our citizens
pause to honor all those who gave their lives in the greatest conflict
which has ever engulfed the world.
Thirteen years to the day and hour have passed since
the guns ceased their destruction of life and nations began their march
back to peace and reconstruction. That day was a day of rejoicing in
victory, a day of pride in the valor of our Army and Navy, a day of hope
for peace in a better world. With each succeeding year Armistice day has
come to be a day to pay tribute to the millions who valiantly bore arms
in a worthy cause and to renew resolves that the peace for which these
men sacrificed themselves shall be maintained.
However great our desire for peace, we must not
assume that the peace for which these men died has become assured to the
world or that the obligations which they left to us, the living, have
been discharged. The minds of many races still are stirred by memories
of centuries of injustice; in others there is ever present the fear of
invasion and domination; many peoples are filled with hopes of liberty
and independence. The boundaries of many nations are but zones of
age-old contention. The growth of population and economic striving press
against the borders of others. World-wide expansion of commerce and
industry, with its vast interchange of citizens, brings the daily
obligation of self-respecting nations to see that their nationals abroad
in pacific pursuits shll not be unjustly imperiled as to life and
property. In every country men can secure public attention and even a
living by stirring malignant forces of fear and hate of their neighbors.
As a result of these forces the world is more heavily armed than ever
before the great war.
All of these dangers present to statesmen a world
where peace cannot be had by resolution and injunction alone. Peace is
the product of preparedness for defense, the patient settlement of
controversy and the dynamic development of the forces of good will. It
is the result of the delicate balance of that realism born of human
experience and of idealism born of the highest of human aspirations for
The backwash of forces loosened by the great war has
grown until during the past two years the stability of many nations has
been greatly shaken. This, with their fears and discouragement for the
future, weakened confidence throughout the whole financial and economic
world. That loss of confidence added enormously to unemployment, to the
distress of agriculture and business everywhere. From it all we have
been passing through an emergency second only to the great war.
But the emergency has brought a realization that the
outstanding problem of statesmanship today in every country and in every
part of the world is to re-establish confidence, not alone each nation
in its own institutions, but among nations. And no greater contribution
can be made to economic relief than day-to-day conclusive demonstration
that progress is being made in relieving stress and strain which now so
oppress the atmosphere of the family of nations.
Such action requires no treaties, no documents and no
commitments. It requires only that each nation realize the situation
that exists; that it contribute in its own policies and within its own
best interest to the building of good will and the rebuilding of
That progress is being made. It has been made by
frank, sincere and direction personal conferences on mutual problems
between heads of states throughout the world. It has been made by
similar action among the financial, industrial and social institutions
of the world. In these discussions have developed common action and have
increased good will and confidence. These consistent efforts are
providing new avenues of relief and are assuredly turning the tide for a
greatly suffering world.
It is by building good will and constructive effort
among nations that we can best honor the memory of the men who died that
the world should have peace. This monument stands for the men who fought
not alone for their country, but to establish the principles of justice
and peace. We pay tribute here to their valor. We honor them for their
sacrifice. We respect their memory by renewing our obligations to the
purposes and ideals for which they fought."
The first park band program was inaugurated the following year, on June
2, 1932. The 77-member United States Marine Band opened with "Heroes
All" to an audience of 2,000 who sat on the grass in around the Doric
temple. Capt. Taylor Branson led the band. The band also performed
"Les Preludes." There was a cornet solo of "Fantasie
Capriccioso" and a saxophone solo of "Beautiful Colorado."
Capt. Branson told The Star, "Washington never before has
had so ideal a place for our park concerts. The acoustics are all that
could be desired and the setting is superb." Concerts were moved from
the Sylvan Theater to the new memorial. Lieutenant Butler also expressed
pleasure with the monument: "We were delighted to find that the music
carried perfectly to a considerable distance from the temple. Traffic and
other extraneous noises were at a minimum. The audience seemed pleased
with the beauty and convenience of the place. There is unlimited parking
space for automobiles and plenty of room on the grass for those who wish
to sit together."
John Clagett Proctor, LLD, was a historian, poet, genealogist, and
writer who was born, lived, and wrote extensively about DC at that time.
Mr. Proctor wrote a number of poems that he read at Memorial Day events in
D.C. (formerly known as Decoration Day). He also wrote extensively about
DC's lack of representation, despite having fought in all wars beginning
with the Revolution. Here is a poem he wrote about DC soldiers who fought
in World War I, titled "Our Boys" (1918):
There's a time for which I yearn, 'Tis our soldier boys' return
And the day that they will march in grand review,
And I dream — I meditate — and I find it hard to wait
Just to see them marching up the Avenue.
O, but won't that be a day! Won't that be the greatest day,
When we really see them swinging into view?
Why, I wouldn't miss that sight If I had to stand all night,
Just to see our boys march up the Avenue.
Why, of all the lads that went — Of two million that were sent —
None was better — and I know it — so do you — Than our boys from
Whom we proudly call our son, Who will march in line along the Avenue.
Some left home and fireside — Some a sweetheart — some a bride
Some a mother gray, as sweet as honey dew; And when they begin to shout
Heaven's angels will turn out — When our D.C. boys march up the
Time has changed in but a year — Some have lost their mother dear;
Some will for the first time hear their baby coo,
And some will miss that lad Who was all the boy they had —
When those boys of ours march up the Avenue.
But we'll drive away the tears, When the D.C. boys come near,
We will bid all cares and grief a quick adieu, And we'll yell like
'Till we drop right in our tracks — When our D.C. boys march up the
Such a welcome! Such a hand! Will drown out the loudest band —
And the whole United States will hear it, too; And if I make no mistake
There will be a big earthquake, When our D.C. boys march up the Avenue.
The year after Proctor wrote this poem when "the boys" were
home, he wrote another poem titled "Everybody Up!" published in
the Evening Star in 1919, entered into the Congressional Record
in January 1921:
Let's get together, people, And everybody root,
That's how we whipped the Germans and The Austrians to boot —
Just with concentrated action, And no one can refute
That a lot can be accomplished Where all just follow suit.
We want a representative — On this we are agreed —
Some one to sit in Congress to Explain just what we need;
And there is hardly any doubt But that we shall succeed
If we keep the ball a-rolling Will accelerated speed.
So let us all be doing and Get right up on our toes.
For forty years we simply have Been nodding in a doze.
But now we must awaken and Eradicate our woes,
Or what may happen to this place, Why, goodness only knows.
We pay taxes to the nation, And local taxes, too;
We bought more bonds than many states From Mr. McAdoo;
We sent our boys, like other towns, To see the world's war through —
And what on earth beside that would The country have us do?
But what have we as recompense — What privileges of note?
In all this broad United States We are the human goat;
Gas rates are raised, so street car fares — We're held right by the
And all because in Washington We mortals have no vote.
Four hundred thousand strong are we Within this ten-mile square,
But in the making of our laws We simply have no share;
Unrecognized and disenfranchised! Shall we this longer bear
In this great land of freedom? I so no! It isn't fair.
When Frank Noyes died, the American Legion paid tribute to him at the
District of Columbia World War Memorial. They placed a wreath, sang
"America," and Chairman Rankin of the House Veterans Committee,
the principal speaker, called for expansion of the Air Force to prevent
another war. In all, 15 wreaths were laid.