World War One may have been fought over a century ago, but the battle to remember the sacrifices made by the men and women of that generation rages on – including here on the Knox campus, some 4,300 miles away from the old battlefields in France.
Over the past spring and summer, Galesburg’s local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), an organization dedicated to the promotion of American history, oversaw the renovation of two plaques on a monument in front of Old Main. The plaques are dedicated to the 660 men from Knox College who fought in World War One after the United States’ entry in 1917.
“Our DAR was prompted to clean and spend money on these two plaques because of the 100th anniversary of the end of the ‘War to End All Wars’. The plaques were given to Knox College June , 1919 (by the DAR chapter of Galesburg),” said Pam Johnson of the DAR, who helped with the renovation effort.
The renovation efforts centered around the removal of the metal plaques from the stone memorial so they could be cleaned and the letters on each plaque highlighted in gold paint.
“Lacky Monuments (of Galesburg) was able to unscrew (the plaques) and work on them at their business on West Main Street. The wording is now clearly seen on the monument given by our chapter,” said Johnson.
The two plaques are installed on the eastern and western faces of the monument. The eastern plaque – facing George Davis Hall – commemorates the service of the contingent of 660 men, as well as several smaller dedications to specific groups of those who served.
“Also on that marker is an inverted triangle with the number 27 under it. This refers to the number of Knox men who were prisoners of war. There is also a small cross on the plaque. Under the small cross is the number eight that refers to the number of Knox men who served in the Red Cross,” added Johnson.
The western marker – facing Alumni Hall – is more somber. The names of 17 Knox men who would not return home lay above a quote from William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus”: “He lives in fame/That died in virtue’s cause.”
The reinstallation of the markers on the monument took place on June 9th of last year, exactly 100 years to the day that the markers were first installed. The DAR was present to observe the reinstallation and a small ceremony was held in honor of those who served.