28th Infantry at Cantigny

James Carl Nelson Head ShotA century ago this summer, citizen-soldiers in Menomonie’s National Guard company marched to war down Main Street as they made their way to the train depot. Twenty-three would never return.

In commemoration of 2017 being the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, the annual Flag Day event at the Dunn County Veterans Memorial will feature acclaimed military author, James Carl Nelson as the event speaker. Nelson has written three books on World War I. His first two books were about the 28 th Infantry of the 1 st Division, the regiment that the Menomonie National Guard unit, Company H, was largely transferred to after arriving in France. It was with this regiment that Menomonie men stepped over the top, and into history, in America’s first major battle of the war: Cantigny.

In this regiment is where Nelson’s grandfather served, and was severely wounded during the summer of 1918. Curious about his grandfather’s service in a war he never talked about, Nelson used his skill set as a journalist to track down the descendants of those who served in his grandfather’s company to learn, and tell, their nearly forgotten story. The book, The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War (St. Martin’s Press, 2009) received an Editors’ Choice Award as one of 2009’s best history books.

Nelson went on to write a second book on the 1 st Division, Five Lieutenants: The Heartbreaking Story of Five Harvard Men Who Led America to Victory in World War I (St. Martin’s Press 2012). His latest book shares the experiences of the U.S. Marine Corps, I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, From Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War (Caliber 2016). Immediately following the Flag Day ceremony at the Dunn County Veterans Memorial, Nelson will provide a presentation in the lower room of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts on the experiences of the 28 th Infantry, specifically Company I, in which a number of Menomonie men were transferred to. This is a free event that is open to the public to attend. Refreshments will be served and a book signing will take place afterwards.

“With the centennial of America entering into World War I this year, we look forward to sharing one of the stories of Dunn County’s service and sacrifice in the conflict.” stated Darrek Orwig, Executive Director of Main Street of Menomonie. “Hopefully the presentation will provide some additional context to the Company H monument on Main Street that thousands of cars pass by daily.”

The annual Flag Day Veterans Memorial Brick Dedication Ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 14 at the Dunn County Veterans Memorial. This event is organized by the Dunn County Veterans Memorial Committee of Main Street of Menomonie and the Community Foundation of Dunn County. For more information about this event, visit www.mainstreetmenomonie.org or call (715) 235-2666.