A century ago this summer, citizen-soldiers in Menomonieâ€™s National Guard company marched to war down Main Street as they made their way to the train depot. Twenty-three would neverÂ return.
In commemoration of 2017 being the centennial of Americaâ€™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 Americaâ€™s first major battle of the war: Cantigny.
In this regiment is where Nelsonâ€™s grandfather served, and was severely wounded during theÂ summer of 1918. Curious about his grandfatherâ€™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 hisÂ grandfatherâ€™s company to learn, and tell, their nearly forgotten story. The book, The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War (St. Martinâ€™s Press, 2009) received an Editorsâ€™ ChoiceÂ Award as one of 2009â€™s best history books.
Nelson went on to write a second book on the 1 st Division, Five Lieutenants: The HeartbreakingÂ Story of Five Harvard Men Who Led America to Victory in World War I (St. Martinâ€™s Press 2012). His latest book shares the experiences of the U.S. Marine Corps, I Will Hold: The Story ofÂ USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, From Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War (Caliber 2016).Â Immediately following the Flag Day ceremony at the Dunn County Veterans Memorial, NelsonÂ will provide a presentation in the lower room of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts on theÂ experiences of the 28 th Infantry, specifically Company I, in which a number of Menomonie menÂ were transferred to. This is a free event that is open to the public to attend. Refreshments will beÂ served and a book signing will take place afterwards.
â€œWith the centennial of America entering into World War I this year, we look forward to sharingÂ one of the stories of Dunn Countyâ€™s service and sacrifice in the conflict.â€ stated Darrek Orwig,Â Executive Director of Main Street of Menomonie. â€œHopefully the presentation will provide someÂ additional context to the Company H monument on Main Street that thousands of cars pass byÂ daily.â€
The annual Flag Day Veterans Memorial Brick Dedication Ceremony will be at 10 a.m. onÂ Wednesday, June 14 at the Dunn County Veterans Memorial. This event is organized by theÂ Dunn County Veterans Memorial Committee of Main Street of Menomonie and the CommunityÂ Foundation of Dunn County. For more information about this event, visitÂ www.mainstreetmenomonie.org or call (715) 235-2666.