Huntington West Virginia World War I Memorial Arch
The 42-foot tall arch was built by the Cabell County War Memorial Association during the 1920s to honor the men of Cabell County who served in World War I. The arch contains a plaque listing the names of each man from the county who gave his life in the war, 91 in total. The first cornerstone was laid on November 11, 1924, and the completed arch was dedicated on November 11, 1929. In addition to this memorial, the county planted 91 trees in honor of the men from Cabell County who lost their lives serving in the armed forces during the war.
Backstory and Context
West Virginia mustered roughly 58,000 soldiers to fight in World War I, and an estimated 5,000 died in service from either the influenza epidemic or in battle. Many West Virginia soldiers are buried in France, and Arlington National Cemetery. No Medals of Honor were awarded to West Virginia Soldiers; however, several won the French Croix de Guerre. West Virginia has a strong link to war service ranging from World War I & II, Korea, and Vietnam. "World War I memorials may be seen at Welch, Logan, Martinsburg, and at the West Virginia Veterans Memorial in Charleston. The War Memorial in Kimball was the first building in the country erected to honor African-Americans who fought in World War I." (Leatherwood)
Of the 58,000 West Virginians that served in World War I, roughly 11,000 African American men fought while African American women served as nurses, telephone operators or clerks. Historian Jenifer Keene notes that “over 96 percent of the 367,710 blacks who served during the war were conscripted. African Americans formed 13 percent of the wartime army, even though they only represented 10 percent of the civilian population.” Whether or conscripted or volunteered, West Virginians honorably served in World War I.
Keene, Jenifer D. World War I. Westport: CT. Greenwood Publishing Company, 2006.Leatherwood, Jeffrey M. "World War I." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 28 September 2012. Web. 13 April 2015.