Remembering local soldiers from WWI

Sunday, November 11, 2018, marked the centennial of “The Great War,” World War I

By Jan Lawrence

Weaverville – Sunday, November 11, 2018, marked the centennial of “The Great War,” World War I. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day. President Wilson said, “To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nature.”

A Congressional Act approved May 13, 1938, made November 11 in each year a legal holiday, Armistice Day. Veteran Raymond Weeks from Birmingham, Alabama had the idea in 1945 to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans, but it was not until May 26, 1954, that the bill was signed into law and the day designated as Veterans Day. It is spelled without an apostrophe because it is a day to “honor” all veterans as opposed to a day that “belongs” to veterans.

The number of those who served overseas in World War I was 2.8 million. This week we recognize three of the area’s “Great War” veterans.

In Nell Pickens’ book, Dry Ridge, Lynn Weaver of Weaverville was pictured as a WWI soldier. Research indicated he was the grandson of Jacob Weaver and survived the war, living until 1956. The image of (Henry) Lynn Weaver is pictured with his registration card from the armed services dated June 5, 1917, and his tombstone in West Memorial Park indicating his military service (see pictures top right).

Among the 63,114 who died of disease in WWI was Pvt. Walter McKinley Harwood of Weaverville whose picture was found in Soldiers of the Great War v.2 (Soldiers Record Publishing Association, Washington, D.C.). He died on February 24, 1919, at age 23 and was buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery in Picardie, France. His picture and marble cross marking his grave are shown (see pictures below middle).

Pvt. Henry C. Carson of Stocksville (an area near North Buncombe High School) was also listed in the above cited book. He was one of 205,000 wounded in action and survived the injuries, dying in 1969. His picture and tombstone from Morgan Hill Baptist Church Cemetery are included (see pictures at bottom).

Each number, among the 2.8 million, was a person from a family and a place, beloved and treasured. Each was a “Blue Star” and those who died belonged to a “Gold Star” mother, like my own grandmother. Many more from the community might have sacrificed in the service of our country. Veterans pass out poppies for us to commemorate the service and sacrifice of our veterans from all wars and from times of peace. Let us not forget their sacrifices.

Editor’s note: Lawrence is the Chairwoman of the Dry Ridge Museum.

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