Today marks the 98th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Cantigny, the American Army’s first offensive of the Great War. Truth be told the days-long battle was not much by the bloody levels set by the Europeans over the past 2 1/2 years. Still it marked a turning point. It is lost on many today how long it took the United States to become battle-ready after declaring war the first week of April 1917. Cantigny was a full thirteen months after that.
The roll of those active in the planning and fighting is a Who’s Who of the A.E.F. Robert Lee Bullard, Charles P. Summerall, George Marshall, Ted Roosevelt, and Chicago Tribune publisher Robert R. McCormick to name a few. McCormick had a lot to do with preserving the memory of the battle, and of the First Division as well. His Illinois estate became Cantigny Park after his death in 1955. In the decades after the war Colonel McCormick was an anti-New Dealer and America Firster. He used his newspapers to campaign against the Marshall Pan after the Second World War. It is somehow fitting that Cantigny falls on Memorial Day Weekend. It’s something to think about when one is out and about these next few days.
(image/Library of Congress)