“Such Friends”:  100 years ago, November 11, 1921, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington Co., Virginia; and Westminster Abbey, London

Just across the Potomac River from Washington D. C., the first entombment of an American “unknown soldier” is taking place to commemorate the third Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the Great War.

Chosen randomly by a U. S. Army sergeant from four sets of remains taken from four cemeteries on the French battlefields, this soldier has literally had a stormy journey to get here.

On its way to France to collect the precious cargo, the USS Olympia was hit by a tropical storm in the Atlantic.

On the way back, the weather was even worse. The ship took on water and the Marine Guard assigned to the casket was almost washed overboard. Hit by the same tropical storm, the Olympia sustained 13-foot waves.

But the remains have arrived safely. Speaking at the ceremony, President Warren G. Harding, 56, remarked, “We know not whence he came, only that his death marks him with the everlasting glory of an American dying for his country.”

Armistice Day ceremony


In London, this is the third year that the United Kingdom has commemorated Remembrance Day.

Last year the UK government, along with the government of their ally, France, buried remains of an “unknown warrior” and a “soldat inconnu.”

Lord Field Marshall Haig, 60, who commanded the British Expeditionary Force, has felt that the country’s reverence for the importance of the day is already waning. So he proposed asking his countrymen to remember those who are buried under the poppies in Flanders Field by buying and wearing commemorative poppies. And shaming those who don’t.

The first Poppy Day appears to be a success. They are on track for sales of eight million poppy pins.

Remembrance Day leaflet

Poppy Day continues to this day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_Day

“Such Friends”:  100 Years Ago… is the basis for the series, “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s. Volumes I and II covering 1920 and 1921 are available as signed copies at Riverstone Books, Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, PA, and in print and e-book formats on Amazon. For more information, email me at kaydee@gypsyteacher.com.

Early next year I will be talking about the Centenary of the Publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

If you want to walk with me through Bloomsbury, you can download my audio walking tour, “Such Friends”:  Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group.