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    WWI monument honors Oklahoma Soldiers

    WWI monument honors Oklahoma Soldiers

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Brian Schroeder | A new World War I monument was unveiled at the Granite Veteran’s Memorial Park...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Brian Schroeder 

    Oklahoma National Guard

    GRANITE, Oklahoma – Community members, civic leaders, Soldiers and school children braved the cold weather at the Granite Veteran’s Memorial Park Thursday Nov. 8 to honor Soldiers from Southwestern Oklahoma who served during World War I.

    Phil Neighbors, Honoring our Hometown Heroes event coordinator, and Granite, Oklahoma native, presented a new World War I monument to the town of nearly 2,000 residents as a reminder of the military heroes who called the area home.

    “We are here 100 years later to remember this story that has been forgotten,” Neighbors said. “I can promise you 100 years ago, if you walked down Main Street in Granite, Oklahoma, everybody was talking about it. And today, 100 years later, we are talking about it again.”

    In 1917, 184 Soldiers from Southwestern Oklahoma joined the newly formed 36th Infantry Division, comprised of a combination of Soldiers from the Texas and Oklahoma National Guards. The joining of the two states is represented in the unit patch with Oklahoma represented in the blue arrowhead and Texas with the capital “T”. Almost one year later, on July 2, 1918, the 36th ID received orders to deploy to France. Neighbors remarked the geography of the land and profession of the people in Eastern France in 1918 was similar to the wheat field and cotton patches of Southwest Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas.

    On the morning of Oct. 8, 1918, in St. Etienne, France, the 2nd ID and 36th ID, the most seasoned and newest divisions on the battlefront respectively, began an assault on Hill 140, a proven German stronghold for almost four years. By 2 p.m., Hill 140 had been surrendered to U.S. Troops at the cost of approximately 1,300 casualties to 36th ID. After the battle, German soldiers remarked the 36th ID Soldiers fought with such reckless abandon that they willingly exposed themselves to machine gun fire.

    During the battle of St. Etienne, Cpl. Samuel M. Sampler, Mangum, Oklahoma native, and Cpl. Harold L. Turner, Seminole, Oklahoma native, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, were both awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in the battle on Oct. 8, 1918.

    During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Patrick Hamilton, commander of the 36th Infantry Division, and Col. James Ivester, public affairs officer for the Oklahoma National Guard read the Medal of Honor citations for both Sampler and Turner.

    “I want to tell you what a tremendous honor it is for me to be here today,” said Hamilton. “The 36th ID has more Medal of Honor recipients than any other division, and that’s a great testament to the people of Granite and Grier County. This is where heroes come from.”

    The monument depicts a formation of marching “Doughboys” on the foreground and an image of Hill 140 that members of the 36th ID took Oct. 8, 1918. Surviving family members of Sampler and Turner were on hand to lay a wreath at the new monument.

    The WWI Monument in Granite is designated as an Oklahoma Historic Site and an official United States World War I Centennial Memorial as part of its 100 Cities, 100 Memorials Program, which was created to help draw attention to WWI memorials across the U.S.

    Elizabeth Bass, director of publications with the Oklahoma Historical Society, said this honor puts the memorial in Granite in the same league as Los Angeles’ Memorial Colosseum, Chicago’s Soldier Field and the grave of Sgt. Alvin York in Tennessee.

    “This is a compelling story that speaks to the grit and determination of all Oklahomans,” said Bass. “Granite, Grier County and the entire state of Oklahoma should be proud of this monument and proud of the men it represents. Those who gave their lives in the service of their country far from home, and those who came home forever changed by the experience by fighting one of the first modern wars. May we never forget those boys from Grier County who answered the call.”

    More than 400 high school and grade school students from the surrounding area were in attendance for the unveiling. Neighbors said it was important for the students to be at the ceremony to not only remember the rich history of their small town, but to show them they can achieve greatness in their lives.

    “I thought it was important for them to know that, even though they live in a little corner of the state that might be overlooked by the rest of the world, that there is something very important they can do with their lives that can change them,” Neighbors said. “I believe the men who lived in this little town 100 years ago did make a difference, and maybe they can make a difference too.”



    Date Taken: 11.08.2018
    Date Posted: 11.08.2018 19:01
    Story ID: 299326
    Location: GRANITE, OK, US 

    Web Views: 338
    Downloads: 1