- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Men and women of the District who died for their country more than 74 years ago, before blacks were integrated with whites in military services, were honored yesterday at the District World War Memorial.

“These 487 men and women paid a price for the dream we are now living,” said Maj. Gen. Richard E. Spooner, director of the National Guard Bureau for the Army and Air Force.

Gen. Spooner was the keynote speaker during the 70th annual program at the memorial, which was dedicated November 11, 1931.

The names of the 487 D.C. residents who died in World War I are engraved on the base of the circular memorial, barely 100 yards away from the World War II memorial for all of America’s fighting men and women. Inside a cornerstone are the names of 26,000 D.C. residents who served in the first world war.

Nearby plaques state that, in 1914, a small European conflict quickly expanded into a global conflagration with new lethal technologies. World War I created new international boundaries in Europe and killed 9 million.

About 120,000 Americans died before the armistice on November 11, 1918.

Most of the D.C. enlistments went into the segregated 272nd Infantry Regiment, 11th Aero Squadron and on board the S.S. Aztec.

The memorial, built with private donations, was the first on the Mall for women and blacks who died in the services.

About 60 men and women attended the memorial. Some carried umbrellas to ward off the light rain.

Most of those attending wore American Legion caps or carried some other emblem of military service.

“America’s fallen heroes must never be forgotten,” said Thomas C. Kouyeas, 77, past commander of the D.C. Department of the American Legion, and the oldest of three brothers who served in America’s military services.

“We have seen many challenges since the day when President Herbert Hoover dedicated this memorial,” said Gen. Spooner, noting the dead warriors surely would have been saddened to see “an Iron Curtain had been lowered across Europe.”

When the memorial was dedicated, renowned composer John Philip Sousa directed the U.S. Marine Band, which played the new official national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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