This last campaign in World War I - the Meuse-Argonne Offensive - produced the most terrific concentration of artillery firepower that the world has ever seen or will ever see again. In numbers engaged and losses suffered, it was the greatest battle an American army had ever fought up to that time. It was the crucial part of a front that extended from the English Channel to the Swiss border, in which all the land strength of the British Empire, the French Republic and the United States of America was pitted in a final showdown with the Central Powers. Emile Ladnier of Ocean Springs, Miss., was killed in action just 4 days from the signing of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918.
The largest overseas U.S. military cemetery is the Meuse-Argonne, where 26,277 were killed and 95,786 wounded. For the first time, because of government cuts, the Army will not have a presence there to honor the dead. The World War I Memorial, in Ladnier's honor, was unveiled on Armistice Day 1927 by Ellis Handy, commander of Legion Post 42, at that time in front of Ocean Springs High School. Today the building houses the Mary C. O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education, located at 1600 Government St., Ocean Springs, Miss. The Emile Ladnier World War I Memorial is in the front and reminds us all of the sacrifices many made to preserve our freedom.
Memorial Day this year is Monday, May 27. When you pass this site, say a prayer for all the sacrifices our military servicemen and women from World War I to the present have made so that you may live in peace.
Richard A. Eckert Sr., member of Post 42, Ocean Springs, Miss.