Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Fallen Heroes

The Civil War was the deadliest conflict in U.S. history and necessitated the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance to take place on May 30, 1868. Logan called this day of remembrance Decoration Day where citizens were asked to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers. Decoration Day eventually became known as Memorial Day and, while it originally honored only those lost during the Civil War, after World War I the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars. In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as a federal holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May which went into effect in 1971.

Henry Homer Dalrymple in his WWI uniform
Johnette Parham collection: 2002.004.025.
With Memorial Day coming up this Monday, I want to tell you about one of Bossier Parish’s fallen heroes. Pvt. Henry Homer Dalrymple was born July 21, 1892, in Bossier Parish and was from the Midway community which is approximately 9 miles east of Benton. Pvt. Dalrymple lost his life serving in the first World War and is among the countless fallen remembered on Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, the first indication his family received about his death was when letters to Homer were returned to sender with the notation “return to writer: deceased.” The Dalrymple family quickly reached out to the War Department to confirm if it were true…had their beloved son and brother died? The War Department did not have any news of his death and informed the Dalrymple’s that an inquiry would be cabled to the commander abroad and they would advise the family as soon as possible.

Later they received a telegram from the War Department stating, “Deeply regret to inform you that Private Henry Homer Dalrymple, infantry, is officially reported as killed in action; date undetermined” (appearing in the October 24, 1918, publication of the Bossier Banner).

Then, the following letter was sent to the Bossier Banner and published on February 6, 1919:

"Germany, 12 December, 1918.
Mr. G. W. Dalrymple, Shreveport, La.
Dear Sir: I regret to inform you, in response to your inquiry of October 12th, that Henry H. Dalrymple was killed in action. He was always one of the best soldiers I had in the platoon, and was an acting sergeant when the accident occurred. He was killed by a direct hit with a high explosive, and his badly mutilated body was buried about a half kilometer from a village named Vaux, near Chateua [sic] Thiery [sic]. The date of the incident was July 1, 1918. Please accept my most sincere sympathy. Yours, Earl H. Brockman,Captain Infantry, U.S.A."

Pvt. Henry Homer Dalrymple was laid to rest in the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in Belleau, Department de l’Aisne, Picardie, France.

During World War I, mothers would display a gold star on service flags in their homes and on armbands to represent the loss of a son or daughter killed in war service. These women were known as Gold Star Mothers and became a federally chartered organization in 1928. The Gold Star Mothers lobbied Congress for a federally sponsored pilgrimage to Europe for mothers with sons buried overseas. President Calvin Coolidge signed the legislation, in March 1929, authorizing Gold Star Mothers and widows with next of kin buried overseas to travel to Europe with all expenses paid by Uncle Sam.

The Office of the Quartermaster General determined that 17,389 women were eligible to make the pilgrimage. Among these women was Homer’s mother Lydia Harriett Smith Dalrymple who made the pilgrimage sometime in the early 1930s.
Lydia Harriett Smith Dalrymple (left) on her Gold Star Mothers Pilgrimage
Also Harry Gray and Della Gray Sorrells. Johnette Parham Collection: 2002.004.055.
It is with a grateful and heavy heart that we remember all of the fallen heroes who, in service to our great country and with ardent patriotism, have valiantly paid the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of freedom, may they never be forgotten.

To learn more about Bossier Parish history, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett St., Bossier City, La.

By: Amy Robertson

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