Front page story of WWI sacrifice

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Rose Marie Buckley stopped by the Press Monday morning. She wanted to share an interesting page one from the June 6, 1918, edition of the Sheridan Enterprise, a local newspaper which was a forerunner of the Press.

The top story that day was the battlefield death of Roy E. Eaton, 25, of Sheridan County. Sheridan’s VFW is named in his honor. Eaton’s was the first Sheridan County WWI death, the second in Wyoming. Eaton was part of the 168th U.S. infantry. He was killed May 18, 1918. Eaton was a Sheridan homesteader who had 320 acres near Verona, according to the Enterprise story.

Ms. Buckley’s late husband, James Buckley, was the nephew of Eaton. Mr. Buckley died last year; they were married for 61 years. She was going through some artifacts and came across a copy of the Enterprise story.

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It’s the centennial year of the “Great War,” aka “the war to end all wars.” Of course, that didn’t happen. Filmmaker Ken Burns and other historians have tackled the war and its lasting effects, most notably Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August.” Historian Rob Citino, an author and professor at North Texas State University and the U.S. Army War College, has written extensively about this, including for AARP. His observations, to wit:

• At the outbreak of WWI, the U.S. was ranked 12th in the number of troops committed. At war’s end, the U.S. force had grown to more than four million and had become a global power.

• Citino posits that the U.S. refusal to ratify the Treaty of Versailles or join the League of Nations sparked the rise of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, saying that U.S. disengagement from world affairs carries risks in later generations.

• The mess that is the Middle East today — ongoing civil wars, violent Arab Spring movements, genocide — stems from the British making contradictory promises regarding the assignment of Palestine and the framework of Arab nations after the spoils of victory were divvied.

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Our Sheridan County Museum has a WWI exhibit. It opened May 1, says curator John Woodward. It explains the complex backstories about how the war started in 1914 and the U.S. involvement that didn’t begin until three years later.

Woodward notes, too, how National Guard members of the 148th field artillery unit were from Wyoming, Colorado and Oregon. Uniforms for the Wyoming National Guard featured the bucking horse and rider symbol and were designed by first sergeant George Ostrom of Sheridan. The 148th participated in four major battles.

The museum is open these days from 1-5 p.m.

By |May 16th, 2017|

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