Detail and Explanation
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Building the collage, a labor of love, was founded on a passion for the history of WWI. The rubbings were taken from memorials along the Western Front during a visit to France in August of 1997.
The rubbings were done on newsprint with crayola. Due to the heat and the fear that softer mediums such as charcoal would smear and be damaged I chose this rather childish material Once I had the rubbings home I applied a hot iron to them to melt the crayola into the paper, then I used plain water to dissolve the paper into the elements - this prevented hard straight lines that would have resulted if I had cut the elements out with scissors. I was afraid that straight lines would have created an additional design element with which I would have had to deal as I assembled the collage. The adhesive is acrylic medium, the background is darkened English tea.
(1) The primary element is Freddie Stowers' cross, the newest cross on the front. The Medal of Honor was awarded in 1992 to this brave African-American, 78 years after he earned it. The rest of the collage is aged -- but not Freddie's Cross.
(2) This is another cross from another time (Ici - French for "Here") from the memorial area around Ft. Vaux, north of Verdun. It is from a memorial to 40 freedom fighters that were executed in 1944; knowing the history of the area and the carnage that took place there in 1915, it seemed so sad to be the place of yet more slaughter.
(3) This is a Star of David from a German Cemetery. You won't find them in WWII German cemeteries, and the young man buried beneath this marker did not stab his country in the back. Makes you wonder how the Nazis explained the Jewish sacrifices during the Great War?
(4 & 5) These two rubbings belong side by side. The first (4) commemorates where the US Army 5th Infantry Division first engaged the Germans in 1918, the second (5) commemorates where the US Army's 5th division first engaged the Germans in 1944. These came from the same marker, that says to the World; "If you don't take the time to do a job RIGHT plan on having to do it again."
(6) My Grandfather Marion Chauncy ROBERTS was from MICHIGAN. He served in the Navy during the Great War. He did not serve in Europe, but his stories of his experiences led to my interest in the Great War.
(7) A rubbing taken from a German cemetery, a reservist that so confused the French early in war and cost them such losses -- we can only guess the true number of dead.
(8) A design element taken from a cemetery in Paris that Charles Fair suggested I go to at our meeting in a pub in Paris across from the IGC office. It is barbed-wire carved into a headstone, and so elegantly represents the war without the use of words. I took rubbings in different colors and they cover areas of the collage where the elements failed to cover the background.
(9) A. P. Kua, Civilian. That is all that is known about this person, he could have been a YMCA volunteer, or a Salvation Army worker, no one knows. Could he have been Hawaiian? Kau? He is only 5 letters away from being completely unknown!
(10) Mort La France, "Died for France" That is true of them ALL either to take Her or to save Her they all died for France!
(11) Margaret Hamilton, Nurse from Chicago buried in the Somme Cemetery at Bony. The record at the cemetery does not say how she died, though I suspect that is was most likely due to the flu because influenza killed more Americans than hostile action.
(12) As These Bells Ring, Honored Dead Rest.... Freedom Lives... The bells that ring at the Muse-Argonne Cemetery at Romagne were donated by the AM-VETs in 1992. On August 9, 1997 Gene Dillenger, the superintendent of the cemetery and I retired the flag together and he had the bells play the Army Hymn (in my honor) followed by the National Anthem and Taps which are played at the close every evening. The rubbing is from the plaque commemorating the bells.
(13) From Tyne Cot Cemetery outside Ieper, Belgium, This is from the winner of the Victoria Cross. There are two German concrete machine-gun bunkers in the cemetery - they belong there. The men buried there paid the price. To enter the cemetery is to walk straight into what would have been the muzzles of these guns.
(14 &14A) From American unknowns' graves.
(15 & 15A) I broke this rubbing in two - it is from the Italian Cemetery near Chavonne, even they had their unknowns "INCONNU" (Too much brown to keep together).
(16) Who would believe that you had been to the front without Joyce Kilmer? The Fr. C. de G. in the very comer of the collage is also from his headstone. He received France's Croix de Guerre - the Cross of War - their highest military honor.
(17) Hussards, may seem German, Perhaps caused him to put forth the extra effort to win his Croix de Guerre. He was very much a Frenchman. Buried in Paris with Honor.
(18) Nothing to do with T.E. Lawrence. This man's body was never found and his name was rubbed from the memorial to the missing at Oise-Aisne Cemetery near Fer-en-Tardenois. He was Lawrence Roberts from Michigan; perhaps even a relation to my family. His name worked out perfectly for my collage - I was able to pay tribute to my grandfather and place the famous Lawrence name into my work. I was lucky to find this name of a man who was never found.
(19) Willy Me Coy, There is a song "Don't Mess Around With Jim" and in the song is this line: "I'm a pool shootin' boy, by the name of Willy McCoy, but down home they just call me Slim" The rubbing is from the Memorial to the missing at the St Mihiel Cemetery near Thiaucourt. Willy was in the 371 Iinfantry Regiment - that means that Willy was an African-American.