Reflection and Memorialization

Every war has its beginning and its end, and even the first world war, remembered as the grandiose “war to end all wars” met its own end in November 11th, 1918. A war of historically unprecedented scale went, that winter in 1918, from the present to the past.

As the saying goes, history is written by the victors. For World War One, The adage holds true to an extent. Although the Allies’ victory is seen by most as having been for the best, one would also be hard pressed to find a Turk that remembers the outcome of the Gallipoli campaign with anything but national pride. US popular sentiment towards WWI proved no different than those of most other participating nations.

Having been buffeted for over a year by wartime propaganda and nationalistic calls to help in the war effort, even the comparatively pacifist Loomis LOG writes in its October 10th 1917 editorial that “it is of vital importance that every man, woman, or child do his just share in the struggle” [1]. From the supreme significance of the war due primarily to its scale, patriotic attitudes ran unbridled especially among the young and easily influenced. Slowly the majority of the student body’s opinion of the war shifted from Headmaster Batchelder’s appeal to pacifism to the national enthusiasm for war.

It was in the midst of this wartime hysteria when Mrs. Batchelder died in the winter of 1917. Naturally, in a gesture to honor the late wife of the Headmaster, a school monument was due. Interestingly associating school spirit with patriotic sentiment, the Loomis students decided to pool their money into dedicating a central school flagpole to the late Mrs. Batchelder. The Mrs Batchelder Memorial Flagpole [2] was installed in the spring of 1918 behind Founders Hall, set to loom over the central and iconic Loomis building.

The Memorial Flagpole remains as one of the the only tangible remnants of WWI on what is now the Loomis Chaffee campus aside from the small wooden plaque commemorating Jack King 17’s death serving in the American ambulance corps [3]. Compared to the far larger memorials to the second World War on campus such as the “Victory of Mercy” and the numerous far larger plaques dedicated to the dead [4], Loomis’s memories of WW1 are hazy at best, amounting mostly to debate around the philosophy behind the war. With such limited involvement, it is no surprise that Loomis Chaffee carries such a limited array of memorials dedicated to World War One.

[1] The Loomis Log Vol. 3, October 10, 1917, No. 4

[2] The Loomis Log Vol. 3, December 5, 1917, No. 12

[3] The Loomis Log Vol. 4, October 9, 1918, No. 3

[4] The Loomis Log Vol. 31, October 12th, 1945, No. 3