"I am damn glad to be alive."

November 11, 2017 will witness the 99th commemoration of National Veterans Day.  Eleven o'clock in the morning on the 11th day of the 11th month, the Great War, the "War to end All Wars" ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918.  The United States Department of Veterans observes the day to include all veterans and military families, originally named Armistice Day until 1954. A ceremony will be held at the Highland Park Public Library.

In November 1917, Highland Park residents' unique local window into war efforts observed United States Cavalry troops passing en route to Fort Sheridan and countless young men arriving for Army induction and training before entering the war theater "over there."

At least 363 Highland Park residents participated overseas as soldiers, doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, and other support.  Twelve perished; including Walter Stupey who fell in France only hours before the Armistice.

Two young men Robert Melville "Boola" Cobb (1893-1948) and Charles Wilcox "C.W" "Bill"  Cregier (1895-1977) volunteered in 1917 as an ambulance drivers with the American Field Service (AFS) Service Automobile Américan aux Armées Françaises. 

"Bill" wrote to his friend "Boola" with his observations on the war in detailed letters donated to the Highland Park Historical Society in 1969 by Cobb's widow, Florence; and now housed at the Library.

In particular, on September 9, 1917, Cregier wrote, "...we are just back from the front and in repos and I am damn glad to be alive..."

Both survived the War.

Cobb, discharged 100 years ago today, rejoined in 1918, as part of Company "B" , 7th regiment in the Officer's Training School.  Cregier appears to have rejoined as part of the Navy after his AFS service.

For more about Highland Park and World War I, visit the library and view digitized items, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/highland003 , digitized courtesy the Illinois Secretary of State.

 

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