WWI Memorial Complete After Buried Treasure Discovery
When one man found 752 cast bronze disks in Soldier's Memorial, he had no idea the years of effort involved to turn the forgotten artifacts into a memorial at Jefferson Barracks.
Seventeen years ago, Frank "Skip" Berger made an interesting discovery in the lower level of Soldiers' Memorial in downtown St. Louis.
Fifteen unmarked barrels filled with 752 cast bronze disks stood in the dust. Each disk bore the name and military information of a St. Louis service member who lost his or her life while serving in World War I. The serendipitous find began a chain reaction of activity that would impress even professional historians.
The American Gold Star Mothers, a group who wished to honor their fallen sons and daughters, commissioned the markers, cast at a local foundry in the 1920s.
Berger is a member of the Rollo-Calcaterra American Legion Post 15 and the group began an extensive research and restoration mission.
The effort will come to fruition Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m. when Post 15 will dedicate the World War I Court of Honor Memorial in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
The Post preserved 752 of the 1,185 gold star medallions. They worked in conjunction with the Jefferson Barracks Chapel Association, the National Cemetery Association, the Veterans Administration and the St. Louis Economic Council.
The Port Authority, under the economic council, awarded the group $250,000 for the memorial, and construction started in May.