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San Diego Public Absent As US Honors 100th Anniversary Of World War I

Dozens of white chairs sit empty during ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National C...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: Dozens of white chairs sit empty during ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to mark 100 years since America entered World War I, April 6, 2017.

The somber ceremony on the green rolling hills of Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma included a tribute, wreath laying, gun salute and the playing of taps. But no one from the public showed up for the event.

One hundred years ago today, the U.S. declared war on Germany and entered World War I. The “Great War” took the lives of 17 million people worldwide. A ceremony on Thursday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in Point Loma commemorated the day.

“We’re here today to remember those men and women who served during this war,” said Graham Wright, the cemetery’s assistant director, speaking from a podium in front of dozens of white chairs set up near the main entrance of the cemetery.

“And to remember those unknown, whose names were lost to history without their remains being identified,” Wright said.

The somber ceremony was held amid rows of white gravestones on green rolling hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Wright’s thoughtful tribute was followed by a wreath laying, a gun salute and the playing of taps.

The only thing missing was the attendees. Nobody from the public showed up for the event.

“The chairs were empty today,” Wright said. “You know, 100 years have passed since we entered into World War I. The generation of World War I, they’ve all passed away. A lot of their family members, they’re probably up in age also.”

The last surviving World War I veteran died six years ago. What’s important, Wright said, is that Americans remember the sacrifices of those who fought to change the world.

“We want to make sure that people understand that we still honor individuals who gave so much to this country in order to ensure that our ideals and our values here in the United States not only are maintained here but are also maintained across the globe,” Wright said.

The U.S. entered the fight on April 6, 1917 — nearly three years after the war broke out in Europe. It was the first major war where airplanes and tanks were used. The cost of the war was massive. The U.S. lost 116,000 troops.

More than 10,000 World War I veterans are laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans.

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