“The sacrifice of the soldier will never exceed the sacrifice of his mother.” General of the Armies of the United States, John J. Pershing.
The American War Mothers was founded in 1917 by Alice Moore French. September 29th 1917, became known as “Founders Day” of the American War Mothers. The American War Mothers is unique in that at its very inception it was a dying organization. Because the Great War (later called World War I) was the war to end all wars. Membership in the organization was limited to the mothers who sons or daughters served in the Armed Forces between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918. Therefore it could exist only as long as any of the mothers survived. With the onset of WWII, congress was petitioned to amend the congressional charter to include mothers whose sons or daughters survived that war. The Korean conflict emerged making it necessary for another amendment to the congressional charter which included verbiage to include any future American Wars. The Missouri chapter was organized in 1920 and had a total of 12 chapters. In 1929, the Missouri Chapter commissioned an inmate John Schultz in the Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth to carve a marble statue known as the “War Angel”. The statue was to be dedicated at the WWI Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. However, the new curators refused to take the War Angel due to the inmate connection and she wound up at the future site of General Pershing’s Museum located on the grounds of the Pershing Park in Linn County, Missouri.
Unfortunately, due to the depression there was no money available to build a museum for General Pershing so the War Angel remained in a vacant field uncovered and unprotected for the past 70 odd years. Enter the PPMA and Director of the Pershing State Park, who is also on the board of directors, together came up with a plan for relocation of the Angel to the new WWI gardens site on the grounds of the Pershing Boyhood Home State Park. Phase 1 has been completed with the acquisition of eight canisters of dirt from each of the eight WWI American cemeteries in Europe. The state architect is currently working on a plan to include the War Angel as a centerpiece for the eight gardens honoring our fallen heroes many of which are unknown soldiers. In the meantime we are working on a funding plan to relocate and restore this beautiful statue where she will look over her sons and daughters forever.
The Laurel Wreath on her head signifies victory. She holds the torch of freedom and is draped in an American flag. The front feet of the chair are talons dug into the Central Powers of Germany and the Austro Hungarian Empire. She will have a redesigned base and lowered so that visitors can see the full detail of this magnificent piece.
Contributions to the War Angel restoration can be made out to the PPMA Monument fund and mailed to the PPMA, 900 Pershing Drive, Laclede., MO 64651.