Commemorating the Great War with Google Cultural Institute

A new online exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War by presenting a personal view of the conflict through the eyes of Private Homer E. Simpson.

In March of 1918 Simpson wrote to his local board in Covington, Virginia and asked them to advance his name to the top of list for enlistment. He was called up in May and then started a diary of his experiences, which he kept above the mesh liner in his helmet. This diary, his helmet, and other mementos from his trip “Over There and Back” were recently unveiled as the newest additions to the Foundation’s rich collection of artifacts and papers.

His diary gives a glimpse of the conditions in the trenches in the hours leading up to the armistice. On November 11, 1918 he wrote, “at 10:30 Major Willis (his commanding officer) came by and said ‘Boys, keep your heads down, it will all be over in half an hour.’ The Major had a smile on his face–the first in many days. We thought that he had probably lost his mind.” The very next day Simpson reflects on his experience “over there” and states that he and his fellow soldiers “gave no thought to the future. We just did what we were told to do.”

The exhibit joins two others produced by the Marshall Foundation; one on the Marshall Plan and the other on D-Day.

The George C. Marshall Foundation, located in Lexington, Virginia, preserves, protects and promotes the example of George Marshall. It is the only place where the principles that motivated Marshall are kept alive through educational programs, online presence and facilities that include a museum, research library, and archives.