Eyewitness to History: World War I monument

Eyewitness To History

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — She is determined to make sure all women veterans from our area are remembered. She is a South Scranton native who made a career in the Air Force.

This week’s Eyewitness To History takes us to Nay Aug Park and a monument with 248 names, and the local veteran who is making it her mission to find out who were these casualties of the Great War.

“The reason that I was looking for this memorial I knew it had six women listed. My role in the American Legion for the past few years has been to find and honor women veterans. On this day, on the 3rd of May 1920, 10,000 people came to Nay Aug Park to honor the veterans who died during World War I from the local area, from Scranton basically,” said Janice Gavern who is a historian at American Legion Post 154 in Montrose.

“Now depending on who you talk to, they say that there are five women veterans that are listed, there is actually six, but the sixth one isn’t a woman veteran. She went to France as a canteen worker, and about a month and a half after she got there, she and a couple of other people that had been on the trip with her, they all died of Spanish influenza,” explained Gavern

Gavern says of the five nurses that are listed on this, four of them died of Spanish influenza.

“They are nurses, they contracted it and they were gone,” Gavern said. “So now I got World War I veterans and I got some women veterans and an outliner there. What I want to do is make sure that the individuals are remembered.”

Gavern believes it will take her at least this year to do some background research.

“To find people who will send me information about these people. Because what I really like to do is make sure, we have a picture of them, that we could include with their data,” Gavern said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have got to the point, in 1967 when the Vietnam War was cranking up, that I decided to do my part. I was going to list in the Air Force.”

Janice’s goal is to gather all the information on the Scranton World War I dead and forward it to the new National World War I Memorial in Washington D.C.

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