Laurens County Museum

On Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, at 6:30 p.m., the Laurens County Museum hosts a program honoring Company D, 118th Infantry and 30th Infantry divisions at the Witherspoon Building, 116 South Public Square, Laurens.

These units were made up of men from Laurens County. The program is “Laurens County and the Great War -- What our Soldiers Did ‘Over There,’ and How We Remember Them.”

Jim Crocker of Spartanburg, a World War I enthusiast and collector, will highlight a few stories and contributions of real people from this area who participated in the conflict. Laurens native Charlie Gray of Spartanburg will include the history of how the poppy became an international symbol of remembrance following The Great War.

Just over 100 years ago, The Great War was finally moving toward its devastating conclusion. From late September and into October 1918, the famed Hindenburg Line began to collapse, and leading the way was the Old Hickory Division (30th Infantry Division).

Many local men from Laurens County were involved in the heaviest of the fighting as members of Company D, 118th Infantry. Many did not come home, leaving local families to grieve along with 10 million families worldwide.

Following the war, the poppy became an enduring symbol of remembrance for those who died so far from home in the fields of Flanders. These scarred landscapes were once beautiful places where poppies grew freely and abundantly. Ironically, this was where the heaviest fighting occurred.

Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, a Canadian soldier, wrote a poem of grief and remembrance in response to his sad personal experiences there. Symbolically, the blood of the dead returns yearly as beautiful poppies, to see sunrises and sunsets, as they wave peacefully in the breezes of those post-war fields, a healing reminder of all that was lost during four terrible years of war.

Come and learn why this healing and comforting symbol became such a meaningful tribute to not only our local families but families around the world as we remember those souls lost over 100 years ago.