Hallowed ground remembers those who served in 'The Great War' [Editorial]

April 6 marked 100 years since the United States entered The Great War, also known as The War to End All Wars, and more commonly known to generations as World War I.

Havre de Grace noted the solemn occasion with a ceremony rededicating its redone War Memorial Plaza in Tydings Park on the city's southern end.

The United States didn't enter The Great War until closer to the end of its four-year run, generally considered to be from 1914 to 1918.

Historians have long noted the U.S. stayed out of the war for a couple of years primarily because many of its people, and their elected leaders, were against the country entering the war.

When the United States finally entered the war, it did so in a big way, impacting communities of all sizes across the land and their people.

There was a huge buildup to the war. In Harford County, that wrought Aberdeen Proving Ground, also marking its centennial this year. The region also gained another major installation when Fort George G. Meade opened in Anne Arundel County in 1917.

It's obvious that Maryland was changed forever during World War I when the Army turned thousands of acres into those two posts.

In Harford County, Aberdeen Proving Ground, as has been stated and restated in this space, immediately became the anchor and much of the energy of the local economy. APG's massive impact on the area's economy has continued unabated since 1917.

Neither the massive economic gains Harford County has received from APG's existence, nor the 100 years that have passed since it became part of our landscape, can dim the memory of the lives lost during World War I.

The Havre de Grace event Thursday was perfectly chosen. As part of an overall renovation/restoration of Tydings Park, its crown jewel of public spaces on the waterfront at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, the city spent some $50,000 upgrading the area immediately around its longstanding monument. The upgrades include a new entrance off Commerce Street, an enhanced entryway and a dedicated walkway from the street directly to the memorial.

With the work complete, the city is drawing attention not only to the refurbishment, but also to the start of World War I.

"On April 6, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany, officially entering the war," the city's web site says. "The Tydings Park War Memorial is the oldest World War One monument in the state of Maryland."

The memorial has the name of every man from Havre de Grace who served in World War I, according to Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin. That includes the names of 11 Havre de Grace heroes who made what's called the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The mayor said those who died in the war "are hallowed names to the city."

As well they should remain.

"That monument is very special to us," the mayor said. "We're very proud to have an opportunity to showcase it 100 years later."

We agree.

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