On Oct, 6 at 2 p.m., the Maryland Region 29th Division Association Post 48, City of Westminster and Carroll County elected officials, and the Carroll County Delegation to Annapolis paused to remember the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, which ended World War I — as well as honor all Carroll Countians who served in World War I.
They joined together to rededicate the Old Westminster Armory, now the Westminster Longwell Family Recreation Center, in the memory of Private Jerome L. Day on the anniversary of his death during WWI.
Special guest retired Maryland Army National Guard Col. Robert Finn, who currently serves as the Deputy Secretary of Maryland Veterans Affairs, participated in the remembrance ceremony for Day. The event featured presentations by Finn, Maryland Delegates Susan Krebs, and Haven Shoemaker, who represent Carroll County in the state’s House of Delegates, Westminster City Councilwoman Dr. Mona Becker, General Mark Bailey, USA Army Retired, along with the keynote speaker CSM Thomas B. Beyard.
The Master of Ceremonies was Alex Whitney, a Marine Corps veteran and the Western Maryland District Commander of the American Legion. Vicki Bohn sang the national anthem, and the colors were presented by the Carroll Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol. District 3 Commissioner Dennis Frazier represented the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. The commemoration activities included a wreath laying ceremony in the Memorial Garden at Westminster City Hall.
Day served in the H Company of the 29th Division US Army. He was deployed from the newly completed Maryland Army National Guard Armory on Longwell Avenue — then located on the outskirts of town, during WWI.
According to an Other Voices essay in the Carroll County Times by Todd Mitchell, who is retired from the Army National Guard as deputy provost marshal and is the director of the nonprofit Business Advocates for Veterans, “Day served as a machine gunner in Company C 112th Machine Gun Battalion of the 29th Division. Day was killed on October 8, 1918, by German artillery fire in the [First] Battle of Malbrouck Hill in France…”
He was the first casualty from Carroll County in WWI. A total of 31 Carroll County native sons died in World War I — in essentially one month right before the end of the war which occurred on Nov. 11, 1918.
Many individuals, businesses, organizations, and local governments came together for this project —which is a testament to the quality of our local community leadership. According to Tony Eckard, the finance director for the Carroll County Library, “The 29th Division Association and the Business Advocates for Veterans [partnered] with the City of Westminster and the Carroll County Public Library to remember Jerome L. Day and rededicate the historic Longwell Avenue Armory...”
The Carroll County Government and Public Library Celebrating America initiative was also involved — in part by sponsoring a program about the role of carrier pigeons in WWI by Susan Thompson, the Command Historian for CECOM, US Army Aberdeen Proving Ground. Chas. Rittenhouse provided a living history portrayal of General John Pershing.
According to Mitchell, “Frank Rauschenberg, Commander of the 29th Division Association Post 48 in Westminster, approached Councilman Tony Chiavacci (an army veteran) to ask if the [Westminster Common] Council would consider recognizing the old armory in some way to honor Day along with those who served. Chiavacci discussed this with the Mayor and other council members who supported the idea.
Day was part of a unit of approximately sixty-four soldiers deployed from the old Longwell Armory, reported Mitchell. “Day and 768 others made their way to Hoboken, NJ where on June 15, 1918 they boarded the USS DeKalb and embarked for France…
“The 112th Machine Gun Battalion was commanded by Major D. John Markey of Frederick, Maryland. Markey played half-back for the Western Maryland College football team and later became an assistant coach at the college. In 1902, the Maryland Agriculture College (now University of Maryland) hired Markey to be their first football coach…”
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Beyard spoke for many when he said, “Today we will learn about Private Jerome Day and his service to our nation. And in honoring Private Day, we will also honor the thousands of American Soldiers who gave their lives in WWI… It is the greatest example of citizenship that mankind has ever known – to be a person willing to die for their country so others can be free. We can never thank them enough.