Illinois National Guard


 
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    World War I
    World War I was the war that film captured. It brought the horrors of the war to the big screens across America. Scientific advancements not only affected the media coverage, but also advancement in weaponry. Millions of soldiers were dying on the battlefields of Europe. To prepare the United States for entry into these hellish conditions, Major Peirce was brought out of retirement. He was tasked with forming the Graves Registration Service. This war would bring a new set of challenges to the newly formed units. In 1917, four companies were established to identify and bury casualties in temporary cemeteries. The first unit of its kind, the GRS began operating on the front lines in 1918. By the end of the war, there would be 18 companies operating on the front. Their initial system of burial was to place a bottle with the name, rank, unit, and cause of death with the body. These men often risked their lives to recover the dead from the battlefield. They often braved minefields and booby traps and would use any means to identify the bodies of the soldiers in their care. During the war, dog tags became required items for soldiers. This would help identification, but only to an extent. In 1918, the GRS would find itself supervising 2,400 cemeteries within Europe. It would take two years to exhume and ship the remains home. The GRS was dissolved after the war in 1934 and the memorial affairs were left to the 54 men of the Quartermasters Memorial Branch. After the war, in 1921, Congress called for the selection of an unknown soldier to be interred. Four bodies were selected and moved to Chalone, France. All records concerning them were burned. SGT Younger from the 2/50 INF was tasked with selecting the unknown by laying a spray of roses on one of the caskets. The remains of the selected soldier was transferred to a silver and ebony casket. The soldier would lie in state as 90,000 mourners would pas through the capital to pay their respects. On November 11, 1921, the body was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The unknown would receive the highest honors of nine countries.