February 17, 2015

More than a year before the United States entered World War I, an American by the name of Edward Mandell Stone joined the French Foreign Legion to fight in the war.

According to news stories he was mortally wounded one hundred years ago today, on February 17, 1915. (Other records say he was wounded a couple of days earlier.)

In a military hospital on February 27th, he became the first American to die from fighting during World War I.

His former school’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, soon received a letter:

To the Editors of the Crimson:

The papers report that Edward Mandell Stone ’08, who last August enlisted in the Foreign Legion of France, has died. His classmates, his friends, even those who knew him only enough to say a merry hello to him as he passed them in the Yard a few short years ago will feel a deep regret for the loss of a man whom they liked and respected, and a deep sympathy for his bereaved family.

….Let undergraduates and professors and alumni take off their hats in reverent memory of their brother who by dying for his ideals has brought honor upon himself and upon the University he so nobly represented.

Rudolph Altrocchi ’08

This news clipping comes from the March 28, 1915 Boston Sunday Globe:

Image-March 1915 Boston Globe

Although not a U.S. soldier, Edward Mandell Stone’s role is still remembered.

The following image and story excerpt comes from a June 25, 1932 Santa Cruz News article:

Image-SC News 1

Image-SC News-2

Why did the United States wait until 1917 to enter the war? Take a look at this History channel video to find out:

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