On Monday, November 12, Houghton College will honor the service and sacrifice of fallen World War I student soldiers. The dedication of four new oak trees on the main campus will conclude the college’s Veteran’s Day chapel service at 11:50 a.m. Both the service and dedication ceremony are free and open to the public.
Four former students fought for the Allies in ‘The Great War’ and were lost in 1918:
- Private Harry F. Meeker, Jr., originally from Succasunna, NJ, lost his life at age 21 to the Spanish flu before seeing the battlefields of Europe. He served with Company B, 7th Engineers Training Regiment. Meeker frequently contributed to the college newspaper, and was known for his jovial spirit.
- Private Robert Curtis Rogers, originally from Lincoln Falls, PA, was killed in action at the age of 23 near Busigny, northern France. Rogers was a member of the 301st Heavy Tank Battalion. Considered an excellent athlete during his Houghton years, he went on to exhibit heroic actions on the battlefield, even shielding those assisting the wounded after already sustaining grievous injuries of his own.
- Private William Verne Russell of Vernon, NY, lost his battle against the Spanish flu before seeing combat, and is buried in Houghton, NY. A pastor’s kid and poet, Russell served with Company C, 307th Field BMG Battalion and was only 21 at the time of his death.
- Private First Class Edward Eugene van Schaick, a native of Franklinville, NY, was killed in action at age 23 and buried at the Somme Cemetery in France. He attended Houghton before the war, and went on to serve with Company I, 108 New York Infantry at one of the most devastating battlegrounds of the war at Somme.
“As time has passed, we have seen a trend that World War I is often forgotten in the shadows of the horrific events of World War II,” remarks Laura Habecker, archivist of the Willard J. Houghton Library. “Our campus has oak trees in honor of our WWII fallen, and as we celebrate 100 years of Armistice Day, we want to commemorate our fallen brothers of ‘The Great War’ as well.”
Displays about WWI and the involvement of those from the Houghton and Caneadea areas will be on display in the main floor of the Willard J. Houghton Library through November 12.