A century ago today on April 6, 1917,  “The War to End All Wars” officially began for the United States.   The American Expeditionary Force was soon to join the British and French to bring the mighty German Army to its knees.   Many of the Laurens County’s finest young boys and men would go “over there” to defeat the Kaiser’s army and save the world.  The Europeans called them “Yanks”, a term not so endearing to grandsons of Confederate veterans.  They were also called “Doughboys.”   The war would end when an armistice was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  That date, November 11th, was celebrated for many years as “Armistice Day” and later became known as “Veteran’s Day.”

Dublin and Laurens County furnished nearly eleven hundred men to the armed forces in World War I.     Laurens Countians began supporting the war effort in 1915 when they sold their old and fat mules to agents of European governments for use in the war effort.   Three sons of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Smith, Robert, Theron, and Vernon,  enlisted in the Army.  The W.F. Schaufele family also had three sons in the armed services; Turner, Will, and Chris.   Dubliners and Laurens Countians also raised tremendous sums of money through bond sales.  Local units of the Red Cross flourished during the war years.

A Draft Registration Day was held on June 5, 1917.   What was described as “a monster parade” was held with the Home Guards, school children, The Red Cross Society, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and a band or as many of the older members of the band  who could be found.   The parade route ran from Stubbs Park to the courthouse where an impressive flag raising ceremony was held  Early L. Miller, Alva D. Rozar, R.C. Dawkins, Herbert T. Pullen, and Charles Payne were the first to be drafted.  James Tillman Wyatt and Howard Blackshear were the first men to enlist.  The second Dublinite to graduate from the United States Military Academy was Charles Quillian Lifsey. Col. Lifsey was a graduate of Dublin High School and attended Gordon Military College.  At the end of World War I,  he was hand picked by General Pershing to be a part of the occupational force in Germany. Lifsey graduated with the class of 1918 along with Gen. Lucius D. Clay.  Col. James A. Thomas, Jr., formerly of Dublin, commanded the 121st “Gray Bonnet” Infantry.  Col. Thomas died aboard his ship just before it docked in France.

Laurens County physicians answered their country's call in World War I.  Fourteen physicians were recommended for service in the Army Medical Corps.  They were Dr. Murray of Dexter, Dr. Sidney Walker of Dublin, Dr. Spearman of Dudley, Dr. J.G. Carter, Jr. of Scott, Dr. M.D. Vickers of Lollie, Dr. W.R. Brigham of Dublin, Dr. Benson of Cedar Grove, Dr. W.C. Thompson of Dublin, Dr. J.E. New of Dexter, Dr. E.B. Claxton of Dublin, Dr. W.E. Williams of Rockledge, and Dr. J.J. Barton of Cadwell.  All of these men did not serve in the Armed Forces during the war.

Corporal Walter A. Warren, of Dexter, was the second American aviator to be wounded in France.  Warren, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Warren of Dexter, entered the aero service of the United States Army in the early months of 1917.  Warren was assigned to the 88th squadron which was sent to Europe at the beginning of our country's involvement in the war.  During the first few months of fighting, Warren was wounded by shrapnel when his plane was shot down.  He was the first Laurens Countian to be wounded in World War I.  After spending several weeks in the hospital, Warren returned to duty to participate in the Champagne Marne, Olse-Aisne, and St. Michiel offensives.  His bomber squadron cleared the way with a bombing run the night before the battle of the Argone Forest.  Warren spent a total of 21 months in Europe - well beyond Armistice Day.  Dublin's mayor,
Peter S. Twitty, enlisted in the U.S. Army.  Twitty's successor, Izzie Bashinski, donated his salary to the Red Cross.  Cecil Preston Perry became the first Laurens Countian to die in action in the summer of 1918.  James Mason was the first Dubliner to die in action. He died in France on July 29, 1918.

James L. Weddington, Jr., of the 6th Marine Corps Regiment was awarded the French Croix de Guerre on July 10, 1918 for his heroism in carrying many wounded men off the battle field. He carried them to field hospitals for several hours, risking his own safety in the process.  Lt. Col. Pat Stevens was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre for extraordinary heroism in action south of Spitaal Bosschen, Belgium, on October 31, 1918.  Lt. Ossie F. Keen was awarded the Silver Star.   Thousands more of Laurens County's finest young men went "over there" for Uncle Sam.  Fortunately, the war was relatively short and only  fifty Laurens County men lost their lives.    Most of these men lost their lives to disease,  including William M. Coney who died in a stateside hospital just days before the end of the war.

In February of 1918, a humorous event occurred in Laurens County.  A party of men training in a U.S. Army balloon from Macon passed over Laurens County and landed at the old school grounds in Scott.  This was the same balloon which Clem Clements of Dodge County admitted shooting at the balloon thinking it was a German balloon.  The balloon was named the "Cleveland". The men were given lunch in Scott and brought back to Dublin by S.P. Rice. After a short wait,  the men took a train ride back to Macon.

In the days and weeks following the war, a few city residents convinced the Dublin City Council to rename Academy Avenue to Wilson Avenue in honor of President Woodrow Wilson. When the avenue’s residents objected, the council rescinded its action.  After the war,  the Dublin Guards, a state militia unit, re-organized as Co. A. of the 1st Battalion of the Georgia National Guard.    The Dublin unit was the first National Guard unit in the southeastern United States.  The company's first captain, Lewis C. Pope of Dublin, served as Adjutant General of the Georgia National Guard in the 1920's.

World War I's biggest hero, Sgt. Alvin York, (left) spoke to a large crowd at the First Methodist Church in the early 1920s.  Also in the early 1920s the ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed a marker on the courthouse square to the memory of the known sons of Laurens County who lost their lives during the war.  The John Laurens Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marble bench at McCall’s point in 1926 to honor Laurens County men who lost their lives during the war.  The park is located at the intersection of Veteran’s Boulevard and Bellevue Road and is Dublin’s smallest park.

Following the war,  the veterans of Laurens County organized Post No. 17 of the American Legion.  Roy A. Flynt, a local attorney, was elected Commander of the Post.  Stephen Parker New, a former naval officer and attorney, was chosen as Vice Commander.  A third attorney, J.A. Merritt was elected as Secretary.  Other officers were E.L. Maddox, Treasurer; Manning Z. Claxton, Chaplain; and William Brunson, Historian.  Other original members were F.W. Shepard, Marion Kendrick, Milo Smith, Prentis Adams, Joel Felton Pierce, Alex Burch, Sidney Walker, F.R. Powell, J.R. Mills, Ovid E. Cheek, Guy Alford, T.E. Burts, James Bennett, Marion Peacock, C.C. Youmans, C.C. Crockett, and Kendrick Moffett. The post, which was organized in September of 1919, was dedicated to aiding the veteran  in job training, free medical care, support to his family, and charitable projects in the community.