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The Montsec American Monument, erected in 1930, commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade.
The Montsec American Monument, erected in 1930, commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The Montsec American Monument, erected in 1930, commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade.
The Montsec American Monument, erected in 1930, commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors to the Montsec American Monument look at the bronze map of the St. Mihiel Salient battlefield that is the centerpiece of the monument. The red lines mark the different positions of the front line during the battle in August and September 1918.
Visitors to the Montsec American Monument look at the bronze map of the St. Mihiel Salient battlefield that is the centerpiece of the monument. The red lines mark the different positions of the front line during the battle in August and September 1918. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A closeup of the Great Seal of the United States that adorns the entrance to the Montsec American Monument.
A closeup of the Great Seal of the United States that adorns the entrance to the Montsec American Monument. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The Montsec American Monument, commemorating those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade. The inscription ringing the inside of the monument reads: THEIR DEVOTION, THEIR VALOR AND THEIR SACRIFICE WILL LIVE FOREVER IN THE HEARTS OF THEIR GRATEFUL COUNTRYMEN. ERECTED MCMXXX.
The Montsec American Monument, commemorating those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient, is a classical circular colonnade. The inscription ringing the inside of the monument reads: THEIR DEVOTION, THEIR VALOR AND THEIR SACRIFICE WILL LIVE FOREVER IN THE HEARTS OF THEIR GRATEFUL COUNTRYMEN. ERECTED MCMXXX. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A broad stairway leads up to the Montsec American Monument that overlooks the World War I battlefield of the St. Mihiel Salient. Inscribed on the outside of the monument  are the towns in eastern France liberated by American forces in 1918.
A broad stairway leads up to the Montsec American Monument that overlooks the World War I battlefield of the St. Mihiel Salient. Inscribed on the outside of the monument are the towns in eastern France liberated by American forces in 1918. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
On the inside the columns of the Montsec American Monument are decorated with emblems of the Army's service branches. This one honoring armor, is adorned with an early tank.
On the inside the columns of the Montsec American Monument are decorated with emblems of the Army's service branches. This one honoring armor, is adorned with an early tank. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Arrows on the steps of the Montsec American Monument point towards places in the St. Mihiel Salient battlefield, including what would be the St. Mihiel American Cemetery at Thiaucourt, France.
Arrows on the steps of the Montsec American Monument point towards places in the St. Mihiel Salient battlefield, including what would be the St. Mihiel American Cemetery at Thiaucourt, France. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The sun shines on the gleaming stones of the Montsec American Monument topping Butte Montsec in eastern France. Erected in 1930, it commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient in 1918.
The sun shines on the gleaming stones of the Montsec American Monument topping Butte Montsec in eastern France. Erected in 1930, it commemorates those who fought and died in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient in 1918. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Looking up to a blue French sky, through the circular colonnade of Montsec American Monument above Montsec, France.
Looking up to a blue French sky, through the circular colonnade of Montsec American Monument above Montsec, France. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
High on Butte Montsec, the Montsec American Memorial overlooks the World War I battlegrounds in eastern France. Erected in 1930, it commemorates those who fought in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient and its surroundings in 1918.
High on Butte Montsec, the Montsec American Memorial overlooks the World War I battlegrounds in eastern France. Erected in 1930, it commemorates those who fought in the World War I battle of the St. Mihiel Salient and its surroundings in 1918. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

One hundred years ago, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany, thus entering World War I.

It took a couple of months to ramp up, and American troops — known as doughboys — began arriving in France in June 1917. They didn’t fight their first battle until November of that year, but by spring of the next they were in the middle of what would be called the “Great War.”

One of the battles fought was for the St. Mihiel Salient in eastern France. In a bloody fight that lasted four days in August and September of 1918, the U.S. First Army defeated the Germans.

The Montsec American Monument commemorates the victory and the Second Army’s operations in the area in November.

Crowning Butte Montsec, the monument is a graceful structure, a classical circular colonnade not unlike a Greek temple, with a broad staircase leading up to it.

From the monument, one looks out over the former battlefield. On a clear day, you can see in the distance St. Mihiel American Cemetery, where many of the battle’s fallen are buried.

The centerpiece of the monument is a large bronze map of the St. Mihiel Salient battlefield. The red lines mark the different positions of the front line during the battle and where it was on Nov. 11, 1918, when the guns fell silent.

Inscribed on the outside of the monument are the names of villages in the area that were liberated by American forces. “THEIR DEVOTION, THEIR VALOR AND THEIR SACRIFICE WILL LIVE FOREVER IN THE HEARTS OF THEIR GRATEFUL COUNTRYMEN,” is written inside.

There are many World War I cemeteries and memorials scattered across eastern and northern France and southern Belgium. Between now and November 2018 is a perfect time to visit them to honor the troops who fought the battles a century ago.

The American Battle Monuments Commission website at abmc.gov has information and directions for the sites.

abrams.mike@stripes.com

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