In early 1918, Howard H. Morrow was too young to register for the military draft. But that didn’t stop him. Joining the National Guard, he found his way to the Western Front just after he turned eighteen. He didn’t make it to nineteen. In October, Morrow died from “multiple gunshot wounds” sustained fighting in the Great War. Two weeks before his death, the Army awarded Howard the distinguished service cross for rescuing a comrade under fire.On the one-year anniversary of his death, his mother, sisters, and brothers wrote, “Our thoughts are always wandering to the graves so far away where are dear son and brother is lying.”
In Bladensburg, Maryland, a cross-shaped memorial stands as a reminder of the 49 soldiers from Prince George’s County – including young Howard – who sacrificed their lives fighting in World War I. In 1925, The American Legion, now the largest veterans service organization in the country, erected the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial to honor those fallen.
Gold Star mothers like Howard’s chose the memorial’s cross-shape because it was reminiscent of the crosses that marked the American graves scattered across the Western Front of the war. At the time, many of the men honored were laid to rest in France so the memorial served as a domestic gravestone.