NEW ORLEANS – Last Sunday, the Consul General of France in Louisiana Mr. Vincent Sciama, American Legion members and representatives of the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs marked HOMECOMING ‘21, a national centennial commemoration marking the return home of America’s World War I dead. They gathered in Chalmette National Cemetery at the grave of Private Joseph Landhart of the 801st Pioneer Infantry, a segregated unit that served in France. Private Landhart’s body was brought back to the U.S. and laid to rest in his hometown, one hundred years ago.
In September 1918, the 801st Pioneers boarded the transport ship MANCHURIA and shipped overseas to the war zone.
From September through the end of the war in November 1918, Joseph and his unit served in support of the American forces engaged in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In the words of one Pioneer Infantry Officer, “They did everything the Infantry was too proud to do, and the Engineers too lazy to do.”
The war ended on November 11, 1918, but sadly, our losses continued, due to the global influenza pandemic that raged from 1918 to 1919.
On December 23, 1918, — two days before Christmas — Joseph Landhart died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis — a condition most likely connected to the flu.
The ceremony is part of an international campaign to honor America’s WWI returnees by paying respects at their final resting places across the United States, using a new volunteer-compiled online map and database. The campaign began with ceremonies in Cherbourg, France, and Antwerp, Belgium; U.S. ceremonies are being held also in New York Harbor (Hoboken), Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C., Houston and San Francisco. Learn more at: ww1homecoming21.org.
WHO: The Honorable Vincent Sciama, Consul General of France in New Orleans; Representatives of the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; American Legion leaders and members.
WHAT: Wreath laying and placing of historic 1921 coins on the headstone (U.S. and French)