Clarence King & Mary Jane King Slate Gravesites
More than one century ago, The European War, as it was known prior to the United States’ involvement, was in full swing and the American soldiers were set to join the Allies: Great Britain, France, Russia, and Italy in a counter offensive against Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria.
America’s involvement actually began April 2, 1917 with President Woodrow Wilson asking a joint session of congress for a declaration of war against Germany. One month later the Selective Service Act was passed and required all men between 21 and 31 years of age to register for military service. Only four months later, in September, all men between 18 and 45 were required to register.
Many of the technologies that developed during the Great War remain today such as tanks, airplanes, and Daylight Savings Time, which was implemented March 19, 1918. The “trench coat” resulted from the necessity to provide something, shorter, lighter, more flexible, warmer, yet ventilated, and yet weatherproof for wintertime in the trenches. This war was not referred to as World War I until the time of WWII.
Mansfield’s American Legion chapter is named in honor of Clarence King, our first war casualty. Although, the Armistice was signed the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, it was not until the following week that the Mansfield Mirror carried news of the death of eighteen-year-old Clarence King. His mother, Mary Jane King Slate, received a telegram stating his death occurred on October 16th from wounds received in action. Per the Mansfield Mirror: Numerous relatives and friends expressed their bereavement in the death of Clarence King who died that liberty and freedom should not perish from the earth.
In addition to the horror of a war abroad, Americans-at-home found themselves in a battle for their lives against the Spanish Flu, a virus of pandemic proportions. But, as they say, that is another story!
By Ann Duckworth