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The D.C. Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington D.C.

World War I Memorial Foundation has mission to honor veterans

In August 2008, the World War I Memorial Foundation was formed as a not-for-profit foundation by friends of the District of Columbia War Memorial. Frank Buckles, 108-year-old resident of Charles Town, West Virginia and last surviving veteran of World War I, is the honorary chairman.

David DeJonge, photographer and co-founder of the WWI Memorial Foundation, began documenting veterans in 1996 and has been working on the WWI project for three years. From his work, David created a traveling exhibit that includes portraits of 13 WWI survivors, 13 stories, and additional images of Frank Buckles and other images from his memorabilia. The exhibit had its debut at the Pentagon in March 2008. Frank Buckles came to the opening and while in Washington D.C. visited the forgotten D.C. Memorial on the National Mall.

Hundreds of miles away in Houston, Texas, Jan York, Creekwood Middle School science teacher, was watching an early morning news show and saw David interviewed during the Pentagon exhibit debut. The rest is - really historic.

In February 2009, Creekwood Middle School became the first school in the nation to host David's exhibit and because of the intense preparation and enthusiasm for the project, Creekwood raised almost $14,000 for the restoration of the World War I Memorial, the foundation's first goal. Its second goal is to have the memorial re-dedicated as the District of Columbia and National World War I Memorial. Legislation was introduced by Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to achieve that goal.

"To see this project blossom into a national campaign for honor of an entire forgotten generation is humbling and satisfying. America stands at a crossroads of either allowing an entire generation to pass and be forgotten or we can take the other path and show the world that we will make a conscious decision that we will never forget the sacrifice of those who walked before us. For the first time in American History, students hold the keys to creating honor for an entire generation of veterans. It is exhilarating to watch and be a part of the process," David DeJonge said.