This effort focuses on the service members who were brought home aboard the USAT Wheaton in May 1921 for an official Welcome Home ceremony.
After being honored in New York Harbor, their remains of these 5,100 individuals were sent home to communities across the country for burial. There may be a Wheaton returnee near you!
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Common Questions & Answers
When should I visit?
Our main effort will take place between the Centennial of the official homecoming ceremony and Memorial Day, between May 23 and the beginning of June. However, if you prefer to organize a visit earlier in the month, or later in the summer, please feel free to do so!
Can I incorporate this into my community’s traditional Memorial Day activities?
Yes! We encourage you to make HOMECOMING ’21 part of your Memorial Day plans for this year. If you will already be at a cemetery for a visit or a ceremony, check to see if there is a Wheaton burial, or if there are other WWI burials!
On the other hand, if your community’s Memorial Day activities have a traditional structure, or have already been finalized, a HOMECOMING ’21 grave visit is an easy add-on for the week prior.
OTHER OPTIONS: Do I have to visit the grave site of a Wheaton returnee?
Our effort focuses on the 5,100 individuals who came back on the Wheaton as *symbols* for the return of all of the 44,000 Americans who were brought home for burial after World War I. If there is no Wheaton returnee buried near you, the next best option is to visit the grave site of any other individual who died overseas in WWI and was brought back to the U.S. Here are some tips on finding other WWI burials.
If you cannot find such an individual, you can visit anyone who died in service during WWI (many died in training camps from 1917-1919). You can also visit someone who died of their wounds or by suicide after the war, although this information is harder to find. Finally, you can visit someone who served in World War I who died many years after the war — many served alongside those who died, and no doubt felt their loss for the rest of their lives.
Do I have to visit a grave site?
Our primary focus is “in-person” gravesite visits. However, if there are simply no WWI burials near you, or if you cannot get access a grave site, you can certainly hold a moment of silence or pay your respects at a local World War I memorial or other meaningful site near you. If you unable to leave your home, you can simply hold a moment of silence and reflection — perhaps find a small flag, flower and candle, say the name of a Wheaton returnee (or other fallen WWI service member), and reflect or pray. Share your photos with the hashtag: #ww1homecoming21
Do I have to hold a ceremony?
No, the only requirement for a grave site visit is to take a moment to pay your respects. We are producing a Grave Visit Guide with further tips and information; this will be available at the beginning of May.
If I choose to do a ceremony, what guidance will you provide?
We will be publishing and releasing a Ceremony Guide in early May; please check back soon!
Can I do more research on a particular World War I soldier?
Yes! Check out our Learn & Explore page for resources!