Pilgrimages to the Western Front of the First World War: A Symposium in France

In October, I was honored to participate in an international conference in France, held at both the Caverne du Dragon Museum in the Chemin des Dames and in Chateau-Thierry. Titled “Pilgrimages to the Western Front of the First World War,” this symposium brought together an esteemed group of interdisciplinary international scholars who study the memory of the First World War.

In my presentation, I shared my research about the Gold Star mothers and widows pilgrimages. It was deeply meaningful to do so just a stone’s throw away from some of the sites these women visited. I even had the opportunity to discuss the pilgrimages during our group field trip to Aisne-Marne American Cemetery before the conference began.

I learned so much from this symposium, reunited with friends, and created new connections with other scholars devoted to keeping the memory of World War I alive. The experience became my own pilgrimage as I visited incredibly moving World War I sites throughout northern France after the conclusion of the conference. I returned home inspired to continue the work of commemoration back here in the United States.

Delivering my paper in Chateau-Thierry on October 20, 2023.

Sharing the history of the Gold Star pilgrimages at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

A view of the grave plots and chapel at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.

The Caverne du Dragon Museum on the Chemin des Dames.