Where They’ll Put Me

By Wilhelmina Woessner, from her memoirs for her family circa 1994

My brother was 20 years old when WWI broke out.  When the US entered the war, my brother, William, was a salesman for Kirkman, a soap manufacturer. He kept procrastinating about joining the military because his father was of German birth. He felt his father would be hurt if he fought against his German ancestors. One day he came home and said, “Pop, I can’t take it any more. Everywhere I go they ask ‘Why aren’t you in the military service?’—So I’m signing up.”

My father agreed with my brother’s decision and gave him his full support.

William joined the Naval Reserve in the early spring of 1918. In October 1918 he was stricken with Spanish Flu. There was a flu epidemic at that time, that killed hundreds of people. He was hospitalized in Pelham, and while he was in the hospital, his regiment went overseas. He never recovered. He died on November 9, 1918, at the age of 24. Armistice Day was on November 11, and that was the day his body was brought home. While everyone was jubilant, our hearts were breaking.

He was buried on November 13, 1918, in the family plot in Flushing. Dad bought that plot after my brother died, and now my father, mother and husband are all buried there. And that’s where they’ll put me.

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