Kermit Mercer's Quest for Closure: A Story for All Stewart County Veterans of W.W.1

Jud's story kept resurfacing in my life from the first time I read his letters in 1984 (see Pride Won-Patriot Lost, the story of the beginning of my realization of Jud and his legacy). When my daughter discovered the letters at the age of thirteen, and could not let go of the story, I began the process of obtaining a memorial marker for him in the Fort Donelson National Cemetery. When that came to fruition in 1995, I believed the story to be finally finished. I was wrong. The story still did not feel finalized, and I felt his letters home belonged to a wider audience than myself and my family. Jud had been simply writing to his family, keeping up his own spirits and theirs. What he did not realize was that he was recording not only historical events from a simple perspective, but also and perhaps more importantly, a feel for a different way of thinking and a loyalty inherent to his time. I sent his letters to the American portion of a Canadian W.W.1 site, believing at last I had done all I should do. There was more. This was not just Jud's story and perhaps it was part of his legacy that we know the experience of his comrades...

Several months later I received a call from an Army veteran once stationed in France, and a professional researcher. Something about Jud's story had captured his heart and imagination, and he "adopted" the story for his own and took it on at his own expense. He was able to learn much about Jud I would never have known otherwise, much that would have been so meaningful to my grandfather (Jud's brother, Tom) who could only imagine what it must have been like. He uncovered many of the details of the battles Jud fought in and the conditions of his last days. Ultimately Kermit was to make a journey to the battlefields and military cemeteries of France where he would learn much more... Kermit became a very special person to me and my family, and we will always be indebted to him for the "finalization" of this story. I share here with you the information and photos he relayed to me. This information belongs not only to Jud's story, but to the story of ALL of our young men from Stewart County fighting in this war, for they were all in about the same locations and experiencing much the same thing as Jud did. - October 18, 1998

About Kermit Mercer Conditions on October 17, 1918 119th Infantry in October of 1918
Map of Frontlines Highlighting Battle in Which Jud was Killed Monument in Somme American Cemetery Kermit's Journey to the Battlefields of France in Words and Pictures

Return to Jud's Legacy Index.