Whenever we visit my sister who has a house on Chatauqua Lake in central New York State, Mark and I always try to spend an afternoon wandering the grounds of the historic Chautauqua Institution. Today Chautauqua is a center for the arts, education, religion and recreation. They offer classes, lectures, reading groups, performances — all in a beautiful setting, filled with the historic "cottages" and Institute buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In those days "chautauqua" was the word used to describe summer learning programs; everyone took part in one — in their own town or went off to the nearest traveling Chautauqua.
The last time we explored the grounds of the original Chautauqua Institution, we took a different route and discovered this little WWI memorial. We stopped to remember this soldier — but the gardener (and the historian) in me questions whether the ivy growing around this monument could really be from the Argonne Forest.
After all, the Meuse-Argonne was the scene of the final Allied offensive — and the greatest American battle — towards the very end of the war and photos indicate a devastated landscape. Though perhaps by the time this plaque was dedicated in 1921, ivy was again greening the area and this is indeed a remnant from that battlefield-turned-cemetery. Most of the Americans buried in the 130 acre cemetery were killed in the battle that took place on its site.