Henry, along with several hundreds of other young men, was beng sent to France by ship. He was a Supply Sergeant in the US Army.
Shortly after the ship set sail, influenza broke out on board. It was ravaging throughout the country back on shore in America [an estimated 16-million people died because of the outbreak]. Henry Edward was one of the unfortunate ones who did not survive the voyage to France.
Somewhere in the voyage, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Henry Edward Dreher, aged 28 years and 11 months, was wrapped in this country's flag, and given a burial at sea.
Back home, Henry Edward's mother was devestated over the loss o her son. And especially to some virus, as he had been so robust his entire life! The Dreher's were of hardy German stock and prided themselves in their health. This was so much harder to bear than anything else she'd ever faced in life. And she began to fall into a decline.
After the War, in 1931, President Herbert Hoover sent the mother's of the lost boys of the War to see where their sons were layed to rest. [Bodies were not usually sent back home at that time]. And so Henry Edward's mother became almost cheerful when told she would be making this trip. She was 66 years of age at the time, and had never travelled before. Much less travelled all alone. But she had been assured all would be taken care of, and there would only be other mother's tavelling with her, and she would find assistance among them should she need it.
Henry Edward's mother went by train to the port she would sail from on the SS President Roosevelt
This is the postcard Henry Edward's mother sent home. It is ilegible on the back.
Later she even sent home a letter to her husband... it was a single sheet of paper, folded into quarters, provided by the ship for the mother's.
Here is the unfolded paper, and here Henry's mother wrote her letter:
"on SS Presedent Roosefelt ~ May 28
Dear children here I am almost in
mid ocean have seen 2 whales an
a school of flying fsh it sure is
wonderful, I am well and sure
enjoying myself hope you are
At the single fold, or folded in half the first time, we find...
...information regarding the Santa Barbara Mission and other well known tourist sites, in getting around to telling you that the famous American tranatlantic fleet can bring you to these ports of call and more, on the left.
On the right, we find the ships menu. [Yum, yum!]
And when the paper is folded the final time we have...
...the front cover of the mailing to her husband and children in Indiana, and the back...
...tells a bit about the shipping line and hoping you will use their services during your next voyage!
[The odd thing, this country was in the midst of The Great Depression at this time. So this was indeed a luxury for these mother's, and an escape from the poverty known at home.]
When the ship came to the correct latitude and longitude marking the spot where Supply Sergeant Henry Edward Dreher was buried at sea, engines were cut, and a roll call of those buried at sea at this spot was read. Henry Edward's mother dropped a single red rose into the ocean, as a last farewell to her son.
In 1919, PreidentWoodrow Wilson dedicated the Suresnes American Military Memorial Cemetery, located just outside of Paris. It was here the mothers were brought in 1931.
The American Military Memorial and Cemetery, Suresnes, France
Much to her delight, Henry Edward's mother found that a cross stone marker had been placed and dedicated to the memory of her son. Between the stop over his burial coordinates, and the marker, Henry Edward's mother found closure. And began to heal a broken heart.
Josephine Sophie Benzel Dreher, died quietly on 12 December 1932, She was at peace.
Josephine Sophie Benzel Dreher [1865 - 1932]
In 1931 when Josie visited the cemetery, only the chapel was built, along with the tended gardens.
Today there are two loggias, one for the World War I deceased and another for the World War II.
A portal in the left wall of the chapel leads to the World War I loggia, a covered passage
with one side open to give a view of the graves area below and of Paris in the distance.
The opposite or rear side is paneled in limestone. One panel of this wall bears the
TO THE ETERNAL MEMORY OF THOSE AMERICANS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY
DURING WORLD WAR I
INTO THY HANDS O LORD
Midway along the loggia, a relief portrays a group of soldiers carrying an empty bier.
Beneath the frieze is the inscription:
SOME THERE BE WHICH HAVE NO SEPULCHRE. THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR
An engraved list of other World War I military cemeteries in Europe completes the
texts appearing on the wall of this loggia.
At the end of the loggia, one enters the World War I memorial room and faces a pure
white statue entitled “Remembrance.” This graceful figure was created in Carrara marble
by the American sculptor John Gregory, of New York, New York. The walls and floors
of the memorial room are of Italian marbles of varying shades and give a rich subdued
effect to highlight the statue.
On one wall panel is inscribed the text:
THIS MEMORIAL HAS BEEN ERECTED BY
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
IN PROUD AND GRATEFUL MEMORY OF HER
SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AND MARINES
WHO FAR FROM THEIR HOMES
LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES THAT THE WORLD MIGHT
LIVE IN FREEDOM AND INHERIT PEACE
This place held a special spot in the heart of my great-grandmother, and as such, it continues to hold a special place in the hearts of her descendants. Even today.
American Military Memorial and Cemetery