Gone, But Never Forgotten
On Monday, Sept. 28, a dedication of a monument for Pvt. Valentine Schneider was held at the Little Flower Catholic Cemetery. Present was the Clarence Larson Post Color Guard, the North Dakota Military Honors Detail, Fr. Tom Graner and local historian Dale G. Niewoehner.
This ceremony was made possible with assistance from Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s office, who helped secure the new marker for the grave; the Rugby Community Endowment Fund, who donated $1,533.00 towards the much-needed project; and Niewoehner who with his passion, dedication, drive, his love for anything and everything Rugby past and present and his commitment to the veterans of this country made the monument dedication possible.
The reason it was so important to give Pvt. Valentine Schneider this dedication was that, “When someone gives the ultimate sacrifice for this country it should never be forgotten, never”, stated Niewoehner. In addition, according to Niewoehner the date was significant because Sept. 28 was the 97th anniversary of Pvt. Schneider’s death.
Private Valentine Schneider was born on May 1, 1897 in Columbia, S.D. He came to Pierce County in 1902 with his parents, Joseph and Mary Eva Schneider. He went to the eighth grade in a country school south east of Rugby.
Schneider entered the United States Army at Stanton, and was sent to Camp Dodge, Iowa in March 1918. He served in Company B, 1st Battalion, and 163rd Depot Brigade and in Company M 139th Infantry. This group of men were at Meuse-Argonne, Grange-le-Comte (Lorraine) and Gerardmer (Alsace), France. That same fall he was wounded by enemy machine gun fire and died of his wounds on Sept. 28, 1918. He had only served about six months, but for Pvt. Valentine that was a lifetime; he died way too young at the tender age of 21. Of the five soldiers from Pierce County to die in the line of fire, he is the only soldier that was returned to the United States and home for burial. The other four soldiers are buried in three different American cemeteries in France. These other four soldiers are Pvts. Clarence A. Larson, Clarence E. Annis, Howard McLean, and George Abdalla. Pvt. Schneider’s body was returned to Rugby in September 1921, and after High Mass at Little Flower Church, which was in both English and German, he was buried where the monument rests today.
Niewoehner also shared about the uniqueness of the having a WWI veteran who died in action buried in Rugby, “Most people that were killed overseas are still in France. There are hundreds and thousands of men who are buried in American cemeteries in and around France. In World War 1 and World War 2 it was more customary to bury our casualties of war there than to bring them back home”
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a world war centered in Europe that began on July 28, 1914, and lasted until Nov. 11, 1918. It is taught that the cause of this “Great War” was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria-Hungary. His assassination by the Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip – who was believed to have ties to the secretive military group known as the Black Hand – propelled the major European military powers into war. The total number of deaths in that war was approximately 18 million people, with 11 million of that military personnel – the United States accounting for 116,708 of those deaths. Rugby lost10 of its men to WWI: five men were killed in action and five men died of the flu.
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