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2014 Notable Anniversaries

As a new year begins, it is traditional to look back at the year that was. 2014 was unique in the number of notable anniversaries celebrating events which in some way had profound effects on the history of Washington University School of Medicine.

The City of St. Louis commemorated the 250th anniversary of its founding in 1764 with a number of events, exhibits, and displays including the public art project “Cakeway to the West.”  250 notable locations throughout the St. Louis area were chosen to display uniquely illustrated birthday cakes. Each cake would highlight a landmark of St. Louis’s heritage.  The Medical School was chosen as one site to host a birthday cake. The cake is located outside of the Farrell Learning and Teaching Center along Euclid Avenue.

The STL 250 Cakeway to the West birthday cake at WU School of Medicine.

STL 250 Cakeway to the West birthday cake at WU School of Medicine

 

The Medical School wasn’t always at this location. The Medical School began construction of its current campus in St. Louis’s Central West End shortly after its reorganization in 1910. Although the official dedication of the School’s buildings wouldn’t be until the spring of 1915, some of the clinical departments began moving in earlier when Barnes Hospital, the brand-new teaching hospital affiliated with the School, opened in the fall of 1914. The first operation at Barnes took place on December 12, 1914. The Washington University School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery has recognized the centennial with a short documentary and the publication of a book on the history of the department. A Surgical Department of Distinction : 100 Years of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.

The first surgery in Barnes Hospital, December 12, 1914.

The first surgery in Barnes Hospital, December 12, 1914.

While the Washington University community was excited with the prospects of the new medical campus in 1914, the outbreak of the First World War occupied everyone’s thoughts of the future.

Although members of the Washington University community would not join the battlefields of Europe until 1917, their contributions have been acknowledged at events commemorating 2014 as the centennial of the start of the Great War. This past year in Rouen, France, the Rouen University Hospital hosted an exhibit honoring those who had suffered and sacrificed during the war – including the members of the US Expeditionary Forces Base Hospital 21 which had been staffed by doctors, nurses, and students from Washington University School of Medicine.

While many of the events in France this past year were somber centennials of the beginning of war, others were celebrations of a war’s ending. Many towns and cities throughout France celebrated the 70th anniversaries of their liberation from Nazi occupation.

After the D-Day invasion in June 1944, Allied and Free French Forces fought their way across the French countryside. Though free from the Nazis, much of France would continue to be occupied by the Allies to support their continued advance on Germany. Some of the support units stationed behind the front lines were hospitals like the 21st General Hospital, the Washington University sponsored army reserve hospital and successor to Base Hospital 21.  By October 21st, 1944, the 21st General Hospital was in France treating the war wounded. In Ravenel, located near the town of Mirecourt, the 21st GH used the facilities of a psychiatric hospital which had been newly built at the start of the war, but had been used as a prison by the Nazis to incarcerate French POWs and resistors.

In September of 2014, the grandchildren of two of the French POWs imprisoned in those buildings and a local historian led a conference and ceremonies commemorating the liberation of their grandfathers and the wartime history of the Ravenel psychiatric hospital.  A plaque newly dedicated at the hospital site reminds those who work and reside there today to remember the thousands of French soldiers who were prisoners of the German occupation forces. And to remember too, the 21st General Hospital which cared for thousands of soldiers wounded in action. The plaque ends with this thought “Tous ne retourneront pas chez eux. Gardons en mémoire le souvenir de leurs douleurs et de leurs espoirs.” [Not everyone returned home. Keep in mind the memory of their pains and their hopes.]

A postcard from the personal collection of Col. Lee D. Cady, MD, commanding officer of the 21st General Hospital and a 1922 graduate of the Washington University School of Medicine, showing the town square in Mirecourt and its memorial to the First World War.

Postcard of Mirecourt war memorial.

 

Col. Cady consults with some local French foresters while standing in front of the town of Mirecourt’s First World War memorial.

Col. Cady consults with some local French foresters.

 

In 2014 French historical reenactors stand near Mirecourt’s war memorial during the ceremonies commemorating the liberation of the city in 1944. Photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Dray.

French historical reenactors stand near Mirecourt’s war memorial.

 

On the grounds of the Hôpital Psychiatrique Ravenel  where the 21st General Hospital was based, Col. Cady awards the Silver Star to Sgt. Edward B. Garrison.

Col. Cady awards the Silver Star to Sgt. Edward B. Garrison.

In 2014 a French military honor guard prepares for ceremonies held at the Hôpital Psychiatrique Ravenel near Mirecourt. Photo courtesy of Jean-Francois Dray.

French honor guard Hôpital Psychiatrique Ravenel.

 

 

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