Living Hall of Fame
In September of 1920, the Disabled American Veterans of the World War, a veterans advocacy and assistance group still in existence today, was officially organized in the United States. Local chapters formed quickly throughout the country. By this date in 1922, Bismarck had joined the ranks. The Bismarck chapter chose their officers and set their next meeting to decide if any delegates should be sent to the state convention in Grand Forks in June.
A National Convention was also set to take place in San Francisco, and included in the event would be a “Living Hall of Fame” observance. This was intended to honor those who had sacrificed so much. As such, each state was asked to select their “greatest living hero” to send to the convention.
In North Dakota, Governor Nestos advanced a letter to Adjutant-General Fraser, asking him, along with Captain G. A. M. Anderson, and Major G. H. Russ, Vice-Commander of the American Legion, to recommend an appointment for North Dakota’s participant. However, the men declined to name any one man. Fraser responded to the governor with this letter:
"I beg to inform you that I can not act on such a committee. I have arrived at this conclusion after working over the records of a great many North Dakota Boys. …. Should I confine myself simply to the men who were decorated, it would be an impossible task; but hundreds of our boys performed deeds of heroism out in no man's land during the darkest hours of night with no eyes to witness and no one to recommend them for decorations.
“I have talked with many of these men and find that they are very modest; they do not claim to be heroes and simply state that they endeavored to do their duty. I do not believe that a single one of these men desire to be named or pointed out as the ‘Greatest Hero.’ They offered their life in battle or dashed through shell swept areas to rescue a wounded comrade. What can be greater than this? …
"I believe that I know about how the boys feel in regard to this matter, and I believe that as Governor of this state you will be justified in refusing to name any man for the Living Hall of Fame.”
So no one man represented North Dakota — instead, through this letter, all who served were recognized.
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
Bismarck Tribune, May 10, 1922, p2
Bismarck Tribune, May 23, 1922, p1