Cecil Smith Hall
Homage is Paid by Thousands to Sailor’s Memory
State’s Largest Auditorium is Crowded to Capacity by Friends of the Late Cecil Hall
State, County and City Officials There
Armory Filled Before Procession Arrives—Speakers Pay Highest Tribute to the “First to Go.”
Thousands of patriotic citizens of Charleston and Kanawha county yesterday paid homage to the memory of Cecil Hall, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Hall, of Bigley avenue, who was killed while in line of duty of the United States destroyer Manley in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Ireland on March 19 last.
Public funeral services were held in the state armory for the youth of 21 years who gave his life in the world struggle for freedom. Thousands were present in the state’s largest auditorium, every available chair being occupied, while thousands who had lined the streets and who in a drizzling rain, with bared heads, watched the procession, were unable to gain admittance.
It was a public tribute to one of Charleston’s sons who had early enlisted in response to the call of the nation, and never in the history of the capital city has there been more impressive or solemn tributes paid to any man than those paid over the flag-draped casket which contained the body of Cecil Hall.
For more than an hour before the hour set for the services at the armory, people began to pour into the building. Before the funeral procession arrived at the armory, Major T. B. Davis and a dozen ushers were forced to close the doors, reserving a space in the vast hall for the family and immediate friends of the sailor boy. The large crowd was handled with skill and with the utmost courtesy.
Before 2 o’clock a large crowd had gathered at the Hall home, 840 Bigley avenue, where the body, after being prepared for burial by the undertaking firm of Owen & Barth, had rested. The procession formed along Bigley and Pennsylvania avenues.
The active pall bearers were Herbert Jarrett, Charles McNeil, Holley Perry and Roy Ashbury, Charleston men in the service who were home on furloughs.
Among the honorary pallbearers were Clyde Carson, Dale Thomas, Harry Wagoner, Randall Nicholas, Hollie Middlecoff and John Sadd, friends of the decedent, and they were accompanied by a group representing the United States army, navy and marine corps, three branches of the service; a veteran of the Spanish-American war, a Confederate veteran and a veteran of the Grand Army of the Republic.
Those in this group were Chief Electrician Keck, of the United States navy; Sergeant Luther Lucas, of the United States army; Sergeant W. H. Lee, of the United States marine corps; Veteran Good, of the Grand Army of the Republic; A. F. Wallen, Confederate veteran, and L. G. Heininger, of the Spanish-American veterans. The other honorary pallbearers were Sterling Miller and Frank Richardson, soldiers from Nitro.
The funeral procession was led from the home by Mayor George A. MacQueen, Dr. V. T. Churchman and Arthur J. Thompson on horseback, followed by the Cog City band, a detail of soldiers who were sent from Nitro by Captain McKee, in charge of the federal troops stationed at the explosive plant; cars carrying Governor John J. Cornwell, the judges of the supreme court, Attorney General E. T. England, State Treasurer W. S. Johnson and other state officials, city and county officials and the family and friends of the sailor boy.
The procession marched out Pennsylvania avenue to Virginia street, up Virginia to Capitol and out Capitol to the armory. Thousands stood in the drenching rain along the line of the procession and with bared heads paid their last tribute to the brave sailor.
Rev. E. J. Westfall, pastor of the Central Methodist Episcopal church, in which the dead sailor held his membership, was in charge of the services at the armory. On the platform, decorated with palms, flowers and large floral designs, with the pastor were Governor John J. Cornwell, former Governor William A. MacCorkle, former Governor George W. Atkinson, Senator George E. Price, Mayor George A. MacQueen, the judges of the supreme court of appeals, a quartette of singers led by F. H. Kincheloe, and members of the committee.
Mr. Westfall began the ceremonies with a prayer followed by an address in which he spoke of the young sailor’s affiliation with the church of which the speaker was pastor, his membership in the Epworth League, and the letters which had been sent home by Cecil Hall to his many friends in the church.
Following a song by the quartette[,] Governor Cornwell, on behalf of the state of West Virginia, paid tribute to the young Kanawha man who had made the supreme sacrifice and feelingly referred to the fact that Cecil Hall was an only son. The governor lost his only son a few years ago. The governor expressed smypathy [sic] with the bereaved family of the young man.
Governor MacCorkle followed Governor Cornwell in an expression of appreciation on behalf of the people of Kanawha county of the service rendered by the Charleston sailor in behalf of humanity, freedom and liberty of the world—declaring that he had died a patriot’s death in order that right and justice and liberty should prevail throughout the world.
Following the singing of “America” by the entire assemblage, Rev. W. C. Hartinger made an eloquent address in which he extolled the causes which impelled America to make war against a barbarous foe, asserting that to have submitted to the indignities which forced the nation to enlist her forces with the allies for the restoration of truth, justice and civilization would have been worse than war.
To the sorrowing parents he expressed the deep appreciation of the people of the city, likening the response of the young sailor to the call for service to the response made by the prophet Isaiah to the call of God.
The services in the armory were concluded by the singing of the first stanza of “The Star Spangled Banner,” when the procession was again formed and moved to the Springhill cemetery, where all that was mortal of Cecil Hall, first of Kanawha’s patriots to lose his life in foreign service in line of duty, was laid to rest.
A salute fired by the detail of soldiers reverberated through the valley of the Kanawha and a bugler sounded “taps”—and Charleston had paid to the dead patriot such honor as has seldom come to a son of West Virginia.
Governor Cornwell’s address follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
My presence here on this solemn occasion is due to the fact that I happen, for the time being, to be the head of the state government. As your state’s chief executive I come, in that official capacity, that the state of West Virginia, through the proper public official, shall pay tribute to the memory of the young man who went out from this city a few months ago in defense of our country and whose lifeless remains have just come back to us.
But, though I come in that capacity, I am not willing to confine my words to a mere formal statement as coming from a public official.
Any man who has stood by the open grave of his son—especially if it happened to be an only son—and seen the fresh earth cover his hopes, his ambitions, and blot out forever his family name, is surely in a position to sympathize with the parents of the brave boy we have met today to honor. So, may I step aside from formalities and from official life for a moment and, as a father who has walked through the dark shadow of sudden sorrow, express to the distressed relatives a sympathy born of sad experience.
It matters not that this young man’s death was due to accident. He, nevertheless, died in the line of duty. Over yonder in those submarine infested waters the vessel upon which he served, kept watch and ward. By night and by day it ploughed the sea in search of those serpents of the ocean which a cruel enemy have used not for legit[i]mate warfare, to war against vessels that are armed, but to sink merchant ships, food ships and even hospital ships. Not to make war against armed men but to take the lives of non-combatants, women and children.
He was a volunteer. He was not asked or urged to take upon himself the hazard of this work. He elected to do it. Only duty called and he obeyed. Only conscience beckoned and he responded.
No finer epitaph could be written than that he died in the line of duty. He gave his life not only for his country, but in defense of the freedom of the seas, in defense of the men who sail them, in defense of the women and children who go upon them and in defense of International Law and Civilization.
Had he lived to be as old as the oldest of us here today what more could he have done?
A man’s work and his influence is not measured by years. It is measured by his acts, by his deeds, by his sacrifices. A life in which there have been no sacrifices is a life without influence and a life without great results. This young man has made the supreme sacrifice. The influence of his life with therefor[e] live on and on. It will live forever.
Already many other young men who have gone out from their comfortable homes as soldiers or sailors have made the same sacrifice for us. Some have died of disease or of accidents while a good many more have died fighting on a foreign soil. They are either sleeping beneath the sod of France or have come back cold and silent, to be interred at their homes. In all human probability thousands more of our boys will meet the same fate before this terrible war has ended.
It is all very well that we come here today to honor the memory of this young man. It will be well for us to pay similar honors to those others who may come back to us clothed in the habiliments of death, but that is not enough.
Let us here and now pledge [to] consecrate ourselves to the task that lies ahead of us. Let us pledge anew our loyalty to the nation, our fealty to the flag and above all undying and unwavering support of the millions of men we are arming for the fray.
Let us here and now pledge if necessary our last dollar, our last ounce of energy and all the courage and patience we possess and renew our determination that the cause in which this young man gave his life shall not be lost. Let us swear upon the altar of his sacrifice that he shall not have died in vain. He died that this country may remain free; that Democracy, the right of the people to govern themselves, shall not perish from the earth; that women and children, in future years, shall not be murdered by barbarians either on land or on the high seas. Unless we are willing to bear the burden to the end and fight this horrible Beast of Frightfulness until it is dead, then we have committed an unpardonable crime in sending this young man to his death.
Words, upon such an occasion as this and in times like these to not count for much. Silence is, indeed, more eloquent than any words that can be uttered.
It seems to me that the speech made by General John J. Pershing, when he visited the tomb of LaFayette, in France, was the most impressive one that has been made since this war began. When our general carried to the tomb of the great Frenchman to whom we are so much indebted for the liberties we enjoy a simple wreath, he laid it on the grave and, removing his soldier’s cap, simply said: “LaFayette, we are here.”
That meant that America had come at last to France to repay the debt of gratitude which we owed that nation for its timely assistance in our hour of peril nearly a century and a half ago. So, today, let us say to the lifeless body of this young man: “Cecil Hall, we are here,” and let us mean as Pershing meant, that we stand ready to repay the debt of gratitude we owe to him for the sacrifice he has made for us.
Cecil Smith Hall