Sgt. Arthur J. Knott 1917-1944
Why Memorial Day Matters
By Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott
Memorial Day for many is the beginning of summer and time to spend outside with family and friends. I have done so many times myself, but in recent years I have begun reflecting on what Memorial Day really should mean for all of us.
In World War II my Great-Uncle Arthur J. Knott was serving in the 8th Infantry Division, 45th Artillery Battalion of the U.S. Army and was participating in the Battle of the Bulge near the Hurtgen Forest in Germany.
The 8th Division was driving hard through what was described as “the dense and forbidding forests…During this day and night artillery hell in the mud and snow of the Hurtgen Forest…” The 45th Artillery was having on average one soldier per day wounded during the battle. On December 24, 1944 Sgt. Knott stepped on a landmine and died two days later from wounds he received because of the explosion.
I have some letters that Art was writing home to his sisters. The first few are from July 1944 when he was in England and things were going well. In an October 13, 1944 letter, while he was in Belgium Art wrote, “I haven’t been feeling so well for the past few weeks. My back has been hurting right smart, but the doctor don’t do it any good. You know I am not a young chicken anymore and I can’t take it like I used to. Have you heard any more about Junior (his brother/my Grandfather Hiram Knott Jr. who had been injured in Europe)? How about Dad and all the rest (of his siblings)?”
Things were tough for Art and were going to get tougher in the weeks ahead, as the Battle of Bulge began in full force. Yet from his letters, I could tell he was mainly concerned with his family. How were his brothers and sisters doing? He had two other brothers in the service, Hiram Knott, Jr. and Dillard Knott. In many of the letters he was asking about his father Hiram Knott, Sr., but seemingly had not heard from him in many months.
Art’s letter give insight into what I believe most soldiers are feeling, that is they are serving their country to help and protect their loved ones at home. They are ensuring our freedoms and liberties to help our democracy survive and prosper.
I never knew my Uncle personally, but learned his story him from his brothers and sisters all whom have passed on now.
To the Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in the service to our country, I extend to you my heartfelt thanks for helping defend freedom.
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite, the York Rite, Eastern Star and is the Charter Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign-Urbana. He is also a member of ANSAR Shrine (IL) and the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. Greg serves on the Board of Directors of The Masonic Society and is a member of the Scottish Rite Research Society and The Philathes Society. Greg is very involved in Boy Scouts—an Eagle Scout himself, he is a member of the National Association of Masonic Scouters.