An agitation has been started at the White House among the friends of Major Archibald Butt for the erection of a memorial monument in this city for the Presidents late military aide, who gave up his life for others on the Titanic.
It is planned to make the project a national tribute to the heroic officer, and to have Congress pass an appropriation of $200,000 for the purpose.
John Hays Hammond, who is a personal friend of President Taft, is one of those who has enlisted himself in the movement.
I meant to start a private subscription fund for the purpose, he said at the White House today, but I think it would be much more appropriate and fitting if Congress took the initiative. The memorial would then take on the nature of a national tribute. Major Butts conduct was that of a hero and deserves official recognition.
The War Department today gave out a letter written by Mr. Taft while he was a member of the Philippine Commission in 1902, recommending Major Butt for appointment as a captain and assistant quartermaster in the United States Army. The letter was written to the Secretary of War and read as follows:
The Honorable, The Secretary of War
Sir: I have great pleasure in commending to you for appointment as captain and quartermaster in the United States Regular Army, Archibald W. Butt. He now fills this position in the United States volunteers, and is in charge of land transportation in the City of Manila. I have had occasion to know something about the very great efficiency with which Captain Butt has discharged his duties, and the respect and approval which he has merited and won from his superior officers. In discussing the matter with General MacArthur, he said to me that I should certainly make no mistake in recommending Captain Butt for the position to which he aspires.
His experience here has been most valuable to him, and it seems a pity by the mere lapse of the volunteer law to lose an officer who has demonstrated his capacity to do things and to meet difficulties which present themselves in a situation, with the means he had at hand, without sitting down to wait for somebody else to furnish additional instruments.
WILLIAM H. TAFT
Liked by Roosevelt
The Secretary of the Navy also disclosed a memorandum expressing the highest respect of Former President Roosevelt for the military aide. Mr. Roosevelt said in a letter that Captain Butt was possessed of unusual ability and was exceptionally tactful and diplomatic.
He is an exceptionally able and efficient officer and if ever again it should befall me to command troops I should desire him to serve under me, concluded Mr. Roosevelt.
Expressions of the greatest praise of the unfortunate military aides high character, bravery and efficiency continued to be heard on all sides at the White House and at the State, War and Navy Building today.
Captain McCoy, U. S. A., today made public a telegram received from Mr. Roosevelt which read in part:
Am deeply shocked and grieved about Archie.
Secretary of the Navy Meyer and Secretary of War Stimson today contributed additional statements of sorrow over the drowning of Major Butt. Both declared that no finer officer and braver man ever lived.
Negotiations are on today to obtain one of the largest theaters in Washington for the memorial service May 5 for Major Archibald Butt.
A large auditorium will be necessary for it is agreed that the memorial service will be the largest ever conducted in this city under Masonic auspices.
In Other Cities
Besides the service here May 5, which must be in the afternoon if a theater is to be utilized, services in memory of Major Butt will be held in two other cities, Sewanee, Tenn., where Major Butt attended the University of the South, and Augusta, Ga., where Major Butt grew to manhood. At Sewanee the exercises will be held a week from tomorrow, but at Augusta the date is not settled.
Service was held yesterday of commemorative nature in Tampa, Fla., where Major Butt was stationed during the Spanish-American war for a time and where he had many friends. Company F, of the Second Florida National Guard, directed the service.
President Taft will attend and speak at the Temple Lodge exercises here and it is probable that Henry Waterson will be another speaker. Invitations will go out today to a number of other prominent men who will talk of Major Butts home life in Georgia, of the major as a newspaper man, as a soldier, and as a Mason. President Taft probably will given [sic] an intimate sketch of Major Butts character, based on his familiar knowledge of the soldier who was drowned when the Titanic went down.
Chairman [sic] of the committee announced for the memorial here are C. K. Berryman, speakers; Sterling Kerr, jr., tickets; Merritt O. Chance, special invitations; Matthew Trimble, grand bodies; W. W. Price, publicity; Percy S. Foster, music; W. H. Rapley, decorations; Frank P. Sperry, membership attendance.
Carter B. Keene, grand master of Temple Lodge, will preside at the service.
Calm and Smiling
Further accounts of Major Butt's heroic death continue to come from survivors. Miss Marie Young, of Washington, a music teacher, who gave instruction to President Roosevelt's children, and who know Major Butt well at the time, said in an interview in New York:
Major Butt put me into a boat. He entered it with me, wrapped blankets around me and tucked me in as carefully and as courteously as though we were preparing for a motor ride. He did all this with a smiling face, as calmly as though death were far away instead of imminent. Then he stepped out of the boat, lifted his hat and smiled again. Good-by, Miss Young,' he said, luck is with you. Kindly member me to the folks back home.
As our boat was lowered, Archie was still standing at the rail looking down at me. His hat was raised, and the same old, genial, brave smile was on his face. The picture he made as he stood there, hat in hand, brave and smiling, is one that will always linger in my memory."
Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the drowned theatrical manager, gives similar testimony. How inspiring he was. I stayed until almost the last, and as I stood by my husband he said, Thank God for Archie Butt. Just at that time a young man was arguing to get into a lifeboat, and Butt had hold of the lad by the arm like a big brother and appeared to be telling him to keep his head.