By all accounts, it was quite a sight that morning of June 13, 1918, when the U.S.S. Aztec cruised into Vineyard Haven Harbor. The Secretary of the Navy delegated the warship to carry Massachusetts Gov. Samuel McCall, Lieut.

Gov. Calvin Coolidge, and many other dignitaries from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard.

The ferry Uncatena arrived a bit earlier. Aboard were U.S. Coast Guard personnel from the mainland to join those who served from the station in Gay Head.

Plaque honors those who served. — Mark Lovewell

As the battles raged in Europe, Governor McCall came to commemorate and honor the town of Gay Head for a singular distinction.

When the call to duty came, Gay Head sent more of its sons to World War I as a percentage of its population than any other town in New England.

“All able-bodied men volunteered to serve,” said June Manning, whose grandfather, Walter W. Manning, was one of those who went to war. “There were 23 men who served. Only one of them didn’t come home; George Belain didn’t come home.”

The town, then almost entirely populated by Native Americans, was bursting with patriotic pride that day in the summer of 1918. A plaque was to be dedicated “to Gay Head in recognition of its splendid service to the nation in the war for freedom.”

A large part of the Island made the procession to Gay Head for the dedication of the new plaque. According to an account in the Gazette, 170 floats and decorated cars were joined by another 200 automobiles for the parade up-Island.

“Hundreds of people witnessed this dedication, which was a picturesque scene indeed. Cars lined the highway and were parked on three sides of the town hall lot,” the newspaper reported.

It was the day of the annual powwow in Gay Head. Gathered for the dedication were Native Americans in traditional tribal dress, side by side with men in suits and women in colorful summer dresses.

Boston Post covered the event.

“Those who come to you today from the cities and towns of the commonwealth and from places outside her borders come to pay homage to your patriotism,” Governor McCall said, according to the Gazette account of the dedication ceremony. “Not the least interesting characteristic of your record is that so many of your sons are found to be serving upon the seas. Your record brings home with startling force the fact that the Native American race has displayed a patriotism in which it is outshone by none.”

Among the speakers that day was Edwin D. Vanderhoop, a Civil War veteran who later represented the Martha’s Vineyard in the state legislature. His son, Leonard F. Vanderhoop, was one of four members of the extended family who volunteered for service in World War I.

The plaque, he said, “Will always speak in silent eloquence to the generations yet unborn and tell the story of how our sons have given their all for the life, the liberty, and the freedom of the world.”

First installed at the schoolhouse, the plaque was later moved to the new town hall. It still stands in Aquinnah, the words covered in a green patina. It still speaks in silent eloquence.

“It’s a little bit of history that has passed on,” said Leonard F. Vanderhoop’s grandson Durwood (Woody) Vanderhoop, who is a grantsman and planner for the Wampanoag Tribe. “I do recall he was in the war, it was a real tough situation. He made a promise, sent out some prayer and said if God helped him through his situation he would serve Him for the rest of his life. Somehow he made it back to be a deacon in the church for 60 years.”

Woody Vanderhoop still has a silver chain given to him by his grandfather.

“It was something he had worn through the war, it traveled a long ways,” he said.

Many years after the war, Leonard F. Vanderhoop told a Gazette reporter about his experience in World War I, where he was wounded during the battle of the Argonne forest. He was awarded a Purple Heart.

“We were marched up a long hill, miles long, with sacks and coats and rifles and everything else you could carry, in the blazing sun,” according to the newspaper account. “It seemed the longest hill we ever climbed. I was 23, one of the youngest of the bunch, the leader of Battery B. That was when I got it. You could hear the shells come closer and closer every minute. The next thing I knew — whoosh — my leg was stretched out a mile. I hobbled up the hill to the battery. They were still shelling. They wound something around my leg to stop the bleeding and carried me over to the pup tent that was supposed to be the field hospital.”

Ms. Manning said her grandfather, Walter, was reticent to talk about his service, but as a child, there was always a reminder in her home.

“We had a few little bullets that were on the mantle in the living room, that he brought back with him,” she said.

The dedication he took to war came home with him. “The skills they learned in the Army were leadership skills. He came back and he was a selectman in Gay Head for more than 50 years,” Ms. Manning said.

The plaque was funded by the Boston Post, a prominent newspaper. So prideful were the residents of the town that 13 years later, they raised money and dedicated another plaque, this one with the names of everyone who served: Samuel J. Anthony, Benjamin L. Attaquin, Solomon M. Attaquin, George L. Belain, William H. Cook, Edmund S. Cooper, George W. Cooper, Herbert N. Cooper, Crosby L. Crocker, Durwood W. Diamond, Theodore E. Haskins, Isaiah P. Haskins, Merrian C. Hayson, Marshall Jeffers, Walter W. Manning, Charles W. Ryan, Grover O. Ryan, Jesse P. Smalley, Russell C. Smalley, Charles W. Vanderhoop, Cummins A. Vanderhoop, David F. Vanderhoop, and Leonard D. Vanderhoop.

That plaque too, still speaks in eloquence across generations, including the name of Ms. Manning’s grandfather.

“My grandson Noah is very proud of that,” she said.

Veterans Day is next Wednesday, Nov. 11. Schools, post offices and town halls will be closed in observance of the national holiday. A parade steps off at 10:45 a.m. from Nancy’s Snack Bar in Oak Bluffs and proceeds to the monument at Ocean Park, where a ceremony will be held. The parade will be led by Vineyard veterans agent Jo Ann Murphy and American Legion president Peter Herrmann. In Vineyard Haven the traditional avenue of flags will be set up at the Oak Grove Cemetery beginning at 7:30 a.m.; volunteers are needed.