Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps

A new Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities was created shortly after the outset of American involvement in World War I, in hopes of preventing sin and vice among soldiers such as excessive drinking and prostitution. Among the attempted solutions: all soldiers were required to participate in sports and physical exercises, and soldiers were paired with homes and families that they could visit when on leave in the city. No word on whether prostitution was completely banished, but given that it still goes on in the military today (though perhaps at a lesser rate?), it clearly wasn’t 100 percent successful.

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps: Federal Commission Just Appointed to Solve Vital Problem of Healthful Recreation for Young Men of Our New Armies (PDF)

From Sunday, May 20, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 18th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Life,War

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War

A then-popular novelist and National Guard member advised all writers and authors who were eligible to serve in World War I to do so. Indeed, some of what are considered the greatest novels ever written came out of experience in World War I: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Then again, we’ll never know how many potentially transformative works of literature from that era never saw the light of the day because their would-be authors were killed in action.

Captain Rupert Hughes Calls Authors to War: In a Talk About the Work Done by Men Who Write Country’s Popular Books He Praises the New York National Guard (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 12th, 2017 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Literature,War

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent

The first federal estate tax was created in 1916, with a top rate of 10 percent levied on transfers of assets to beneficiaries after one’s death. A year later in 1917, at the outset of American involvement in World War I, this essay proposed that the rate be essentially raised to 100 percent, thus ending the automatic transfer of land or inheritances from rich people to their children.

Needless to say, it didn’t pass. Through fits and starts, the rate did rise over time, currently standing at a top rate of 40 percent. But a century later in 2017, the push is in the exact opposite direction, with congressional Republicans and President Trump trying to eliminate the federal estate tax once and for all — essentially a 0 percent rate.

Conscript Inheritances, Suggests Bishop Brent: This Would Be the Reverse of Socialism, He Says, in Discussing Sacrifices That Must Be Made to Save Liberty in the World (PDF)

From Sunday, May 13, 1917

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May 11th, 2017 at 2:39 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes

The top income bracket always tries to fight increased taxes, but historically just about the only time they willingly acquiesce is during wartime, when abrupt increased governmental expenditures are required. What made 2001-02 so unprecedented was that President George W. Bush simultaneously lowered tax on the top income bracket while launching war and requiring increased government outlays. (Bush lowered taxes for all income groups, not just the wealthiest.) The result was a large spike in deficits and debt as a percentage of GDP. Although, to be fair, those numbers would increase even more under Bush’s successor Barack Obama — and will almost certainly increase even further under Donald Trump given his plans for lower taxes and higher expenditures.

Wealthy Men Willing to Pay Higher Taxes: Victor Morawetz Says the Government Must Remember It Cannot Get Funds of People Twice, by Taxation and Bonds (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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May 5th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

Posted in Business,Politics,War

Doctors Ready to Go, at Tremendous Sacrifice

Physicians called up for wartime medical service during World War I took tremendous pay cuts in the name of patriotism.

The highest professional income in the corps is said to be $140,000 earned annually heretofore by a New York surgeon. In the seven hospital units of this city it is estimated that there are more than sixteen men with an annual income from fees exceeding $50,000. The number with incomes above $25,000 is much larger.

In answering the call to service these men are volunteering their incomes along with themselves… The highest pay available for members of the Medical Reserve Corps as army surgeons is $3,000, and this is only for those holding the rank of Major; the sum ranges down to $1,500 for Lieutenants. Dr. George Emerson Brewer, head of the Columbia University Hospital unit of New York, ordered to France last week, has one of the largest professional incomes in the country; with his going to the service of his country that is reduced to a salary of $3,000.

What is the income disparity today? Fortunately for recruitment purposes, it’s much more level now. As of 2013, according to the Houston Chronicle, “On an apples-to-apples median pay basis, salaries for uniformed Army doctors are generally competitive with those of civilian sector physicians. Army doctors and other military personnel can also earn thousands more yearly in non-taxable allowances, such as those given to live in civilian housing off base.”

Doctors Ready to Go, at Tremendous Sacrifice: War Will Stop Incomes Ranging as High as $140,000 — Brewer, Coe, McKernon, Lambert, Morris, Hammond, and Gibney on List (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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May 4th, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Science,War

Are We Americans a Warlike People?

Brander Matthews, Columbia University’s Chair of Dramatic Literature, tackled the question of whether Americans were inherently militaristic in this essay written shortly after the country’s entry into World War I. Matthews’ conclusion was that although we possessed some aspects of that trait, for the most part we weren’t militaristic. However, some of his reasoning arguably doesn’t hold up as well a century later.

He declares that only two of the five wars since independence up through 1917 were fully “necessary” — the Revolutionary War and Civil War — while declaring of the War of 1812, Mexican-American War, and Spanish-American War that “no one of them was absolutely necessary.” Since then, we’ve entered several additional wars that many historians regards as less than “absolutely necessary,” among them Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea.

Matthews also writes: “Whenever we have gone to war we have been found pitiably unprepared for it — which is satisfactory evidence that we are fundamentally unmilitaristic in spirit.” The subsequent rise of what Dwight Eisenhower coined the “military-industrial complex” likely render that critique inaccurate by 2017 as well, given our large standing military, Selective Service, and sizable contingent of weapons and ships.

Are We Americans a Warlike People?: Educator Says the Fact That We Have Entered All Wars Unprepared Shows That We Are Fundamentally Unmilitaristic (PDF)

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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April 27th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Debate,War

Censorship Heavier Than Prussian Muzzle

The Espionage Act of 1917 remains one of the most controversial laws ever passed by Congress in American history. Signed into law in June 1917, it was used almost a century later to charge Edward Snowden and convict Chelsea Manning for releasing classified intelligence information. Defenders say the law protects national security, while opposers claim it violates the First Amendment and free speech.

In April of 1917, the bill was still being debated in Congress. Republican Senator William Borah of Idaho opposed the measure, claiming it was more restrictive than the forces we had just entered World War I to fight against:

“The things they are allowed to say and write and publish in autocratic Prussia today will be prohibited in this democratic America by the terms of this very law,” continued the Idaho Senator, “and we propose to enact it as one of the preliminaries to our entering this war to rid the world of Prussianism.”

Alas, Borah’s fight was a lonely one. The measure passed the Senate 77-6. While the House vote attracted a much higher percentage against, it still passed handily 260-107.

Censorship Heavier Than Prussian Muzzle: Senator Borah Characterizes the Espionage Bill — Senator Cummins, in Voicing His Opposition, Criticises President Wilson (PDF)

From Sunday, April 29, 1917

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April 26th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Conscription Needed – By Mayor John Purroy Mitchel

In the first month and a half after America entered World War I, only about seven percent of the hoped-for number of young men to volunteer for military service actually did so, according to People’s History of the United States. In May 1917, the Selective Service Act of 1917 was enacted, making WWI only the second conflict to require a military draft. Drafts were subsequently enacted for World War II, and the Cold War conflicts of Korea and Vietnam, though since 1973 the country has relied on an all-volunteer military.

On April 22 of that year, though, a draft was not certain. The first branch of Congress to pass the legislation would not occur for another few days, until April 28. New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel wrote this opinion column advocating for the measure:

“We have so vividly before us the melancholy experience of England in the present war. We shall never know how many thousands, or hundreds of thousands, were simply slaughtered because of England’s unpreparedness. It has been said, and I believe truly, that if England had had universal service — and that would have meant land forces comparable with those of France and Germany — this war would not have come about.”

Conscription Needed: Mayor Mitchel Urges Support of Administration So That Country May Be Able to Protect Itself (PDF)

From Sunday, April 22, 1917

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April 19th, 2017 at 7:38 am

Posted in Politics,War

U.S. May Yet Raise $75,000,000,000 for War

Immediately after the United States entered World War I, the country was making plans to potentially collect as much as $75 billion to cover the American financial cost of the conflict. According to an estimate from the Congressional Research Service, WWI ended up costing the U.S. about $20 billion, or a little more than a quarter of the original drastic estimate.

Adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars (the year the cost estimate was made), that cost would come to about $253 billion. In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, that made WWI by far the war with the highest American financial cost up to that point, at more than quadruple the combined Union and Confederacy costs in the Civil War. But WWI would go on to be dwarfed by WWII, coming in at a staggering 16.2 times higher cost. WWI would later be overtaken in cost as well by Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq.

U.S. May Yet Raise $75,000,000,000 for War: Milton W. Harrison of the American Bankers’ Association Believes Americans Can Produce This Sum to Fight Germany (PDF)

From Sunday, April 15, 1917

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April 14th, 2017 at 9:02 am

Posted in War

Democracy of the Joke And Lack of German Humor Discussed by Leacock

On the very week that America entered World War I, Stephen Leacock explained in an article how one of the Allies’ unheralded strengths in the battle of ideas was their sense of humor, while one of Germany’s greatest weaknesses was their lack thereof:

“Do you know what is the most democratic form of literature? It is humorous literature. For of humorous literature the only test is: Do they laugh or do they not laugh? No King ever posed as a humorist. No King ever was a humorist, that is, an intentional humorist.

And one proof of the democracy of humor is its absence in Germany. Is there any one not a German to whom the German joke appeals? The German joke, like the peace of God, passeth all understanding.

Real humor is universal in its appeal; its popularity extends beyond national boundaries. Mark Twain has been translated into every language, and he is as funny in French or modern Greek as he is in English… Charles Dickens is the property of all the world; we think of him as a great humorist instead of as a man who wrote to amuse the English. But German humor does not cross the Rhine. The world knows German philosophy and German science and German scholarships, but it knows nothing of German humor. And the reason for this must be that there is no German humor to know.”

The best example of so-called ‘German humor’ ever might be this early Steve Carell clip with American comedians as “Germans who say nice things” —

 Democracy of the Joke And Lack of German Humor Discussed by Leacock: Famous Canadian Wit Also Gives His Views on the Perversity of the Russian Verb (PDF)

Published Sunday, April 8, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 10th, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Humor,War

War Brings Huge Increase in United States Peanut Crop

Between 1908 and 1916, the total value of U.S. peanuts more than quadrupled. Why? Because the cotton crop had been nearly wiped out boll weevils, leaving far more land for peanuts to be planted. As a result, the price per peanut bushel had doubled or more within only a few years. The more you know.

The final sentence’s prediction that “Down in the cotton country they are saying that we are soon to see the rise of peanut barons” never quite came true, as best I can tell from quick research.

War Brings Huge Increase in United States Peanut Crop (PDF)

From Sunday, March 25, 1917

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March 29th, 2017 at 7:01 am

Posted in Business,War

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake

Less than two months before the United States would formally enter World War I, the drumbeat of imminent entry was uniting the country. James M. Beck, author of “The Evidence in the Case,” was previously a critic of President Woodrow Wilson’s policies, but he come around after Wilson ceased diplomatic relations with Germany in early 1917, shortly before ultimately declaring war that April. In February, Beck wrote:

“The value of this action to the United States is immeasurable. It saves it from a possible abyss of disaster. Had America failed to act and show a willingness to make sacrifices for the basic principles of civilization, the hand of every nation might hereafter have been against her. President Wilson’s action has saved for the United States the respect of the world (including Germany, which overestimated America’s willingness to fight for its rights), the leadership of the neutral nations, and the good-will of our sister democracies in Europe, with whose final triumph the interests of America are so vitally concerned.”

One wonders whether a similar near-unanimity of public support is possible for any policy position in the modern era.

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake: Former Critic of the President Says There Are Practically No Dissenters From President Wilson’s Clarion Call to Duty (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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February 12th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Politics,War

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing

Lest one thinks that war only affects law enforcement on a national level, the local NYPD was heavily prepared for imminent involvement in the World War I:

“…[for] invasion of bombardment or the cutting of supplies by siege, detailed answers to every phrase of that question are on file at Police Headquarters… Plans for emptying the town or any given section of the town are perfected. In addition to all the normal traffic lines, elevated, surface and subway, which the Police Commissioner has the right to commander if the lives of the people are at stake, he he on record lists of many thousands of motor trucks and other vehicles which would be at the instant disposal of the police…

By means of this same Police Department with its emergency plans the entire food and fuel supply of the city could be municipalized overnight and its distribution regulated by the authorities in the way to do the most good for the largest number.”

One would assume that the NYPD in 2017 has an even more complex plan for such an unlikely scenario, especially following a massive terrorist attack on New York City soil in 2001.

There was also a warning to avoid paranoia or overly broad measures in 1917, in stark contrast to the “Muslim registry” advocated during the campaign trail by our current president:

“This suggests another thing the ideal policeman has to be. He must be part diplomat. Nothing would be more absurd or fraught with danger of serious consequences in a time like this than for the police to act on the assumption that all Germans are suspects. There are 300,000, or more, of them in this city. The occasional plots of the last two years and a half in this country and city would indicate that perhaps a very few of these Germans have to be watched — probably not one in a thousand.”

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing: Nothing Has Been Left to Chance During the Last Two Years to Prepare 11,000 Policemen for Any Emergency to Come (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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February 11th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in War

Lowering the Cost of Living for the Navy

Here’s an element of navy/military spending that seems obvious once it’s brought up, yet might never have entered your brain before:

“Suppose, for instance, that you had about 65,000 men, the great majority of them young, healthy, and hungry, to clothe and feed. Suppose that when you bought flour you bought it by the millions of pounds; that you meat purchases totaled nearly 18,000,000 pounds a year; that you had to buy almost 25,000,000 pounds of cabbages, onions, potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers, and other fresh vegetables annually; that your sugar and coffee and canned good purchases were proportionately large; that when you bought eggs the order specified a few hundred thousand; that you bought every twelve months more than 1,700,000 pounds of butter, not to mention scores of other foods which America’s bluejackets and marines must have and do get, what would you do about it?

That was in 1917. If anything, today those numbers for the Navy are almost certainly larger. I couldn’t find numbers related to the cost of food for today’s military, but the number of active duty Navy members currently stands at 323 thousand.

A few months ago I covered a talk from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, yet somehow this subject of food never came up.

Lowering the Cost of Living for the Navy: How One of the Newly Appointed Rear Admirals, as Paymaster General, Tackled a Vexatious Problem and Solved It (PDF)

From Sunday, January 28, 1917

 

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January 29th, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Business,War

One-Man Submarine Invention of an American

 

Small submarines definitely still exist today, though to my knowledge the operator sits inside. I’m not aware of a current design which requires lying on one’s stomach and pedaling.

Although the pictured invention might look a bit silly to a modern day viewer, the idea behind the invention still has merit to it:

“The only way by which to make the action of the torpedo actually certain was to put an experienced operator inside it; for, while its automatic machinery operates with almost human intelligence, there is no certainty that it will on long ranges do exactly what is required of it.”

One-Man Submarine Invention of an American: Tiny Torpedo Boat, Said to be Used by German Raider, Was Anticipated by the Ingenious Craft of Thomas J. Moriarty (PDF)

From Sunday, January 28, 1917

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January 29th, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Prophesies Bigger ‘Tanks’ – By H.G. Wells

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Famed novelist — and one of the only writers of the time who’s still read today — H.G. Wells penned this piece for NYT Sunday Magazine in 1917. The legendary science fiction author and futurist, who wrote such classic novels as The Time Machine in 1895 and The War of the Worlds in 1898, in this piece projects the future development of tanks, which were one of the main military innovations at the time:

“It is impossible to restrain a note of sharp urgency from what one has to say about these developments. The “tank,” which at present weighs under twenty tons, will develop steadily into a tremendous instrument of warfare, driven by engines of scores of thousands of horse power, tracking on a track scores of hundreds of yards wide, and weighing hundreds or thousands of tons. Nothing but a world agreement not to do so can prevent this logical development of the land ironclad idea. Such a structure will make wheel-ruts scores of feet deep; it will plow up, devastate and destroy the country it passes over altogether.”

Tanks did improve. Though they weighed less than 20 tons at the time, the 1944 German tank Panzer VIII Maus remains the heaviest tank ever built at 207 tons. And most American tanks today have around 1,500 horsepower, which qualifies for Wells’ prediction of “thousands of horse power.” But one single tank, even the most powerful ones currently in exist, is not enough to destroy a country it passes over altogether.

Prophesies Bigger “Tanks”: Novelist Who Foretold the Caterpillar Forts Believes More Terrible Land Battleships Are Sure to Come (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

 

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January 5th, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Fiction,War

Military Training Would Make Us a New Race

military-training-would-make-us-a-new-race

Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. Hugh H. Young did not appear to legitimately believes that more military training would literally turn us into a new species, but he did advocate mandatory military training as some other countries such as Switzerland did. He writes:

“If our American boys could have such physical training under scientific supervision, what a different race we would produce. Minor defects and diseases would be discovered early and cured, thus removing the deformities or foci of infection which lead to the host of diseases and physical impairments which make us a sub-standard neurotic nation, with the highest middle-aged mortality.”

If only Dr. Young knew what the American obesity rate would swell to 100 years later.

Military Training Would Make Us a New Race: Noted Medical Authority Says It Would Lift Us From a Sub-Standard Neurotic Nation to One of Highest Type of Manhood (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

 

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January 3rd, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Science,War

‘America Faces Its Most Momentous Year’

 

america-faces-its-most-momentous-year

At the close of 1916, George MacAdam predicted that 1917 would be the most important year in American history. Although historians differ on precisely what was the most important year in American history, virtually nobody selects 1917. Among the most common selections are: 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1789 when the Constitution and Bill of Rights were were ratified, 1861 when the Civil War started, 1865 when the Civil War ended and the slaves were freed despite Lincoln getting assassinated, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was Attacked and the U.S. entered World War II, 1945 when World War II ended and the U.S. became the first and only country to deploy nuclear weapons, 1968 when a bunch of crazy stuff happened, 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and the U.S. became the world’s one true superpower, and 2001 when the September 11 attacks occurred.

“America Faces Its Most Momentous Year”: President of Princeton University Says Crisis of the Present Day Is Greater Than That of the Revolution or the Civil War (PDF)

From December 31, 1916

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January 2nd, 2017 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Immigration After War Will Break All Records

immigration-after-war-will-break-all-records

Did the immigrant population spike after World War I ended, as this Harvard professor predicted? The answer is: it went up slightly. As the below graphic from the Center for Immigration Studies shows, U.S. immigrants living in the U.S. went up slightly from the 1900-10 decade to the 1910-20 decade in pure numbers, from 13.5 million immigrants to 13.9 million, then up again to 14.2 million in from 1920-30. However, the percentage of immigrants as a percentage of the U.S population actually declined during that time, from 14.7 percent in 1910 to 13.2 percent in 1920 to 11.6 percent in 1930.

The 2010 percentage was 12.9 percent. That was originally estimated by the Center for Immigration Studies to reach a near-high of 14.3 percent in 2020 and a new high of 15.8 percent in 2030. It will be interesting to see what effect a President Trump will have on those projections. On the one hand, he could curtail immigration, for example Syrian refugees. On the other hand, if the economy expands due to lower income and corporate taxes, perhaps more people from other countries would want to come here for the economic opportunities, the true “American dream” Trump promises to resuscitate.

Image result for immigration by year 1900

Immigration After War Will Break All Records: Prof. Foerster of Harvard Expects More than a Million a Year and Thinks United States Should Adopt Restrictive Measures (PDF)

From December 17, 1916

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December 13th, 2016 at 7:12 am

Barrie, Saddened by the War, Writes Little Now

From November 12, 1916

barrie-saddened-by-the-war-writes-little-now

Barrie, Saddened by the War, Writes Little Now: Famous Author of ‘Peter Pan’ Is More Shy and Elusive Than Ever Since the Struggle Began — Supports a Hospital in France (PDF)

I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Peter Pan as a novel. I first read it in elementary school and found it magical, in fact it was one of my favorite books. I read it for the second time the week that I turned 18 and became an adult, at least in the eyes of the law. I still loved it but took a different lesson from the ending. (Spoiler alert for the next sentence or two.) Wendy, John, and Michael all go back to London from Neverland, bringing the Lost Boys with them, so that all the main child characters eventually grow up, but Peter himself remains forever a boy on the island. Instead of just a light fun harmless story as I found it in elementary school, I now saw the lesson as “Become an adult, but keep a little bit of childlike joy and wonder within yourself.”

The third time I read it was in 2014, shortly after the NBC live musical version aired. I was now fully an adult — a young adult maybe, but still an adult, no question about it. I came to dislike what I now perceived as the lesson, namely “Childhood is good, therefore adulthood is bad.” I agree that childhood is good, but that doesn’t mean the opposite of childhood is therefore bad. I had become an adult and loved many aspects of it — no more curfew, for one thing! I found the film Boyhood, released that same year, to be a much better and more meaningful fictional encapsulation of from the transition from childhood to adulthood.

But there’s still no denying that J.M. Barrie remains one of the few writers from the early 1900s who is still regularly read, thanks largely to Peter Pan. World War I hit the man extremely hard. Already shy and a little odd to begin with — as can be seen through Johnny Depp’s brilliant Oscar-nominated portrayal in the film Finding Neverland — Barrie’s godson George Llewelyn Davies was killed in action in 1915. George was one of the main inspirations for the Lost Boys characters, and his first name was used as the name of Wendy’s father in Barrie’s book and play.

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November 12th, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Literature,War