Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning

Women in America had long worn all black to represent widowhood as a result of a husband dying in war. This 1918 article even noted that “There are now women who have been in black ever since the civil war.”

But that began to change during WWI. Women began wearing a three-inch black band sleeve on their arm, instead of dressing fully in black.

Explained Anna Howard Shaw, chair of the Women’s Committee of the Council of National Defenense:

The men are going over in the spirit of battling for the freedom of the world, cheerfully, with defiance of the enemy in their hearts. Once ‘over there,’ they do not murmur or repine, even in face of death itself. We women should lift our lives to the same plane, in appreciation of the exaltation of the service rendered by the men for the protection of ourselves and our homes. Instead of giving away to depression, it is our duty to display the same courage and spirit that they do. If they can die nobly, we must show that we can live nobly.

We should look on the insignia, therefore, not as a badge of mourning, but as a mark of recognition of exalted service, as a sign of what it has been their privilege to give to their country — a badge of honor. The wearing of the insignia will express far better than mourning the sacrifice that has been made, that the loss is a matter of glory rather than one of prostrating grief and depression.

 

Insignia, Not Black Gowns, as War Mourning: Women of America Asked to Forego Gloomy Evidences of Grief — Black Band on Sleeve to be a Badge of Honor for the Bereaved (PDF)

Published: Sunday, July 7, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 7th, 2018 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Development,Life,War

Who Will Be Drafted Next?

What should be the minimum and maximum ages for potentially getting drafted to serve in the military? This 1918 article details the then-current state of affairs:

When the present law was before Congress the War Department asked that the draft be imposed between the ages of 19 and 26, inclusive. In both houses opposition developed at once against going below 21. The House of Representatives finally adopted 21 to 40 years as the age limits, the Senate 21 to 27 years. In conference 21 to 31 was agreed upon.

The article, about pending legislation to expand the draft ages from 18 to 45, passed soon after. America’s fighting forces were projected to expand by more than one million men as a result.

Today, as a combination of peacetime conditions and post-Vietnam conscription reforms, draft registration is required for men between ages 18 and 25.

 

Who Will Be Drafted Next?: Discussions in Congress as to Calling Youths Between 18 and 21 Years, and Men as Old as 45 — Crowder’s New Figures on Exhaustion of Present Eligible List (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2018 at 11:04 am

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Where Were You?

Every stanza in Schoonmaker’s 1918 poem Where Were You? ends with a question, challenging the poem’s readers to ask themselves whether they were truly and fully doing their part to help America’s effort as World War I raged.

The poet, Edwin Davies Schoonmaker, would live until 1940 and write many plays and books including The AmericansThe World Storm and Beyond, and Democracy and World Dominion. But his fame didn’t last — in 2018, he still doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry.

Every week in the modern era, NYT Sunday Magazine features a poem — but it would never ever be featured as the lead piece of content in that week’s magazine. One week in June 1918, a poem was. As I discussed in my recent column for the Daily Beast, poetry was far more front and center in America’s literary culture back then. (Plus the 1918 poem entirely rhymed, something much more infrequent in the featured poems of 2018.)

 

Where Were You?: [Poem] By Edwin Davies Schoonmaker (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 30, 1918

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Written by Jesse

July 1st, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in Poetry,War

War as a Tonic for Jaded Feminine Nerves

WWI caused a marked declined in women’s slouching — a change which some doctors attributed to the war itself..

Said Dr. Eugene L. Fisk, director of the Life Extension Institute in June 1918:

The most gratifying physical change in women is in their posture. Time was, not so far distant, when the clouch was a fashionable attitude for women. This began in society, was seen on the stage, and was reflected widely among workingwomen. It was accentuated by the hobble skirt and the turkey trot, just before the war.

The last year has come like a breath of fresh air to the physical habits of all women. I believe the unconscious influence of the military largely accounts for it. The soldier has captured the popular imagination. The military bearing, the military salute, the military appearance appeal to the women even more quickly than to the men, and they react to it automatically in their physical manners. A girl who glides or slouches or minces along is no longer considered desirable by young men or envied by her associates.

What may make this doubly surprising is that WWI actually generally marked the end of corsets in America. Corsets forced women to sit up straighter with better posture, so one might think that their decline as a fashion would actually cause more slouching rather than less.

War as a Tonic for Jaded Feminine Nerves: Physicians Say They Are Now Treating Fewer Women Whose Ills Are Imaginary — Military Heels, Sensible Toes, and the Erect Carriage Instead of the Slouch (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 23, 1918

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Written by Jesse

June 22nd, 2018 at 10:53 am

Posted in Health,Life,War

Echoes in Lighter Tone from Washington

Should we be referring to WWI as the stenographers’ war? That’s what one article in 1918 predicted that “future historians” might call it:

And, hurrah, here come the stenographers! They are here from multi-storied city skyscrapers and from country lawyers’ offices; from business colleges and from just-learned-it-by-myself; calm, self-possessed, clear-eyed; helpers of detail — helpless men. Power resides in their right hand and in their left… Therefore, some future historian may call this the stenographers’ war. At least, they know who is running it.

Alas, the conflict eventually came to be known as World War I. One wonders if we just missed out on an eccentrically-named conflict instead, such as the 1739 one between Great Britain and Spain called the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

 

Echoes in Lighter Tone from Washington: Some Observations on the Military Salute, the Stenographer, and the Temporary Buildings — Wartime Capital Seen in Its Amusing Phases (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 16, 1918

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Written by Jesse

June 17th, 2018 at 11:47 am

Posted in Humor,Life,War

U-Boats Off Shore!

Franklin D. Roosevelt… assistant secretary of the navy?

Many people — or perhaps even most people — today don’t even remember what position FDR held right before his presidency: governor of New York. But virtually nobody remembers what position he held even before that: assistant secretary of the Navy.

FDR held the #2 spot in the Navy from 1913-19. He was appointed a year before World War I broke out in Europe and four years before America entered the conflict.

In this June 1918 article, FDR explains the reasoning behind Germany launched a U-boat attack on shipping right off the American Atlantic coast:

First, merely to carry out the known German system of terrorizing the enemy; second in this particular case, it may be the definite belief of the German Admiralty that this campaign will force the United States to withdraw destroyers and patrol vessels now in European waters in order to protect our own coasts. To do this would be playing directly into the hands of the German Admiralty, because… it pays them better to attack our ships on the other side and not here; if we withdraw destroyers and patrol boats from the other side it would make it that much easier for the Germans in their chosen field of operations.

We must realize, therefore, that while Germany may and probably will continue to send occasional submarines to our own coasts, and while these submarines may occasionally sink ships off our shores, we must regard their operations as secondary.

The secretary of the Navy — and FDR’s boss — was Josephus Daniels. FDR would repay Daniels as president by appointing him ambassador to Mexico.

U-Boats Off Shore!: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Discusses the Possibilities and Purposes of Germany’s Submarine Attack (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 9, 1918

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Written by Jesse

June 10th, 2018 at 12:34 pm

A Whole World Outraged

If Germany lost WWI, should they be granted the same status they had previously held in the European and world geopolitical landscape? That was the question facing American and the world in May 1918.

George Trumbull Ladd, a professor emeritus of philosophy at Yale, argued no:

The feelings of an outraged world against an outrageous Germany, as set forth in deeds and fortified by theory, ought to continue undiminished to the end of time. Without faith in the eternal principles of righteousness no one can guarantee that it will be so; but we may be somewhat confident in the belief that these feelings will continue essentially the same for a very considerable time.

Indeed, Germany in the 1920s did not all regain their pre-WWI status. They were forced to pay tremendous sums of money in reparations to Great Britain and France, and also forced by the Versailles Treaty to give up 13 percent of their land. These produced the desperate economic and political conditions that would allow for the 1930s rise of Adolf Hitler.

A Whole World Outraged: Should Guilty Germany Be Permitted Ever to Resume Her Place Among the Nations? An Argument for Ostracism “on Grounds of Morality and Religion” (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 12, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 10th, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Millions of Feet of Movie Films for Soldiers

Nearly a century before the release of — and subsequent suspected bomb scare related to — 2007’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters, this 1918 article also contained the phrase “movie films.” But in this case, it referred to physical film, 7 to 8 million feet of which were shown to soldiers during World War I every week as recreation or downtime.

How were the films chosen?

After a number of experiments it has been decided that the week’s three movies at a camp shall include, as a general rule, the following: One all-man program — pictures of fighting, racing, adventure in the great outdoors; one comedy; and one drama.

The needs of the various camps differ widely. Obviously the Allentown camp, largely made up of college boys, requires a different type of picture from the on popular in a centre [sic] where thousands of negroes are assembled as muleteers and stevedores. [A stevedore is a person who loads and unloads cargo from ships.]

The decision of which films were shown to military members was entirely in the hands of one woman: Edith Dunham Foster, editor of the Community Motion Picture Bureau. “I try to get away from my own opinion entirely,” she explained, “and to look at the film with the eyes of a soldier.”

If only they had access to Avengers: Infinity War back then.

 

Millions of Feet of Movie Films for Soldiers: How a Woman Directs the Complex Task of Selecting Subjects, Censoring, and Shipping Motion-Picture Equipment to All American Camps (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 5, 1918

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Written by Jesse

May 4th, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Posted in Movies,War

The Atlas of Modern War

What was the cause of surging American military superiority in 1918? New York University Mechanical Engineering Professor Collins P. Bliss outlined how the prior century had been a frenzy of technological development in the art of warfare. (Including the usage of the phrase “motor traction” in the very early years of vehicles, before we’d really settled on a term for it.)

In the last hundred years the evolution of war has been more marked than in any other period since the invention of gunpowder… The familiar developments of the present conflict — the use of the submarine and airship, trench warfare, the employment of artillery on an unprecedented scale, especially in forming the barrage, the greatly extended use of the machine gun, the substitution of motor traction for horses, and the effective marshaling of numbers of men so immense that it had been conceived hitherto to be impossible to keep such forces in the field as mobilized and effective combatants — are all based upon a background of engineering skill. The engineer has led the way in bringing about this transformation of warfare. Without his ever-present help the new appliances would be useless in affecting the results of battles and campaigns.

In his 2016 book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari makes a similar point about technological developments in the century since 1918 as well — arguing that it helped lead to a dramatic decrease in war, especially since WWII or so:

While the price of war soared, its profits declined. For most of history polities could enrich themselves by looting or annexing enemy territories. Most wealth consisted of material things like fields, cattle, slaves and gold, so it was easy to loot it or occupy it. Today, wealth consists mainly of human capital and organizational know-how. Consequently it is difficult to carry it off or conquer it by military force.

Consider California. Its wealth was initially built on gold mines. But today it is built on silicon and celluloid — Silicon Valley and the celluloid hills of Hollywood. What would happen if the Chinese were to mount an armed invasion of California, land a million soldiers on the beaches of San Francisco and storm inland? They would gain little. There are no silicon mines in Silicon Valley. The wealth resides in the minds of Google engineers and Hollywood script doctors, directors and special-effects wizards, who would be on the first plane to Bangalore or Mumbai long before the Chinese tanks rolled into Sunset Boulevard. It is not coincidental that the few full-scale international wars that still take place in the world, such as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, occur in places where wealth is old-fashioned material wealth. The Kuwaiti sheikhs could flee abroad, but the oil fields stayed put and were occupied.

Let us pray these developments only continue in the century ahead, especially in the places where there are still full-scale international wars.

 

The Atlas of Modern War: On the Shoulders of the Engineer Falls a Tremendous, Ever-Increasing Burden, Due to the Extraordinary Technical Demands of the Present Day (PDF)

Published: Sunday, April 14, 1918

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Written by Jesse

April 15th, 2018 at 10:17 am

Posted in History,War

System In Our War

The War Department underwent a substantial change at the beginning of World War I, transforming from a largely combat-based agency to a manufacturing- and business-based one. Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell explained in this 1918 interview:

The War Department [has] become a business affair. He cited the aircraft work of the army as an example.

“A year ago,” said Mr. Crowell, “there were eleven officers, all strictly military men, and about 1,000 privates in the aircraft work. Now in that branch of the war business we have thousands of officers and 100,000 men. But 96 per cent. of those officers are trained business men and engineers from big civil enterprises. Most of them are in military uniform, but that is merely a matter of form that does not go to the substance of the business.

“And this change that has come over the aircraft division in its personnel is illustrative of what is being done or has been done by Mr. Baker [Secretary of War Newton Baker] throughout the department. There is very little about it today that is military, on this side of the Atlantic, except the outward form, the dress and the assumed military ceremonial. Under all that is the same sort of spirit and energy and organization that is indispensable to the successful business enterprise.”

In the words of comedian Bo Burnham to the tune of the classic Edwin Starr song War: “War! / What is it good for? / Increasing domestic manufacturing.”

 

System In Our War: An Interview with Acting Secretary Benedict Crowell, Who Tells of a Year’s Changes in Baker’s Department 

Published: Sunday, March 24, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 22nd, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Business,Politics,War

France’s Airman-Artist Tells How He Works

Henri Farré was the official painter of the French government during World War I, whose job was to paint battles as he observed them from airplanes.

While this may seem like a strange occupation to be funded at taxpayer expense after the invention of the photograph, WWI was also the first major military conflict to feature aviation. And we still have official portraits of major figures such as presidents commissioned even today, despite a camera in every person’s back pocket.

In the 1918 article, Farré explained his methods:

“How do I do my work?” he went on, in answer to a question. “I am, say, somewhere in the rear of the fighting. An attack is begun. I am notified. Up I go with one of our pilots. We approach the field of battle, strike into the mist of it, keeping straight over it. I take in every detail. I saturate my brain with the topography of the place. I transform my head into a camera. It took me six months to learn to do that, but now I find it easy. I concentrate. I fix my eyes on every feature of the landscape beneath me. My brain becomes a photographic plate.

“Sometimes we hover over the battle as long as half an hour. Shells burst around us. Other airmen plunge to the ground. But we escape. Then my pilots whirls around and we fly back to the rear. We land. I have no time to lose. I sit down immediately and sketch from memory the scene I have just witnessed. From what I remember and a system of jotting down numbers for colors while I am in the air, I make a rough sketch of the battle I have just witnessed.”

The 1918 article does not do justice to Farré’s paintings, showcasing only two and in grainy black-and-white at that. Here is one in full-resolution color from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, to give a sense of the man’s talents:

France’s Airman-Artist Tells How He Works: Lieutenant Farre, Official Painter of War as Seen from the Air, Has Risked His Life Over Scores of Battles in Full Swing (PDF)

Published Sunday, March 3, 1918

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Written by Jesse

March 8th, 2018 at 8:01 am

Posted in Art,Transportation,War

Propaganda to German People by Balloon Routes

 

“Ironclad ignorance and skillfully applied misinformation are the two hypnotizing agents by which the military masters of Germany’s restless and suffering millions keep them loyal and obedient.” How to combat this?

Henry Louis Smith, President of Washington and Lee University, proposed an idea that could only be considered legitimate in the pre-internet age: send balloons with  messages containing Western ideas over France, Spain, and Italy, letting the eastern or northeastern winds transmit them into the German and Austrian Empires for their citizens to read.

“If the masses of the German people could read for themselves the messages of President Wilson and the other allied statesmen, could receive the argument and appeals of reformers in every land, could learn the facts concerning the war and the state of public opinion throughout the world, their blind loyalty, cemented by ignorance and falsehood, would be fatally and permanently disintegrated.”

“The following method would accomplish this result rapidly, inexpensively, and thoroughly in spite of frontier guards and police supervision, and also without violating morals or international law, imperiling its agents, or interfering with present military operations.”

I almost always try to avoid commenting on modern American politics or society in these posts, but the idea that the free flow of intellectual or progressive ideas would cause “ignorance and falsehood [to be] fatally and permanently disintegrated” certainly seems to have been disproven in the past few years.

As for Germany specifically, it’s hard to imagine this plan would have worked. Adolf Hitler was democratically elected in 1932 — it seems doubtful at best that this plan would have changed more than a few minds out of the many millions of Germans who would ultimately help elect Hitler.

Propaganda to German People by Balloon Routes: Scientist’s Novel Idea of Using Air Currents to Flood the Enemy’s Land with Educational Messages on Innumerable Small Carriers (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 24, 1918

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Written by Jesse

February 24th, 2018 at 8:01 am

Conscription of All Men Up to Forty-five Years?

Maryland Senator Joseph Irwin France was Congress’s primary advocate during WWI of forcing all men between ages 18 and 45 to register for the draft.

That is not to say that all men up to aged 45 would actually be forced to fight in combat. As France explained:

“The second section of the bill… authorizes the President to consider all enrolled between ages of 18 and 20, inclusive, as members of a Federal cadet corps subject to call for military and nonmilitary training and for noncombatant national service. The men between 21 and 31 by the terms of the bill constitute the Federal first line of defense corps, who may be called into military service in accordance with the conscription act already in force or put into noncombatant national service. A third group is made up of the men between 32 and 36 years of age. It is the second line of defense corps, whose members may be called upon for military or nonmilitary training or for noncombatant national service. The fourth group, consisting of the men from 37 to 45, is the Federal reserve corps, also subject to call for noncombatant service.”

France’s bill didn’t go anywhere. Less than a year into his first Senate term at the time this article was written, France ran for reelection in 1922 but lost.

As for me, under the rules of current U.S. military draft law, I aged out of the draft only last month.

Conscription of All Men Up to Forty-five Years: Senator France, Author of Bill Subjecting Them to Government’s Call, Says It Is the Only Way to Solve War’s Industrial Problems (PDF)

From Sunday, February 10 , 1918

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Written by Jesse

February 10th, 2018 at 9:01 am

Posted in Debate,Politics,War

Soldiers Learning to Read as Well as Fight

While about 20 percent of the population at the time were enrolled as library borrowers and took out an average of three books per year, World War I soldiers in the camps were enrolled at a rate of 40 percent and took out an average of 12 books per year.

Half a million book volumes were already located in the military camp libraries by February 1918, less than a year after American entered the conflict, with a “soldiers book fund” containing more than $1.5 million.

Soldiers Learning to Read as Well as Fight: Books in Camp Are Used Twice as Much as Those in City Libraries — Many Men Acquire Valuable Habit for the First Time (PDF)

From Sunday, February 3, 1918

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Written by Jesse

February 1st, 2018 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Education,War

War’s Biggest Trick: “The Suicide Fleet”

The Trojan horse had its 20th century equivalent in the “His Majesty’s Ship No. 1-14” fleet of fake battleships commissioned by the British Navy during World War I.

A Royal Naval Reserve Officer described the ostensibly powerful vehicles:

The ships seemed in trim for any daring venture that the sea in wartime could afford, and I wondered if the tale that they were dummies were not a farce for the consumption of spies. Never have I seen warships with appearance more genuine. Huge gray monsters they were, with double turrets fore and aft, from which great guns protruded; wicker masts with crow’s nests and gaunt naval bridges towered above decks stripped for action and anti-aircraft guns and range-finders pointed in every direction. All of them had steam up as if ready to dash to sea and engage a prowling enemy at any moment. Not in my twenty years at sea, in which time I have seen the navies of all the powers, have I gazed upon a more formidable squadron, if the eye alone were judge.

But on board the joke was evident at a glance. The fighting turrets were little wooden barns, with bare rafters inside. The great guns were logs, graduated from a sawmill, tapered and bored in exact imitation of naval cannon. Not a single real gun aboard! We could not have sunk a rowboat!

There were 14 such ships in all, and they worked: the Germany military bragged about torpedoing one of them, not realizing how little damage they had actually inflicted on their oppoentns.

War’s Biggest Trick: “The Suicide Fleet” — British Squadron of Fourteen Wooden Ships, with Wooden Guns, Deceived Germans for Months and Decoyed Them Into the Dogger Bank Disaster (PDF)

From Sunday, January 13, 1918

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Written by Jesse

January 16th, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Posted in War

Thirty-two Camps Have Newspaper in Common

The newspaper Trench and Camp was started for soldiers in training during WWI, with the intention that half the content would be national and identical among each of the 32 editions, with the other half of content being written by local writers.

Trench and Camp did not survive past approximately 1919. What most Americans now think of as the primary publication dealing with the military, Stars and Stripes, began in its modern incarnation during WWI.

However, it had apparently not received enough attention by January 1918 for the New York Times Sunday Magazine to profile it yet — Trench and Camp was still apparently the bigger of the two publications at that point.

Thirty-two Camps Have Newspaper in Common: Four Pages of Each Issue Printed Here for All, Four More Pages of Local Interest Printed at Nearby Cities for Each Cantonment (PDF)

From Sunday, January 6, 1918

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Written by Jesse

January 10th, 2018 at 8:17 am

Posted in Journalism,War

Where Women Supplant Men Because of War

 

Among the jobs which were women were filling in for men in larger numbers as a result of World War I: streetcar conductors, subway guards, elevator runners, firefighters, munition works, the felt hat industry, radium plating, and wagon drivers.

As a man, I would gladly volunteer for even the most unjust war to avoid an occupation of radium plating. Guess how Marie Curie died?

Where Women Supplant Men Because of War: Changes Taking Place in Many Industries — Employers Report New Workers’ Adaptability in Fields Hitherto Barred — Equal Pay Now the Rule (PDF)

From Sunday, December 30, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 31st, 2017 at 8:01 am

Mars and Santa Claus Meet Here

In what is probably the single best piece of writing I’ve seen during my time running Sunday Magazine, this article describes the fewer toys, barren shop windows, and a new somewhat lonelier holiday celebration for Americans in the throes of World War I.

It is a changed Santa Claus that will visit New York on this, the first Christmas that has found America buckled down to the grim task of playing a part in the great world conflict — a war-rationed Santy who is trying to do his bit.

The old twinkling eyes, rosy cheeks, cheery smile, and jolly paunch — symbols of merriment and hospitality, of kindliness and generosity — have lost some of their pristine glory. When hard-fisted necessity in the guise of the Higher Cost-of-Living, has been busy depleting the pocketbook for these many months past, when Charity is making her appeals for the starving and homeless in many quarters of the globe, when Patriotism is crying for funds with which to fight the enemy, the gift-pack must perforce shrink, the stuffed turkey be forsworn, the punch-bowl stay dry.

But if the old spirit of Merry Christmas has been tempered, if it has been shorn of some of its jollity, some of its splendidly careless generosity, because there is no longer “peace on earth,” there has come a community kindliness, a sobered realization of the ties that bind us to those outside our circle of kinship and friendship, a bestowal of hospitality and generosity upon the stranger and the poor such as we have never before seen. And so, after all, those gaudy colored angels perched upon their Christmas-card cloud can still trumpet forth with all their old fervor “good-will toward men.”

Be thankful for all that’s going right in the year 2017, whether in your own personal life or in the world at large. Happy holidays… and to all a good night.

Mars and Santa Claus Meet Here: First Christmas of the War Finds America No Longer the Lavish Spender of Other Years — Signs of Great Changes Seen on All Sides (PDF)

From Sunday, December 23, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 24th, 2017 at 8:01 am

Posted in Life,War

Ebb of Pacifism in America

Prior to American entry in World War I, there was a not-insubstantial and vocal contingent of opposition. Eight months later, that had shriveled up to nearly nothing:

“But today the great majority of the altruists are out of the peace party; they recognized the reality of a war of justice, and quit idealism for humanity. Some of the altruists are still in the party, but they ‘are singing low,’ to quote one of the most influential who, accordingly, insists upon the anonymity of this quotation. And such flabby activity of the peace movement as exists today is being stimulated by the Socialist, the anarchist, the alien propagandist, or ‘the professional gasbag element.'”

One particular example was mentioned, a man who remains a household name even today. (Although his later Nazi sympathies would color how fewer generations would view his stances on war and politics.)

“Because of the sensational methods of his peace advocacy, the name of Henry Ford stands out. Mr. Ford spent $400,000 in his expedition to ‘get the boys out of the trenches by Christmas.’ Upon his return to this country he announced that he was ready to spend $25,000,000, or as much more as might be necessary, to prevent any improvement or extension of the naval or military establishment of the United States. Four months after we declared war he said that ‘we must prepare to go the limit for the struggle.’ A little later, in taking $5,000,000 of Liberty bonds, he said that the United States, in making war on Germany, did ‘the best thing that ever happened for the world.’ He has also come out for universal military training, and now he has himself joined the staff of the Shipping Board.”

Imagine getting that level of nearly-unanimous support on anything today, especially something so consequential.

Ebb of Pacifism in America: Voices Which Were Loud Last Summer Have Been Silenced by a Few Months of War — How the Leaders Came to Realize the Futility of Their Old Arguments (PDF)

From Sunday, December 23, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 23rd, 2017 at 8:01 am

Posted in Politics,War

“Keep Jolly!” Somme Veteran Tells Our Men

How does a soldier keep from going insane in wartime? Maintain your sense of humor. That was the advice in this 1917 article. Among the examples they gave were:

“They give absurd names to everything. The Tommies call the ‘R.I.P.’ that is put on a soldier’s grave ‘Rise If Possible.’ When the rats were bad in Belgium and we were amusing ourselves by shooting at them along the parapet, I heard a pal of mine tell a rookie that those trench rats were so big that he had seen one of them trying on his greatcoat.”

Alas, people wouldn’t become that fun until the late 1970s. If this was the best humor they had to offer, a lot of WWI soldiers probably did go insane.

“Keep Jolly!” Somme Veteran Tells Our Men: Soldiers at the Front Would Go Crazy If They Didn’t Joke, Says Lieutenant Alexander McClintock, U.S.R., Formerly in the Canadian Army (PDF)

From Sunday, December 23, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 22nd, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Posted in History,War