USS Olympia: The little cruiser with a battleship’s guns
By Logan Nye
via the We Are The Mighty web site
It first entered Navy service in February, 1895, with some doubters mocking its excessive armament while Americans hoped that its speed, steel, and guns would allow it to survive while outnumbered if under heavy attack. Instead, the small but mighty USS Olympia slaughtered an enemy fleet, bombarded shores, and escorted convoys during its 27-year career.
In the late 1800s, the U.S. Navy wrestled with what the service should do and what ships it needed for the 1900s. The battle of the Merrimack and Monitor decisively proved that wooden ships were on their way out, but the rise of steel ships showed that the iron vessels made in earnest during and after the Civil War wouldn’t survive either.
Meanwhile, sails were the efficient and cheap method of propelling a ship, but it was clear that steam gave commanders more flexibility and more options in combat.
And the Navy needed ships to secure American shores even as a constrained budgets made ship-building tough. Some presidents were already looking at using the Navy for power projection as well.
So, the Navy had to decide whether it should have lots of cheap ships, lots of coastal defenses, steam or sail power, all while keeping power projection a feasible option.
The Navy figured out a plan address all the changes and requirements: A new fleet of steel vessels that relied on steam power but still had masts for sails for long voyages when the winds were favorable. Because the U.S. couldn’t spend as much on ship hulls as potential European attackers, each ship would be heavily armed and as fast as possible.
This resulted in cruisers that could hopefully run ahead of enemy fleets, pelting the lead of the enemy ship with shot after shot while staying out of range of the rest of the enemy fleet. (Video game players do this today against powerful enemies and call it, “kiting.”)
A jewel of this new fleet was C-6, an armored cruiser scheduled to first float in 1892 and commission a few years later. This ship would become the USS Olympia, named for the capital of America’s newest state at the time, Washington.
Built Fast and Not Meant to Last: What Became of Camp Sherman’s Buildings?
By Paul LaRue
via the Ohio Memory web site
In 1923, President Warren G. Harding created the Mound City National Monument by setting aside a portion of land from Camp Sherman, a World War I training cantonment. What became of the structures built to house and train US troops on the grounds of Camp Sherman?
The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. At that time the United States military was not scaled up to the task that lay ahead. By the war’s end, two million soldiers had been trained and shipped to France—no small feat. Camps and cantonments were rapidly constructed around the country to support the need for training and housing troops.
Camp Sherman, just outside of Chillicothe, Ohio, was the third largest of the training camps. Established June 21, 1917, more than 123,000 soldiers trained at Camp Sherman by the war’s end. The cantonment contained nearly 1,400 buildings. Local estimates put the number of structures closer to 2,000. As many as 14,000 tradesmen labored at one time to construct the buildings. A similar story occurred 200 miles southwest of Camp Sherman at Camp Zachary Taylor near Louisville, Kentucky. Construction on the more than 1,500 buildings at Camp Zachary Taylor began on June 22, 1917. Both Camp Sherman and Camp Zachary Taylor became sprawling cities almost overnight.
When the Armistice was declared, demobilization began. Over the next two years, troops returned home from France, passing through many of the same camps and cantonments where they had trained just a few years earlier. By 1920-1921, camps and cantonments were starting to be “broken down.”
A similar phenomenon was seen following the Civil War. Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, was a Union recruitment center and training facility. Camp Chase’s buildings included approximately 3.5 million board feet of lumber. At the end of the Civil War, the buildings were disassembled, the lumber loaded on rail cars and shipped 70 miles to the west side of Dayton, Ohio, where it became the original buildings at the Central Branch of the National Soldiers Home.
Buildings on both Camp Zachary Taylor and Camp Sherman were sold at auction. Ohio Valley History, Volume 18, No. 4, Winter 2018 contained an article titled: Camp Zachary Taylor in Filson’s Collections. The Filson Collection includes a newspaper advertisement that appeared in the Louisville Herald in 1921. The ad promoted the purchase of Camp Zachary Taylor Buildings: “… All buildings offered are substantial frame construction, well built, from only the best materials. They can be torn down, moved and re-erected at minimum expense… ” In a similar way, buildings at Camp Sherman were also auctioned off.
The Devil Dogs of Belleau Wood: US Marines of World War One
By Sean Korsgaard
via the Skillset Magazine web site
By March of 1918, with Russia out of the war, Germany was quick to rush 50 divisions of soldiers from the Eastern Front into an advance on the Western Front. In what became known as the Spring Offensive, Germany made some of the largest gains since the start of the war, capturing hundreds of miles of ground in a war where months-long battles previously had been waged with little to no gain on either side.
Though their advance had slowed down by May, German troops were within 39 miles of Paris. The city began to evacuate, and a German victory was within sight.
All that stood in their way were 10,000 men of the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, including the 5th and 6th Marine regiments. Within three weeks of fighting, more Marines would die at Belleau Wood than had been killed in the previous 143-year history of the Corps.
The Battle Begins
The battlefield was a square mile of heavily wooded hillsides ringing a wheat field, and the Germans were entrenched along the high ground, with the Marines dug in behind the wheat field. The opening American actions were costly. Early on June 6, Marines would take Hill 142, giving them a foothold in the hills. Charges across the wheat field meanwhile were met with German machine gun fire, resulting in gruesome casualties to gain a purchase in the woods along the other side.
The butcher’s bill that first day was steep—the Marines suffered 1,056 casualties, and June 6, 1918, would become the deadliest day in Corps history, a dubious honor it would hold until the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. Despite this, the Marines secured the northern third of Belleau Wood and repelled nine separate German counterattacks over the following week. Next, they would launch their own attacks.
Towards The Front
On June 11, following heavy bombardment by Allied artillery, the Marines would advance once more toward German positions. The Germans responded with mustard gas and countercharges. What followed were weeks of bloody close-quarters, or hand-to-hand, fighting. In that savage fighting, the Marines would earn a fearsome reputation among German ranks for their deadly use of trench shotguns and bayonets as well as for their adaptability and aggressiveness.
The lines were fluid in the weeks that followed, and although the Germans threw everything they could, the Americans held firm. The Marines would attack German positions in the woods six separate times before finally driving the Germans out. On June 26, Maj. Maurice E. Shearer, commander of the 5th Marine Regiment, submitted a final report that would become famous for its brevity: “Woods now U.S. Marine Corps entirely.”
Gone, but not forgotten: American Red Cross of WNY honors unclaimed WWI veterans with Wreaths Across America dedication
By the American Red Cross
via the Niagara Frontier Publications (NY) web site
At noon on Saturday, Dec. 18, members of the American Red Cross of Western New York Service to the Armed Forces Committee will participate in their first national Wreaths Across America dedication at Riverdale Cemetery in Lewiston.
For Lisa Taibi, regional program manager of Services to the Armed Forces (SAF) and International Services for the American Red Cross Western New York Region, it was an ironic intersection of personal and professional life that has provided an opportunity for the Red Cross community to honor dozens of World War I veterans who had gone unclaimed by family at their time of death.
The genesis of the recognition of veterans interred at Riverdale can be attributed to a huge coincidence. A resident of Niagara Falls, Taibi was visiting the graves of family members buried at Riverdale several years ago when she noticed a large monument just a stone’s throw away. Investigating for the first time, she was surprised to see that it was an American Red Cross monument, along with dozens of grave markers.
“I have family buried in Riverdale Cemetery, so I'm in the cemetery often,” Taibi said. “I walk around and look at stones not far from my family’s stones, and I came across this big Red Cross monument. This was when I actually worked for the Niagara Falls chapter of the American Red Cross. I remember going back, taking a picture of it, going back to my executive director at the time, saying, ‘Hey, what is this all about?’ ”
Neither she nor the executive director chapter were able to find any information about the monument, which dated to the early 1900s. Taibi tabled her interest for a while to focus on the demands of her SAF duties. It was not until last spring, when the period of isolation due to COVID-19 got her thinking about how to engage her board and volunteers in a community-based project, that she took action.
“We hadn’t been able to do a lot of in-person things, so I was thinking about what we could do that would be outdoors for Memorial Day and it hit me: This monument popped back into my head,” she said.
A coworker had connections at Riverdale Cemetery, and Taibi reached out to ask if there was any information on how the Red Cross got involved with WWI veteran graves and the monument. They were able to produce some limited information that documented the former Niagara Falls chapter made the purchase in the early 1900s. Apparently, the Red Cross purchased 85 gravesites, but not all are filled.
“There are 47 headstones, and they list the name, the date of birth, the year they died, the branch of service they were in, and their military rank. And then, of course, this big monument explaining what these graves were,” Taibi explained.
The SAF committee embraced the opportunity to recognize the veterans. As a Memorial Day project, they purchased flowers and flags to mark the graves, and scrubbed headstones, making a huge improvement in appearance as many burial sites appeared not to have been attended to in decades.
World War I nurse Gladys Watkins and the American Legion Post in Scranton, PA That Was Named in Her Honor
By Janice Gavern
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
Elizabeth Gwladys Watkins was two years old when she, her parents and her infant sister came to Pennsylvania from Aberdase, South Wales, UK, in 1893. Seven years later her grandmother joined them. The family lived on Green Street in Edwardsville.
By the 1900 census, the family included two boys, Griffith Watkins, age 4, and Evan Gwillym Watkins, age 2. Ten years later they still lived in Edwardsville, but on Church Street. Two more children were added, Cecile, and William G. Their grandmother, Elizabeth Davis, was still living with them. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 the family moved to East Butler Street in Shickshinny, Pennsylvania.
Gladys Watkins stopped using her first name, and changed the spelling on her middle name. She was studying to be a nurse at the nursing school at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, PA. When she graduated in 1915, she was identified as Gladys Watkins.
Nurse Watkins worked in Scranton until January 4, 1918. She and a number of other Scranton nurses enlisted in the Army as nurses to care for our soldiers. From January 18, 1918 to August 18, 1918, she was assigned to Base Hospital 1, Ft Sam Houston, TX. From then until September 2, 1918, she was in mobility status on her way to her station, Base Hospital 56, in France. She travelled on the British ship, RMS Saxonia.
Unfortunately, on October 16, 1918 – a little over a month later, she died of pneumonia, a complication from the Spanish flu. She was buried in Saint Mihiell American Cemetery, Plot A, Row B, Grave 17, Thiacourt, France. A white cross marks her resting place. A memorial stone was later erected in the Pine Hill Cemetery in Shickshinny, PA.
Back in France in March 1919, a caucus met and outlined the creation of a veterans’ service organization. In September that year, Congress chartered the American Legion.
With news of the creation of the American Legion, friends of Gladys Watkins met at Moses Taylor Hospital and discussed setting up a Nurses Post in Scranton. Twenty- one nurses were listed on the original document. They chose to name it after their friend, Gladys Watkins.
Remembering My Grandfather, Giovanni Carusone
By Denise Clofine
via the Southwest Globe Times newspaper (PA) web site
Giovanni Carusone, a World War I Veteran, Italian Immigrant, Proud American, Husband, Father, Grandfather, a Paschall resident of Southwest Philadelphia—and our Hero.
He was born in Naples, Italy on July 30, 1892. He left Italy telling his mother he was visiting America to see the great land of opportunity. His true intention was to join America in fighting for our freedom. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on May 26, 1918, and he served in the 316th Regiment of Infantry.
Our family recently visited the Paschalville Library to see the World War I Memorial Plaque where his name is engraved among 350 other brave men and women of Paschall who served in the Great War. As we stood there viewing the names, we were very honored and struck by the heroism and community spirit.
My Grandpop, Giovanni, was the proud father of ten children and 21 grandchildren. His three sons proudly served our country in the Army, Navy and Air Force! His favorite story to share was about safely leading an army troop over a hill with guns firing all around them. When asked if he was scared, he would say there was no time to think about it. He was fighting for the United States of America, the land of the brave and the free. Always, when he was finished telling the story, he would sing the Army marching song with great enthusiasm.
After the war he went back to Italy. He married my grandmother Philomena and both returned to America. It was in the Paschall neighborhood of Southwest Philadelphia where they raised their large family. He was proud, strong and would always stand tall just like a soldier, and yet there was a gentleness about him. His smile was warm and his enduring kindness was felt by his family and strangers alike. Life was not easy during the Depression, but he always worked very hard to provide for his family.
American Railroads During World War I
By Adam Burns
via the American-Rails.com web site
Despite 1916's record mileage, troubles were on the horizon. Railroads found themselves in an increasingly changing landscape after 1910; many laws had been passed which significantly expanded federal oversight and the impact of early automobiles was being felt.
The latter first hit the interurban industry, which peaked between 1912-1918. Afterwards, these electrified rapid transit systems quickly declined and were all but obliterated by the Great Depression.
With World War I's outbreak in mid-summer, 1914, railroads dealt with an increasing volume of traffic as supplies for U.S. allies flowed towards, and out of, eastern seaports.
The industry was also dealing with other issues on the home front. No longer able to freely set freight rates, controlled through the Interstate Commerce Commission after 1906, railroads were coping with thinner profit margins as costs had soared by some 30% since 1900. In addition, operating expenses were outpacing general inflation.
By 1914 several major carriers were struggling with financial difficulties: notably the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific; St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad (Frisco); New York, New Haven & Hartford; and Wabash.
A crucial strike involving the four primary brotherhoods (engineer, firemen, conductors, and trainmen) occurred in 1916, which sought to reduce the regular workday from ten hours to eight.
It was not settled until March 19, 1917 at the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the unions. On April 6, 1917 the United States formally entered World War I.
In an attempt to prioritize freight shipments deemed essential for the war effort, the federal government's move brought an unintended consequence.
Since most traffic moved from west to east, eastern terminals and yards became severely congested, resulting in a major shortage of some 158,000 freight cars by November of 1917.
The unfolding calamity caused President Woodrow Wilson to take the unprecedented step of indirectly nationalizing the railroads through the United States Railroad Administration.
The new USRA went into effect on December 28, 1917. The agency was led by William G. McAdoo, Secretary of the Treasury, who also had experience with railroads.
As Jim Boyd points out in his book, "The American Freight Train," the move technically did not nationalize the industry although it did provide the USRA broad powers. Instead, each railroad was rented and provided fair compensation for its cooperation.
Historian chronicles the grassroots work to recognize women’s sacrifices, service during World War I
By Maggie Haslam
via the Maryland Today (MD) web site
Over 16,000 women served overseas during World War I. Yet as Armistice Day marked the war’s final chapter, the stories of women who sacrificed—in overseas hospitals or as wives and mothers back home—were destined to become footnotes.
More than a century later, a University of Maryland graduate is rewriting that narrative, revealing the grassroots efforts spearheaded by women of the WWI generation to honor this service, not carved in marble statuary, but through community service and advocacy and in hospitals and respite houses.
In "Forgotten Veterans, Invisible Memorials: How American Women Commemorated the Great War, 1917-1945,” from the University of Alabama Press, historian Allison Finkelstein M.A. ’12, Ph.D. ’15 tells the stories behind the work to commemorate wartime sacrifices through living memorials—intangible commemorations grounded in continued service to the country. Coined “veteranism” by Finkelstein, they included a push for female veteran assistance, an orphanage for French girls impacted by the war, and pilgrimages to visit soldiers buried overseas.
“I think one of the challenges of tangible memorials that are intended to be permanent is that history is not static,” she said. “Finding ways to commemorate that are less focused on just building something can put those resources into projects that can help the community.”
Finkelstein’s book is inspired by her research as a graduate student in history at Maryland, where she specialized in cultural history under Associate Professor Saverio Giovacchini. During a summer internship with the American Battle Monuments Commission, which manages overseas cemeteries and memorials, archival research introduced her to Gold Star pilgrimages, all-expenses-paid trips for women who lost a child or husband in the war to visit their distant graves. It was there she saw the small craftsman bungalows that edged some of the cemeteries, once used as places of respite for the visiting women. Working with Professor Donald Linebaugh, who advised her as part of a certificate in historic preservation, she wrote a research paper about these small structures that she later published, sowing the seed that eventually became “Forgotten Veterans, Invisible Memorials.”
Living memorials, said Finkelstein, show that there’s more than one way to commemorate and remember service. But in the case of WWI, they served another purpose as well: to ensure that women’s many contributions to the war effort—whether as physical therapists or telephone operators, or by replacing men in the workforce to keep food on the table—were not left out of the history books. Among the examples she explored:
Digging to Victory: How Bellingham Conserved Food During World War I
By Jennifer Crooks
via the WhatcomTalk (WA) web site
The United States participated in World War I from April 1917 to November 1918. During this time people, rallied to save food for the war effort. One Bellingham woman, Mrs. G. A. Bumstead, was inspired to turn her thoughts into music. The lyrics, to the tune “Marching Through Georgia,” were published by the Bellingham Herald on October 30, 1917:
“We women of America will prove that/we are true./While standing by our colors, the Red,/the White, the Blue./We’ll show our boys in France that we/can fight the battle, too!/While we are standing by Hoover.//Chorus: Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll help the thing/along./Hurrah! Hurrah! We’ll do it with a song./We’ll bake the bread we ought to bake,/corn bread and muffins, too./While we are standing by Hoover//Corn meal in mush we’ll boil and fry/and spread molasses on./We’ll eat it with good conscience for/’twill help the boys along./Eat it as we used to eat it in the days/now gone./For we are standing by Hoover//Chorus//One day we’ll cook no meat./One day we’ll cook no wheat./We’ll cook the things we ought to cook,/corn cakes and hominy, too./For we are standing by Hoover.”
As Mrs. Bumstead wrote, saving food was a central part of the American homefront during World War I. The need for food was dire for America’s soldiers and allies. The conflict had devastated agriculture in Europe as men marched off to war and fields disappeared under shelling. Submarine warfare disrupted international trade.
To meet the emergency, President Woodrow Wilson formed the United States Food Administration, headed by former mining engineer (and future president) Herbert Hoover. Hoover had impressed many with his capable handling of relief for civilians in German-occupied Belgium. He was the logical choice for the post and, as seen in Bumstead’s song, was the public face of the organization.
The Food Administration labelled their food-saving measures “food conservation.” Few laws were passed regulating consumption and businesses practices, making it a largely voluntary rationing program.
People were encouraged to save limited commodities, especially wheat, meat, sugar, and fats. Through promotion of “wheatless,” “meatless,” and “porkless” days and meals, people were encouraged to use substitutes such as corn and other grains to reduce consumption of limited commodities. They were also encouraged to plant “war gardens” as a way to increase food supplies and reduce strains on food transportation.
The Trucks the Doughboys Left Behind: Surplus Disposal in Europe after WWI
By Tim Gosling
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
Amongst the many millions of postcards sent home to the friends and families of the Doughboys of the American Expeditionary Force is a small but reoccurring theme. It is a picture of an army truck usually with a proud Doughboy either leaning upon it or sitting in the driver’s seat and on the back the words something along the lines of “This is the truck that I am driving”. World War One introduced the driving of mechanical transport to a great number who it might otherwise have passed by. What it also did is establish a bond between military drivers and their machines, something which has happened ever since.
When the United States declared war upon Germany on April 6, 1917 the US Army owned 370 trucks, 300 of which were in service on the Mexican border. An order was placed in July 1917 for 10,550 trucks and 500 motorcycles which was immediately followed by numerous additional orders as an immense purchasing programme was launched. The established American manufacturers could not meet the immediate demand so the US Army looked to overseas manufacturers, particularly to Britain, France and Italy. This helped meet the shortfall but presented further difficulties due to the diversity of the fleet and the lack of common parts. It was recorded that by the end of the war the American Expeditionary Force operated 294 different makes and models of trucks of which 81 were manufactured overseas.
To help overcome the problem of maintaining such a diverse fleet the military looked at constructing vehicles built by different manufacturers but to a common design. Although this was a sensible concept, the first of the standardised Liberty B trucks only started arriving in France shortly before the war ended.
When the Armistice took effect on November 11, 1918 the German troops occupying France and Belgium slowly withdrew back into Germany and across the Rhine. Following closely behind them came the British, French and American forces which would occupy the Rhineland to ensure that the German army disarmed and disbanded as per the Armistice terms. The centre of occupation for the American forces would be the city of Coblenz where a bridgehead across the Rhine would be established. To undertake this task the Third Army was formed comprising approximately 240,000 officers and men spread across nine Divisions. Travelling with the Third Army into Coblenz was approximately 10,000 vehicles which they would use until July 1919 when the Third Army would be disbanded.
Building named for WWI vet Henry Owl, first American Indian student at Carolina
via The Well web site of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University announced that it will honor Cherokee historian and teacher Henry Owl by placing his name on the Student Affairs building. Owl (1896-1980) was the first American Indian and the first person of color to enroll at the University, as a graduate student in history in 1928.
Henry McClain Owl was born on the Cherokee Indian reservation, formally known as the Qualla Boundary, in western North Carolina on Aug. 1, 1896. His father, Lloyd Owl, was a Cherokee blacksmith; his mother, Nettie Harris Owl, was a Catawba Indian from the Catawba reservation near Rock Hill, South Carolina. The couple met at the Cherokee Boarding School, operated by the federal government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1880 to 1954. Throughout much of its history, the school sought to separate Indian children from their language and culture, and by doing so, “remake them ‘in the image of the white man.’” Lloyd Owl died when Henry was 14 years old, leaving Nettie with 10 children to support. She did so by cleaning white people’s homes and selling her handmade baskets and pottery to tourists.
In 1912, Henry Owl enrolled at Hampton Institute in Virginia, a school founded shortly after the Civil War by the American Missionary Association. Its purpose was to train Blacks, newly emancipated from slavery, as teachers and skilled tradesmen. A decade later, near the end of the American Indian Wars, Hampton also admitted Native students as part of the federal government’s program of forced assimilation. Owl played on the school’s football team and published articles in its student newspaper, The Southern Workman. In 1918, he penned two essays, one, a celebration of “Successful Indians” to mark Indian Citizenship Day, and the other, an account of Indians’ military service in World War I. Later that same year, Owl graduated with a degree in carpentry and enlisted in the army. He served at Camp Jackson in South Carolina, where he rose to the rank of sergeant.
The army base was named for President Andrew Jackson, who signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which led to the deaths of more than 4,000 Cherokee people on the long march westward that came to be known as the Trail of Tears.
Naming a campus building for Henry Owl will affirm the principles of democracy, justice and equality that defined his life and career. As alumna Mary McCall Leland ’20 has noted, honoring Henry Owl will also point the way forward for our University. “We cannot right the wrongs of our past,” she explains, “but we can address them and acknowledge that we are a University willing to change and move into the 21st century as a more inclusive and welcoming institution.”
— Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Naming University Facilities and Units
After the war, Owl taught briefly at the Cherokee Boarding School on the Qualla Boundary. Then, in 1923, he accepted a position at Bacone College, a school established in Indian Territory in the 1880s by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. There, Owl taught courses in agriculture, carpentry and the “mechanic arts.” He left Bacone in 1925 to enroll at Lenoir-Rhyne College, a private Lutheran institution in Hickory. He excelled as a sportsman, sang in the glee club and, in his senior year, won the college’s prize for oratory. According to local newspaper accounts, his address showed fellow students how “his own people, the Cherokees of North Carolina,” had been “mistreated” and laid out “the great discouraging and horrible challenge[s]” they faced nearly a century after the Trail of Tears. Owl received his bachelor’s degree in the spring of 1928, and later in the year, enrolled at the University of North Carolina as a graduate student in history, becoming the first American Indian and the first person of color to attend Carolina.
World War I nurse from Patchogue, NY receives military honors years after her death
By News 12 Staff
via the News 12 New York television station web site
A Patchogue woman who served as an Army nurse during World War I received an honor that's decades overdue.
Caroline Lenora Ehmann received the firing of rifles and the folding of the American flag at her final resting place at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
For her family and friends, it was something 40 years in the making.
"I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen," said Barbara Ross, niece of Lenora Ehmann.
Ross says her aunt died in February 1981. Cold, snowy weather forced the cancellation of a formal military service. Plans to reschedule the military honors never panned out.
Ross' mission to honor her aunt picked up two years ago when her brother George died. While preparing for the service, the director of Ruland Funeral Home found paperwork proving Lenora Ehmann's service in World War I in his files.
The documents helped Ross convince the Department of Veteran Affairs to approve Thursday's service, providing military honors for her aunt's service to the country.
"It's important to remember everyone who gave their support to keeping our men safe," Ross says. "And that was her thing. To do what she could to keep them safe and to heal them."
Talking About War
By Dr. Arturo Osorio
Special to the Doughboy Foundation web site
“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”
• General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Sherman proved his point during the November 1864 March to the Sea, where his army ravaged the Confederate's heart to teach its people about the consequences of rebellion and secession.
Less than 50 years later, World War I broke out and proved to be a grisly example of the hellishness of war. Technology-enhanced was manufactured, making it easier to kill. Machine guns, rapid-fire artillery, poison gas, and tanks, weapons that could take away life at any time, either in an instant in the best-case scenario, or after agonizing minutes if the soldier was not lucky enough.
Talk about the war? The returning veterans of World War I would never want to do that. The goal of anyone coming home was to forget about what happened and get on with their lives, it was easier said than done.
Why World War I Veterans Did not Want to Talk About Their Experiences
The British Library has an article that describes why returning World War I veterans were reluctant to talk about their experiences. Many of the reasons were universal to all soldiers of all times and nations, and some of them were due to the cultural change of the early 20th century.
The experience of war, not only the constant fear of death or horrendous injury but witnessing friends die and being injured in horrible ways, was so keen that returning soldiers felt that talking about it made the experience too real. Veterans of World War I tended to keep those experiences to themselves helped to make the memories less terrible.
Soldiers believed they were sparing their loved ones the horror of what they experienced by not sharing their experiences. In many cases, language itself was a barrier. No words (at least those were acceptable for the time) existed to impart the details of what a soldier in World War I experienced.
Censorship also played a vital role as soldiers were encouraged to keep their experience and shy away from sharing with their friends and relatives what they had gone through. Letters to home from the front were censored daily to preserve the war effort.