World War I mission: 'Quicken the Americans' enthusiasm for the war!'
By Alasdair Sandford
via the EuroNews web site
Euronews' Alasdair Sandford tells the story of one British army officer sent to the US in April 1918 to recount his experiences from WWI, part of a drive to raise funds via the 'Liberty Loans' campaign. This soldier was Alasdair's grandfather.
“The object of your journey is… to quicken the interest and enthusiasm of the American people for the war by the narration of your personal experiences,” explained the letter marked “secret” from the British Ministry of Information to my grandfather.
A hundred years ago this month, Major L. Gordon Sandford — an Australian who had fought with the British army in France and Belgium and had been injured — duly sailed to New York. He was one of several officers sent to the United States to help raise money for World War I which America had joined the previous year.
Specifically, he was to take part in the latest “Liberty Loan” campaign. April 5, 1918, saw the launch of the third of four Liberty bond schemes — effectively loans from people and organisations to the government which would later be repaid with interest.
Increasingly, the financial burden for the war against Germany was falling on Washington, and the bonds — often obtained by accumulating war savings stamps — were a way of spreading the cost as widely as possible.
Despite massive publicity and appeals to a sense of patriotic duty (Charlie Chaplin even made a short film “The Bond”), the first two Liberty bonds had raised insufficient funds. The third offering more than $4 billion had still more promotion.
The next six months took the major on a tour of the Midwest, Colorado and also West Virginia. Gordon Sandford spoke to crowds ranging from a couple of hundred to several thousand, describing life on the battlefields of France and Belgium.
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February 26,1919 - World War I Welcome Home parade in Washington, D.C. - along Pennsylvania Ave. (Photo via Nashville Public Library.)
How the Great War could reign on Trump’s parade
By Bryan Bender
via the Politico.com web site
Many of President Donald Trump’s critics fear he will start World War III.
But he may bring good news for devotees of World War I.
This coming Veterans Day, the weekend selected for Trump’s $30 million military parade, is also the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War on Nov. 11, 1918. That’s the conflict that gave birth to the national veterans' holiday and planted seeds for many of the global convulsions that have erupted since.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump watch the traditional Bastille Day military parade on the Champs Elysees, in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2017. | Michel Euler/AP Photo Neither the president nor the Pentagon has remarked on the historical significance of the parade date. But it hasn't gone unnoticed by the federal commission that has sought for five years to heighten public awareness about the cataclysmic conflict that toppled empires, introduced chemical warfare, drew the borders of the modern Middle East and helped spawn Soviet Russia.
The parade “presents a wonderful opportunity for us,” said Edwin Fountain, vice chair of the congressionally created World War One Centennial Commission, which is also raising money to construct a national memorial in Washington to the Great War. “We have suggested to the secretary of Defense and the White House that the thematic focus of the parade can and ought to be the centennial of the armistice.”
So far, the Pentagon has said only that the parade to be held in Washington will honor veterans from all branches of the military who fought in all of America's wars. "We’re still very early in the planning stages and therefore do not have any specific details to provide yet regarding the parade," said Air Force. Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is coordinating the planning.
Yet Fountain said he hopes that the timing of the parade will bestow special honor on the Americans who sacrificed in World War I, including nearly 117,000 who were killed and another 204,000 wounded. He also said the publicity surrounding the event could be used to highlight some of the enduring lessons of the war — including how easily regional disputes can still escalate into global ones.
"How can we learn the lesson of World War I? You look at Ukraine and you look at Syria and you wonder how those regional conflicts might escalate," Fountain said of two current wars where major rivals, including the United States and Russia, are on opposing sides.
"You can see how a conflict between forces we are each supporting could escalate and draw us in the same way as World War I," he added.
Read more: How the Great War could reign on Trump’s parade