Oregon WWI vet led 20,000-strong Bonus Army in 1932 that marched on nation’s capital
By Douglas Perry
via the The Oregonian/OregonLive web site
Walter W. Waters called the mass protest “a safety valve for dissatisfaction.”
The Oregon native didn’t want revolution or anarchy. But he and millions of other Americans were desperate.
So Waters, a laconic 34-year-old who had fought in France during World War I, led a couple hundred of his fellow former servicemen on a 3,000-mile trek from Portland to Washington, D.C. It was 1932, the depths of the Great Depression. The veterans wanted the federal government to act, and they believed a good place to start would be the immediate cash payment of their World War I service certificates, or bonuses.
This was the Bonus March, and they were the Bonus Army.
The veterans rode in freight-train boxcars when they could. They walked along the sides of dusty roads. The movement grew and grew, with veterans from all over the country heading for Washington.
Around 20,000 men and their families ultimately arrived in Washington, D.C., that summer. They set up camp around a series of unoccupied buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue as well as along the Anacostia Flats across the river. They met with members of Congress and answered reporters’ questions.
Concerned about running a budget deficit, the U.S. Senate in mid-July voted down a bill that would have allowed the World War I service certificates, which were redeemable in 1945, to be paid out right away. When news of the vote arrived, observers worried that the veterans, massed near the Capitol, would try to overrun Congress. Walter Waters, at the head of the crowd, threw his hands in the air.
“Sing ‘America’!” he called out.
Read the entire article on the oregonlive.com web site here:
External Web Site Notice: This page contains information directly presented from an external source. The terms and conditions of this page may not be the same as those of this website. Click here to read the full disclaimer notice for external web sites. Thank you.