Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images

Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images

Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images

Hollywood's World War I: Motion Picture Images

Excerpt

On August 30, 1993, close to one hundred of the nearly 48,000 living American veterans of World War I (along with 700 family members and friends) convened near Chicago to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Armistice which brought the Great War to an end. Reah Hollinger had some humorous memories of the first Armistice on November 11, 1918: "The cease-fire came at 11:00 A.M. When we finished up at about 3:00 P.M., we walked up to the front and began talking to some German soldiers. I don't know what we talked about, but I traded some socks for some German sauerkraut, the first fermented cabbage I had tasted since leaving home" (Veteran interviews).

Not every serviceman was within walking distance of the front when the war ended. Ed Schultz had wanted to see action with the Marines, but his medical skills were needed in Brooklyn because a worldwide influenza epidemic had hit during the winter of 1917. Working nights at a "contagious hospital," Schultz remembered the grim chore of wheeling one or two corpses to the morgue each morning at the end of his shift. (Official records of the army list almost 23,000 troops lost to the contagion.) When Armistice Day arrived, Schultz was still tending the sick.

For some of the younger soldiers, the war was a "great adventure," but it could be a traumatic one. George Brummell of Woodburn, Oregon, remembers: "You lived constantly with the fear of whether you would stay in Paris or be sent to the front. The Germans were only twenty miles outside Paris at one time while I was there. The shellings with Big Berthas [long-distance artillery] had a great psychological effect." Yet the same war could be pure tedium. A. I. Stevens of Texas, a member of an African American unit, remembers long days building roads, unloading ships, salvaging battlefields, and repairing railroad tracks: "We didn't have much chance to see anything; they kept us busy. It wasn't pleasant." Looking back, most of the living veterans stood in awe of the changes accelerated by the Great War. Winston Roche, a 94-year-old veteran from Dallas, reflected: "We made America a world power. We saw . . .

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