Your Country Needs You
Along with the rest of the nation, New Haven Italians and New York Jews watched anxiously as the Wilson administration and Congress created a framework for fighting America's first major overseas conflict. Decisions on how to mobilize the country's industries, armed forces, finances, and many peoples for war had to be made very rapidly in the spring and summer of 1917. By far the government's most critical and controversial demand was for military manpower. The decision to send hundreds of thousands of young men to fight in Europe brought the tremendous burden of the war directly into every American home and community, regardless of ethnicity. For the New Haven colonia and New York Jewry, the call for soldiers provoked a great deal of debate and discussion. It also provided a unique opportunity for each population to voice their opinions publicly and make their significant presence in their cities known.
Each of the large European ethnic groups living in the United States responded to American intervention differently, as the conflict that ripped Europe into two warring camps resonated powerfully at home. Residents of German and Austrian descent, despite their feelings for their ancestral countries, could do little other than accept the government's orders, while Irish Americans who strongly supported the movement for Irish independence were also less than enthusiastic at the prospect of fighting alongside the British Empire. The nation's Polish, Czech, and Slovak immigrants, in stark contrast, dreamed of Allied victory and wanted above all else to see their homelands liberated from AustroHungarian rule. Greek, Armenian, Syrian, and Lebanese communities felt similarly toward the Ottoman Empire and endorsed the American war effort, while