Why one enlisted in 1917

One of my duties at the Monrovia Library is to take old newspapers on microfilm and scan them into electronic files. We anticipate this making them much easier for patrons to use, and it will mean less wear on the microfilm itself.

I’ve been working on scanning the Monrovia Weekly News from 1915-1917 lately, and sometimes my attention is caught by unusual ads or articles. This item, from May 26, 1917, definitely stood out.

For context, what was happening in 1917? That’s right, World War I (at the time, the Great War). The U.S. had declared war on Germany just seven weeks earlier, on April 6, 1917. Before it was over, we’d lose 116,000 U.S. lives.

And the straight-shouldered grandfather? He’d have possibly fought in the Civil War, 56 years earlier. A bit more complicated, that, to consider it an answer to the call of the Flag (presumably the North and nationalism, vs. the South and federalism).

Regardless, a sobering take on conscription and enlistment. Does our Flag have the same call today?

1 Comment
0 of 1 people learned something from this entry.

  1. A Life-Long Scholar said,

    July 30, 2012 at 9:26 am

    (Knew it already.)

    One of my favourite series of books as a kid was the Anne of Green Gables books by L.M. Montgomery. The last one in the series, Rilla of Ingleside (published in 1921), is one I find fascinating to read, since it was set during WWI and it paints a picture of a time when most people saw enlisting as a duty for all the young men. It gave me quite a different perspective to read it, given that I grew up in an era of seeing chants of “Hell No, We Won’t Go” on the news on a regular basis.

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