Honoring our Veterans


By Joan Baxter



In a few days, the people of the United States will be honoring Veterans of many years from all branches of the service. Some of those dedicated men and woman have seen combat, others have not, but all have served their Country, knowing that at any time, they too, while wearing the uniform of the United States could become involved in the conflict.

From the inception of the United States, there have been wars which challenged the country to provide more and more military personnel to fight to keep the peace.

The Revolutionary War was the first time our loyal soldiers and sailors were called upon to fight for the country. Even today, they are remembered particularly by the Daughters of American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution, descendants of those who fought for Independence,

The Civil War tore the nation apart, but eventually, the nation became whole once again. Following the war, the Grand Army of the Republic was formed to honor the veterans.

The Spanish-American War was too soon followed by “the war to end all wars”, now known as World War I.

Ray Higgins in his Cracker Barrel Column described that war in this manner:

“It was a primitive war that came to an end with an armistice Nov. 11, 1918 and went into the history books as the World War.

“It was a war of $30- a month infantrymen fighting from slit trenches with Springfield and Enfield rifles and Browning machine guns,

“It was a war of dodging projectiles fired from miles away by German Kfupp guns. It was a war of wobbly Jennies in the sky pioneering military aviation and of observation balloons presenting waving targets.

“Foot troops slogged through French mud singing ‘Over There’ and ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning’ and they sang ‘Roses are Blooming in Pickardy’ and ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ and ‘Just a Baby’s Prayer at Twilight’.

“It was the ‘war to end all wars’ and it was but 21 years until another came along Then the World War became World War I and this new war became World War II and from Flanders Fields the dead of the one war handed the torch to the living of the new war and more and different soldiers were abroad fighting for the old ideals.

“The soldiers of the new war were more mobile with swift planes and heavy tanks and parachute drops and motor troop carriers and walkie-talkies. But after the first war a military machine that had been fighting for ‘democracy’ and was shocked by an uneasy truce, turned sentimental when the guns were silenced. The soldiers of the World War conceived the word “buddies” for their comrades in arms…“

Ray spoke from experience, having been a soldier in WWI.

My father and father-in-law were both in the Army during WWI. Neither talked much about their experiences but my father-in-law did tell about the time when the inner tube on the tire got a hole. He patched it with a postage stamp and got back to base.

During World War II, the entire country came together again for the war effort. Rationing of nearly everything took place. Tires and rubber boots were among the items not readily available the rubber was needed for tires for the fighting men.

Ration books were issued to each family with “coupons” to be used for purchasing items such as coffee and sugar.

Victory gardens were encouraged and even those with small yards managed to plant a small garden to harvest food for the family, thus providing more for the soldiers.

In larger cities, “blackouts” were common. No street lights were turned on and all houses were requested to turn off lights as well. “Brownouts were when limited lighting could be on in the house, but the window shades were to be pulled down; there was always the possibility, even in the middle of the country that enemy bombers might be seeking a target.

Automobile plants ceased making passenger cars; they were converted to making trucks and tanks for the servicemen.

For the first time, during World War II, women were officially recognized as being able to perform many of the duties of the men and there were WACS (Women’s Army Corp) and WAVES were female Navy personnel.

Finally, this war also ended and our service men and women came home once again but only a few years later the military was again called out. Today, we have service men and women trying to keep peace throughout the world.

From the earliest wars with soldiers fighting with flintlock rifles and tomahawks, the men and women of Greene County have gone forward to serve this country.

The old Pennsylvania Station was torn down many years ago, but if a building could speak, it could have told of the thousands of military men and women who departed from and returned to that site.

Remember to thank a veteran or someone in uniform. They keep our country strong,

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By Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a Greene County historian and guest columnist.

Joan Baxter is a Greene County historian and guest columnist.