On this day in 1932, police in Washington, DC use tear gas to disperse World War I veterans who attempt to march on the White House as part of the “Bonus Expeditionary Force.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
World War I veterans. Tear gas.
What the actual [word I won’t print here]?
This is yet another example of things I didn’t learn in history class.
In the summer of 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, some 43,000 marchers, including 17,000 U.S. World War I veterans, their families, and supporting groups converged on Washington DC to demand that the government pay them for their service certificates. They had been awarded bonuses from the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1924, but they couldn’t redeem those bonuses until 1945. The protesters wanted immediate cash payment of their certificates.
I had a vague knowledge of the march. In her commentary on my grandfather’s diary, my aunt mentioned the march and that my grandfather received a small bonus. He did not participate in the march.
The march is not really relevant to the stage play that I am writing (or is that re-writing?), so I haven’t really researched it. But when looking for a writing prompt for today I read the factoid about the tear gas.
The Army, led by none other than General Douglas MacArthur, supported by then Major George S. Patton, pushed the marchers out of the city with cavalry, infantry, tanks and machine guns. They evicted the veterans and their families from the camps set up (Perhaps it was like a Depression era Occupy Wall Street). The infantry entered the camps with fixed bayonets and tear gas.
Against World War I veterans.
Then Major Dwight D. Eisenhower advised against the Army taking action against the veterans. Eisenhower said “I told that dumb son-of-a-bitch not to go down there. I told him it was no place for the Chief of Staff.”
The actions weren’t favorable press for then President Herbert Hoover. Taking a different route after a second demonstration was organized in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The CCC built many things, among them some of Virginia’s first state parks. See? If you know my day job, you know there’s a connection.
There’s actually a family connection to Hungry Mother State Park in Southwest Virginia. The story has it that my grandfather was working with the CCC to build the park. During an evening poker game, which may well have been accompanied by some of the finest shine Prohibition had to offer, my grandfather allegedly won the deed to Hungry Mother State Park.
I told that story to my boss recently. He’s yet to turn over the keys.
There’s so much more to learn of the story of the Bonus Army. As I’ve written before, I can’t go too far down another rabbit trail of research. I have to write my play with the information that I have. I’ll be back to learn more.
But, like I said the other day, we have a lot of great history in this country. We also have a lot of ugly history in this country.
Our task is to learn about it, to learn from it, and to make sure that it never happens again.
Okay, my current task is to finish the script so that one day it can make history at the Tony Awards.
Let’s get back to work.
FIVE THINGS FOR YOUR THURSDAY
McConnell’s Remarks on Why Obamacare Repeal Failed Deserves Two Minutes
The Republican Standard
“I imagine many Democrats were celebrating last night. I hope they consider what they are celebrating. The American people are hurting, they need relief, and it’s regretful that our Democratic colleagues decided early on that they did not want to engage with us seriously in the process to deliver that relief. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story…”
Trump questions motive of Virginia and other states not turning over voter data
President Donald Trump on Wednesday questioned the motives of states that have refused to comply with his voter fraud commission’s request for extensive personal voter information, suggesting they have something to hide.
Even in Trump era, new poll shows a mixed outlook for Democrats in 2018
The Washington Post
Yet a surge in anti-Trump protests does not appear to have translated into heightened Democratic voter enthusiasm — a signal that could temper Democrats’ hopes for retaking the House majority next year.
John McCain, Republican senator from Arizona, diagnosed with brain tumor
The Washington Post
McCain, 80, was treated for the blood clot last week. His office announced last Saturday that he would be away from the Senate all of this week.
The Most Controversial Claim Jesus Made
Of all the controversial claims Jesus made, one may be more incendiary in our day than all the rest: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). In our pluralistic age, these feel like little more than fighting words. But have we missed their full meaning in the fires of the current controversies?
AND ONE FOR THROWBACK THURSDAY
Can’t We All Just Eat Cake?
The Write Side of My Brain
If you want to talk about equality and diversity, then you have to accept equality and diversity. Even when it makes you uncomfortable.
English-American singer and actress, Sally Ann Howes, was born on this day in 1930.
Happy Birthday, Truly Scrumptious.