Memorial Day 2012 is just days away. This column and the one coming up in the Weekend Missourian will be devoted to Yesterday’s Heroes, a look at the files of this newspaper to reflect on life in the 1940s as war clouds gathered and how the war affected the lives of people in this area. The years of World War II, the greatest conflict in the history of the world, left its mark on the homefront like no other times in American history. It was an all-out effort. There has been nothing like it since that time and none like it before those war years.
Of course, the most significant impact was the drafting and enlistment of young men. Women volunteered also for military service, the Red Cross and other agencies and the ladies also went to work in defense plants and other types of factories. Those who stayed at home, boys, girls and women participated in the war effort.
In June 1940 the U.S. Army opened a recruiting office in the basement of the post office. About the same time the International Shoe Co. was the low bidder to manufacture 300,000 pairs of shoes, followed by an order for 452,000 shoes and boots for the Army. In July 1940 Sen. Harry Truman spoke in the Green Room of the Old Dutch Hotel and said this: “The best way to keep out of the war (in Europe) is to be prepared to meet the thug. No sane man wants war.”
In September 1940 the men who enlisted in the Army from Franklin County were Henry A. Hoelscher, Arville Mcquire, William Martin, George Emann, George Boydston, Raymond Meyer, Vincent Hagedorn, Vernon Rennick, Francis Graves and Lee Bandy.
In October 1940 about 5,000 people turned out to hear Wendell L. Willkie, Republican candidate for president, speak from the rear of his campaign train at the Washington station. In the same month, the Selective Service Board was named in the county. Men between the ages of 18 and 36 had to register. The first man called for active duty in the draft was Albert H. Ackerman, Washington. His number was 158.
Others in the first county draft call were: Erwin J. Kleekamp, John C. Arendall, Ben F. Lammers, Raleigh M. Jett, Henry J. Grannemann, Paul J. Huxel, Emil G. Voss, Loyd G. Loyd, Walter L. Swoboda, Lawrence J. Kanngiesser, Harold J. Van Buskirk, Odilo H. Strubberg, Alfred Walker, August F. Steffens, Victor D. Elbert, Alfred E. Hagedorn, Oliver Steinmetz, Allen J. Ghormley, Anton J. Kappelmann, George C. Fitzpatrick, Larence F. Monje, Leslie M. Elledge, Arthur D. Smith, Victor H. Brinker, Percy J. Gallinger, Monroe J. Bennett and Roy W. Hoemann. The first inductees to actually leave for service were Clifford I. Fryer, Sullivan, Albert G. Bourbon, Luebbering, and Harry E. Hollmann, Sullivan. They volunteered for one year of Army duty. That was in November 1940. That changed when the war broke out.
In December 1940, a stiff penalty was announced if men did not fill out their Selective Service form within five days.
The draft was in full swing in early 1941 with hundreds of Franklin County young men drafted. Others enlisted. We can’t publish all their names but we thought it would be interesting to mention a few, such as above. When the war broke out in December 1941, enlistments increased and so did the draft calls.
On Memorial Day we recognize all who have served in all wars, and the men and women who now are serving. We especially recognize those members of the military who lost their lives, were wounded, disabled due to war wounds, and all of the former military veterans now in hospitals and veterans homes.
We also owe gratitude to members of the veterans’ organizations that plan and participate in Memorial Day services. It is so important that we remember those who preserved our freedoms.