We left our Church Family back in April of 1944, looking forward to the coming summer, but preparing for a possible outbreak of rabies and also an increased risk of polio, or infantile paralysis as it was often called then.
Much of the material for this blog comes from The Girard News, our town’s weekly newspaper, published every Friday. It was very popular, even up through the 60’s when we first moved to Girard. Many young people had Girard News routes. As a Girl Scout Leader in the 70’s, I often sent the paper photos and stories of our girls’ activities. Our church also contributed stories about church activities. Often the News has more information about our church activities then our church archives have.
Last month I reported that Girard had failed miserably in its goal of raising $17,000 for War Bond Sales. The initial amount raised was only $9,284. After extending the drive for an extra week, the amount raised grew to $13,111, a more respectable figure, but still almost $4,000 short. Now, on May 5th, the News announced that, after receiving the donations of Girard workers in out-of-town mills, Girard had actually exceeded the $17,000 goal. Way To Go, Girard!
Now, however, in the May 19th edition of the News, came the announcement that a new War Bond Sale would be conducted beginning June 12th, with a goal of $600,000 for the entire Mahoning Valley area. It is hard for us in 2019 to look back 75 years ago and marvel at how our country was able to build up a huge army and navy so quickly after being surprised at Pearl Harbor. By May of 1944, a mere 2 ½ years after December 7th, 1941, “a date that would live in infamy”, our navy was dominating both the German navy and the Japanese navy. Our planes were ruling the skies over both countries. And we were preparing to invade Germany occupied Europe with the largest sea invasion ever attempted in the history of the world. Everyone knew the invasion would be coming soon, as thousands of American Soldiers were already in England, and more were on the way. All this was possible because of our huge industrial complex, working 24/7, and the purchase of war bonds by virtually every citizen. And, of course, there was the rationing of everything from tires to meat to provide food and equipment for our fighting men and women. Thus, almost all of the news about our church folks back in 1944, was dominated by the war.
At the end of May, Girard High Seniors were looking forward to graduation. There were 110 of them in 1944. Most of the boys would probably be drafted sometime in the near future, or maybe they would enlist so that they could have some control over which branch of the military they would serve. They faced an uncertain future.
Memorial Day in 1944 came on May 31st, as it always did back then. No long weekend holidays – in 1944 it fell on a Thursday. So, on Thursday morning, May 31st, the parade formed up at 9:30 at the Girard Viaduct, where a wreath was dropped into the Mahoning to honor the Naval dead of Girard. Then, participants reformed in front of the City Building to march to Liberty Union Cemetery to honor the dead of other branches of the Services. There was a flag raising ceremony by the Boy Scouts, and a speaker, Rev. Paul Gerard, pastor of the Hubbard Presbyterian Church. Approximately 500 people took part in those weekday morning Memorial Day services.
Our Church Family and our Town in the month of May, 1944 – seventy-five years ago during World War II.
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