We left our church family in late October of 1943 watching the movie This is the Army at the Wellman Theater, with the money from their admission fee going to support the Army Emergency Relief Fund. The beginning of November brought a short respite from the war news with local elections. The headline of the Friday, November 5th edition of our town’s local weekly newspaper, The Girard News, provided the results of the election: “Whitford Re-elected Mayor for Third Term”. A Sub-headline also offered the following information: “Voters Okay School Levy”. The News also reported that the movie, This is The Army had raised $800 to benefit the Army Emergency Fund, and that the Paper Shortage was still critical and that paper drives would continue.
Plans were announced for the commemoration of Armistice Day which would be held the following Thursday, November 11th. Participants from the VFW and the Legion would meet at the Liberty Street Bridge at 10:15 to honor the Navy dead. Then, beginning at 10:45 Memorial Services will continue at the Auditorium of City Hall. VFW and the American Legion have asked that local stores close between 10:45 and 11:45 so that their employees might attend the Memorial Services. The High School would close at 10 AM so that their pupils might attend. What they called Armistice Day, we now call Veterans Day. The day originally celebrated the end of World War I which occurred on November 11, at 11 AM in 1918. This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the “War to end all Wars”. as that war was referred to. Future events would result in that same date being retained but the name of the celebration was changed to Veterans’ Day and we honor all fallen veterans from all our wars.
Under “G I News” in that same edition was the following: Cpl. William Maggs, son of Mr and Mrs Garnette Maggs, has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant at the Army Air Base of DeRidder, Louisiana where he is stationed.
Meanwhile. Church and Sunday School were continuing as usual. Sunday School averaged just over 300 attendance the first three Sundays of the month, but dropped to 283 on Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately we have no records of church attendance for this period, but I believe we can assume it was similar.
The Friendly Class reported on their monthly meeting in the Nov. 19th edition of the News. They met at the church on Wednesday evening, Nov. 17th. After their dinner, they had musical entertainment by Miss Bernice Price, Miss Norma Clark and Miss Maryner Mieding. Plans were made for a Christmas Party and Gift Exchange to be held on Wednesday evening, December 8th.
Meanwhile, recruiting for the Women’s Army Corp began in Girard on the 19th at the Civilian Defense Office in the City Building. All women between the ages of 20 and 50 who had no children under 14 years of age, were eligible to enlist.And on November 11th,, when students were dismissed from school to attend Armistice Day Services, they also held a special assembly at the school to plan a bond drive of $75,000 to finance purchase of a pursuit plane. They asked that any people planning to purchase war bonds, to please purchase them through the high school so that the students would get credit for the bonds toward the purchase of the $75,000 pursuit plane.
The War news that our church family read or listened to on the radio was relentless, some good, some bad. The Navy and the Marines were fighting a fierce battle in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific. Our American troops along with the British were fighting their way north through Italy, Lebanon got its independence from France on November 11. There were two meetings of our President and other war leaders to determine future strategy. The first was in Cairo on November 25th, attended by our President Franklin Roosevelt, China’s Chiang Kai-shek, and Britain’s Winston Churchill. Then in Tehran, our President Roosevelt met with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. At this latter conference, the three leaders would establish an agreement concerning a planned June 1944 invasion of Europe with the codename “Operation Overlord”. Of course, this plan was top secret. It would not have been announced in the papers or on radio. GI’s V-mail letters home would black out any reference to where they were or where they were headed.
With that information we will leave our church family planning and participating in their Thanksgiving Day celebration and dinners, many in our town with an empty seat at the dinner table for a son or husband in the service, and the family had no idea where he even was.
That concludes our glance back at November, 1943 – 75 years ago in our church, our town and our country.