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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • HIS MASK KEEPS HIM ON THE JOB
 

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The Silent Army: 1925

The Silent Army: 1925

May 26, 1925. "Gen. Pershing at Arlington National Cemetery." Standing watch: masts for the Navy's wireless station, built in 1912 at Fort Myer. View full size.

 

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One of the lucky ones...somewhat

My grandfather served in that war as a machine gunner with the 36th Division, 131st Machine Gun Battalion. He came from a little town in southwest Oklahoma (Doxie) that no longer exists. He wouldn't talk about his war experience at all except to say that as soon as they landed in Paris, General Pershing walked right in front of him while reviewing the division. My grandfather survived the war, but later suffered from severe PTSD/alcoholism as a result of his experiences. He later went to a hospital for 2-3 years in Oklahoma City, and when he got out, he never took another drop of alcohol again and slept like a baby. I often wondered if electro-shock therapy was in use by then to treat 'mental' patients.

Normal Accoutrements

Lest the casual viewer think that the General has a horse waiting just off camera, it should be pointed out that breeches, boots, and spurs were normal everyday wear for officers of all branches at that time, although long trousers and low-quarter shoes were optional when not in military formation with troops. Aviators were granted special permission to omit the spurs, since they might catch in a rudder cable and produce an unintended aerobatic result, often with serious consequences.

War of the Worlds?

Unbeknownst to Black Jack, it seems that H. G. Well's tripod invaders are marching on Arlington as we watch.

Orville Thomas

Wisconson
Pvt
343 Infantry
86 Division
Died Sept 30 1918
interred 4/23/1920
Section 18 Grave 119

His current gravestone looks different because when they become worn at Arlington headstones are replaced if they are damaged or if the writing on them becomes illegible. At one time, gravestones were discarded in landfills. The cemetery ended that practice because Washington area residents were plucking the stones and using them for patios, driveways and other home improvement projects. Under the current disposal policy, headstones are to be ground up so the names cannot be recognized and then recycled.

Notice the spurs

"Black Jack Pershing on a dancing horse was waiting in the wings . . ." goes the brilliant Tom Russell song.

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