A WHIFF OF NOSTALGIA


| January/February 1978



Al Herman

Al Herman, who is known to many of our readers through his books, wrote the patriotic message reprinted here. Herman Hues at 107 S. E. 30th St., Portland, Ore. 97214, in case you want to write to him. He is the author of ''Meanwhile, Down on the Farm'', '

What ever happened to good old-fashioned patriotism? With two of our most important national remembrance days coming up, it wouldn't hurt us to look back at how it used to be.

Most who read this can remember the days of World War I, whether we fought in the trenches or did our bit by collecting peach pits from our playmate for gas mask-filler. Young as some of us were, we pridefully acclaimed the nation's efforts to whip Kaiser Bill, his Boche hosts and maybe get in a lick against Trotsky to boot. We remember the influenza epidemics, gold stars in windows, black veils and crepe armbands.

We dimly recall all that now, but Decoration Day, as it was known in the early 1920's, was a vivid, shell-spangled glorification of the national honor.

By this time the boys were home from 'over there,' had formed the American Legion: what was left of the G.A.R. was invited to join, as were some rare veterans of the Spanish-American War. In our eyes these men were heroes, without exception, and this day was set aside to honor the living and revere the dead. All had served in a noble cause, no doubt about it.

If you've forgotten, no community too small, no city too large forgot the commemorative event. Everyone participated; to not appear was almost treasonous, might even indicate Bolshevik leanings.

There'd be first a Union Service in the city park, the local Legion Post discreety stacking their 30-'06 Springfield rifles behind the Civil War monument. Patriotic airs, such as 'Columbia the Gem of the Ocean' or Kipling's 'Lest We Forget' were toot led by the band, followed by a chorus of pretty maids in white tulle who renkered 'My Country This of Thee.' Then several prayers eulogizing 'the fallen', mixed with pleas for divine intercession for guidance to 'make the world safe for Democracy.' All this in spite of much disenchantment with Wilson so that 'he kept us out of war,' was never mentioned. It was General 'Black Jack' Pershing who got the most credit.