May 31, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

From the pages of The Daily Capital Journal:

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH GERMANY MAY BE SEVERED BY PRESIDENT
Notes On Lusitania Disaster Now Partake of Plain, Cold
Facts and Germany’s Attitude Is Resented – If Relations
Are Broken Off U. S. Will Be In Position To Finance
Allies Now Held Up By Lack of Funds

LEFT WING OF VON MACKENSEN’S ARMH DRIVEN ACROSS SAN
Germans Press Forward In Attack OnFortress In Undiminished Fury

BARRIER OF FIRE AND STEEL IS CRUSHING LIFE FROM AUSTRIA

Today was Memorial Day and the headline read:

GLOWING TRIBUTE IS PAID SOLDIER DEAD
Time and Battle-Scarred Veterans, Wives and Widows of Veterans Turn Out In Force To Do Honor to Departed Heroes of Land and Sea – Memorial Day Exercise Close With Parade and Program at Armory

Grizzled and battle-scarred veterans, bent and tottering with age,the fire of youth long sense extinguished but with the gleam of battle still ripe in their sight-dimmed eyes, to the number of about 75, together with the wives and widows of veterans, numbering nearly 1000, assembled around the Grand Army circle at City View cemetery and at Lee Mission cemetery this morning, to pay annual tribute to the patriot dead, with the falling tear, a murmured prayer and a wreath of flowers.

A Memorial Day editorial, reflecting perhaps on the sinking of the Lusitania speaks to what we must do “In the Hour of Danger:”

We must keep sane! In this grave hour of world-wide battle, when American lives have been destroyed, when apparently the only law between nations is the law of the beasts, we must remember, both those of us who are free-born and those of us who have bought our freedom with the price of emigration from the lands of our fathers, that we are Americans, says the Minneapolis Farm, Stock and Home.

For us there can be no middle course of preference for Teuton or Anglo-Saxon. Deep as our sympathies may run for our kindreds and people beyond the seas, we here in America have set our faces to the future – a future not enthralled by the jealousies and fears of the old lands, a future no mortgaged to hate.

It was that this American ideal of freedom might be ours that we or our fathers crossed the Atlantic, breaking even the ties of home, that we might arrive to a larger liberty – both for ourselves and for our children.

And now that in the parent lands there is hate and bloodshed we must recall the high purposes that brought us forth to America. We must remember that of our own choosing we cut the bonds of the past and made ourselves a part of the great spiritual brotherhood that men call America.

And now some of us forget. We would have America pro-British or pro-German. But this cannot be. We may only pray that the scourge of war may pass from the homes and hearts of our brethren beyond the seas. America, our land of choice over all other lands, cannot be German or British. It must be itself, true to its own destiny, patiently awaiting the day when sanity shall return to men, and peace and the blessings of peace, be restored to the lands out of which we came to the freedom, the peace, this opportunity to be true to mankind.

The outbreak of the war left many German Americans defensive. In an article headlined “German speaking societies protest to the president” members of the same of German-speaking society adopted resolutions declaring that the United States is the only country which has not placed an embargo upon the shipment of arms and ammunition to the belligerent countries of Europe. The society petitioned the president to assemble Congress in extraordinary session for the purpose of coving him with power to put a stop to such alleged shipments.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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