But first, coffee

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Coffee. Is there a better way to start your day?

The smell of coffee, the warmth, the caffeine.

Much has been written about coffee. No one knows exactly where the first coffee was brewed. The cultivation and trade of coffee began in the Arabian

Mug Shots
(click the pic)

Peninsula.

Soon there were coffee houses.

Today from Starbucks to the local boutique coffee houses, the sharing of a cup brings many folks together.

Let’s meet for coffee.

Writers find solace and inspiration in the warm cup.

Employers even provide for coffee breaks.

Whether you like it strong and black or whether you need to add a little coffee to your cream, it’s a drink to be savored. A drink to inspire. A drink to warm.

What’s your favorite way to brew or drink coffee?

Let us know in the comments.

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The Cartoons of World War I

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about our script Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy. The script is finished and being shopped around to production companies.

Over the course of time we’ve been looking at the history and culture of that era.

Through the years, political cartoons have been used to express the mood of a nation. The same was true during World War I when not everyone supported the effort or U.S. involvement. Here are ten examples of the cartoons of the day.

A dentist (Uncle Sam) about to extract a tooth from a patient (Kaiser Wilhelm II); representing America’s successful involvement in the First world war. Pen drawing by P. Forbes-Robertson, 1918. Iconographic Collections Keywords: Uncle Sam; world war, 1914-1918.

 

‘Bravo, Belgium !’ Political cartoon showing a Belgian farmer standing up to the German aggressor.

Blessed are the Peacemakers by George Bellows. Anti-war cartoon depicting Jesus with a halo in prison stripes alongside a list of his seditious crimes. First published in The Masses in 1917.

 

Cartoon by Jay N. Darling. Uncle Sam carries a dead soldier, representing the first reported U.S. casualties from World War I

 

The Cartoon Book was published by the US Government in 1918, with the intention of promoting the third Liberty Loan; various cartoonists, including Bushnell, donated their work. Here, the accusing hand of Uncle Sam points at an arrogant Prussian officer standing before the flaming wreckage of Europe.

 

His Best Customer (1917) by Winsor McCay. Anti-war cartoon depicting War serving Death with the caption “His Best Customer.”

 

Uncle Sam with empty treasury. Reference to economic situation at end of World War I.

 

This is likely Will Dyson’s most famous cartoon of World War I.

 

Cartoon shows the figure of Peace as a pretty woman and angel, standing in the aisle of a train or bus, while Senators Borah, Lodge, and Johnson occupy the seats. The cartoon refers to the successful efforts of the Republican isolationists after World War I to block Senate ratification of the Treaty of Versailles establishing the League of Nations.

 

“The Spirit of ’76”, cartoon about the U.S. entry to World War I. Uncle Sam (U.S.) handing Marianne (France) a sack labeled One Billion Dollars while Lafayette looks on.

 

The War wasn’t popular. War never is. American reluctantly entered near the end of the war and most of the country rallied behind the cause. This was the war to end war that did nothing of the kind. But, it changed the course of the 20th century and we still feel the effects some 100 years later.

Cartoon Source: Wikipedia

 

The Christmas Truce

An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Well before the United States entered into World War I the Christmas Truce took place as French, German, and British soldiers crossed the trench lines to exchange food and souvenirs and to sing Christmas carols.

This truce was unofficial and did not happen everywhere there were hostilities.  In some cases, the fighting continued. But some 100,000 troops were involved in the truce along the Western Front. When the Germans placed candles on their trenches and began singing carols, the British responded with carols of their own.

British writer Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private at the time, wrote to his mother:

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?

Books and movies tell the story of the Christmas Truce. But this “Peace on Earth” didn’t last.

Soon the fighting resumed and although there were additional instances of cessations in the fighting the war would rage on for another four years. Before the end, some 40 million military and civilian lives would be lost.

While not of the same magnitude by any stretch, we’re calling for a cessation of posting here for the next few weeks.

We’ll be back in January with new information and updates about the script and perhaps a new direction for this blog.

Best wishes for the Christmas season.

Let us all continue to pray for peace.

Photo credit: By A. C. Michael – The Guardian [2] / [3]Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915., PD-US, [Wikipedia]

Wilson heads to Versailles

The “Big Four” at Versailles peace treaty, 1919. From left, Lloyd George (Britain), Emanuele Orlando (Italy), Georges Clemenceau (France), and Woodrow Wilson (United States).

 

On December 4, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for Versailles for the World War I peace talks. Wilson was the first U.S. President to travel to Europe while in office. The world was changing.

The world continued to change after World War I with the types of warfare and weapons used. Airplanes were used for the first time during this war. Poisonous gas killed many and destroyed many more.

While Wilson traveled to Versailles, my grandfather was in a hospital in a different part of France recovering from his contact with mustard gas. His world was changing as well.

In reality, we are still seeing the results of that war. While it was supposed to be the War to End all Wars, it was far from it, and it set in place conflicts that would shape the course of the century to come.

It’s important that we recognized that history. It’s important that we tell those stories.

That’s what I’m trying to do with Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy.

More to come…

Blue Stars – Until they All Come Home

In World War I, families who had sons serving in the War would place a banner with a blue star for each son in the window. If the son was lost, a gold star was superimposed over the blue star, leaving a blue border.

World War I Army Captain Robert L. Queissner of the 5th Ohio Infantry designed the Blue Star Service Banner. He had two sons serving on the front line in Europe.

On September 24, 1917, an Ohio congressman read into the Congressional Record:

The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce and the Governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother – their children.

While first used in World War I, the flags were standardized and codified by the end of World War II. In modern usage, an organization may fly a service flag if one of its members is serving active duty. [Wikipedia]

Those entitled to display the service flag are officially defined in 36 U.S.C. § 901 which reads:

A service flag approved by the Secretary of Defense may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of individuals who are members of the immediate family of an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged.

I don’t know if my great-grandmother had a blue star flag in her window in their home in Southwest Virginia. I do know she prayed daily and daily looked down into the valley to see if the train would be bringing her son home.

My journey to tell that story in Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy continues.

Armistice Day

 

At “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918 the Allies of World War I and Germany signed an agreement for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, thus bringing this horrible war (and what war isn’t) to a close.

Some of the most intense fighting of the war took place in that last month before the signing.

But, my grandfather didn’t see it. Around the first of October he was hit with mustard gas and spent the remainder of the war in a hospital in France.

He returned home with his unit in May of 1919, but his life, and his health, would never be the same.

Work on my script to tell his story continues.

On the first anniversary of the Armistice, President Woodrow Wilson issued this message:

ADDRESS TO FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN
The White House, November 11, 1919.

A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and juster set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggressions of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.

With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.

Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.

To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.

WOODROW WILSON

In 1954 Armistice Day was renamed to Veterans Day, and we continue to honor our Veterans on November 11.