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Father's letter home shows joy of WWI's end

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 17 Mei 2010 22:43    Onderwerp: Father's letter home shows joy of WWI's end Reageer met quote

Father's letter home shows joy of WWI's end
Lois Haugner, Appleton • May 17, 2010

A fund-raising drive is currently underway to repair the deteriorating doughboy statue on Memorial Drive in Appleton. World War I was a long time ago and not many of us remember its stories. It may help to put a face on one specific doughboy, what he thought and felt and experienced from October 1916 to November 1918.

My father was sent from Fort McCoy to San Antonio, Texas, in 1916. Drilling, marching and on maneuvers in that hot, dry area of Texas, the soldiers were constantly covered in dust, as if they’d been tossed in a flour bin, giving them the name “doughboy.”

That was the beginning of my father’s war experience. Three years later, he wrote this letter from Paris, to his parents, on Armistice Day — Nov. 11, 1918.

Dear Folks,

Arrived here last night and was on the street today when the Armistice with Germany was signed. Anyone who was not here can never be told or imagine the happiness of the people here. They cheered and cried and laughed and then started all over again. Immediately, a parade was started on the Rue des Italiennes and has been going on ever since.

In the parade were hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world — soldiers from the U.S., England, Canada, France, Australia, Italy and the colonies. Each soldier had his arms full of French girls — some crying, others laughing. Each girl had to kiss every soldier before she would let him pass. The streets are still crowded and all traffic is held up.

There are some things such as this that never will be reproduced if the world lives a million years. They have taken movies of the crowd, but you can’t get the sound or the expressions on the people’s faces by watching the picture.

There is nowhere on earth I would rather be today than just where I am. Home would be nice and is next, but Paris and France are free after 4 years and 3 months of war.

And, oh, such a war. The hearts of these French people have simply burst with joy. I have had many an old French couple come up to Major Merrill and I today and throw their arms about us and cry like children and say, “You grand Americans — you have done this for us.”

It is impossible to buy a flag in Paris today — everyone has one, it seems, and the old streets are one solid mass of colors from all the Allied nations. Paris, that grand old city that has been dark for so long, is now all lighted up.

Listen: my window is open — and somewhere there has been an American Band assembled. They are playing “My Country T’is of Thee” — Folks, it’s wonderful — so full of feeling and meaning.

Thank God — Thank God — War is over. I can imagine all the world is happy, but nowhere on earth is there such a demonstration as here in Paris.

I only hope the soldiers who died for this cause are looking down upon the world today. It was a grand thing to die for — the whole world owes this moment of real joy to the heroes who are not here to help enjoy it.

I want to thank you, Dear Mother and Father, for being alive and for being healthy and strong enough and man enough to be instrumental in bringing this day to the world.

I cannot write any more.

Your loving boy,

Chas


My father was Charles S. Normington, Captain of Co. E, 127th Infantry, 32nd (Red Arrow) Division. He was 24 when he wrote this letter.

Lois Haugner is an Appleton resident She can be reached by e-mail at pcletters@postcrescent.com

http://www.postcrescent.com/article/99999999/APC0101/50930004/Father-s-letter-home-shows-joy-of-WWI-s-end
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