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Monday, April 3, 2017

The Long Reach of Memory: April 2-6, 1917: One Hundred Years Later: .

100 Years ago this month, April 2, 1917 to be exact, U.S. President Thomas Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany.

Wilson laid out the reasons necessitating such a request.
First, he cited Germany’s violation of its pledge to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. That pledge by Germany was broken many times over and throughout February and March 1917 German submarines targeted and sunk several American ships resulting in the loss of many American passengers and seamen.

Secondly, he cited Germany’s attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance against the United States. These actions, he stated, brought him to this point and his request that the U.S. declare war and join other nations already fighting Germany.

On April 4, 1917, the U.S. Senate voted in support of the measure to declare war. The House concurred two days later. The official Declaration of War against Germany came April 6, 1917.

President Wilson had long been urged by supporters of the war to enter the war and help our Allies actively. He had, until April 1917, resisted that pressure. Why? The theories abound and perhaps we will never know.
Although he was an educated man, with many life experiences and with political insight by the time he had to finally make a decision for his country, one possibility for the lengthy delay might have been the long reach of  memory.

As a young impressionable boy he had lived through the American Civil War in Augusta, Georgia. He saw enthusiastic young men marching off to war. He watched his community grieve as many returned in pine coffins or maimed for life.

He saw wounded and dead soldiers arrive at his father’s Presbyterian church which had been turned into a hospital for the Confederate wounded and later as a Prisoner of War Camp for Union prisoners of war. He watched daily as his mother struggled to adjust to fears for her community and her Confederate Chaplain husband while living with the shortages brought by war.

When speaking to his nation in 1917 he recalled his youth during the Civil War. To encourage Americans to accept shortages, he spoke of his Mother and the many ways she compensated for the shortages of that earlier war. He vividly remembered the lack of salt and the many times his family ate Cowpea Soup.

The long reach of memory was often with him.
Read about young Tommy, an impressionable youth watching events swirl around him as the Civil War disrupted his daily life. Along the way you will meet his family, and his boyhood friends who astonishingly all grew up to play important parts in our nation's history. You will learn that this young boy, son of a preacher, and his friends formed a club and met in a horse barn under the emblem of the devil pinned on the wall. You will see the many ways the war affected his town and you will see Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee through his eyes.
The book is appropriate for upper middle grades through old age. There are several pages of family photos in the book.  This is a revised version of Tommy: The Civil War Childhood of a President.

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