Sunday, July 30, 2006

Immigrants in military service

I remembered I have a great book on the World War and American society that I acquired for family history research, Over Here by the historian and former Stanford University president David M. Kennedy. I've just begun to dip into it, but here's a striking passage, during a section on the political debate in 1917 about universal service, also called conscription:
Shared military service was the only way to "yank the hyphen" out of Italian-Americans or Polish Americans or other imperfectly assimilated immigrants. "The military tent where they all sleep side by side," Theodore Roosevelt preached, "will rank next to the public school among the great agents of democratization." Compulsory military training, said a Representatiove in 1917, "is a melting pot which will ... break down distinctions of race and class and mold us into a new nation and bhring forth the new Americans"

More later if the book has anything specific to the Rabinowitz and Ratner men as the country prepared for war.

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