Last week, the local chapter of the DAR honored the winners of its annual essay contest. Over the coming weeks we will print those essays. We begin this week with one from Christian Peacock, which ultimately won state honors.
Remembering World War I, the War to End All Wars
By Christian Peacock
Faith Christian School
The Great War is finally over! It has been a long four years, but it is finally over. Our lives in Barrington, Illinois have completely changed since America entered the war in April of 1917.
My life has changed recently. For the last year, I have been collecting money for war bonds and stamps. Now that the war is over, I have to go to school since they made a rule for all children. I don’t like going to school at all. Since I am German-American, I’ve been mistreated by the other kids at school. They say they don’t trust me because “one of my kind” killed one of their relatives. I don’t understand why they are blaming me, I am an American too.
Every day some of my German-American neighbors move away or change their names. We all have been mistreated just because of our German heritage. The Americans have changed the names of German-sounding cities or streets to more Americanized ones. They also have changed the names of our foods. The other day I brought a hamburger to school. All the kids kept calling it a “liberty burger” when I kept saying it was a hamburger. I’ve been so mistreated at school that I have thought about changing my name from Otto Schmidt to James Smith. I know I am German-American, but have I not proven that I am loyal to America? I just wish that the kids at school and in my neighborhood would stop picking on me.
Mom’s life has also changed. She has been working in a factory making weapons for the war. Now that the war is over, she has been able to come home earlier. She hopes that women will be able to have more rights, since they have proven themselves over the last two years.
Father has just gotten back from France and has been telling me stories about life as a doughboy. He said many of the soldiers in the trenches got trench foot, shell-shock, and lice. He actually has shell-shock, and any time he hears a loud sound, he remembers the war. He still cannot believe the kinds of new weapons and technology that were created in the war like poison gas, machine guns, air planes, and his most feared, the tank. Most of his squadron did not trust him because he was German-American. They thought when the Germans attacked, that he would betray them and join the Germans. He might be of German descent, but he is a loyal American.
I am very glad about the rationing being over. Every day since the U.S. entered the war, I have been starving. We had a war garden and grew all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Now that the war is over, we don’t have time to tend the garden. I am going to keep growing strawberries; my favorite. I am also excited to finally be able to have meat on Tuesdays again.
I hear that President Woodrow Wilson has these Fourteen Points. He believes that his Points will bring worldwide peace. I hope that America does not go to war again, because it was the most miserable time of my life. Maybe President Wilson is right, and the Great War will be “the war to end all wars.”
America is wounded, but it will mend. Out of the two million Americans who sailed to France, one hundred sixteen thousand died and two hundred thousand were wounded. Families will mourn the loss of their relatives. I can’t tell what will happen in the future, but I believe that this Great War will empower America to grow stronger than it was before. I do not think that you will receive this letter soon because of the postal censorship, but I hope you do.