The local chapter of the DAR honored the winners of its annual essay contest. Here is one of the winners.
This week, Kristen Bouington, an eighth-grader at Faith Christian School, and her essay:
World War I: Remembering the war to end all wars
By Kristen Bouington
The Christmas of 1918 was the best I can remember. The Great World War was finally over! My father, Harold, and my brother, Kenneth, returned from the fighting. The eighteen months they spent overseas were definitely the longest I had ever experienced.
It had been hard not having them around. Since both Father and Kenneth were gone my mother and sister-in-law, Helen, started to work. With no revenue coming in they had no other choice. My mother went to work conducting trolleys, and Helen worked at a factory.
During the war, the Spanish flu rampaged the city, killing many. Public areas had been closed, even school. Everyone had to wear masks. It was a terrible nuisance, but it was better to be safe than sorry - especially when the consequences could be fatal.
I missed having my brother to talk to. We had been very close, and even though I wrote to him it wasn’t the same. The letters he wrote me seemed to have parts left out.
I suppose that after seeing all that death and despair, they would rather talk about the ups instead of the downs.
I can still remember November 21 clearly. It was on the same day that our masks came off and my family was reunited. Father looked like a man who wasn’t scared of anything because he knew nothing could be worse than what he has already been through.
Kenneth looked skinnier than I remember him being. I know Mother thought so as well. I could hear her mumbling about how she was going to get some real food into him.
After so long, our house once again felt like a home. No longer would we go through our day wondering if we would ever see them again. A great weight had been lifted off our shoulders.
Mother decided to stop working, but Helen went back to work, as did Father and Kenneth. It seemed no one was having trouble finding a job. Kenneth said it was because of the demands of the war.
Factories had needed to make supplies, so they hired women and even African Americans to fill in for the men who had left to fight. Although the war was over, industry was still booming.
Four days after they arrived, I had to go back to school. Every child did, because it had just been made a law.
After school, I would work on our garden. Almost everyone had started one during the war to help with the food shortages. If we ate our own home-grown food, then there would be more for the soldiers.
I suppose it wouldn't have mattered because the war was over, but I found the work soothing. Helen and I used to tend it together while we told each other about our day.
She had had trouble when she first started working. Some people didn’t think a women could work as well as a man, but she never let the beratement get her down.
She kept working and accepted the changes that came along with her job - even when it involved cutting her hair, shortening her skirts, and not wearing corsets. After dinner, I would beg my father for stories. My favorites were those of the inventions he saw.
Instead of having to wash the cloths you used for cleaning and disinfecting, you could throw them away afterwards and grab a new one when you needed it.
The military started making giant ships made to sail underwater. There were also many advancements in medicine and surgeries. If only these advancements could have been made without the massive loss of lives that accompanied them.
The changes the war brought with it were immense. Not only the inventions, but the soldiers.
They were not as carefree as they were when they left. There was a sadness in their eyes. One that only time could fix - if it could be fixed at all.
I know my brother must have met lots of people during his time overseas, but he never talked about the people much. I think it reminded him about those who didn’t make it.
There was a difference in the air as well. Instead of being full of dread, it was filled with hope. Everyone might not have felt it, but I did. When you are used to living in a big city, you come to realize that many people won’t even notice you walking right beside them.
After the war, everyone was happy and more than willing to give a warm smile and a cheerful greeting. People knew that with the end of the war came a era of peace.
With peace, came booms in industry. Booms in industry provided jobs. Jobs provided wages. The wages provided the lifestyle many people fell in love with. My father was very insistent on reminding us not to get caught up in the newfound opulence. He knew that if we did, we would forget all the tragic repercussions of the war.
It was God who brought us out of the dismal past and into the bright future. Without His peace, we couldn’t have gotten through the war. We saw what a war could do when its influence reaches people from many regions, and we are not likely to forget about it anytime soon.
A war like that can divide, but it can also unite. War is not something I would wish upon anyone. Thankfully, now that we know the ramifications of a war like this, we are not likely to let it happen again.
The war brought both tragedy and opportunity with it. Many lives were lost, and distrust among different nationalities grew exponentially, but the war also gave women the chance we needed to prove that we could do more than just sit around at home all day.
It showed us Americans how indomitable our nation was, is, and will be if we continue to love it, support it, and ensure that it stays one nation under God.