Fighting for Freedom
The Germans aren't worried. They have no faith in democracy. They think it will take years for America to get ready to fight. By that time they are sure the war will be over. The scholarly, honorable man who is president will astonish them. He asks Congress for special war powers. In amazingly fast order Wilson turns a peaceful nation into a strong fighting force . The country's factories go from making corsets, bicycles, and brooms to production of guns, ships, and uniforms. In just over a yearbeginning in April 1917more than a million American men are drafted into the army, trained and sent overseas . And just in time . In Europe the fighting has been going on for three years; both sides are near collapse.
In the United States, women take over men's jobs ; they make weapons, they run the farms, they fight fires, they haul ice. They amaze everyone, including themselves. One woman in a gas mask factory writes, "It has been one of the richest experiences of my lifemeeting all the wonderful women there, not only the professionals but the little seamstresses and factory girls who have given up their old work to do their bit."
Then, in 1918, a year after the Americans entered the war, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it suddenly becomes quiet. The cannons are still. Germany has surrendered. The war is over. Lieutenant Harry Rennagel was there and wrote this eyewitness account: "The roar stopped like a motor car hitting a wall. The resulting quiet was uncanny in comparison. We kept the boys under restraint as long as we could. Finally the strain was too great. A big Yank ran out into No Man's Land and planted the Stars and Stripes at the lip of a shell hole. A bugler began playing "The Star-Spangled Banner." And they sangGee, how they sang!"