Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

November 14, 2018 Memories endure of a World War I veteran
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

We recently honored our American veterans for their service given generously throughout the years, particularly during those times when seemingly endless conflicts have occurred.

I’d like to include my father in that roll call although his service, as such, was given only briefly, a century ago, during the conflict known as World War I, 1914-1918.

His active duty was brief, performed toward the end of the war; nonetheless, because he was drafted mid-1918 in a repeat call-up to include the nation’s slightly older men (he was then in his mid-30s).

The warring European-instigated conflict had been raging for a couple of years, but the United States finally became actively involved in the spring of 1917.

The number of young men available to serve was discovered seriously limited, and there developed a need for the older men to join in the effort to ensure a winning the war and ending the United States’ involvement.

My father was suited-up in the serviceable regulation winter clothing required, given all the accessories afforded men expecting to head into active ground combat and sent to the nearest training camp for sped-up instructions.

Everyone was expected to be ready and prepared for the scheduled upcoming troop shipments to overseas locations upon a fortnight’s notice.

Suddenly, without further ado, the Europe Theater’s warring factions conceded to end the conflict upon the perceived threat of losing the battle if continuing. The war was over.

It was Nov. 11, 1918, a day soon to become known as Armistice Day, today known as Veterans Day.

My father was allowed to quickly leave the service he had been ordered into and to resume the life left behind. All the clothing and equipment assigned was dispersed as seen necessary, but he was allowed to retain a few personal items as remembrances.

For many years, I would see him lugging around a small metal artillery case in which he stored his personal belongings, mostly important papers but also treasured items. There was a small flat rectangular piece of metal issued by the government to function as a combined mirror and heart protector if worn in the breast pocket of his uniform shirt.

The mirrored side was highly polished but not very effective as a mirror (perhaps more useful for the flashing of message signals – yes, they did that) and the reverse side displayed the emboldened Lord’s Prayer imprinted on its leathered surface as a heightened assurance of Holy Protection.

In the box was a kazoo (a small metal cigar-shaped object with a filament insertion) issued to every American across the nation upon the war’s ending so they could “toot” their jubilation.

Unfortunately my father’s case, and its contents were stolen from us years ago, but I still have the memories.

He was proud of his service. Throughout the rest of his life whenever asked to pose for a photo he would immediately snap to a military “attention” stance.

Lois Eckhardt may be reached at P.O. Box 413, Wellman, IA 52356.

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