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Veteran’s Day–a Tribute to my Grandfather

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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Nov 2010 23:57    Onderwerp: Veteran’s Day–a Tribute to my Grandfather Reageer met quote

Veteran’s Day–a Tribute to my Grandfather

Off to War!


His temper was mild as a beautiful spring day, and his eyes seemed to twinkle, even in photographs. He had a youthful face, some say, a baby face, and wore overalls, or denims, and was known to wear his hat pushed back a bit on his head. He lied about his age and went to war.

Willy Thomas was 14 when the Archduke of Austria Hungary, Franz, was assassinated by the Bosnian Nationalists on June 28th 1914. On Willy’s birthday, July 12, 1914, when he turned 15, Russia and Germany were at odds with each other over the assassination.

Then nations began falling like dominos stacked in a row.

When the Russians were attacked by Germany, France was obligated to declare war on Germany as a result of a treaty she had signed with Russia.
The Germans attacked France by marching through Belgium.
The Belgians, who did not give Germany permission to do this, now were in a state of war with Germany as well. The most important byproduct of this was the fact that England had a treaty with Belgium!
Now England was obligated to declare war on Germany as well.
Italy, which had a treaty with Germany, switched sides so that she might gain territory from Austria/ Hungary (A gamble that more or less worked) and
The Ottoman Empire entered the war on behalf to the Austro Hungarians (they wanted to gain territory from the Russians and gain control in the Balkan region).
Now most of Europe was engulfed in war.

Most Americans favored staying out of the conflict and President Wilson publicly and formally stated that the United States would follow a policy of neutrality. In three short years, however, the United States would find itself in the middle of what later became known as the First World War.

As the war in Europe raged on America sympathies were clearly on the side of the allies. American propaganda posters urged citizens to buy war bonds and support the allies. The Kaiser and Germans were painted as the aggressors in the war. True or not Americans came to see Germany as vicious and blood thirsty.

Besides being culturally similar England and France were our trade partners. From 1914 to 1916 trade with the Allies grew from 82.5 million dollars to 3.2 billion dollars. If the Allies were to lose the war our trade would be threatened. American increasingly saw Germany as the enemy. Germany was a dictatorship fighting against the great democracies of the world and America as a democratic nation felt an obligation to support them.

As America became increasingly less neutral, the British government intercepted a message from the German ambassador Zimmerman to the Mexican government. This message termed the “Zimmerman Note” asked Mexico to attack the United States if war broke out between the U.S. and Germany.

The note was turned over to American government a short time later and eventually published in the newspapers. Americans were outraged.

President Woodrow Wilson had campaigned for office promising to protect freedom of the seas and now it seemed he had little choice. He had to ask Congress to declare war. Many Americans still wanted to stay out of “Europe’s war” and there was much debate in Congress. Wilson closed his speech to Congress by saying “it is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war… But the right is more precious then peace and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried in our hearts.“

On April 6, 1917, by a vote of 82 to 6 in the Senate and 373 to 50 in the House of Representatives, the United States of America declared war on Germany.

By the time American joined the war in Europe, Willy was 17. All of his living brothers, Mal, Herbert, and Monroe had enlisted in the great fight; he wanted to join them over seas. He wanted to see the world, and he wanted to save those who needed saving, he believed in the dream of setting others free.

May 19, 1917


So Herbert, Mal, Monroe and Willie became part of the First American Troops to Land in France and the last to go home. These troops were the first to shoot at Germans, to attack the Germans, to conduct a raid and to be raided and to first to capture prisoners and suffer casualties. They were in the front line 220 days; they captured 163 officers and 6,304 men, 119 pieces of field artillery, 62 trench mortars and 413 machine guns.

This group of men has 21,612 casualties and 356 won Distinguished Service awards. William H. Thomas was one of these distinguished men.

William H. Thomas Cook

Enlisted on May 8, 1917 in Amarillo, Texas and was honorably discharged

Veterans Administration File Number: C 1676195

The rest of the story and lost of pictures:
Met hart en ziel
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