Marshfield, April 1918: A patriotic plea
Local residents support war effort
By Kris Leonhardt
As the debt from participation in World War I loomed heavily over the United States, Congress established an act that would ease the burden. Laid down in April of 1917, the Liberty Bond Act created a loan system, where those who gave funds to the war effort would later be repaid at a specified interest rate.
When funds from the first act did not meet the accumulating needs of war expense, a second act was established that fall. The second act fell short as well, and the Third Liberty Loan Act was introduced on April 4, 1918.
On a pleasant spring day that April, a large crowd was assembled at Marshfield’s Columbia Park. Residents and visitors joined together to take in the remarks of Wisconsin’s Judge Martin Lueck while being treated to patriotic tunes from Abbotsford’s noted Jackie band.
The speech had originally been scheduled for the Marshfield armory. However, with the agreeable weather conditions, the assembly was moved outdoors.
The weather and the new venue allowed a sizable crowd to gather, and a parade and concert preceded Lueck’s turn at the podium.
Lueck stressed the importance of becoming a United States citizen. Because many residents had not yet declared their status, this had become a source of contention among many local communities.
Lueck’s powerful, virile speech invoked pride in one’s country while admonishing noncommittal residents, intimating that there were just two types of people: those for the country and those against it.
While conjuring emotions of patriotism, Lueck’s purpose was made clear as he reiterated the current needs to feed and clothe the soldiers fighting overseas. Others were yet to join them, which included many of the soldiers that had come to Columbia Park to help entertain.
To reinforce the need to secure a liberty bond, Lueck further stressed the point that while it was one’s patriotic duty, it was also a good investment for those who had the means to contribute.
As the applause fell away from Lueck’s speech, the Jackie band once again drew up their instruments in patriotic song. Near the end of the set, the band launched into “The Star-Spangled Banner.” While many attendees had immediately frozen at attention and removed their hats, others had been too lost in conversation to take heed.
Given the rousing patriotic vigor of the event, the band immediately stopped, and the oblivious individuals were admonished for their behavior.
Within 10 days the city of Marshfield met its quota of $215,000 brought forth by 1,000 subscribers. While northern Wood County made a spectacular showing toward the campaign, the federal government still fell short of its need and later established a fourth bond.
Kris Leonhardt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.