On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 1917
It is Christmas Eve and tomorrow America, Philadelphia and Christians the world over will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In churches across this country at 9:00am tomorrow the congregations will sing “America” in a nationwide, joint expression of patriotism. Those not able to attend services or not of the Christian faith have been asked to join with their fellow countrymen by singing in their homes.
At 4 o’clock tomorrow afternoon four cornetists will stand at the four corners of Independence Hall and play “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Silent Night” and other carols. The arrangements for this event have been paid for by an anonymous benefactor. Community sings are planned for almost every neighborhood where carols and patriotic songs will be sung. Perhaps the largest gathering will be at Rittenhouse Square where the four cornetists will perform again followed by a grand community get together with singing and refreshments.
At the Navy Yard tomorrow the sailors and marines will play Santa for the orphans of the Northern Home, St. Joseph’s and the Presbyterian orphanages. The children will be treated to a day of fun, gifts and food on board one of the dreadnoughts which will be turned into a Christmas ship captained by Santa Claus himself. Philadelphia’s churches, charity and relief organizations are preparing to ensure that the poor of this city are remembered. Hundreds of halls and kitchens around the city will be providing meals for all who are in need.
An early and unexpected Christmas gift has come to the Philadelphia families of those in the army. Over 25,000 of our soldiers have been given Christmas furloughs to come home. The soldiers are presently in training at Camp Meade, Maryland and Camp Dix in New Jersey. The army decided that it would be good for morale to let the boys return home to their mothers, wives and sweethearts and enjoy Christmas with family and friends before shipping out for Europe.
Tomorrow this city and all of America will celebrate Christmas with joy tempered with sadness. The joy of course will be from the knowledge that the day commemorates the birth of the King of Kings and Prince of Peace. The sadness results from the realization that peace is very far from the world now and that our young men will soon be fully engaged in a great and terrible war. So on this Christmas let us remember in our prayers those who will take the fight to the enemies of freedom and make the world safe for democracy.
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