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 – THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 1917
It is Thanksgiving Day in America. Here in Philadelphia most people started the day at their place of worship. And because this is the first Thanksgiving during war time since 1864 all prayed for our men going into battle and for the men of our allies in the great fight for democracy. After their prayers Philadelphians will celebrate the day with sporting events, flag raisings and the gathering of their families for a wondrous meal. There will be roasted turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, mince, apple or pumpkin pie. And this being Philadelphia, ice cream.
In President Wilson’s Thanksgiving Proclamation he asked Americans to put aside their ordinary labors and give thanks to God. The President reminded us that “It has long been the honored custom of our people to turn in the fruitful autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation.” Mr. Wilson wrote “We have been given the opportunity to serve mankind as we once served ourselves in the great day of our Declaration of Independence, by taking up arms against a tyranny that threatened to master and debase men everywhere and joining with other free peoples in demanding for all the nations of the world what we then demanded and obtained for ourselves.”
And that in this fight “A new light shines about us. The great duties of a new day awaken a new and greater national spirit in us. We shall never again be divided or wonder what stuff we are made of.” In conclusion the President asked all Americans to pray to God for guidance and by “His grace our minds may be directed and our hands strengthened; and that in His good time liberty and security and peace and the comradeship of a common justice may be vouchsafed for all the nations of the earth.”
Soldiers and sailors from out of town will be welcomed into every club and even into private homes so that they can, in a small way, enjoy the day like they would have back home. And Philadelphia will not forget her less fortunate neighbors. Dozens of churches, synagogues, charitable and social organizations will serve bountiful meals to all those in need. The Salvation Army alone will provide dinners for 6000 people at its headquarters in the Memorial Building at Broad & Fairmount.
And our men overseas will not want for a true American Thanksgiving feast. Thousands of turkeys had been shipped to France and England last week so our “sammies” or “doughboys” as they are now sometimes called would have a taste of home. The French in the villages surrounding where the Americans are stationed have asked what this holiday commemorates. When told, they asked to be allowed to join in the celebration by giving a party for the Americans tomorrow night so as not to interfere with the commemoration today.
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