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Marine Corps Issues Call to Duty

Written by Dick Perue

As the threat of the United States entering World War I loomed, most newspapers issued a call to arms to former service personnel. The following appeared in the March 1, 1917 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

“Once a Marine always a Marine” is the loyal answer of hundreds of “ex-soldiers of the sea” in response to the recent telegrams from Marine Corps Headquarters asking their return to the colors. Many are re-enlisting and others, who are handicapped by domestic or other responsibilities, are, for the present, doing remarkable work in the obtaining of men for their old Corps, according to recruiting officials.

Upwards of 10,000 trained men are discharged from our military and naval services yearly, and under ordinary circumstances, one-third of them immediately re-enlist. Of the remaining, fully 80 percent are eligible for re-enlistment. It is therefore estimated that the United States would have at least 150,000 trained regulars in civil life ready for duty at the first call.

Forgetting that their fingerprints are bound to betray them, many deserters who have adopted fictitious names are attempting to re-enter Uncle Sam’s service, since the breaking of diplomatic relations with Germany. Recruiting officers have been flooded with this class of applicants, who trust to luck or indifference on the part of the military authorities to cover up their misdemeanor, according to Captain Frank E. Evans of the United States Marine Corps.

It is believed that the present patriotic wave has awakened many of these deserters of a sense of duty, but a comparison of their telltale fingerprints with the originals, kept on file in Washington, D.C., proves a bar to their further service.

An editorial in the same weekly newspaper notes:

Pertinent to farmers

Every hour seems to draw the country nearer to war. No man can assure us that he will escape, for no man knows. This year, 1917 may see us shut off from all source of supplies from the outer world, and dependent entirely upon local production.

Facing such a possibility, it is incumbent upon every farmer to cultivate to the limit of his acreage and ability, and the town person who has a vacant lot should do the same.

The time to begin is now. If we place armies in the field, those armies must be fed, and the products come from the farms.”

The newspaper’s assessment of the situation was correct with the USA entering “the war to end all wars” on April 6, 1917. The Encyclopedia Britannica states:

World War I, also called First World War or Great War, was an international conflict that in 1914-18 embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, the Middle East and other regions.

The war pitted the Central Powers – mainly Germany, Austria/Hungary and Turkey – against the Allies – mainly France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan and, from the spring of 1917, the United States.

It ended with the defeat of the Central Powers. The war was virtually unprecedented in the slaughter, carnage and destruction it caused.