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Saturday, August 6, 2016

My research in France for #WWI #nurses, invitation to send info re: your relatives, friends who served!

My husband and I pose in Chateau-Thierry, France
along River Marne during one of our research trips
for background to my novel, HEROIC MEASURES.
For many decades, I have researched the lives and experiences of the 22,000+ American women who volunteered to join the American Armed Forces as nurses after Congress declared war in April 1917.

Beginning in the 1980s, I went to the Library of Congress and the National Archives to look at diaries, letters and photographs by and about these valiant ladies.
Many of those records were presented to me in boxes, uncategorized, unannotated. Most of the photographs, torn and faded, came to me redacted. The logic there, presented by the War Department, was that no one wanted to see a wounded soldier, nor one who had experienced an amputation, not even if he sat next to a nurse in white. National moral and interest in the war had to be kept high and pictures of wounded soldiers would detract from that.

American WWICentennial Commission logo


I also went to Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania. They too gave me unidentified pictures, old black photo albums, the contents spilling out into cardboard box containers.

Years later, I went to France. Often. Not only obtaining a background in period French and English medical procedures and challenges, I visited all the American cemeteries where our deceased men and women lie under the Linden trees in peace. I also went to Cantigny, Illinois to the First Division Museum and had extensive help from the director and the curators to further my knowledge. And as the 100th Anniversary of the USA's entry into WWI approached, I decided to finally sit down and write the novel about these women who had always inspired me.

In 2014, my husband and I went to Washington to join the Centennial Commission and I am happy to announce that next week, I will launch as editor the section of the American World War One Centennial Commission devoted to the Army Nurse Corps. Please visit this site:
http://www.worldwar1centennial.org

I invite those of you who have friends, acquaintances and loved ones who served in this "war to end all wars" to send me their pictures, their biographies, their stories. For many of you, your knowledge of these people may be very limited. Those who served were modest, humble Americans who tended not to boast of their experiences. Most returned home after the Armistice, disavowing the might of cannons and guns to solve any problems. Even in our own family, we only recently discovered a great uncle who was a priest who volunteered to comfort the wounded and the dying. We now know he walked No Man's Land at night as all priests and chaplains did to give solace to those unable to leave the place where they had fallen.

I will happily relate the stories of your family and friends who served. Here on this blog, I will post anything you send me about men who served in any capacity, soldier, YMCA, Salvation Army, veterinarian, doctor, dentist, independent volunteer or any other. And if you like, I can refer you to the WWI Centennial person who will post your information about your loved one on the national site. The Library of Congress and the National Archives will keep the site up in perpetuity for all Americans to use in the centuries to come.

For those of you who have stories, pictures, letters or memorabilia of women who served as nurses during this conflict, I will post that information (with your consent) on the national site.
Please send an email to me, tell me what you have in what format and we can discuss how I can post it. My email address is: wjpower@ymail.com

Thank you.

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