[NLA] A Thanksgiving Message
tsticht at aznet.net
Sun Nov 18 21:23:40 EST 2001
Research Note November 19, 2001
During World War II, over a quarter million young men learned to read in
Special Training Units in the Army. One of the resources used to teach
reading was a newspaper, Our War, which was published monthly from June
1942 through September 1945. Each issue of Our War included a cartoon
strip about Private Pete and his buddy, Daffy. The November, 1944 issue
discussed Thanksgiving Day. It has a message pertinent to todays times
and circumstances. Following is a synopsis of the strip.
Our War November 1944 Private Petes Thanksgiving in
The strip opens with a panel showing a reading classroom in which the
fictional reading instructor is calling role and the soldiers are
answering in sequence, "Adams", "Here!" "Jones", "Here! "Smith"
Then the instructor says, "Today is Thanksgiving Day. I want to show you
some movies about the first Thanksgiving Day."
Five panels then tell and illustrate the familiar story of how the
Pilgrims came to America in 1620 so they could be free, how they
befriended the Indians, leaned to fish and grow crops in the new land,
and how they had the first Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for their
good fortune in harvesting ample food. They celebrated with a feast and
wild turkeys that they shot.
Then the following two panel shows the instructor saying, "All this
happened more than 300 years ago. The turkey dinner came to be a mark of
Thanksgiving. The mess sergeant told me this morning that we would have
a turkey dinner today. The chaplain asked me to remind you of the
special Thanksgiving service in the chapel tonight. And now we must get
on with our reading lesson."
Later, the cartoon panels show Pete and Daffy in the mess hall eating
dinner and Daffy says, "This turkey is great---and so are the potatoes
Pete says, "Be sure to save room for your ice cream."
After dinner Daffy says, "That was some dinner, Pete. We really have
much to be thankful for."
Pete says, "And we will have much more to be thankful for when the war
is over and then we can have Thanksgiving dinner at home."
That evening, in the chapel, with an American flag alongside the podium,
the Chaplain tells the assembled troops, "People all over the world who
love freedom are thankful this year. Millions of people are free once
again. And the enemies of freedom are being driven back on all fronts.
Thanksgiving Day this year has more meaning than it has had for some
time. We are still in a great war. But we know we shall remain free. For
this reason, American soldiers all over the world give thanks."
This year, Thanksgiving Day 2001, the words of the fictional chaplain of
Thanksgiving Day 1944, over a half century ago, ring just as true. And
not just Americas military service members give thanks for our freedom.
Millions of their civilian compatriots do, too.
Like the fictional soldiers Private Pete and Daffy, today a large number
of adults are in classrooms across the nation learning to read. And no
doubt many of them will read about Thanksgiving Day this year. We need
to give them and their instructors special thanks and recognition for
their work to help keep America free through the power of adult
Happy Thanksgiving Day, and many thanks to each and every one of you!
Literacy is the first line of defense!
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