[Technology 1343] A Veteran's Day Message

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tsticht at znet.com tsticht at znet.com
Mon Oct 8 14:34:58 EDT 2007


A Message for Veteran's/Remembrance Day November 11, 2007

Love, Literacy, & Liberty: Songs in the Literacy Lessons of the World Wars

Tom Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education

When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Cora Wilson Stewart,
founder of the Midnight Schools of Kentucky for illiterate adults,
recognized that many of the men from the hills and hollows of her county
would be called to war as illiterates. She saw the need to teach these men
to read and write before they left their families and other loved ones for
distant shores in countries they knew nothing about. So she created The
Soldier's First Book and got the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)
to use it in their education programs for soldiers.

Later, the YMCA used a new book called Camp Reader for American Soldiers to
teach literacy to thousands of men who entered into World War I as
illiterate or non-English speaking soldiers. This book incorporated a
number of songs that were used to help men learn to read and to maintain
their morale while they were miles from home. A footnote on one page of the
Camp Reader advised teachers to "Sing with class. Have pupils follow printed
text as they sing. For writing lessons have pupils copy stanza 1 from script
and write stanza 2 from print."

One of the songs used to teach literacy and keep up the morale of the
literacy students was from England, and the chorus went like this:

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

Another song helped the soldier literacy learners think of their loved ones
and how they were fighting to keep them safe. The chorus was:

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams:
There's a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true;
Till the day when I'll be going down
That long, long trail with you.

The thought of returning from war to be with loved ones seems to always be
on the minds of soldiers. During World War II over 250,000 illiterate or
non-English speaking men were taught literacy in Special Training Units of
the U.S. Army before being sent into battle. One innovation introduced in
the literacy training programs was the use of a cartoon strip featuring
fictional soldiers Private Pete and his sidekick Daffy. These cartoons were
usually two page spreads in a special newspaper for literacy students called
Our War.

Our War editors understood that the hearts and minds of the troops were on
family and friends, often girl friends, back home. The cartoons sometimes
told stories about visits with girl friends and included scenes in which
Private Pete and friends were singing songs. One popular song of the time
was aimed at making separations between the soldiers and their sweethearts
more bearable. In the August 1943 issue of Our War the cartoon strip was
about a letter Private Pete got from another soldier friend of his who told
about how he was going overseas. A cartoon frame shows him and a group of
his buddies travelling in the back of an Army truck singing a song called
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree:

Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me
Anyone else but me, anyone else but me
No! No! No!
Don't sit under the apple tree with anyone else but me
Till I come marchin' home

Don't go walkin' down Lover's Lane with anyone else but me
Anyone else but me, anyone else but me
No! No! No!
Don't go walkin' down Lover's Lane with anyone else but me
Till I come marchin' home

In Our War for March 1944 Private Pete and Daffy are spending a quiet Sunday
in camp. They take in a movie, and afterward Daffy says, "This winds up a
great day, Pete. I feel like singing, too!" A group of soldiers is then
shown sitting in the barracks singing:

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean "goodbye" but "Hello to love"

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the ships will sail again all over the world
Then we'll have time for things like wedding rings
and free hearts will sing
When the lights go on again all over the world

Whether we call it Veteran's Day in the United States, or Remembrance Day in
Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, we remember
and honor the millions of those who fought for liberty and freedom in times
of the World Wars. We recall the heartfelt songs they sang, the words of
which hundreds of thousands learned to read only after becoming soldiers.
We think of the mums, dads, sisters, brothers, and sweethearts whose love
sustained the soldiers in wars long ago and, sadly, in wars of today. We
still wait "Till they come marchin' home" and "A kiss won't mean "goodbye"
but "Hello to love."

Thomas G. Sticht
International Consultant in Adult Education
2062 Valley View Blvd.
El Cajon, Ca 92019-2059
Tel/fax: (619) 444-9133
Email: tsticht at aznet.net

NOTE: In the past colleagues have asked that I send these brief pieces out
well ahead of Veteran's/Remembrance Day for those who want to include it in
their newsletters for November. So here it is. I should note that I have
included segments of songs longer than those that appear in the military
materials of World Wars I and II with the idea that adult literacy
educators may want to follow the advice from World War I and use the songs
in classrooms in learning about Veteran's/Remembrance Day.