The Soldiers' Edition of the Oxford Mirror was transcribed by Janet Brandt.
|It is welcome news that the boys are coming home, back from the war, to retake their places in civil life. But the joyful thought is tinged with the sorrowful one that some of our boys will not return.
||Dedicated to the Mothers of Our Soldier Boys
HISTORY of the future will record the doings of the American soldiery in a bigger way, but it is hardly to be hoped that the historian who records the doings of this nation in the past eighteen months will give much explicit as it pertains to each locality. What each community has done to this conflict is small as compared to the whole, and yet it is large and magnificent in itself. It is with this idea in mind that this issue of The Mirror was conceived; an attempt to write for this particular community something of a historical nature that will tell to those of the present and the future what Oxford as an individual locality did and what part she played in the big program that has been practically settled by the signing of the armistice across the waters.
The World War now at an end is the big war of all time; and let us hope that never again will men, regardless of their nationality or color, ever be called upon to battle with their fellows, no matter what the provocation. At its very best, armed conflict can be the result only of selfishness and greed of one form or another. Disputes are bound to arise between nations as they are bound to arise between individuals, for nations are only multiplied individualities. But from this time on, difficulties among nations are to be settled by peaceful procedure rather than by armed conflict—else this war has been fought for naught. History records nothing like the awfulness of the past four years. Human life has been without value. Property damage and loss has been not even considered. Treaties as between nations has been considered as mere scraps of paper. Woman’s virtue, one of the most sacred of all institutions, has been ignored as though it never existed—and the whole world saw nothing but ruthless devastation and destruction of all the sacred institutions of the past. Belgium and France present an awful spectacle of what war-mad men and a war-frenzied nation can do when once it sets out on such a journey. But never again! The World War of 1914-1918 has been fought to a successful termination. Germany, that nation that must answer for the crime of all centuries, begs for mercy and consideration—a condition which two years back she would concede to no one. The armies of the United States stepped into the breach at the time when France and England were fighting with “their backs to the wall” and in the short space of eighteen months brought sure, certain and glorious victory from what looked like probable defeat.
To no particular locality does the honor and glory of this noble achievement belong. America is a nation of many peoples, but those peoples know for what the Stars and Stripes stand, and never yet has that glorious emblem been lowered in defeat! And never will it be so lowered so long as has gallant sons fight for Principle. The entire nation answered the call “To Arms” when it came—and this locality, like every other—did her share to furnish the soldiery necessary to bring Victory home. We consider then that it is only meet and fitting that we record on printed pages what Oxford as an individual locality, has done, not alone in the number of gallant sons furnished, but in the other work “behind the lines” in the furnishing of the war sinews.
It is a matter of pardonable community pride that we record the fact that this township of approximately fifteen hundred people of all ages, has furnished for Government service ninety boys who have been in active service, both across the seas and in the local camps and cantonments, with ten of the younger class of registrants in the S. A. T. C. courses of instruction in various schools and colleges in the state. Let it be recorded too, that this locality is almost wholly an agriculture one, and by the draft many boys were taken from the farms which seriously handicapped the producer in his work, but with a determination to do what was necessary, everyone entered into the spirit of necessity that prevailed, and the crop production was maintained in spite of the absence of valuable farm hands. In these pages we record with short histories the military activities of each of the boys from this vicinity, and together with this history we present photographs of not only the boys but their mothers as well.
Anything different could hardly be expected,but Oxford made her community sacrifice just as did practically every other locality. Seven of our sterling men gave up their young lives for the cause of Human Liberty. Theirs has been a glorious death, for Time will never, never efface from the brilliant pages of history how they lived and for what they died.
Turn back the pages of Memory if you can, to April, 1917, when a state of war was declared to exist with Germany. A peaceful nation; a peaceful community—we of the present generation did not know or realize what the declaration meant. But we were not long disillusioned. And when once we found the needs, we were not long in making response. The Fighting Forces at home were organized and trained just as were the Fighting Forces at the front. First came the Liberty Bond issue—and this little community voluntarily absorbed $7500.00 of these government securities. Then followed the Red Cross campaign, the national body having asked for $100,000,000 from the American people. Oxford Township’s share of this amount was set a $2095 and instead of this amount we voluntarily contributed about $5200. Then followed the Second Liberty Loan campaign, $47,980 was this township’s share of this loan flotation and our patriotic people added $1300 to the amount for good measure. $31,000 was next asked of this township for War Savings Stamps of the 1918 series, and while complete figures are not at this time available, we can safely report that the agencies of this town have made disposition of not far from $40,000 worth of these Baby Bonds in the year just ending. The Third Liberty Loan of last spring then followed, this township’s share being $75,000, and just a few more thousand were heaped on for good measure. The Fourth issue found our allotment $81,000 and instead of that we again went “over the top” with a subscription of about $87,000. Then came the United War Drive, our quota begin $7850. Once again the patriots of this little locality opened their purse strings and donated their share and threw in some for good measure, which was the result of many having given more than their quota.
This record, as it is above written, and as it stands out only in cold printed figures, can only give a faint idea of what is meant thereby. It cannot tell of the tireless work, the unselfish sacrifice from home and business that has been made by those who have so successfully carried it forward. It meant hour after hour of ceaseless toil. It meant a sacrifice and an expenditure of personal funds. It meant a leaving undone of the things to which the “older heads” had been accustomed to doing. But it was done willingly and gladly, and with a full realization of the necessity for its being done. Without this work in the back line trenches, the boys in the front line trenches would never have been cared for in the way that they were cared for. They could never have been supplied with the real sinews of war which are embodied in the powers of Finance. And we venture the prediction that the man or woman who had naught to do with these activities at home; who did or gave grudgingly or selfishly, will have much to do to console their own consciences because of that attitude.
Men have not been the only ones who did and gave. The women folks of our little locality were busy not alone in the Red Cross work rooms, but in the homes in the various capacities in which they could be active and helpful. The local Red Cross unit has much in the matter of its work of which to be proud. They answered the call from headquarters and never once were “found wanting.” History will record no nobler sacrifice than that made by the women of this nation, not along in the matter of the sons she gave to the cause, but the manner in which she sacrificed and did for the nation’s soldiery.
Oxford Township never sent away a contingent of men, large or small in numbers, who were not given a community God-speed. The custom was started with the first bunch of drafted boys in September, 1917, and with every contingent following, the same practice was indulged in. The public was given the opportunity of saying Good-bye to every contingent, and with the Good-bye was a substantial silver offering—just to buy the good things for which a soldier longs, and which many times are denied because of a lack of funds. It proved to be a mighty popular practice—popular enough that it was continued to the very last.
The History of this gigantic conflict will record the doings of the brave men who fought for our safety and well-being. We can add nothing by printed words to the laurels they have already so well won. But we feel that this Soldiers’ Edition of The Mirror will in a way serve to make record of the small part that this particular community played in the great World War, and we dedicate it to the mothers of the brave boys who gave us their hopes, ambitions and aspirations that we might continue to live and be free men.