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“Every Effort to Promote Love”: Changing the Focus of Armistice Day

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 11, 2013

At the request of the general Relief Society (Annie Wells Cannon was on its board), this letter was read in the meetings of ward Relief Societies in November, 1935.

Salt Lake City, Utah.
October 31, 1935.

National Commander Ray Murphy
American Legion
Ida Grove, Iowa

Dear Sir:

In behalf of the great unorganized group – The Mothers of America – let me appeal to you, and through you to the ex-servicemen of the World War, and those who take the initiative in the celebration of Armistice Day, November 11, for a change in the method of the celebration.

Armistice means a cessation of hostilities, and all who recall November 11, 1918, know the joy and exultant thankfulness for that hour.

Could we not now signify on that day the glories of a peaceful world, portraying progress, industry, education, art, music, the drama, the dance, bands of children and the lovely, happy things of life, instead of parades of military, with all the implements of destruction, and things that scar the face of the earth and wipe out civilization? This is not the plea of a pacifist. Three sons of mine were in the World War, and the blood of Revolutionary patriots is in my veins.

I stand always for adequate defense, and am loyal to the last day of my life to my country’s call, but with you who passed through the horrors of the World War I know the suffering and the sorrows of those who went, and of the loved ones who remained at home. Because of that, because of a world now trembling on the brink of another war, would it not be wiser to unite every effort to promote love, not hate, in the hearts of men and just as fearlessly take up “arms for peace” as in 1917 we took up arms for war, that the flower of our land may not be sacrificed again in vain.

The earth in its loveliness is ours. Let us train our minds and hearts to keep it free from the scars of war.

Mr. Commander, if you heed this appeal you will have the gratitude and blessing of the Mothers of America.

Most respectfully,

ANNIE WELLS CANNON



7 Comments »

  1. That the flower of our land may not be sacrificed again in vain

    should be carved on a marble monument somewhere.

    Comment by The Other Clark — November 11, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

  2. Her “a world now trembling on the brink of another war” was remarkably prescient–Hitler had announced in 1935 that Germany was rearming, renouncing the limitations imposed by the Versailles Treaty. But by October 1935 Germany had not yet begun to push outward–the militarization of the Rhineland was still six months away, and the Anschluss and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia were years off. Churchill had begun making speeches warning of the danger from Nazi Germany, but the leaders of even his own party thought he was a scaremonger (and the opposition thought him a warmonger). And nobody in the United States was paying the least attention.

    But maybe she was talking about the invasion of Abyssinia by Italy.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 11, 2013 @ 4:07 pm

  3. Maybe she referred to Japan’s ambitions in Asia?

    Comment by The Other Clark — November 11, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

  4. That would have probably required even more prescience. Though Japan had taken Manchuria in 1931, it didn’t invade China proper until 1937. And they didn’t start looking south, to Southeast Asia and the Dutch East Indies until after the war started in Europe.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 11, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

  5. “a world now trembling on the brink of another war”

    As Ardis’s recent post with missionary letters from the opening weeks of WWI showed, those serving missions overseas would have been reporting on the conditions in Europe, and Annie Cannon would have been there at Church headquarters, privy to the information being collected about the safety and security of the missionaries.

    I wonder what the missionaries and mission presidents were writing home in the mid-1930s. They would have seen the increases in the Reichswehr: you can’t increase a fighting force from 100,000 to over half a million without people noticing, particularly if they’re there on the ground.

    Comment by Amy T — November 12, 2013 @ 10:19 am

  6. I don’t know about the missionaries, but I’ve been reading mission presidents’ writings from Europe, and especially from the German-speaking missions. They are very aware throughout the 1930s of attitudes and policies and activities that worry them. They write that they hope it doesn’t come to war, but that they want some thought given both to the safety of missionaries and the continuity of branch organizations should it be necessary to pull North Americans out. They report the necessity to cancel the LDS scouting program, and ask questions about whether it is safe both for the convert and the branch to baptize converts with Jewish blood, and they wonder about the safety of keeping records of members and tithing receipts — and that’s all well before open hostilities.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — November 12, 2013 @ 10:50 am

  7. Thank you for this Ardis. It would be just as timely today, I think.

    Comment by Juliathepoet — November 12, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

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