On Remembering Our Wounded Warriors

Before Coolidge was a President, he was first a wartime governor of the sixth most populous state in the Union. He had seen what the war was costing in people and materiel, the difficult decisions war required politically and culturally, and what it would take to enable victory from home on the battlefields in Europe. The Coolidges were atypical, however, when it came to doling paychecks to veterans, believing instead that reallocation of tax money would never be enough to recompense what had been given. Neither would he pander to emotions in exchange for votes.

The Coolidges, instead, turned their focus to helping correct the administrative and vocational support wounded warriors sought to heal, move forward, and find new life through the loss, pain, and hardship. A small expression of their gratitude for the men and women involved in the late war came in the Coolidge tradition of garden parties on the White House grounds, opening the people’s House to the injured and those who cared for them. Another came in his regular use of media, utilizing the radio, the press conference, and printed news to reach the nation.

The clouds parted and the rains held off following days of downpours, as the Coolidges hosted a garden party for 2,000 veterans and their caretakers on the sunny afternoon of June 5, 1924. Every corner of the country was represented at the event.

As he turned thoughts to the wounded warriors facing challenges at this same season of the year in 1923, he wrote:

My warm felicitations and cordial wishes go to the war’s disabled at this Christmas time. The heart of America is with those who made the great sacrifices in defense of our ideals. Whether you continue in the hospitals fighting for recovery, or are battling to re-establish yourselves in civil pursuits, the nation will be mindful of its obligations to those so honorably stricken. Regardless of some irritations of some agencies charged with your relief, we are conscious of the duty toward the maimed, and encouraged by the continued improvement for their relief.

I am confident that the fortitude commanded for you the admiration of the world, will not falter during your struggle for physical and vocational rehabilitation. That the coming year will mark the utmost possible restoration of health, happiness, and fortune, is the devout hope of the republic for all of you.

President Coolidge addressing Congress three weeks before, on December 6, 1923.

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