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Three other similar bills and identical bills, H.R. 4116 by A. S. Herlong, of Florida; Robert L. F. Sikes, H.R. 4521, by the Honorable Mr. Sikes; and by the Honorable Dominick V. Daniels, H.R. 5046, have been introduced for the same purpose.
At this time, if I may, I would like to call attention to the Honorable John J. McCall, his bill, H.R. 5627, being identical in its provisions with the exception that he has added a $5,000 limit on the income.
We want to thank the chairman and members of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs for this opportunity to appear before you and to present this statement in support of the bill, H.R. 1310, January 10, 1967, by the Honorable John P. Saylor, of Pennsylvania.
The bill, H.R. 1310, is to amend title 38 of the United States Code, to amend chapter 15, by adding a subchapter 5, to pay a special pension to veterans of World
War I and their widows. For the purpose of this subchapter, the term “World War I” means the beginning, on April 6, 1917, and ending on September 1, 1919.
The term "eligible veteran of World War I” means a veterans who served for a period of 90 days or more during World War I, was honorably discharged, or released from such service, and is not entitled to retired pay, retainer pay, or disability retired pay arising from service in the Armed Forces.
The monthly rate shall not exceed $150, which shall be determined by multiplying $5 by the number of months such veteran served within the continental limits of the United States, and adding to such product the product of $10 and the number of months such veteran served outside the continental limits of the United States.
If service was performed outside of the continental limits of the United States in any month, all service performed during such month shall be deemed to have been performed outside of the United States, and any fraction of a month of service shall be deemed to be a full month of service.
Widows would receive equal to one-half the monthly rate of pension such veteran would be entitled to.
The date of April 6, 1917, is the date for us veterans to remember.
It was in the chambers at the other end of the Senate Office Building that President Woodrow Wilson, on the evening of April 2, 1917, so fraught with fateful consequences to his own and future generations, uttered the unforgettable words: “The world must be made safe for democracy.
It was the first time that word, “democracy,” had ever been used by a President or by Congress in a state paper or other comparable proceeding.
In that pronouncement, at once a challenge and a high call to duty, President Woodrow Wilson summoned the armed might of America, a might which has never been turned toward conquest and subjugation, and is therefore thrice as powerful when applied in the prosecution of a righteous cause.
The Congress of the United States declared war on April 6, 1917, against the Central Allies of Europe.
Thus had President Wilson spoken in the days of his strength to highhearted youth. Now the youth of that day are the veterans today, broken in body and spirit, pleading for help, before they answer the call at the sound of "Taps."
These same veterans are crowned with the glory of a victorious achievement as death is closing in. They can claim the supreme distinction as their very own, the battle for democracy, in World War I.
Congressmen do not want to remember this solemn pronouncement of President Wilson, when it came that all of us between the ages of 21 and 31 years of age, and physically fit, were to be subject to conscription, notwithstanding the 13th amendment to our Constitution, forbidding involuntary servitude, to make the world safe for democracy.
No one will ever know the hardship, torture, sacrifices, the mental worry, and the impressions on the minds of the youth of that day, many of which still haunt their minds, many of them now old men, who killed fellow humans, so that the President and the Congress and the Nation could live in and for democracy.
Some day men will pause in their busy lives to comprehend that men of great faith lived, sacrificed, fought, and died in their era of 1917–18 in the terrible struggle for democracy.
It was on April 6, 1917, that the U.S. Congress started to discuss the entrance of this country into the conflict raging in Europe since 1914. President Woodrow Wilson was urging the Congress to pass a declaration of war against the Central Powers of Europe, who were close to victory over England and France.
“The House Backs Up President Wilson,” screamed the newspaper headlines the next morning, “By a Vote of 373 to 50 !”
It came after 15 hours of bitter debate, that delayed the voting. At 2 o'clock in the morning, amendments to prevent sending U.S. Armed Forces to Europe, Africa, and Asia were all voted down.
Vice President Marshall and President Wilson signed the American declaration of war, while Congressmen, standing on their chairs, cheered and said nothing is too good for our boys, if they win this war.
America found itself badly prepared for the war. The first order of business was to mobilize a great Army.
Secretary of War Newton Baker framed a draft bill. It was passed May 18, 1917, and all citizens registered for war service on June 5.
Then President Wilson, blindfolded, placed his hand into a fish bowl and drew out No. 258.
September 10, 1917, the first batch of recruits marched to camp to start to organize an Army that included the youths from all walks of life.
So low in material was the United States that the draftees had to train with wooden sticks.
June 8, ships in New York Harbor started loading 15,000 troops aboard, that included thousands of rookies recently enlisted. Then, silently, on Flag Day, June 14, 1917, under the cover of darkness, 18 transports sailed down the waters and out to sea.
General John J. Pershing landed in France June 13, and informed the Allies that a convoy with four Regular_Army infantry and a Marine Corps division would soon arrive in France.
It was on August 15, 1917, that some 20,000 U.S. Regular Army troops marched in London, prior to embarking for France.
Soon after, the drafted started to assemble in camps all over the United States. Early arrivals were rushed to war.
With all of the early arrivals already at the frontlines, General Pershing announced loudly on July 4, 1918, that more than a million Americans had arrived in France.
After the issue of that badge of the warrior, the overseas cap, they looked more big-eared than robust, yet they radiated vigor and confidence.
There has never been a prouder, happier, and silent Army under the American flag. In every respect they differed from all other American Armies. Above and beyond the turmoil, they understood that the Nation was in danger, and that they had the country's call to arms, to do or die.
In that spirit, the 1917–18 soldier went forward, respecting higher authority, to win this war for democracy. Thousands of these brave boys died on the battlefields of France, facing the enemy for this country.
It was on November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m., with an armistice signed, that the Meuse-Argonne campaign and the First World War ended simultaneously.
After the 47 harrowing days of the final campaign, much now remains in the veteran's mind. Medical science can never wipe away from the minds of these combat troops the horrible war scene.
The heroism of Alvin C. York, and thousands of others, the guts and tenacity of the men of the 77th Division's "Lost Battalion, cut off in the Argonne Forest, refusing to surrender, the great officers like Douglas MacArthur, Harry Truman, and some 23 other divisions that earned a new nobility for American Armies and courageous fighting-all this is well known, except to the newspaper reporters who slander us.
But in the long view, perhaps the greatest worth of the Meuse-Argonne lies in the fact that for the first time it showed a watching world that the American soldier, trained, equipped, and led American style, has no equal in the classic ground combat role of armies, to close in with the enemy and defeat him. This is the undying Meuse-Argonne legacy.
It is a comforting thought for the veterans today to know that we defeated the greatest military machine in the history of this world.
The combat veterans who are not national figures will not have monuments built to honor them. They have been forgotten and slandered, during these 50 years that they have waited to act upon the traditional pension for victorious returning troops.
It is true that Congress has voted to grant a welfare pension to those veterans of the First World War who are poverty stricken. But no consideration for the million still living who now need help, due to the high cost of living, and the terrible inflation.
Billions of dollars go for foreign aid, refugees, veterans of the Cuban invasion, and the Chinese on Formosa Island.
In the same body of Congress today, close to 50 years later, the socalled golden anniversary, some Congressmen are opposed to an honorable pension for service rendered, for the youths of 1917-18, who returned home after defeating the greatest military machine in the history of the world, to make the world safe for democracy.
The selective draft law called for all between the ages of 21 and 31 years of age to register for war service. The ages on this "golden
anniversary," would be 71 to 81 years, and the average would be 76 years of age.
It is reported from the records that but one veteran of the volunteer group has not as yet reached 65 years of age, having been born on March 16, 1903, but there are several thousand veterans of the Regular Army or Navy who are in their late eighties and close to the 90
The heritage of the American veteran dates back to colonial days, when, into most colonial charters, was written phraseology indicating, “Whosoever is injured or maimed in defense of this colony or its property shall be cared for thereafter."
Å gracious Congress has provided the American veterans with care which is unequaled in any other country in the world, provided there is a record of the injury.
During the combat warfare in the trenches, with the headquarters some 50 miles to the rear, and only horse-drawn transportation, there were very few outfits with any available records at the front lines to make any such thing as a sick call to be recorded on a health report.
There were no hot meals served in the front lines, and many days there was nothing to eat, while the soldier suffered, standing in the muddy trenches, waiting to go forward.
Service under wartime conditions calls for rigors, hazards, hardships, sleeping on wet, muddy ground, lack of sanitary conditions, clothing, baths, and many other physical discomforts and disadvantages of a normal life.
The effects of this wartime action remain imprinted on a combat veteran's mind, for life.
I thank you.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Mr. Dwyer.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Mr. Dwyer, thank you, sir, for coming here and testifying before us today.
You are the national legislative director for the American Expeditionary Forces of 1917-18-19?
Mr. DWYER. Yes, sir.
Mr. KORNEGAY. It this organization a part of the World War I Veterans organization, as chartered by the Congress?
Mr. DWYER. No.
Mr. KORNEGAY. You are not here testifying for the World War I Veterans as an organization?
Mr. DWYER. No. This organization was formed several years ago, and it is composed of men who have never received any pension whatever, and thousands who were on the pension rolls, but, due to being widowers, were removed from the pension rolls.
They are above the income limitations at present, and are not receiving any benefits.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Were you not formerly associated with the World War I Veterans organization?
Mr. DWYER. I did not quite get that.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Were you formerly associated with the World War I Veterans organization?
Mr. DWYER. Yes. I belong to all of them, Congressman.
Mr. KORNEGAY. The Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., as chartered by the Congress, and the American Expeditionary Forces of 1917–18–19, are separate ?
Mr. DWYER. They are separate. There is no connection whatsoever. There is not even comunication between them.
Mr. KORNEGAY. And your approach, under the bill, Mr. Saylor's bill, as well as other bills of a similar nature, would be to base the pension on the length of service and the location of that service?
Mr. DWYER. That is right.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Depending, of course, upon whether it was within the continental limits of the United States, or in some foreign country?
Mr. DWYER. That is right, foreign service or U.S. service. Mr. KORNEGAY. Now, do you have any figures as to what the cost of your proposal would be?
Mr. DWYER. Well, we have no exact figures, because we have not gone into that too far.
Mr. KORNEGAY. This would actually be in the nature of a bonus, would it not?
Mr. DWYER. Well, it is based on just the compensation which gave us $1 for home service and $1.25 for overseas service.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Yes.
The reason I used the term "bonus" is that the amount relates to the length and location of the service.
Mr. DWYER. That is right.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Whereas under our pension theory, if you happen to meet the minimum qualifications of 90 days' service and honorable discharge, then you are eligible for the pension, and a 91-day veteran gets the same as a 3-year veteran.
Mr. DWYER. Not under our bill.
Mr. KORNEGAY. I say under the present pension theory, and that is what I am trying to point out.
Your bill, your proposal, varies from the pension approach and amounts to compensation for serving in the Armed Forces.
Mr. DWYER. That is right. You see, there were close to 2 million of the 4,700,000 over in France.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Yes.
Mr. DWYER. And it was 900,000 who served at least 6 months at the front lines, and were under fire during those 6 months.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Yes.
Mr. DWYER. And, of course, then, the others were in the Army of supplies, which brought the ammunition and food, what they could, out there.
Mr. KORNEGAY. Well, you have painted a very vivid picture of the experiences in World War I, and I simply had to say that my father was there, and I have heard about them.
I, of course, am not old enough to have served in World War I. I was in World War II for about 38 months. But
father was there,