Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feathered Soldiers

[UPDATE: This post is based on Burgess's original headline/copy; it was actually published in modified form in the October 1918 PHJ]

From the People's Home Journal, this remarkable piece of rhetoric:

Feathered soliders are fighting for you are you backing them up?

Anyone who does anything to help win this war is fighting for You--for our beloved country--for all the freedom loving people of the world. It makes no difference what it is so long as it is something to help win the war. It may be knitting for the army, going without meat, caring for a garden, doing one of a thousand things which must be done. Whatever it is it makes the doer a soldier in the cause of humanity.

Ever since this terrible war started a great feathered army has been fighting day and night, summer and winter to help the allies win this war. Without the help of these feathered soldiers the battles we have won would have been lost. Our fighting men would not have had sufficient food to given them the strength for the heroic work they have done. Our allies would be facing starvation and we ourselves would be little better off.
The action required? The creation of bird sanctuaries by members of the "Green Meadow Club."

Some of the rhetoric we've already begun to unpack--Burgess's involvement in the Pure Food Movement and his subsequent involvement in the Vigilantes in support of Hoover's Food Administration. Remember, victory in the first world war was basically framed as a matter of food supply. The use of wildlife for nationalistic purposes is an old practice, though it is a bit shocking to imagine birds as soldiers. Nevertheless, this kind of linkage of birds with national security was one of the arguments that finally won birds many of the protections they enjoy today.

But what was the role of the People's Home Journal? And what of Green Meadow Club bird sanctuaries? Those are some questions we'll pose in the next few posts.

Tomorrow: The origins of the Green Meadow Club.

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