[Service Deisabled Veteran Owned Small Business] Urgent. Veterans and concerned others please read. The Bonus Army in 1932. Veteran Talk in 2008.

  • From: "John Kolsun" <john.kolsun@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <wired@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 18:14:36 -0400

Press Release


The Bonus Army in 1932.  Veteran Talk in 2008. 

Thursday March 27, 6 pm ET 


Hello fellow veterans and concerned others.

THE WORLD WIDE WEB - Veteran TALK has been launched.  Please let me take
this opportunity to tell you the mission of the Veteran Talk web site.  The
site is a portal for Veterans to discuss and demand that "The Promise" given
to veterans be kept.  Veteran TALK will continue the work that was started
in when The Bonus Army marched to Washington DC and demanded that the
promise to veterans be kept.  Click Veteran Talk
<http://forums.w3oc.com/index.php> .  We need your support!


Always Faithful,

John Kolsun

The Bonus Army

"The Bonus Army" EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000).

In 1924, a grateful Congress voted to give a bonus to World War I veterans -
$1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States.
The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. However, by 1932
the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the
unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately. 

In May of that year, some 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute,
descended on Washington, D.C. to demand immediate payment of their bonus.
They proclaimed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force but the public
dubbed them the "Bonus Army." Raising ramshackle camps at various places
around the city, they waited. 

The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river
from the Capitol. Approximately 10,000 veterans, women and children lived in
the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby - old
lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw. 

Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents
who spread unfounded "Red Scare" rumors. Streets were laid out, latrines
dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and
prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their
leader, Walter Waters, stated, "We're here for the duration and we're not
going to starve. We're going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran's
organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the
deplorable economic condition." 

June 17 was described by a local newspaper as "the tensest day in the
capital since the war." The Senate was voting on the bill already passed by
the House to immediately give the vets their bonus money. By dusk, 10,000
marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome.
Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad
news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to 18. The crowd
reacted with stunned silence. "Sing America and go back to your billets" he
commanded, and they did. A silent "Death March" began in front of the
Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned. 

A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation
of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the
Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers
killed. Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army
to clear out the veterans. Infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks were
dispatched with Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in command. Major
Dwight D. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major
George Patton led the cavalry. 

By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol.
Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the
streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their
honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton's troopers turned and charged. "Shame,
Shame" the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling
tear gas into the crowd. 

By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover
ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his
infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were
routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals
overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, "the whole scene was
pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly
abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added
to the pity." 

       Bartlett, John Henry, The Bonus March and the New Deal (1937);
Daniels, Roger, The Bonus March; an Episode of the Great Depression (1971). 


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  • » [Service Deisabled Veteran Owned Small Business] Urgent. Veterans and concerned others please read. The Bonus Army in 1932. Veteran Talk in 2008.