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Bonus Army

Bonus Army

It was called the Bonus Army Protest and it drew roughly 43,000 protestors who camped outside of Washington for months. Learn more....

by Janice Mack on September 13, 2021

Bonus Army

My dad was born in 1930 in Grand Island, NE. He was a tall, skinny, red-head of 17 years when he was sent to Japan. The GI Bill changed the trajectory of his life, like so many of his generation. (Unfortunately, the bill did accommodate the Jim Crow laws of the time which allowed for racial discrimination against black service members which contributed to generational racial wealth disparities). Benefits included low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business or farm, one year of unemployment compensation, and dedicated payments of tuition and living expenses to attend high school, college, or vocational school. My dad enrolled at Iowa State, studied civil engineering and took a job with the federal government working on damns and water ways all over the country.

WWI Veterans did not have access to all these benefits. They were given bonus certificates to be paid out twenty years later in 1945, but during the depression, many were desperate for that money. In This Tender Land, a little thread of a story that winds its way through Hooverville and the time spent with the Schofields is about the WWI veterans protesting for the payments of these certificates. I was curious if this was an actual historical event and spent some time looking into it. It was called the Bonus Army Protest and it drew roughly 43,000 protestors who camped outside of Washington for months. There is a lot to read about the protest, but this short video is very compelling and uses film footage from the time period. You can watch it here.

Some of the historical events mentioned in the book have captured my interest. Whether it was the treatment of Native Americans, the plight of the farmer during the dustbowl and depression or the tent revivals that offered hope and salvation through the Gospel, there is a lot to explore.

Please attend our next three classes at 9:00am, in person or on Zoom, as we learn more about the Native American boarding schools, a visit with the author and tent revivals! RSVP here, links for Zoom will be sent out on Saturday.

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