Exploring the collections of the Mercantile Library:

The Mercantile Library
Observes Veterans Day
November 11 is commemorated as Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada and other nations of the Commonwealth. It memorializes the end of the First World War which occurred on November 11, 1918 at 11:00 a.m. local time along the Western Front. At the time it was thought that the carnage and destruction of the war would shock society into never going to war again, this giving World War One the title of “The War to End All Wars.” 

The United States entered the War in 1917 after the sinking of the Lusitania, the implementation of unrestricted submarine warfare against neutral merchant ships, and then the attempt by the German Empire to entice Mexico into declaring war against the United States. While American involvement as a member of the Allies was brief, and compared to the other Allied powers, American casualties were less devastating; over 430,000 Americans were casualties of the war. Of those, over 116,000 died. In addition, the war helped spread the influenza virus around the world as soldiers began to return home. This would result in 675,000 deaths in the U.S. and millions more worldwide over the next two years.
"First Division Parades on Fifth Avenue. The First Infantry Division parades past the
grandstand with the reviewing officials in New York," September 10, 1919.
St. Louis Globe Democrat Collection at the St. Louis Mercantile Library
The war and its hopeful state as the final war led to the creation of many memorials throughout the world. In the United States, soldiers memorials were built in major cities and a Tomb of the Unknowns was built at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
“The body of the Unknown American Warrior being borne by his comrades in arms from the Chapel in the City Hall at Chalons-sur-Marne to the train for conveyance to Havre where it was transferred to the Olympia,” November 2, 1921.
St. Louis Globe Democrat Collection at the St. Louis Mercantile Library 
Recently the St. Louis Mercantile Library acquired a publication composed of prints of the ruins created by the First World War. Titled Ruines De Guerre: Ligne Hindenburg, Soissons, Verdun, Arras, it was written by Daniel Putnam Brinley and published by the YMCA in 1919. Brinley had come to France to serve in the Foyers du Soldat, Franco-American Union. This was a joint French and American program to provide “soldiers homes” or canteens for French and American soldiers serving on the Western Front. Brinley worked as a decorator of these homes and wound up visiting or staying in these devastated regions. He began drawing what he saw to show the horrors of the war as a warning to others about the folly of armed conflict and to help Americans appreciate how much France had endured for the past four years.

Here are a couple of images from this work:
You can view the entire piece at the St. Louis Mercantile Library’s space on the UMSL Digital Library here
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