World War I in Lawrence: Military language sneaks into mundane news reports

During the course of the war, there were of course several front-page stories every day relating battles and other news from the front. One interesting side effect of this emphasis on war news was the permeation of ordinary hometown news with “war jargon.” A fine example of this tendency appeared in the Journal-World on Dec. 21, 1917, under the headline “VINLAND WON THE CHECKER TOURNEY.” In this article, the use of “militarese” was well supported by the fact that checkers clashes between the cities of Douglas County were already known to be hard-fought and contentious. The article read:

“In a surprise attack the Vinland checker forces made a big drive last night into Lawrence and succeeded in overpowering the Lawrence checker players in a three-hour combat in the City Hall. The fighting was fierce during the early part of the encounter, but soon the Vinland troops appeared to have the edge and swept the enemy down. All objectives were gained including the championship of the county for 1917. C. A. Hagerman and Dr. C. E. Yates of the Vinland forces are mentioned in the dispatches as rendering distinguished services. The score: Vinland 121; Lawrence, 79. The Lawrence forces were caught unawares. The training period had been of comparatively short duration, but the main fault seemed to be the lack of the real fighting spirit … The casualties on either side were slight and there is every evidence that the Lawrence men will improve and be able to enter the front line trenches and possibly to go over the top in the invasion of the enemy territory next year. In the four years of fighting neither side has apparently gained an advantage for Lawrence has won two games and Vinland two, including the games last night. This makes the 1918 combat more promising.”