World War I in Lawrence: Chamber of Commerce meeting ends in prayer for troops

Editor’s note: Local writer Sarah St. John compiles reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence 100 years ago during World War I.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported this week on a local meeting which culminated in a resolution for a daily moment of prayerful silence: “While it hardly turned into a prayer meeting, yet no prayer meeting ever held in the city was more reverential than the Chamber of Commerce this afternoon, when … they passed, by unanimous vote, the following motion … ‘According to the sovereignty of Almighty God and desiring His care and blessing in the great cause in which we and our allies are now engaged, the Chamber of Commerce recommends … that at the stroke of twelve and the ringing of the bell, each day during the continuance of the war, every business man, every employee, every housewife and each and every other, shall cease work for one minute to unite in fervent and concerted prayer for the welfare of our soldiers and victory for our arms.'”

On the same day, a poignant item from downtown related that “a letter thrown from one of the troop trains passing through Lawrence recently was from one of the National Army men who doesn’t want to be forgotten while he is ‘Over There’ fighting. It was picked up after the train had passed and found to have been written by Pvt. Pat M. Shook of the 355th Infantry, National Army. He says: ‘Here is my last regards and I hope to see you again soon when the war is over.'”

From the University of Kansas campus came the news that “only one engineer of a class of forty-two graduates at the K. U. School of Engineering will be represented in the graduation exercises this spring. He is a chemical engineer. All the other seniors are in active military service or have been called this week so that they will be unable to remain for the commencement exercises. The class this year is the smallest that has graduated from the University in many years.”


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