World War I in Lawrence: Italian flag flies over Lawrence post office

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.

On Friday, May 24, 1918, local residents observed the unprecedented sight of the flag of another nation flying over the U.S. Post Office in Lawrence. It was the anniversary of the day Italy had entered the Great War on the side of the Allies, and the flag was to be flown in accordance with an executive order from Washington. The order, however, while requiring local post offices to fly the Italian flag that day, had also announced that the federal postal department had no funds for foreign flags. Lawrence postmaster Charles Seewir appealed to Lawrence citizens to lend him an Italian flag, but there were none in the city large enough to fly from the post office flagpole. “For a little while it looked as if Mr. Seewir would have to violate an executive order,” said a Journal-World article. Fortunately, a Mrs. Win Newmark came to the rescue with her sewing skills. Mrs. Newmark produced a flag, three feet by six feet, that was reported to be “an excellent piece of workmanship and perfect in every detail — an Italian flag is no easy thing to make.” Postmaster Seewir reported that he was “now anxious that he be able to complete the collection of flags for all the countries that are now at war with Germany. ‘From those who come back from France, I am told that all the French government buildings are flying every day the flags of all the allies,’ said he this morning. ‘We should be able to do the same.'” At press time, a Mrs. Fred Morris of Lawrence was hard at work on a Belgium flag to be presented to the post office for possible future use.


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