Fetes de la Victoire, Paris: 14 July 1919. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Fetes de la Victoire, Paris: 14 July 1919. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Madame Anna Guérin was en route across the Atlantic to France, when the Armistice was declared on 11 November 1918.  She arrived back in France on 17 November – she wrote, on that day, to one Mrs. Myrtle Cull of Lincoln, Nebraska stating that she was now in France.  Anna informed Myrtle that “the hundreds of packages” which she had taken back with her (to be delivered to Americans) had “been sent to the soldiers.”  Anna was a formidable fundraiser, as aforementioned, but sometimes she would take on additional/individual causes and this seems to have been one of them.

Anna Guérin “had been with her family just five days, when she was called back to Paris and told she was to have entire supervision of the work in America …”  See Chapter 6 for more about Madame’s League.

Returning again to France after the Armistice (albeit before the signing of the Treaty of Versailles of 28 June 1919), Anna went into Northern France again and saw, what she later described as “an awful nightmare”.   It is reported that she had a private interview with American Expeditionary Force’s General J. J. Pershing and, with his permission, she visited the battlefields of Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and Belleau Wood – where she spoke to the American soldiers who had been fighting there.  Anna Guérin knew the Pershings and had stayed with the General’s sisters in Lincoln, Nebraska.   The General’s sister Anna Mae became involved with Anna’s fundraising for French orphans and would join Anna Guérin’s American and French Children’s League committee in the U.S.A.

“Célébrants victoire à Londres - Pershing et Douglas Haig”. American General Pershing and British Field Marshal Haig stand together at the Peace Day Parade in London, 19 July 1919. Haig’s two daughters stand behind them. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

“Célébrants victoire à Londres – Pershing et Douglas Haig”. American General Pershing and British Field Marshal Haig stand together at the Peace Day Parade in London, 19 July 1919. Haig’s two daughters stand behind them. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

French image of victory festivities in London, 19 July 1919. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

French image of victory festivities in London, 19 July 1919. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Anna had to come to terms with the fact that conditions for the widows and children in the devastated areas of France were just as dire as she remembered and worse.  In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna wrote [sic]: “I thought that my work was OVER , but having visited the North of France , in front of the devastations and seeing the pitiful state of the children in this devasted part of France , we formed a Committee called : PROTECTION OF THE CHILDREN OF DEVASTATED FRANCE , Mr Millerand – President of France – accepted to be President , Mme Millerand , his wife , being the active President .   And I was choosen to take her place and to come back to the United States to lecture for the Committee and to raise as quickly as possible 1.000.000 Frs for the Committee , so those poor children could be sent in sothern South of France to recuperate their vitality.”   

The creation of ‘La Ligue des enfants de France et d’Amérique’ appears to have been in December 1918.   Madame Guérin founded the American branch of it ‘American and French Children’s League’. The poppy became their emblem flower.  During 1919, it was often referred to as her ‘Fraternal League of the Children of France’.  See Chapter 6.

Anna was obviously more determined than ever to continue her successful fundraising in the USA, to help French children. To quote from the Canadian ‘Port Arthur News Chronicle of 05 July 1921:  “It was in the Spring of 1919, while watching the children of devastated France as they made wreaths of brilliant red poppies for the graves of overseas soldiers, that the idea of securing help for the poorly clad orphans children of destroyed France came to Madame Guerin.”  The American Cemetery at Romagne may have been this location.

Barefoot children in devastated France. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Barefoot children in devastated France 1922. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

On 31 March 1919, Madame Guérin arrived back in New York on the ship ‘La Lorraine’, from Le Havre – ready to start fundraising again in April.  Her last residential address had been Vendeuvre, Calvados, France.  Husband Eugéne was still carrying out his judicial duties in the French colony of Sudan.  Anna had left her daughters in Vallon, in the care of her mother – whom Anna gave as her nearest relative for the Ship Passenger List.   Anna’s initial destination in the USA was given as her sister Juliette Boulle, who was “care of” the Lincoln Commercial Club, Lincoln, Nebraska.

The year 1919 saw Madame Guérin speaking and fundraising in U.S.A. for both the US Victory Loan and French orphans.   Additionally, she was forming committees in each state she visited – for her ‘American and French Children’s League’.

In the ‘Final Report of the Missouri Council of Defense 1919’, Madame Guérin was amongst 42 people who appeared in the list of “Principal Speakers Who Made Addresses in Missouri Under the Direction of the Speakers’ Bureau, State Council of Defense.”

Madame Guérin - A Principal Speaker on the Missouri Council of Defense 1919.

Madame Guérin – A Principal Speaker on the Missouri Council of Defense 1919. Acknowledged:

Accompanying this 1919 Report’s list was the following text [sic]:

“Speaking Activities. 

No activity of the Missouri Council of Defense yielded more tangible results than the sustained campaign to carry the message of the Government and State by the spoken word. 

The speaking activities of the State Council of Defense may be broadly divided under the head of the Speakers’ Bureau of the State Council and of the various counties, and of the Four-Minute Men.  The work of the latter body was particularly effective in the cities and larger towns.  The Speakers’ Bureau, directing the various County Speakers’ Bureaus, performed an indispensable task in conducting our people through the successive stages of education as to why we were at war and how and why the individual could best serve and contribute to the winning of the final victory.

The Patriotic Speakers’ Bureau.

The Patriotic Speakers’ Bureau of the Missouri Council of Defense was formed in August, 1917 … …

The purpose of the Speakers’ Bureau was to mobilize public opinion and stimulate patriotic service by the people of Missouri.  It endeavored to do this by increasing the interest of the citizens in the appeals of the Government, both federal and state, and by official and semi-official organizations for support of specific war service. … … 

Since the establishment of this Bureau in August, 1917, 300 speakers filled 2,000 engagements, addressing a million people. … … 

Valuable assistance was given the Speakers’ Bureau by the Speaking Division of the Committee on Public Information at Washington.  Of the total number of out-of-state speakers used during the operation of the Bureau, forty-two were obtained from the Committee on Public Information.  Most of the speakers thus secured came from a selected group of speakers, and many of them had unusual advantages for the observation of war conditions in Europe. 

The State Council co-operated with the organizations engaged in the following speaking campaigns:  Liberty Loan, War Savings Stamps, Red Cross, Y.M.C.A., K. & C., War Camp Community Service, Salvation Army, Jewish Relief Society, Friends of German Democracy and other patriotic institutions including many of which are local in character. … …”

Thus, Madame Guérin was one of only 42 Principal Speakers … …

On 12 April 1919, Madame Guérin gave a lecture in Fullerton hall, Chicago.  The Chicago Daily Tribune promoted it in that day’s edition [sic]:

“Mme. Guerin, who has been sent from France as the official lecturer of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, will speak on “A Pilgrimage in Northern France.” at the free French lecture today at 12:15 o’clock at Fulleton hall, Art institute.  The women of the executive committee of the Alliance Français will give a luncheon for Mme. Guerin at the Women’s Athletic club following the lecture and at 3:30 o’clock there will be a reception for the members of the alliance in their room, 406 Fine Arts building, at which Mme. Guerin will speak on “The Fraternity of Children of Different Nations.”  Mrs. Edward A. Leight will pour at the reception.”

Fullerton Hall, Art Institute in Chicago. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Fullerton Hall, Art Institute in Chicago. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

To emphasise the author’s belief that people of all the First World War Allied countries were affected by the poignant symbolism evoked by the poppy, reports are found of poppies being planted to demonstrate this.  Here are two articles to that effect:

The CharlotteNews (of North Carolina) [sic]:

POPPIES TO KEEP DEAD’S MEMORY.  Flower is Being” Planted to Serve as Symbols of Nation’s Heroes.  Washington, D. C., April 12.—

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our places; —”

Immortalized by a soldier-poet, himself buried in France, Flanders poppies already are symbols of the nation’s hero dead of the world war, says a bulletin from the National Geographic Society.

Now the poppy is to receive semi-official recognition by being planted in government parks of the nation’s capital as perennial memorials to the men who sleep under the crosses and poppies of Flanders.

To examine the poppy is not to violate its new-found sentiment, for it unfolds its glories upon closer study.  Moreover, it has a symbolism unexpected because of the pure accident of its association with America’s sacrifices for freedom.

Poppy is Allied Flower.

The poppy is a thorough-going Allied flower, found in profusion in France, but especially popular in England because it is the only scarlet flower in the British flora, except the scarlet pimpernel, and even that is more red than scarlet.

The poppy family (genus papaver, in botanical terminology) has as many complexions as the skins and homes of the men whose graves it decorates.  To the swarthy African, to the brave Australian, to the crusading Californian, and to the Asiatics employed behind the lines, the poppies of France must have nodded familiar heads in friendly welcome.

There are half a hundred or more branches (or species) of the poppy family.  It is likely the soldier-poet quoted above had in mind the most prolific, one of the most common, and what many consider the most beautiful variety, the corn poppy (Papaver Rhoeas).  You will recall:

“Neath the blue of the sky, in the green of the corn, It is there that the regal red poppies are born.”

It Blooms On Railways.

A hint of the reason why the poppy survived the searing tramp of armed hosts and the churning of big gun fire on the erstwhile grain fields of Flanders is given in a farmer’s doggerel:

“When the poppy ripens be sure the seeds, Will stock the garden as with weeds.”

For that same reason the poppy’s hardihood is attested in England by its bloom along the railroad tracks, by the roadside, and in the niches of stone walls.

Nature provided the poppy with an intricate and ingenious device of a kind which makes the study of even the simplest plant life a constant marvel and delight.  It is the village rheumatic of the flower community—equipped with a miniature hydroscope.  Long capsules contain the seeds of the poppy.  Atop each capsule are valves, sensitive to moisture of the air, which close when the atmosphere is humid.  When the air is dry the pores open to eject the seed upon the warm, sunny soil.”  (The CharlotteNews, 15 May 1919).

On Monday 14 April 1919, The Great Falls Tribune (of Great Falls, Montana) [sic]:

Women Will Plant Red Poppies in Memory of Fallen Soldiers.

Special to The Daily Tribune.

Libby, April 13.—The woman’s club of Libby has elected the following officers:  President—Mrs. J. S. Pitts; vice president—Mrs. O. Gompf; secretary—Mrs. Alice Farris; treasurer—Mrs. H. M. Gompf; executive board—Mrs. W.  A. Raymond, Mrs. C. A. Griffin and Mrs. W. F. Kienitz.

It was unanimously decided that the club plant red popies in the vacant space in front of the two Libby school buildings facing the boulevard, in honor of the memory of Libby’s fallen soldiers who sleep in Flanders’ field.”

On 16 April 1919, Madame Guérin was in Shelbyville, Illinois. When Shelby County came to write about their World War 1, one of the “features” mentioned in print was Madame Guérin attending as principal speaker at a mass meeting there …. at the Shelbyville Court House – in aid of the fifth and final Liberty Loan campaign:

“Features of the campaign, which went forward with ever increasing momentum until its splendid consummation in a heavy oversubscription, included a big county mass meeting at the court house in Shelby on Wednesday, April the 16th, at which the district chairman, Mrs. Guy T. Lewis of Decatur, Madame Guerin, an eloquent French woman fresh from the battle-ravaged France, and Lieutenant Frank McGlinn of Chicago, one of “Reilley’s Bucks,” were the speakers; community meetings at various points throughout the county, where returned soldiers told their stories of the war, adding their word to the appeal of the regular speakers; the visit of two aeroplanes from Chanute Field, primarily for recruiting purposes but “bombing” the city from the air with Victory Liberty Loan literature; a big demonstration for returned soldiers, Thursday, April 24, on which date a delegation of noted Victory Loan speakers, with a war relic train and big military band, visited the city and boomed the local campaign for bond-selling.  These and other means were used by Chairman Walker an his organization with telling effect.”

The Decatur Herald (17 April) reviewed the event:

“Shelby Women Are Interested in Loan.   

Mrs. Guy Lewis attended a meeting in Shelbyville Wednesday in the interest of the Liberty loan drive in Shelby county.  Mrs. Lewis is chairman for the women’s committee of the 19th district.  There were about 250 workers there, and the county chairmen, O. W. Walker presided. 

The principal speaker was Madame E. Guerin, who has only been back in the United States a short time.  She spent much time in the devastated region of France with the American boys, and her talk was intensely interesting.  Madame Guerin came to Decatur with Mrs. Lewis, but went on to Chicago last night. 

Lieut. T. Frank McGlinn, who was with the Rainbow division in France talked on his 16 months of service overseas.  He had many interesting things to tell.”

Madame Guérin fund-raised for the Fifth and Final Victory Liberty Loan : Californian Oakland Tribune, 21 April 1919

Madame Guérin fund-raised for the Fifth and Final Victory Liberty Loan : Californian Oakland Tribune, 21 April 1919

The contemporaneous empathy with the poppy showed itself again, described within a long article printed in the Californian Oakland Tribune on 21 April 1919.  It was headed: “NINETY-FIRST WELCOMED TO HOME STATE.  California’s Fighting Heroes of Wild West Division Step Over Poppy Strewn Streets on Arrival in Sacremento.”   Admittedly, the poppies were golden Californian ones but they were still … poppies …

On 22 April 1919, Madame Guérin was found lecturing again in Chicago – not actually found anywhere else since she had arrived in Chicago from Shelbyville on the 16th, it is wondered whether she had been staying in Chicago all that time.  Again, the Chicago Daily Tribune promoted that day’s lecture:

“Mme. Guerin, official lecturer of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, will speak at 4 o’clock this afternoon at the College club.  Mme. Guerin’s subject will be “My Visit to the American Battle Front,” illustrated with lantern slides.”

On Saturday 26 April 1919, the Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) was delighted to announce that Madame Guérin would be speaking at a mass meeting for the Victory Liberty Loan on 1 May [sic]:

FRENCH WOMAN OBTAINED FOR LOAN ADDRESS.  Mme. Eugene Guerin Will Speak Here on Eve of Volunteer Day.  WAS TWICE DECORATED.  (Mary Louise Carmichael.)

Mme. Eugene Guerin, a distinguished French woman, will speak in Muncie Thursday evening, May 1, at a big mass meeting to be held under the auspices of the woman’s division of the Victory Liberty loan committee, to stimulate the sale of bonds on Volunteer day, May 2.  Mme. Guerin is an officer of the French Academy and has been twice decorated by the French government for her services in propaganda work.  Since the beginning of the war, Mme. Guerin has made nine visits to the United States

Mme. Guerin came to this country on this visit as a representative of the Fraternal Order of the Children of France, but she has put aside all interests to throw herself into the work of helping raise the Victory Liberty loan.  She is said to be the best woman speaker on the war that has ever come to this country and the local committee feels itself most fortunate in obtaining her for an engagement here as it is one of the few places she will appear outside of Chicago.

We had not hoped to be able to give the people of Delaware county a treat like this when we started out to find a speaker of national importance for our big meeting,” said Mrs. H. M. Johnston, chairman of the woman’s division, when the news of Mme. Guerin’s being booked for the May day meeting was received t headquarters this morning.  “This wonderful woman will be able to give us a vision that we who have been so far away have been unable to get.  Recently with the permission of General Pershing, she visited the battlefields of Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and Belleau Wood, where she spoke to our American boys who had participated in the fighting.”

By 29 April 1919, Anna Guérin was in the county of Hamilton, Iowa. The day before, The Daily Gate City and Constitution-Democrat (Keokuk, Iowa) reported:  

“HAMILTON HAS NOTED SPEAKER.  French Woman Said to Be Greatest of All War Aid Orators, Will be There Tomorrow Evening. INTERVIEWS PERSHING. Has Been Decorated by French Government for Her Work for the Children of France and Has Wide Fame.

Hamilton is to have a noted speaker for the big mass meeting for the Victory loan Tuesday evening.  

Madame Eugene Guerin will be the speaker. She has been called by many the greatest of all war speakers.  She has just returned from the front where she had a private interview with Pershing, and is the official speaker for the Fraternal League for the Children of France.

She has been twice decorated for services to her country, and is now giving her time in the interests of the Victory loan.

Miss Valentine Dadant, chairman of the Woman’s Liberty loan committee, has charge of the arrangements for the meeting.”

On Wednesday 30 April 1919, The Star Press (of Muncie, Indiana) gave details of Madame Guérin’s impending visit to Muncie and quoted a little from her speech in Chicago the week before [sic]:

FRENCH WOMAN TO DELIVER ADDRESS.  Mme. Guerin Will Be Heard at High School at Termination of Parade.  HONOR GUEST AT DINNER (By MARY LOUISE CARMICHAEL.) 

Garrett’s Boys’ Band will furnish the music at the patriotic mass meeting to be held at the high school Thursday evening in the interest of the Victory loan.  This meeting will start immediately following the automobile parade, which will be a feature of the soldiers’ home-coming celebration that evening.

Mme. Guerin, the brilliant French-woman, who will be the speaker of the evening, was brought here for this occasion by the woman’s division of the Victory Liberty loan committee.  In her nine visits to this country since the war she has done much to spread an understanding of France among the American people.  Her country has borne the brunt of the war for four years and she tells most vividly of all they have endured during those dreadful days.  Mme. Guerin has a personality that wins her audience from the start.  She is vivacious and aloquent, with flashing eyes, and when she talks of what the French people have suffered and still keep up their courage, she seems typical of the spirit of that country.

How Americans Rekindled Hope.

“I cannot speak before an American audience without mentioning the first American soldiers to arrive in France,” said Mme. Guerin in a speech in Chicago last week.  “Our people were almost exhausted and they looked upon the Americans as their deliverers and they took new hope and courage.  The people of Paris fell on their knees and sobbed as your soldiers marched by on their way to Lafayette’s tomb, when they proclaimed that they had come to pay back to France the debt they owed.  And your American soldiers—they are so wonderful.  They were so kind and thoughtful to suffering women and children—big brothers to them. 

“And most pathetic of all are the young women of France ‘who will never smile again’—those who were made the victims of German brutes.  To protect our homes from such atrocities the soldiers of America fought side by side with the soldiers of France.”

Will Be Guest at Dinner.

Preceding the meeting Thursday evening a dinner will be given in honor of Mme. Guerin at the Hotel Delaware.  She will speak at this time also, making an appeal to the women of this county to get back of this Victory loan with all their resources, if only to show their thanksgiving for what American womanhood has been spared in sorrow and suffering by the speedy ending of the war.  Plates for this dinner will be one dollar.  An invitation may be secured by calling the woman’s division of the Victory Liberty loan, phone 5076.”

Later in the day, on Wednesday 30 April 1919, The Muncie Evening Press (of Muncie, Indiana) alerted its readers about Madame Guérin giving a lecture the next evening (on 1 May) [sic]:

MUCH INSANITY NOW IN EUROPE, LECTURER SAYS.  Mme. Guerin, French Woman, Will Address Loan Meeting Here Thursday Night. (By Mary Louise Carmichael.)

“You have heard much about the horrors in the devastated areas in France,” said Mme. Guerin, the French lecturer who will speak here tomorrow night, in one of her recent Victory loan talks, “but there is one condition that is not much spoken of.  That is the amount of insanity that is to be found among the people whose lands have been the battlefields of the war.  The women particularly have succumbed to the strain of the constant horror and deprivation.  There are in-numberable insane mothers in France.” 

[10 muddled words] … they have been saved by the outpouring of American dollars and what it meant to the women of her country to have the war ended so suddenly by the generous response of the American people.  Mme. Guerin, officer of the French Academy and official representative of the propaganda bureau of the French government, is speaking in this country urging our women to support the Victory loan and “finish the job.” 

The mass meeting to be held in the high school Thursday evening at which Mme. Guerin will be the speaker, will be one of the most important events of victory oLan campaign.  Men and women alike will be interested in the message that this remarkable French woman has for the people of this country.  Garrett’s Boys band will play an there will be special musical numbers of a patriotic nature. 

Previous to the meeting a dinner will be given in honor of Mme. Guerin at the Delaware hotel.  This is to give the women of Muncie an opportunity of meeting Mme. Guerin and having the privilege of hearing the more intimate side of her experiences in the great war.  Mme. Guerin is the mother of two charming daughters who have accompanied her on many of her visits to America.  Raymone* the elder, is engaged to a student in Harvard. 

“We call him Jacques,” said Mme. Guerin in discussing the engagement “and he is to be my son-in-law.”

The dinner at the Delaware will be $1 a plate.  For information about invitations, call the woman’s division of the Victory Liberty loan, 5076.  Already there has been a very general response from women who are anxious to meet Mme. Guerin and pledge their support to the Victory loan.”    [*For “Raymone” read “Raymonde”]

Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) Page 1, 30 April 1919.

Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Indiana) Page 1, 30 April 1919.

McCulloch Park, Muncie, Indiana. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

McCulloch Park, Muncie, Indiana. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

On the morning of Madame Guérin’s 1 May 1919 lecture, Muncie’s ‘Star Press’ newspaper printed a lovely photograph of Madame Guérin, with an accompanying article about her, ahead of her address that evening [sic]:

Speaks Here Tonight in Interest of Loan

Mm Eugene Guerin, wearing the uniform of the women war workers for the French government and the two decorations awarded her the two decorations awarded her by France for propaganda work, will speak in the interest of the Victory loan at the high school auditorium tonight at 8:30 o’clock immediately following the automobile parade.  Mme. Guerin is a forceful and inspiring talker and tells the story of her war experiences most vividly.

Recently she visited the battlefields of Chateau Thierry, St. Mihiel and Belleau Woods and spoke to the American soldiers who had taken part in the fighting there.  Mme. Guerin pays a wonderful tribute to our men.  She never tires of relating what she knows personally of the valorous conduct of the Yanks in battle and their kindness to the women and children of France. 

“We are mourning our youth,” said Mme. Guerin in a recent lecture.  “America should be very grateful to have been able to pour out her money and all her resources and save the lives of her young men.” 

The DeKoven Club, a chorus of fifty men’s voices, will give several selections.  This club has appeared several places over the state and is preparing for a big concert at Fort Wayne in the near future.  They have made few appearances in Muncie and the woman’s division of the Liberty loan was fortunate in securing them for this occasion.  Ernest Bilby is the director.   Garrett’s Boys’ Band will open the program.

Mme. Guerin will be the guest of honor at a dinner at the Delaware Hotel Thursday evening at 6 o’clock.  All women wishing to attend this dinner and meet personally Mme. Guerin, should telephone Victory loan headquarters, 5076, by 10 o’clock this morning.  The dinner will be one dollar a plate.”

‘Star Press’, Muncie, Indiana. 1 May 1920.

‘Star Press’, Muncie, Indiana. 1 May 1920.

Another article in the same Star Press (1 May), printed facts about Indiana’s Victory Loan Quota on its pages 1 and 8 – it was stated that Indiana “may reach quota on Volunteer Day” [sic]:

ONE MORE COUNTY MEETS ITS QUOTA.  The Fifty-Million-Dollar Mark Passed in Victory Loan Campaign in State.  WADE ISSUES STATEMENT.

Indianapolis, April 30.—The fifty-million-dollar mark was passed to-night in the Victory loan campaign in the sixty-eight counties in the Seventh federal reserve district, the total being $50,708,750.  One more county reported over the top and several others reported good gains.

The county to report oversubscribing its quota was Clay, where a total of $650,000 against a quota of $638,000 was secured.  Marion County’s total was boosted to $8,866,000 during the day.

Mr. Wade Not Pleased.

Will H. Wade, director of sales for the Seventh district, commenting on the fact that only twenty-three of the sixty-eight counties have subscribed their quotas, said: “The trouble with the Victory loan is that the people are acting as if they were in a bankruptcy court and were trying to settle on a basis of 25 or 50 cents on the dollar.  … …

Autos Wanted for Parade.

The street parade at night is to be the big feature of the day’s demonstration.  All owners of automobiles who can possibly do so are asked to take part in this big affair.  Owners of cars are asked to assemble at the corner of Madison and Washington streets not later than 6:45 o’clock.  It is the plan to have all the soldiers in the parade and they will ride in cars.  So that no possible objection could be offered by the returned service men, arrangements have been made to let their lady friends ride with them, but it is the wish of the men in charge that every man appear in uniform all during the day.  The parade will take the following route: South in Madison street to Main street, west in Main to Walnut, north in Walnut to Gilbert, west in Gilbert to High, south in High to Washington, east in Washington to Walnut, south in Walnut to Howard, west in Howard to High, south in High to Seymour, east in Seymour to Walnut, north in Walnut to Main, east in Main to Plum, north in Plum to Wysor, east in Wysor to McCulloch Park.  The committee in charge sent Charles Kirk to Indianapolis to procure some red fire which will be used along the line of the march.  The local Boy Scouts will be stationed along the line of march and will have this red fired which will be placed in the middle of the street and all marchers will be asked to keep to the right of the line of red fire.  The policemen will keep the route of the parade free of traffic and all owners of vehicles are asked to keep their vehicles off the line of march.  This rule is to be strictly adhered to.

After the parade there will be a mass meeting at the high school and Madame Eugene Guerin of France will give an address.

After the parades have reached the ark there will be a big exhibition of fire works.”

High School, Muncie, Indiana. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

High School, Muncie, Indiana. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

During the evening of 1 May, the women of Muncie gave a dinner for Madame Guérin at the Delaware Hotel in Muncie – there, she gave a talk to them.  Afterwards, the newspapers were awash with accounts of her talk to the women and her address at the mass meeting.

The next day, on 2 May, the Indianapolis News printed an article about Madame Guérin’s successful dinner speech [sic]:


At a dinner attended by thirty Muncie women at the Delaware hotel, Thursday night, war bond subscriptions to the amount of $87,400 were made, following a talk by Madame Eugene Guerin, who came to this country from France recently to speak for the Victory Liberty’s loan.  The dinner was given by the Women’s Victory Liberty loan committee of Delaware county, and the speak was sent from the Seventh federal reserve district headquarters at Chicago.

The largest single subscription at the dinner was $38,000.  Names of subscribers were not announced but it was said that this amount was telegraphed by a Muncie woman who is in New York.  The place cards had printed pledges on the reverse side.  These were filled out and given to Mrs. M.H.  Johnston, county woman’s chairman, and only the total announced.  Mrs. Johnston presided and introduced the speaker.   

In her talk Mme. Guerin made a point of the fact that in France no speeches are required and no publicity campaigns are necessary to sell war bonds, but that the people line up and make subscriptions at places announced in the newspapers.  She has made nine trips to America since the outbreak of the war, speaking in the interest of the Fraternal League of the Children of France.  She wears the uniform of a French soldier, with a skirt added, and has been twice decorated by the French government.

The women are in charge of all stations today, which is Volunteer day.  The city expects to reach its quota within a short time.”

The Indianapolis News (2 May) printed an article which gave yet another account of what resulted when an audience was exposed to Anna Guérin’s powerful eloquence:


At a dinner attended by thirty Muncie women at the Delaware hotel, Thursday night, war bond subscriptions to the amount of $87,400 were made, following a talk by Madame Eugene Guerin, who came to this country from France recently to speak for the Victory Liberty’s loan.  The dinner was given by the Women’s Victory Liberty loan committee of Delaware county, and the speak was sent from the Seventh federal reserve district headquarters at Chicago.

The largest single subscription at the dinner was $38,000.  Names of subscribers were not announced but it was said that this amount was telegraphed by a Muncie woman who is in New York.  The place cards had printed pledges on the reverse side.  These were filled out and given to Mrs. M.H.  Johnston, county woman’s chairman, and only the total announced.  Mrs. Johnston presided and introduced the speaker.   

In her talk Mme. Guerin made a point of the fact that in France no speeches are required and no publicity campaigns are necessary to sell war bonds, but that the people line up and make subscriptions at places announced in the newspapers.  She has made nine trips to America since the outbreak of the war, speaking in the interest of the Fraternal League of the Children of France.  She wears the uniform of a French soldier, with a skirt added, and has been twice decorated by the French government. 

The women are in charge of all stations today, which is Volunteer day.  The city expects to reach its quota within a short time.”

Delaware Hotel, Muncie. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Delaware Hotel, Muncie. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

On Friday 2 May 1919, on page 15 of The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana), an article also reviewed the Madame Guérin’s talk to the Muncie women. It also gave a further insight into the woman herself [sic]:

“$87,400 PLEDGED TO LOAN BY WOMEN. Spendid Contribution Made by Guests at Dinner Given for Mme. Guerin.  ONE PLEDGE OF $38,000.  By MARY LOUISE CARMICHAEL.)

The women of Muncie subscribed $87,400 worth of bonds at a Victory loan dinner at the Delaware Hotel last night following an address by Mme. Guerin, noted French lecturer and educator.  With the fire and pathos so characteristic of the people of her beloved France, Mme. Guerin implored her listeners to support this loan to their utmost.

“In France there is never one speech made urging the people to buy government bonds,” said Mme. Guerin.  “When the government wants money, a notice in large type is run in the papers that France wants so much money to carry on the war until victory or until death.  And all the people buy all they can.  In front of the postoffice you can see a long line of people—poor people, the labouring classes and peasants, women who have worked in the fields  barefooted—all standing in a line waiting to buy bonds to help France.  Nothing makes me so proud of my people as that.  A bond-selling campaign is unheard of.

Don’t Look at It as an Investment.

“Do you know how an American uniform looked in France when you sent over your first soldiers?  It looked just like a French uniform looked to your people 145 years ago when Lafayette brought our soldiers to America.  In one year America did in France what generations could not have done.  You have paid your debt in France with great interest.  You have won the gratitude of the French people.

 “America has done so well, sparing nothing, giving everything, until the war was stopped. Thousands and thousands of your boys have come back.  And now you are obliged to pay, but what is money? Don’t say these bonds are a good investment—say Hosanna to the Highest, the war is ended.”

Knows Women Will Buy.

The guests at the dinner were seated at a V-shaped table decorated with baskets of spring flowers and ferns.  Mrs. Harriet M. Johnston, chairman of the woman’s division of the Victory loan, presided and before presenting the speaker, made an earnest talk on the significance of this loan and the effort being put forth by the women of the county to have a noteworthy share in this last big drive for the government.  At every cover was a place card with a pledge for bond subscriptions on the reverse side.  The response of the women present to this appeal, as well as those who sent in subscription pledges, although they could not attend, shows the willingness of the women of this community to help “finish the job.”

Mrs. H. M. Johnston said last evening after the meeting at the high school: “I am proud of our women.  I was told that they would not work in this campaign and they would not buy.  I know how they are working all over the county and this $87,400 shows whether or not they will buy.”

Two Large Subscriptions.

There was no announcement of individual subscriptions.  There were two large ones—one for $38,000 and another for $20,000.

The following guests were present at the dinner:

Mrs. E. B. Ball, Mrs. G. A. Ball, Mrs. L. L. Ball, Mrs. W. C. Ball, Mrs. A. E. Boyce, Mrs. M. H. Broderick, Miss Clark, Mrs. F. J. Claypool, Mrs. C. W. Galliher, Mrs. M. H. Gray, Mrs. F. W. Heath, Mrs. S. M. Highlands, Mrs. H. M. Johnston, Mrs. Eva Little, Mrs. J. M. Maring, Mrs. J. R. Marsh, Mrs. J. S. Martin, Mrs. W. A. Milne, Miss McCullock, Mrs. Wealthy Neely, Miss Pavey, Mrs. C. O. Prutzman, Mrs. T. F. Rose, Mrs. W. C. Sampson, Mrs. D. O. Skillen, Mrs. W. W. Shirk, Mrs. D. T. Stephenson, Miss Stewart, Mrs. W. B. Stewart, Miss Tracey, Miss Torrence, Mrs. C. A. Wood, Mrs. Elmer Whiteley, Miss Streeter, Mrs. A. L. Kitselman and Mary Louise Carmichael.

Mme. Guerin wears a costume very similar to the horizon blue uniforms of the French soldiers and a hat that is an exact copy of the caps of the famous Blue Devils.  When asked yesterday afternoon just what “branch of the service she belonged to” and what her uniform represented, she replied:

This is not a uniform I wear it for convenience.  It was designed for me and I wear it with the consent of my government.  It is as nearly like the uniform of our soldiers as I could have it.  And the hat is an exact copy of those worn by the Alpine troops, who are our greatest pride.”

Modest About Decorations.

It was harder to find out about the decorations.  The one with the purple ribbon and the bronze pendant was presented when Mme. Guerin was made an officer of the French Academy as a recognition of educational work she did in Madagascar.  The gold and green ribbon usually boasts a diamond star for a pendant, but Mme. Guerin considers that too showy for the kind of work she is doing and never wears it, substituting a small gold star in its place.  This is the decoration bestowed by the official propaganda bureau of the French government.

“Ever since the war,” said Mme. Guerin, “I have been doing for my country the things I am best fitted for.  I tried to be a nurse, but I could not stand it.  Neither was a good nurse.  I was in a small village just after the battle of the Marne and I saw 20,000 wounded in one day.  It sickened me.  I was no help.  So I came back to Paris and enlisted in the service of spreading French propaganda.”

Pays Tribute to Red Cross.

Since the United States entered the war, Mme. Guerin has helped in several of our biggest war drives.  No matter what mission may have brought her to this country, she has always put it aside to help in any campaign that happened to be at the time here.  She particularly loved the work of the Red Cross.

“I knew the need for supplies for that wonderful organization,” she said.  “I had seen the thousands of wounded and I knew what it meant for them to be without bandages and nurses and medical care.  I love the American red cross and all your relief organizations.  They are all wonderful just like your country and your people.”

Mme. Guerin has charm, vivaciousness and intelligence.  All who met her thoroughly enjoyed her, but no more than she seemed to enjoy all whom she met.  She was most alert and showed a keen interest in local affairs.  She was presented with a boquet of sweetpeas and rose buds and a small silk French flag.”

Within the same Star Press edition, on page 6 (2 May), another article reported on Madame Guérin’s “stirring” appeal  at the High School [sic]:

ONLY AN ENEMY REFUSES TO BUY.  Stirring Appeal in Behalf of Victory Loan Is Made by Mme. Guerin.  A DEBT TO OUT FIGHTERS.

One of the most brilliant appeals to the men and women of Delaware County to loan their money to the United States government on Victory loan bonds was made at the high school last evening by Mme. Eugene Guerin, a noted French woman who has been awarded two medals by the government for her work during the recent war.  Her husband was a judge advocate in one of the principal cities of France prior to the war.  He is now in Africa dividing the former German lands there which were occupied by the Allied soldiers early in the war, while Mme. Guerin is touring this country aiding the government in securing subscriptions to the Victory loan.

“American will have raised at the end of the Victory loan campaign $25,000,000,000 for the purpose of conducting the war,” she said.  “France has raised $78,000,000,000 for the same purpose and during the entire period of the war France did not once have her orators make thrilling addresses to the people to urge them to lend money to their government, and France is a much poorer nation than America.  Are you going to let your government fail to secure funds by an act of yours?  Are you going to be worthy of your boys who suffered and died for you”

American Soldier Is Best of All.

“If there is one among you who will not buy a bond, he is an enemy and should be deported at once to his home with the others.  The American soldier is the best soldier of all.  He has the courage of the Frenchman, the tenacity of the English and the daring of the Belgian.  He was ready to give his very life blood for you.  Many have died, thousands have been maimed for life; all have paid the supreme penalty, and all for you.  All you are asked to do is to lend your money on an investment, while he had to give his very life if need be.”

Mme. Guerin detailed the sufferings of her people and the sacrifices that were made by the mothers in northern France.  She told how young women and girls had been taken from their mothers to Germany and there soldiers of France had been inoculated with the germs of tuberculosis in the prison camps of Germany and how others had been made to slave in the mines of Saxony and Bavaria.   

Have Paid Our Debt to France.

“American money and men gave the depressed and exhausted people of France confidence in themselves and saved France and the world from the Germans.  You have earned the gratitude forever and ever of France.   You have fully repaid the services which Lafayette rendered you in your fight for freedom.  I say ‘Long life to America, the first and the best country in the world.’

“My heart is with the people of the middle west.  Practically all of my time in America has been spent in the middle west, and I love it.  It is the backbone of the country, and I am sure that the people will not fail to subscribe their limit to the Victory loan.

Lieut. Thomas McGowan, who was to have spoken at the park yesterday afternoon at the Welcome Home celebration, gave a short address early in the meting urging those present to subscribe to the Victory loan. Lieut. McGowan detailed several of his experiences while in France and on the battlefield.  He was in the five great battles in which the American forces were engaged.

Music was furnished by Garrett’s Boy’s band and the DeKoven male chorus.”

Later in the day, on 2 May 1919, the Muncie Evening Press (Muncie, Delaware) updated its readers on page 1, about how the fundraising on Volunteer Day had gone [sic]:

VOLUNTEER DAY REPORTS SLOW IN COMING IN.  Loan Officials Hope Million Mark Will Be Reached Friday Night.

“We trust that we will reach our million mark today through volunteer subscriptions.” Said Charles A. Wood, chairman of the Delaware county Victory loan organization, Friday afternoon.  Although optimistic toward the outcome of the day’s work, neither Mr. Wood nor other officials would estimate the mark that will be reached tonight.

Although but few reports had been received at headquarters this afternoon, the prospects for a large subscription today were encouraging.  Communications from several townships this afternoon carried the information that the outlook was bright.  However, the work in those townships is slow and it is possible that it will not be completed until next week.

Center township and Muncie are expected to express gratitude in full measure fort the winning of the war before the voting stations close tonight.  Muncie banks today were receiving many subscriptions, while other volunteers were walking into the voting stations.  Several banks have applications on file for bonds that have not been reported to the Federal Reserve bank.

That Delaware county will subscribe her quota of $1,650,000 is a certainty, but every person will be called upon to subscribe.  Should those subscriptions fail, persons of large means will take up the remainder of the quota.  Every person, however, will have the opportunity to buy.

A German helmet will be awarded to the Boy Scout taking the largest number of subscriptions. The helmet will be awarded on the number of applications and not on the amount.  The award will not be made until after the county quota is reached.  Boys belonging to local scout troops today were stationed at the various voting stations, serving as messengers.  Insurance men volunteered as cashiers.

The meeting at the high school was a big success, the auditorium being filled to capacity.  Mme. Guerin, a French woman, and Lieutenant Thomas W, McGowen, of Chicago, addressed the audience.  The Garrett Boys’ band furnished music.

At a luncheon held at the Delaware hotel in honor of Mme. Guerin, bond subscriptions to the amount of $87,400 were pledged.  The largest pledge was for $38,000 and was made by telephone from a Muncie woman who now is in New York.

A patriotic mass meeting will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the Royerton school in precint 42.  Hamilton’s colored orchestra will furnish the music and there will be an address by Mrs. Frank R. Wilson of this city.  Mrs. Joseph Settle, chairman of the precinct, will preside.”

On 06 May 1919, Anna Guérin was back lecturing in Chicago again.  Again, The Chicago Daily Tribune informed its readers (04 May):  “Mme. Guerin will speak on the Fraternal League of the Children of France at a meeting of Le Cercle Français to be held on Tuesday afternoon at 3 o’clock in the Fortnightly rooms, Fine Arts building.  At the members’ program at 1:30 o’clock Mrs. James Murray will read a paper on “Anti-Militarism in France.”

Whilst in Chicago, Madame Anna Guérin made arrangements to set up her American headquarters for her work for ‘The Fraternal League of the Children of France’ (La Ligue fraternelle des enfants de France).

On 13 May 1919, Anna Guérin was lecturing again in Chicago.  Again, The Chicago Daily Tribune informed its readers about the event that evening:  “Mme. Eugene Guerin, official lecturer of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, will speak this evening at the Oak Park club.  It will be guest night, and there will be a program of French and American music.”

On 05 June 1919, the contemporaneous empathy with the poppy showed itself again – when the El Paso Herald (Texas) printed the following paragraph:

“The Wade Hampton chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy will meet at the courthouse at 9 o’clock Friday morning for the purpose of making boutonnieres for the soldiers who will be present at the home coming celebrations at Liberty hall Friday evening.  These little nosegays will be distributed from baskets by the maids and matrons of the chapter during the evening.  Six hundred of them are to be made.”

On 05 June 1919, Anna was in Madison, Wisconsin – as a luncheon guest at ‘The French House’. Today, ‘The French House’ describes itself as a “francophone cultural center and a private residence hall”, for the University of Wisconsin.  ‘The French House’ was opened in 1918 because, during that time, students rarely had the opportunity to immerse themselves in an environment that was totally French.   Anna was noted as “official lecturer for the Fraternal League for the Children of France” again.

'The French House', Madison, Wisconsin. Madame Anna Guérin was a luncheon guest here in June 1919. ‘Maison Francaise’. <strong><em>Courtesy/© of Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID 57624.

‘The French House’, Madison, Wisconsin. Madame Anna Guérin was a luncheon guest here in June 1919. ‘Maison Francaise’. Courtesy/© of Wisconsin Historical Society. Image ID 57624.

Anna was visiting Madison, Wisconsin “… in the interests of Fraternal League of the Children of France …”.   An article in 06 June 1919 edition of the Capital Times of Madison, reported on Anna’s life and why she came to the USA in the first place.  The article wrote about Anna’s husband serving France in the Sudan and her two daughters being cared for back in France, by her mother.   Here is the article in full, albeit inaccurate reference to married “at the age of 18 to a judge of France” and with spelling mistakes [sic]:

“FRENCH WOMAN TELLS OF NEED OF FRENCH TOTS.  U.S. Must Play Big Part to Save Little Ones.   

“I don’t like to be interviewed and explain about myself and my work,” declared Madame E. Guerin, the charming little French woman now in Madison in the interests of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, “but just after the signing of the armistice, I went into the northern part of France and saw the awful nightmare.  Then I could no longer keep silent.  No one could.” 

Wed in Teens. 

An interesting life is that of Mme. Guerin.  Married at the age of 18 to a judge of France, she soon went to live at Madagascar, where, at the time, General Gallienne was governor and General Joffre commander of the French provincial forces.  Here she did much for children, winning the title of officer of the French Academy.  She has two pretty daughters, Raymande and Renee, whom she has left with her mother in France.  When M. Guerin was sent by the government to Soudan, Central Africa, Madame Guerin returned to France and later went to England, where she made an extended lecture tour.  At the outbreak of the war, M. Guerin enlisted and Mme. Guerin came to America, visiting universities and colleges through the entire country, lecturing in French in the interests of promoting the study of the French language.  Since her recent visit to the war zone, however, she has done only war work.  She has also done much speaking for liberty loan drives. 

Seeks U. S. Affection. 

“The purpose of my coming to America in the interests of the league,” said Mme. Guerin, “is to create a link of durable affection between the American people and the hundreds of thousands of French children, who being under the yoke of the Germans, have never received any help, and have been underfed and miserably clothes for the past four years.  This organization must not be thought of as interfering in any way with the Fatherless Children of France,” she continued.  “Its purpose is to help those children who have not been reached.  This is a last appeal to America to help build up what she has already saved, to save in its final sense, the children of France.” 

Wants Committee Here. 

Mme. Guerin hopes to establish a permanent committee of the league in Madison and spoke highly of the work done by Miss Anne Parker Miner, chairman of the American national committee of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, headquarters of which are in Chicago.  After interviewing city officials and a number of prominent women, Mme. Guerin feels very hopeful.    

“I am not used to going out and organizing societies. I am only a lecturer,” she confided, “and I was not at all looking forward to coming to Madison for that purpose, but I have met with such kindness and real sympathy here, and I expect to return soon to give lectures.”

The fact that Anna was establishing a permanent committee for a new League and stating it “must not be thought of as interfering with the Fatherless Children of France” was very enlightening.   It was surmised that this was actual confirmation that she was doing the ground-work before her ‘American and French Children’s League finally began to operate on a sound footing.   The discovery of a speech given by Anna (in 1921), proved this.

On 06 June 1919, Milwaukee was staging an official celebratory homecoming for the US 32nd Division.  “All officers and men who were at any time served in the famous 32nd were invited to attend.    A Milwaukee widow, Mrs. Mary Hanecy, is reported to have been a volunteer at this Homecoming event – one of a few women manning a booth selling donuts and coffee. Apparently, she had decorated the booth with poppies – it was stripped of the flowers twice by patriotic Americans who took them and left contributions behind on the counter, in gratitude.  Volunteers gathered up the cash and it was used for the benefit of disabled veterans.

It is reported that Mary suggested to her Milwaukee American Legion Post 1 that they hold a ‘Poppy Day’ on the 1920 Memorial Day (30 May).   It can be said that this was the first ‘Poppy Day’ run by American Legion members but, however, it was not “the first” ‘Poppy Day’ in the USA per se.   Contemporary evidence has not been found to prove that, ahead of Madame Guérin, Mary Hanecy “originated the idea of an annual poppy day sale” – for which she was credited by the American Legion and given a Certificate of Appreciation for, in 1932.   It is only years later that this claim starts to appear in newspapers.  The author is happy to be corrected if proof does exist.

It is considered courteous to write a little about Mary here.  Research shows that Mary was born Mary Ann Caldwell on 25 November 1861 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Irish parents James J. Caldwell and wife Ellen P. Kerwin. Mary married John Joseph Hennessey, also with some Irish blood.  The couple had one daughter Elenore (1894-1919) and three sons: Edwin J?/Joseph E. (1896-1974); Gerald John (1899-1959); and William Elbridge (1901-1945).

Fire Fighter Captain John Joseph Hennessey died on 03 January 1910 – when he and three other fire fighters were killed whilst tackling a fire at a building.   One of the building’s walls fell on the men and Captain Hennessey died of a fractured skull.   It would appear that, in the next ten years, the surname began to be spelt as “Hanecy”.  After daughter Elenore died, the US census shows her daughter Hortense (Lewenthal) living with grandmother Mary.    Mary died 11 September 1948.

On 28 June 1919, World War One formally ended with the signing of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’. This, however, did not mean an end to people’s suffering in the war-torn countries or an end to the fundraising to help ease it.   Thus, Madame Guérin did not rest on her laurels and she continued in her quest to raise money for the widows and orphans in the devastated regions of France.

On 17 July 1919, Madame Guérin arrived in Detroit, Michigan – she stayed at the Hotel Ponchartrain.  The Detroit Free Press printed a long article, which informed its readers that she was visiting the city to make arrangements for lectures in October [sic]:

“URGES U.S. TO AID FRENCH CHILDREN.  Are Mockery of Childhood, 40 Per Cent Tubercular, Says Mme. Eugene Guerin.  Woman Who Assisted Loan Drives Will Lecture Here in Youngsters’ Behalf. 

To ask American assistance in restoring to health the thousands of starving and destitute children in northern France, Mme. Eugene Guerin, wife of a president of a French court of justice, has been send to the United States.  She arrived in Detroit Thursday to make arrangements for lectures here in October. 

Extremely picturesque in her leather-belted suit of horizon blue, the breast pocket of which is decorated with three medals awarded by the French government, Mme. Guerin spoke eloquently of her project at the Hotel Pochartrain Thursday afternoon.

She pointed with pride to another decoration which she wears beside her French medals—the medal given for service in the Liberty loan drives.

Madame Guérin pictured in The Detroit Free Press 18 July 1919 and Hotel Pochartrain, Detroit, Michigan (Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson)

Madame Guérin pictured in The Detroit Free Press 18 July 1919 and Hotel Pochartrain, Detroit, Michigan (Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson)

Tragedy of the Children.

“You see,” she said.  “I have served your country as well as my own.  I have worked for every Liberty loan drive, and for all the national drives and war relief fund the war.  During the last four years the war. During the last four years I have visited America a number of times and I have delivered more than 500 lectures, in 30 states.  And now I shall have a chance to tell of the greatest tragedy of my own country, the tragedy of its children and to ask your help for them.” 

Mme. Guerin came to America at the beginning of the war, when her husband, who is an Alsatian by birth, enlisted.  She has crossed the ocean nine times in the last four years.  Each summer she returned to France and visited the men at the front, to obtain inspiration for her American lectures. 

Fro her work she has received the decoration of Officer of French Academy, Officer of Public Education, and Officer of Nicham.  The two former medals were awarded for lectures delivered in France and England, and for educational work in Madagascar, her former home, and the latter for war services. 

Describes Children’s Plight. 

“Now I shall be engaged in the greatest work that lies before France,” she said.  “Since the armistice, the veil which lay over northern France has been lifted, and thousands of children have been found, who for four years have lived in holes, in collars, in shacks and tens, and in the ruins of what they once called home. 

“These children are a mere mockery of childhood.  More than 40 per cent are tubercular, and all are pitifully undersized, pathetic little figures, facing a future that is dark unless a helping hand is extended to them. 

The Fraternal League of the Children of France*, an organization 22 years old, has taken over this work.  An American committee has been formed, with headquarters in Chicago, and I have been made official lecturer for the league in the United States.” 

“The organization plans to establish branches throughout the devastated districts of France.  A branch will be built near every new school rebuilt by the government so that we may be sure that the children receive medical attention and nourishing food.  Numbers of fresh air colonies, copied from the American colonies, also will be established.”

The league, according to Mme. Guerin, was established originally by the daughter of former president Felix Faure, to halt the depopulating of France by caring for needy children.  During the war, it worked under government supervision in caring for children sent in groups from the invade regions and for orphans and destitute or homeless little ones.  At the head of the league is Mme. Raymond Poincare, wife of the French president.”  [* La Ligue fraternelle des enfants de France]

In 1919, Madame Guérin was awarded a U.S. Victory Liberty Loan Medal for her service during all the U.S. Loan campaigns – she was always described in glowing terms, in phrases such as “the greatest of all the war speakers”.  This article was one of those printed all over the United States of America:

Victory Liberty Loan Medal: Asheville Citizen Times, North Carolina: 21 April 1919.

Victory Liberty Loan Medal: Asheville Citizen Times, North Carolina: 21 April 1919.

VICTORY LIBERTY LOAN MEDAL.  This is an official photographic reproduction of the Victory Liberty Loan medal which will be given by the United States Treasury Department to all members of local committees who render conspicuous service in the loan campaign which will be launched April 21.  The medals will be about the size of a half-dollar.  They are made from German anon captured by American troops at Chateau Thierry.  On one side of the medal is a reproduction of the United States Treasury building with the inscription, “Victory Liberty Loan.”  On the other side, with a space left blank for the owner’s name, is the certification of participation in the bond campaign.”   (Asheville Citizen Times, of Asheville in North Carolina: 21 April 1919)

By the end of July 1919, Anna was staying in the Spalding Hotel in Duluth, Minnesota for a few days.   As representative of the ‘Fraternal League of the Children of France’, Anna was there to speak to Rotary men and to make arrangements for a “Tag Day”, which was due to take place in Duluth on Saturday, 02 August.   When the term ‘Tag Day’ is mentioned in connection with Anna’s fundraising, research has shown that these days are ‘Poppy Days’.

Spalding Hotel, Duluth.   Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

Spalding Hotel, Duluth.   Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

On 31 July 1919, Anna Guérin gave a speech to the Rotary men.   The Duluth Herald (31 July) reported on the event:

“MME. GUERIN SPEAKS TO ROTARY CLUB MEN.  Madame Guerin, representative of the Fraternal League of the Children of France, and Walter J. Dacey, were the chief speakers before the Rotary club this noon at the Hotel Spalding.  Madame Guerin made an eloquent plea for assistance in safeguarding the mental and physical health of children in the war-stricken areas.  She pointed out that conditions are even worse at present than during the progress of the war.  … …”

On 01 August 1919, Anna held various meetings at the Spalding Hotel – for the ‘Tag Day’ “captains and workers”.   Duluth Herald (31 July) alerted its readers thus:

 “Meeting for Tag Day Workers. 

In the parlors of the Spalding hotel at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning there will be a meeting for the captains and workers who will take part in the tag day for the relief of French children on Saturday.  Madame Guerin will address them and they will be given their badges and supplies.  Those who are unable to come at 10 are asked to come at 12:30, or between 5 and 6:30 o’clock.  If there are any young girls who would like to assist with this work, but who have not been invited, they are asked to come to the Spalding tomorrow, where they will be most cordially welcomed.”

Referring to September 1919, Anna mentioned that particular month in a speech given in Paris (December 1920, printed February 1921 edition of ‘Le Semeur’).   She said that the League “felt the need of organizing an After-War-Work which would continue the splendid relief given by all these great war societies who, alas, found it necessary to close its books.*  Something big, worthy of France and of America, should be built : then was conceived the idea of the American Star, the American and French Children’s League.”  *One of these societies would be the ‘Fatherless Children of France’ organisation.

The page below demonstrates the scope of the work carried out under the ‘American Star’:

American Star. Hartley Burr Alexander Papers [RG 4028]. Courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society.

American Star. Hartley Burr Alexander Papers [RG 4028]. Courtesy of Nebraska State Historical Society.

On 26 September 1919, Madame Anna Guérin, was again in Duluth, Minnesota.  She was speaking at the Central High School on behalf of the “Franco-American League”.  The Duluth Herald of that day reported:

“Speaks to C. H. S. Students.  Madame Guerin, who is touring the country with the purpose of establishing the Franco-American league, spoke to Central high school students this morning at chapel.  She described the scenes of ruin in Rheims, Chateau Thierry and other towns that suffered at the hands of the Germans and made a plea for assistance for the thousands of homeless women and children in France.”

Madame Guérin spent the whole of September in Duluth.  In her December 1920 speech, she said “Some day I shall write a book of the month I spent in Duluth and the Iron Range, and of the work of our State Chairman, Mrs. McGiffert, and our remarkable County Chairman, Mrs. A. Ouelette.”

In this aforementioned Paris speech, Anna also confirmed that the ‘American and French Children’s League commenced its operations officially in October 1919.   Accounts from October 1919-October 1920 were published in that February edition of ‘Le Semeur’.

On Tuesday 30 September 1919, Madame Guérin was found 150 miles away from Duluth – at the public schools in Bemidji, Minnesota.

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer (30 Sept.) printed:  AT BIG FRATERNAL MEETING.  Mme Guerin of Paris, who is in Bemidji in the interest of the French orphan children, spoke in the public schools today and was loud in her praise of the American people and soldiers from the United States who fought France’s battles.    

She will be at the meeting of the fraternal delegates to be held tonight at the Bemidji association rooms, under the auspices of the Moose lodge.” 

The Bemidji Daily Pioneer (01 Oct.) printed:  “EXTRA LONG SESSION IN NORMAL ASSEMBLY ROOM.  The Normal School enjoyed an extra long session in the assembly room Tuesday morning, when Mr. McPherson, a student of the normal school, told of his experience in the army.  Mr. McPherson spent several months across the sea in the service and had many interesting and amusing incidents to relate. 

A second speaker of the morning was Madame Guerin of Paris, who spoke in behalf of the destitute children of France.” 

The Bemidji Pioneer (04 Oct.) printed the following few words as an update to Madame Guérin’s speech on 30 September: “HELP FRENCH ORPHANS. As a result of the splendid talk given by Madam Guerin Tuesday morning, the normal school raised a fund of $14 to be used in caring for the homeless French children.”  Every small amount helped swell the coffers.

Additionally, the Bemidji Daily Pioneer (30 Sept.) promoted the events Madame Guérin should be attending on 01 October.  The article was headed “Noted French woman to be honored guest at Association lunch. Meeting of the Bemidji Civic Organization Tomorrow Promises Much.”  It continued:

With a program of exceptional interest, tomorrow’s regular meeting of the Bemidji association, which will follow the weekly luncheon, will, in all probability, be one of the most largely attended sessions of the civic organization during the fall. … …”  Anna would be present to “rouse interest in the welfare of French orphans.”   All women members of the association were urged to attend that ‘Bemidji Civic Organization’s weekly luncheon.

On 01 October 1919, it would appear that Madame Guérin’s intended meeting with the Bemidji Civic association, on this day, did not take place – she was called away to Chicago.   The Pioneer from Bemidji enlightened their readers further [sic]:

“Daughter of France Speaks. 

“Soldiers of a free nation, your boys had their greatest military value in their own hearts.  It was not by orders that they have been so courageous—it was to remain faithful to their ideals, to the ideals of Washington and Lincoln, to the ideals so wonderfully symbolized in the red blooded courage, the purity of purpose and the eternal hope of civilization by the red, white and blue of the Stars and Stripes.” 

It was in this manner that Mme. Guerin, of Paris, prominent as the wife of one of the leaders of the French government and because of her work in connection with the Fraternal League of the Children of France, addressed those in attendance at the fraternal meeting last evening. 

During the day, Mme. Guerin has delivered stirring appeals to the pupils in Bemidji schools and the normal school.  She was to have addressed he Bemidji Association today, but was called suddenly to Chicago.

“The task of your soldiers was great,” said Mme. Guerin.  “You sent them over there to save humanity by finishing this atrocious war.  They finished it six months sooner than anybody could have hoped.  Blessed be America!”

Madame Guerin told in vivid language, of a journey she had made among the towns in the devastated regions of France and Belgium just after the armistice was signed.  She described what the American government has done to put new hope and new faith into the hearts of the French people in the tremendous structures built for the purposes of war, which will now be turned into agencies of peace and civilization.  Then she spoke of the people who are returning to the devastated regions to take up their lives, where they left them in 1914.   

“All of those martyrs are back in France now.  A few of them find the bare walls, but for others nothing remains.  The French government plans to give them compensation, but in the meantime they must live and aid must be forthcoming for them to provide for their children. 

“We appeal to you to help us.  France is mourning her youth—her millions of dead and maimed.  France needs more than anything else to preserve the rising generation to rebuild the health of her children. … …”

On 03 October 1919, Madame Guérin was in Evansville, Indiana.  An amusing incident occurred on that day – ahead of Madame Guérin’s lecture the next day.   The Evansville Press reported it:

“Please Check Guns At Door, Ladies! 

“Madame E. Guerin of Paris will speak Saturday afternoon at the Chamber of Commerce to War Mothers and club women on “France,” dropped into the McCurdy hotel Friday. 

Whereupon colored waiters dropped their dishes in fright and hid behind the restaurant pilasters – for Madame Guerin had an evil-looking gun strapped to her French uniform. 

Madame Guerin, who impersonates battlefield characters, should have no trouble playing her part, according to the waiters.”

From 06 October and into November 1919, Madame Anna Guérin was Baltimore, Maryland.   She arrived there to speak to the “Gold Star” mothers, who were delegates and members of ‘War Mothers of America’ organisation.   Their convention was held during those dates, at the Hotel Emerson in Baltimore.

In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna wrote [sic]: “I was lecturing at the Chamber of Commerce in Chicago when Mrs …… who had lost her only son in France , just a few days before the Armistice, asked me to go with her at Baltimore Maryland where the war Mothers who had lost their sons at the War , the widows and sisters of these Heroes were going to have a Convention and organise : THE GOD STAR MOTEERS’ organization to keep alive the Memories of the Heroes of the War . She told me also and “WE SHALL HELP YOU ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AFTER  , AS THE WAR MOTHERS ARE COMING FROM EVERY STATE..”

At this convention, the ‘War Mothers of America’ members voted to change their name to the ‘Service Star Legion’.   It looks like that organisation ran until 1985.

On 08 October 1919, the “Gold Star Mothers” marched through the city of Baltimore carrying their State flags or banners – with 1000 children at the head.  The march halted at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, ready for a ‘Grove of Remembrance’ to be dedicated. French Ambassador Jusserand and his wife were present.

The next day, 9 October, the Baltimore Sun newspaper described the dedication [sic]:


Ambassador and Mrs. Jusserand, Governor and Mayor at Impressive Ceremonies.  Organization Changes Its Name and Makes Plans for Expansion – Cardinal Makes Address in Druid Hill Park – Many “Gold Star” Mothers at Dedication.

Gold Star Mothers / Service Star Legion Program for 9 October 1919.

Gold Star Mothers / Service Star Legion Program for 9 October 1919.

Amid silence broken only by the sobs of the “gold star” mothers, and in the presence of a distinguished company, including Ambassador and Mrs. Jusserand of France, Governor and Mrs. Emerson C. Harrington, and Mayor Broening, a grove of trees in Druid Hill Park was dedicated yesterday to the fallen heroes of the World War by the visiting delegates to the convention of War Mothers of America, which is being held at Hotel Emerson.

Shortly after the “Grove of Remembrance” as it was named by Mrs. Robert Carleton Morris, had been dedicated by the War Mothers, resuming their business session at the hotel, voted to change the name of the organization to the Service Star Legion.

Ceremony Was Impressive

The ceremony at Druid Hill Park was not only deeply impressive, but it was one of the most beautiful ceremonies ever held in Baltimore.    Due to the efforts of Oregon Milton Dennis, J. Barry Mahool and G. W. Worsham, Jr., the details of the dedication were carried out without a hitch, and so inspiring was the scene that Cardinal Gibbons, who came only to pronounce the benediction, was moved to make an address, paying tribute not only to the Grove of Remembrance but to the motherhood gathered at its shrine.

At the head of the parade marched 1,000 school children from public and private schools, each carrying an American flag. Behind them came twenty War Mothers, members of the Ohio delegation, carrying the flags of the Allies.  These women, many of them with hair snow-white, formed an escort of honor to the invited guests, who followed on foot.  Ambassador Jusserand, accompanied by Mrs. Mahool, headed the guests.  Madame Jusserand, Colonel Wilcox, followed, after whom came Governor  Harrington and Mrs. Scott and Mrs. Harrington and Judge Leser.

Delegates from the states followed, carrying their state flag or banners. Indiana headed the delegates, headed by Alabama, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Kentucky, Nebraska, Mississippi, Montana, Arkansas, Washington, Maryland and Pennsylvania which delegation was headed by a “gold star” father, from Erie, carrying the banner of the Pennsylvania State Legion.

A detachment of Grand Army of the Republic veterans, representing the Wilson and Dushane Posts of the Department of Maryland, was next in line. It was followed by a group of Red Cross workers—Maryland women, who labored unceasingly for men in uniform until the canteen was closed. * * At the end of the procession were automobiles with twenty men from Fort McHenry, serious faces bespoke remembrances of comrades asleep.

Following the reading of the poem by Joyce Kilmer.   “A Tree,” by Mrs. Boaz Crawford of Evansville, Ind., who is a “war sister,” the procession continued to the memorial grove, where the French ambassador threw a spadeful of earth upon the tree planted in memory of the dead of France, while Governor Harrington followed for Maryland, Mayor Broening for Baltimore, and “War Mothers” for their respective states.

Some of the scenes were unforgettable.  At one of the trees stood Mrs. Mary B. Westnedge, of Kalamazoo, Mich., who planted for Michigan.  With gray hair and face lined with sadness, she planted not only for the slain sons of Michigan, but also for her own, Colonel Westnedge, of the One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Infantry, who died from exhaustion after some hard fighting. 

In the Iowa delegation, around the tree planted for the Sons of Iowa, stood Mrs. Lew McHenry, a connection of the old McHenry family of Maryland.  Her son, Captain Harry McHenry, of Company B, One Hundred and Sixth-eighth Infantry, together with Corp. Donald H.  

For the tree planted in memory of Indiana’s dead, Mrs. Albert W. Funkhouser  (chairman of the constitution committee of the national convention) of Evansville, cast the first spadefuls of earth. She wore gold stars for two sons First Lieut. Albert Craig Funkhouser of Company “F,” 36th Division, and Second Lieut. Paul Taylor Funkhouser, Company “B,” Seventh Machine Battalion, Third Division. Mrs. W. E. Gymer also participated in the ceremony in memory of her son, Lieut. Alfred K. Gymer, 335th Infantry, 84th Division.

The program concluded with “A Gold Stary” by Sousa, which was dedicated to Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt in memory of her son Quentin.”

Commemorative Plaque, Grove of Remembrance, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore. Courtesy/© of Friends of Druid Hill Park

Commemorative Plaque, Grove of Remembrance, Druid Hill Park, Baltimore. Courtesy/© of Friends of Druid Hill Park.

It is not known when exactly Anna Guérin addressed the Mothers’ convention, it may have been on 9 October -during the Business Session, held at 8 p.m..

In Michigan’s Ironwood Daily Globe 30 May 1944 edition, Anna described how she addressed that first convention of the Gold Star Mothers of Baltimore … after reading the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, she proposed the idea of poppies being the “symbol befitting the heroes of the war”. Simply put, Anna wanted “Gold Star” mothers in every State to help her in her quest.  In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna wrote [sic]: “All the speakers at the Convention presented an Idea … to find a SYMBOL IN MEMORIAM for the Heroes of the War , one of these ladies did propose the DAISY , an other a/special little flag etc .” but it was Anna’s idea that was accepted “with great emotion”.

Plans were made” Anna said “that I should use the Flanders poppies as a means to raise 1,000,000 francs for the children of devastated France, and it was decided that in each state one of the Gold Star Mothers would be my state president of the Flanders’ fields poppy days …. Immediately, I made a silk sample of the Flanders fields poppy and we had 10,000 silk poppies made in Baltimore and two weeks after the convention we had the first poppy day in the streets of Baltimore.”

In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna wrote [sic] “Mrs. Perrine ( her husband a direct descendent of the family of George Washington ) being President. It was such a success that we had many thousand more poppies made and we raised $ 5000.00 .”

She added [sic]: “I went back to Chicago , organised a Committee to help to have all the poppies necessary .  Mr. Loeb , Director of SEARS ROEBUCK , gave the first $ 100.00 towards the expenses of this Committee.   Mrs. Masters was named Pre Treasurer and was to forward to me all the Poppies necessary for the Poppy’s Days organised . in the states & towns of the Middle West and West.  Helped by a Press Agent , the very well known Mrs O’Bryan called ‘POLLY PRY’ in the journalist world , we had POPPY’S DAYS all through the middle West and West. We were trying to make $ 10.000 in each State and often we received much more than that as The Idea was received enthusiastically every where .”

In her aforementioned 1921 speech, Anna referred to this event: “I spoke for the first time at the National Convention of the War Mothers in Baltimore when they changed their name to: Service Star Legion.   Since that day, in every town the members of the Service Star Legion have helped us.   The first donation of the American and French Children’s League, not quite organized, was obtained through the first “Poppy Day” in Baltimore and the tag day in Rockville, under the direction of our Chairman, Mrs. Jones. 

The first State really organized was the State of Delaware under the leadership of the indefatigable Mrs. Speakman, at a big meeting at the home of Mrs. Irenée du Pont, and the money was sent immediately to Headquarters in Paris, as you know.”

It would be a good idea to write a little bit about “Gold Star Mothers” here.   It has been discovered that it is not a government or official term, but a public one.   It originates from the family tradition to hang the US service flag (also known as the ‘Blue Star Flag’) in windows of homes, where family members were serving in the military.   The flags were home-made and had a number of blue stars sewn on – relevant to the number of family members who were serving in the armed forces.

A 'Three Patriots' postcard c1918. The three patriots are the Gold Star Mother; her sailor son; and soldier son - hence the two blue stars. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

‘Three Patriots’ postcard c1918. The 3 patriots are the Gold Star Mother; her sailor son; and soldier son – hence the two blue stars. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

If one of these family members was killed one blue star was covered up by a gold star – hence, the name.   Every American family could choose whether to have their loved one repatriated or buried in Europe – the government paid for either option.   Around one third of “Gold Star Mothers” loved ones were buried within American cemeteries in Europe.

On 22 October 1919, Anna spoke at a luncheon on the roof of the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore.  It was given by the Advertising Club.   The Baltimore Sun (23 Oct.) reported that she had “been in the city for several days” and “in the country to create a Franco-American Children’s League”.  

25 October 1919 was Anna’s big Poppy Day in Baltimore.  She referred to her Poppy Day in Baltimore as being “two weeks after” the convention – she was near enough right.  The Baltimore Sun edition of 23 October reported:

“Tag Day For Children of France.

A national campaign to aid the destitute children of devastated France will be started in this city Saturday with a tag day for the Franco-American Children’s League, of which Mrs. T. Parkin Scott is national chairman and in which many prominent women of the city are interested.  Branches of the league are being organized through the country by Madame E. Guerin, three times decorated by the French Government for her war work, who has been in this city for several days.  With a corps of American women and girls who have been in France and seen the need themselves.  Madame Guerin will work under the supervision of several local patriotic societies.”

Anna stayed on in Baltimore after her big Poppy Day …

On Sunday 2 November 1919, The Baltimore Sun newspaper wrote about Madame Guérin’s Maryland committee [sic]:  American-Franco League To Meet.

A special meeting of the Maryland committee of the American-Franco Children’s League, will be held at the Hotel Emerson, Wednesday afternoon.  An address will be delivered by Mme. E Guerin, delegate from France.  General Felix Agnus and Mrs. Emerson C. Harrington are presidents of the league for Maryland, Mrs. George Corbin Perine is State chairman, Mrs. Elizabeth Wise Wood Distler, vice-chairman, and Mrs. Mary A. Cox, acting secretary.”

On Wednesday 5 November 1919, The Baltimore Sun newspaper alerted its readers to WHAT’S GOING ON TODAY. … Special meeting of the Maryland committee of the American-Franco Children’s League at the Hotel Emerson, 2.30 P. M. …”

The Committee obviously planned a Poppy Tag Day for Tues 11 Nov – first commemoration of the First World War’s Armistice Day.   On the 11th, The Baltimore Sun newspaper printed the following on page 4 [sic]:

”TAG day in the interest of the Franco-American Children’s League will be celebrated today, when the public will be tagged with red, white and blue poppies.  Mme. E. Guerin, of Paris, is here in the interest of the organization and hopes to make her national headquarters in Maryland.  A number of girls prominent in society have been asked to distribute souvenir pamphlets describing the work of the organization.”

Another short piece appeared on page 12 of The Baltimore Sun’s edition of 11 November [sic]:  Drive For French Orphans

In response to a call issued by the Franco-American Children’s League for workers, the Campfire Girls have enlisted 500 of their members to help in the society’s drive for funds to be used for the orphans of devastated France.  The girls will meet at the Emerson Hotel this morning to receive their badges and flowers.  They will wear a poppy, “the flower of Flanders field,” and will be stationed at different posts throughout the city to collect money.”   

However, on Wednesday 12 November 1919, The Baltimore Sun newspaper updated its readers [sic]:

“TAG Day, which was to have been celebrated yesterday in the interest of the American-Franco Children’s League, will be held Saturday instead, because the rain interfered with the plans yesterday.  Madame E. Guerin, of Paris, who is the official delegate in this country for the organizations caring for the orphaned children in France, is in charge of the affair, and has invited a number of women and girls prominent in society to assist.”

On Saturday 15 November 1919, with no evidence to the contrary, Madame Guérin’s second Poppy Day occurred in Baltimore, Maryland.   It appears she was there “in charge”.

On 18 November 1919, Anna Guérin was in Wilmington, Delaware.   She gave a lecture entitled “Her Visit Through Liberated France”, at the Washington Heights New Century Club there: “… first time on the Atlantic coast …”.    Wilmington’s ‘Morning News’ had given notice of the lecture on 13 November.

Wilmington’s ‘New Journal’, on 15 November 1919, had also notified its readers about the forth-coming lecture:

New Century Club.  Current Events Class.  The Current Events Class of the New Century Club will hold an especially interesting meeting next Tuesday, when Madame Guerin will appear for the first time on the Atlantic coast to speak on her visit to liberated France, which comprises those portions of France occupied by the Germans and held without devastation.  It is of the children of this country the noted French woman will speak to the New Century Club members, and great interest is expressed in her visit, which is due to the sound judgment of Mrs. William Speakman, who is chairman of the Current Events Class for the month.  Mrs. Speakman’s acquaintance with all matters pertaining to France render the November meetings at the club of marked interest to all persons who admire the wonderful courage and ability of the French people, and their name of course, is legion.”

The day after Madame Guérin’s visit to the New Century Club (19 Nov. 1919), the Wilmington Morning News reviewed her lecture there [sic]:

MAKES PLEA FOR FRENCH CHILDREN.  Madame Guerin Tells New Century Club of Tiny Tots in Liberated France.  1,000,000 ARE FATHERLESS.  Women and Children Living in Dugouts Abandoned by Troops, Speaker Declares. 

An impassioned plea for the children of liberated France was made by Madame E. Guerin, official lecturer and general organizer of the American-Franco Children’s League, before the Current Events class of the New Century Club at its weekly meeting yesterday.  The speaker drew a pitiful picture of the suffering of the women and children of France not only during the war but even after the armistice was signed.   Much credit was given to the Americans not only for their many acts of kindness while they were in France by Madam Guerin. 

According to the speaker there are in France at the present time one million fatherless children.  A pitiful picture of roofless houses, with men, women and children living in the dugouts abandoned by the troops and subsisting on what scavengers would avoid, was portrayed by Madame Guerin.  Many of the children are paralyzed and Madame Guerin stated she had seen hundreds of the tiny tots, emaciated after years of hunger and famine, being removed from the north of France to the south to be placed in sanitariums, where they would be treated for tuberculosis.

German propaganda, the speaker declared, was responsible for the false impression being fostered in this country concerning the attitude of the French towards this country.   She told how the Government had established a bureau to aid the American women who came to France seeking the graves of their loved ones and related other instances of purely voluntary cooperation and good-will between the two nations. 

Mrs. Raynor, president of the New Century Club, and Mrs. Speakman, interested in France and all things French, followed Madame Guerin with a hearty indorsement of her project to have a branch of the American-Franco Children’s League established in this country. 

Miss Helen L. Kurtz played two piano solos, Schubert’s “Impromptu” and Ole Olson’s “Serenade.”  Miss Gertrude Blodgett, chairman of home economics for the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, closed the session with a few remarks on “Textiles,” telling of the enormous advance in price and asking for more intimate knowledge of the subject on the part of the members to enable them to purchase goods more intelligently.”

In this same aforementioned 1921 speech, Anna mentioned her work in 1919.    She said she returned to “speak for the “Victory Loan” in the Middle West.  I had just left the devastated areas of France; it was easy for me to explain to people that they should buy with joy this last loan which was to pay for ammunitions unused – happily – this loan was, in fact, the price of the men saved by the Armistice.   The wonderful response I was met with is proved by the letter from headquarters in Chicago, stating that my work stood out as among the very best done along the line of speaking service during the various Liberty Loan campaigns. . . . . But when I started my campaign for our unhappy children, I realized a reaction was taking place; yes, they loved and admired France – but the majority wanted to forget the war.  

We cannot blame them. . . . . Their sons were home.  This wonderful patriotic spirit which had swept them from North to South, from East to West, had not lasted enough. . . . .

In 1917 the United States were ready for the supreme sacrifice: had the War lasted 3 or 5 years more, the world would have witnessed the greatest example of abnegation and devotion that any nation could give.  You remember:  formidable with energy, man power and money, they rushed to us with irrestible [sic] force – and they finished the war six months at least before any one could expect. . . . . Splendid men they were.  Unfortunately for them and for the good of their country the trial was too short, the wounds too few or too light; so few of them to compare with ours – so few of them, in their rapid crossing through Flanders’ fields could measure the depth and the breadth of our disasters. . . . . so few had occasion to know and understand us, in our suffering and our silent pride.

From the beginning of December 1919 (for “a week”), Madame Anna Guérin was in the State of Iowa.  The Des Moines Register printed a long, informative article on 02 December:

“SAYS FRENCH TOTS SMILE NO LONGER.  Wife of Paris Jurist Here Asks Aid for Starving, Laughless Kiddies. 

Cotton skirts and low priced shoes are good enough for the wife of the minister of finance of France. 

The wives of members of the French chamber of deputies are economical to the extreme these days.  For the annual salary of their husbands has lost most of its purchasing power. 

Further, Clemenceau, the Tiger of France, the grand old man of the nation, will be the next president of France. 

In Iowa Before. 

All this, according to Mme. E. Guerin, wife of a French jurist, organizer for the American and French Children’s league, who wears three war work decorations as she visits Des Moines.  Mme. Guerin comes to spend a week in Iowa to organize a state auxiliary for the league which will have for its mission the relief and protection of French children in the war devastated area in France. 

Mme. Guerin is known to some sections of Iowa.  During the war she engaged in war work in this country, and spoke to audiences in the northeastern section of the state.  Now she comes to confer with war work leaders in Des Moines. 

She will probably speak before the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary club and the Grant club if engagements can be arranged.  She will also inaugurate a local chapter in the state league for relief which she hopes to create in Iowa. 

Mme. Guerin is pretty.  She is eloquent, and a French accent fits in well as she replies to questions.  Like many of her countrymen and countrywomen, she is a maker of epigrams.  Through the medium of epigrams she evokes interest, sympathy or smiles. 

“The league of nations – what did France think of it? Ah, monsieur, we of France hold with ‘Le Tigre.’ Clemenceau, who said three weeks ago in the chamber of deputies, ‘Fear not if America should not sign.  With or without a signature or treaty, America will never stand aside when justice calls.’

America With Just. 

“We feel that way about America.  I left Paris just three weeks ago, and we all know whatever may arise, America will always be found with the cause of the just, signature or no signature, agreement or no agreement.

“Clemenceau will be the next president of France.  If not he in person, then someone named by him.  You understand? 

“Did France want America to sign the agreement that your country would come to our aid in the event that Germany should again attack?  Ah, oui.  The feeble, are they not always ready to accept aid from the strong? 

“To live in France – is it high?  Certainment, monsieur, mais attendez vous!  The wife of the minister of finance thinks it well enough to be economical.  She is satisfied with the skirt of cotton.  Not silk.  The wives of the deputies, they with an income of 15,000 francs, find that this has lost much in purchasing power. 

“We must build again in France.  Wanton destruction was the rule of the retreating German army.  Devastated areas in France have a problem for your generous Americans to solve with us. 

Forget to Smile. 

“We want Iowa to help aid and protect the homeless, fatherless, sick children of the devastated sections of France.  They are underfed, scantily clad, hungry, and ave forgotten how to smile.  Non, mon ami, they cannot laugh.

“Our organization has as its honorary president, the wife of the president of France, Mme. Raymond Poincare.  In the United States, Mrs. T. Parkin Scott of Baltimore is national president.  Associated membership in the league costs $1.  Sustaining membership, $5, and foundation membership, which I seek in Iowa most of all, costs $10; life membership, $100. 

“All money received is expended through the aid and help of the French government.  All is expended to relieve the suffering of the little children.  We must save them this winter, next winter will be too late.  For that I come to Iowa.  Voila!  Will you help?” 

Beautiful Daughter. 

Mme. Guerin has been assured of the co-operation of the state public schools.  P. E. McClenahan, state superintendent of public instruction, gave Mme. Guerin this assurance when she visited him yesterday. 

Mme. Guerin is proud of the war work decorations which her government bestowed upon her.  She is prouder, however, of the pictures of her two daughters.  One, a girl of 18, and another of 17 years, are in England attending school.

“They resemble you, madame,” she was told.  “Non, non!”  Mme. Guerin retorted.  “They, why – t-h-e-y, my daughters, are bee-aut-i-ful!”

On 8 December 1919, Madame Guérin’s Delaware State Chairman (‘American and French Children’s League’), Mrs. Speakman, asked for help for the French orphans. The Evening Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) [sic]:

ASKS HELP FOR FRENCH ORPHANS.  Mrs. W. C. Speakman Presents Cause to Students of High School.  CHILDREN WITHOUT CHRISTMAS PROSPECTS.

Help for the thousands of French children orphaned by the world war was asked today by Mrs. William G. Speakman, State chairman of the American and French Children’s League, and head of the Wilmington Alliance Francaise, in an address at the Wilmington High School assembly exercises.  The school showed their sympathy and interest by hearty applause, and will give material assistance to the French orphans, as it has done in the past.

Mrs. Speakman told of her sympathy and qualifications for helping the French by appeals to Americans, because of her birth in the French speaking part of Switzerland, her Paris education and her adoption, heart and soul, of America as her country.  She said Switzerland, without a national language and literature, had taught liberty to the world through the stuggle of its cantons for freedom from Hapsburg rule.

The speaker recalled, in her childhood, seeing many cripples and maimed people from the Franco-Prussian war.  She said that now in France there are hundreds of thousands of children left emaciated and underfed as a result of the war.  They have no prospect of any Christmas.  There are 20,000 orphans, she said, who do not know their own names in France.  During the four and a half years, while the northern part of France was under German rule, said Mrs. Speakman, these children, while babies, lost their mothers, and now know nothing except that their name is “Marie” or “Jean.”

She told of the large proportion of men lost by France in the war, the flower of the nation perishing, saying this made it imperative to save the children if France was to have a future.  Because of Germany taking away of machinery and destruction of raw materials, it will take France at least two years to get on her feet again, declared Mrs. Speakman.  American help is needed at this time, especially for the children of France.

The school rehearsed Christmas music at the exercised.  The next number of the “Whisp” will be published at the end of January.”

On 27 December 1919, Madame Anna Guérin arrived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – to set up a State Committee for her ‘American and French Children’s League.   Madame Guérin was there to speak at the Commercial Club – the Coliseum was possibly where members met and, thus, where she spoke.  The Daily Argus-Leader announced her arrival that day [sic]:

“FRENCH WOMAN HERE FOR TALK.  Will Tell at Commercial Club Monday of Condition of Babies Germans Left.

Hands across the sea stretched out to cement the ties of amity the war created between France and the United States, are described by Mme. E. Guerin wife of a French jurist, who arrived in Sioux Falls today to organize branches of the American and French Children’s league.

Mme. Guerin wears the grey-blue French uniform and medals on the breast.  She is animated, tireless and bubbling over with stories of the great friendship that sprung up between the United States and France during the war.  She has been lecturing in the country on the condition of the children in the devastated regions of France, since the war and will speak Monday afternoon at the Commercial club at 1 o’clock, members of the club, club women and anyone interested being invited to be present.

“There are 450,000 children in the portion of France that was under the German heel,” said Madame Guerin today.  The children did not die.  They lived through the terrors of the war in cellars, and subterranean passages.  Today approximately 40 per cent of them have tuberculosis and the rest are emaciated and undersized, wizened little creatures that would wring the heart of anyone.

“We are forming branches of a league to help these children through the future.  We ask but $10,000 of South Dakota and we purpose to hold every-where next April a “Poppy Tag Day” as typical of the land where these little martyr babies live, and sell poppies on the streets.  We want your interest and membership in the league, rather than your money because it is

the heart interest that will help to save these children now.”

The Coliseum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Did the Commercial Club meet here? Courtesy/© of Heather Anne Johnson.

The Coliseum, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Did the Commercial Club meet here?
Courtesy/© of Heather Anne Johnson.

On 29 December 1919, Madame Guérin spoke at Sioux Falls’ Commercial club in the afternoon.  The Daily Argus-Leader reviewed her speech [sic]:

ASKS AID FOR LITTLE FRENCH. Madame Guerin Tells Story of “Proud Beggars” to Commercial Club.

With tears streaming down her face Mme. E. Guerin, wife of a French jurist, spoke to a representative audience of Sioux Falls men and women at the Commercial club this afternoon in the interest of the American and French Children’s league.  Wearing her grey-blue uniform with medals on the breast Mme. Guerin told of the great friendship that sprung up between the United States and France during the war and the debt, with interest, which America paid France by entering the great conflict.

Mme. Guerin spoke of the cemetery near Chateau Thierry where 18,000 American boys are buried and of the terrible suffering of thousands of little children in France, some of whom do not even know their names. 

There are 450,000 children in that portion of France that was under the German heel who lived through the terrors of the war in cellars and subterrean passages, said Mme. Guerin, and 40 per cent of these youngsters have tuberculosis and the rest are emaciated and undersized.

Mme. Guerin emphasized the fact that these children need a great deal of help from America and for this reason branches of a league are being formed for this purposed.  She explained that the league asks but $10,000 from South Dakota.

“These thousands of little children are hones and proud beggars,” said Mme. Guerin, “because their sacrifices during the war saved France and perhaps humanity.”

It is expected that a Sioux Falls branch of the league will be formed within a few days.”

We are enlightened by Anna’s 1921 speech again at this point: “… the organization went on seriously, methodically – but the winter was so long and so hard that the financial part of the work did not give quickly the desired results; and that I was doubly sad because the letters from France told of dire need.

 At last Spring came* and once more I thought that the poppies of Flanders would help us.  Dear Red Poppies, red as the pure blood given for humanity, which through the war had covered the battlefields with their brilliant shroud.”    *Spring 1920.

In her 1941 Synopsis, Anna Guérin wrote “I ought also to say that in 1919 some one had given to me a post card on which was printed a poem answering to the poem of Col John Mc Crea IN FLANDERS FIELDS entitled WE SHALL KEEP THE FAITH and having a Flanders Popy on it . They had given me this card for that* and this Mr. L …. gave me, in same time, the address of the author of this poem Miss Moina Michael . Atlanta . Georgia .    I wrot to her to compliment her about her poem .”   *Whoever Mr. L. …. was, he obviously knew of her long association with the Flanders poppy.

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