Dakota Datebook

Draft Board Officers

Friday, January 25, 2013


After World War I had ended and soldiers began to return home, America dealt with the transition into a new age. There was a period of adjustment—a loss of innocence, as the men and women subjected to the horrors of the battlefield both personally and privately began their new lives.


It was during this period that Abraham K. Cohen of district board No. 4 of Massachussetts proposed legislation, to the distress of many, that “all members of draft boards be commissioned brevet captains and awarded a medal, in order that they may display their uniforms and emblems in parades and at banquets and public places.”


On this date, soon after the announcement was made, people were outraged, and strong responses popped up in newspapers. The Bismarck Tribune wrote this scathing editorial:


“…Yesterday we met another man. He was the hero of many swivel-chair engagements as chairman of a draft board. He yapped to us half an hour about a bill about to be launched before Congress. It pleads recognition for the scarred veterans of oak desk campaigns in which countless hips were fractured by feet slipping from polished flat surfaces. It cries that captaincies in the United States Army be awarded [to] draft board chairmen, and lieutenancies for fellow board members! We propose that their plea be granted, and further, that each have riveted round his neck a chain from which be suspended a captured Hun cannon.”


The Tribune wasn’t alone in this outcry. Most of the draft boards in the different counties of North Dakota were outraged. One of this state’s county draft boards wrote this to Cohen:


“…What is bothering this board is, what have we done that is out of the ordinary? As members of draft boards have we really sacrificed anything? Did we not have three meals a day? Did we not sleep in our usual beds? Did we really do anything wonderful?


…As a small board in a small state, and yet a state that furnished its soldiers at the least cost per capita of any state in the union, save one, this membership trusts that our members in Congress will NOT authorize any brevet ranks on our board. Let our reward be the personal satisfaction of having done the work the government asked us to do.”


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker



The Bismarck Tribune, Jan. 29 and Jan. 24


This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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