The Great Depression

The Bonus Army - March on Washington

The Bonus Army - March on Washington
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.13

     challenging words:    consolation, demanding, Ex-servicemen, Ex-soldiers, markedly, redeemable, redefining, rout, protestors, rampant, cast-off, shanties, long-awaited, aftermath, dismal, boxcar
     content words:    Armistice Day, Great War, Bonus Act, Great Depression, But Congress, President Hoover, Bonus Expeditionary Force, Bonus Army, Anacostia Flats, Capitol Building

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The Bonus Army - March on Washington
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     November 11, 1918 - Armistice Day. The War to End all Wars was over. Weary veterans came home. They left many slain companions behind and brought home a lifetime of bloody memories. The Great War had been one long horror of death and destruction. In the months that followed, soldiers and their families began the process of redefining their lives after the trauma of war.
2     Many servicemen returned to find that their jobs had been taken by others. Besides that, the economic climate in America had shifted. While the soldiers were away sacrificing years of their lives, wages had gone up. Those who had not gone to war were enjoying much bigger paychecks than the veterans had earned in the same jobs before the war. Soldiers' pay and unemployment seemed a bitter reward for all the veterans had given.
3     Disillusioned veterans began to press the government for compensation. In 1924, Congress approved the Soldiers' Bonus Act. The veterans received certificates that would be redeemable in 1945 for a cash value of about $1,000 each. It seemed a distant consolation, but perhaps it was better than nothing.
4     Then came 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The sudden economic crisis jolted everyone, especially the disabled and the widows and children of soldiers killed in Europe. Unemployment was rampant. Many who had given everything for America on the battlefields of the Great War were now trying desperately to keep their families from starving.
5     Naturally, veterans in these dire straits thought of the bonuses promised by the government. What good would a 1945 cash settlement be to a man who had died of starvation ten years earlier? Ex-soldiers needed the bonuses now. But Congress and President Hoover, wrestling with a nation in financial crisis, refused the servicemen's requests.

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