Oregon Boys In The War
Letters from Oregon Boys in France
Compiled by Mrs. Frank Wilmot 1918
Oregon has ample reason to be proud of its superlative record in all patriotic matters arising out of the world war and the women of Oregon, particularly mothers who have sons in the service, have special ground for pride and credit.
Naturally the men are called to bear for the most part the physical burdens of the titanic struggle, but there is no truer devotion, there are no deeper sacrifices than those required of the war mothers who are trying to keep the home fires burning during the hours of heart darkness. The boys win the victories on the fields of battle and are entitled to all the praise that can be given them but in the home sphere, where a hushed spirit of anxiety constantly pervades the atmosphere, the mothers are the real heroines.
I say, all hail to the war mothers of Oregon, whose service to their country is reflected in the spirit which emanates from the letters sent home to them by the "Liberty Boys" who are now on the firing line in France.
By Mrs. Helen Ekin Starrett
A pathetic, indeed tragic interest, attaches to this little book through the final circumstances of its publication. The compiler, Mrs. Frank Wilmot, of Portland, as her contribution toward the work of the Red Cross, had compiled and published under the auspices of the Red Cross a small volume entitled "Letters From Oregon Boys In France." Nearly $800.00 had been turned in to the Red Cross from the sale of the first book and, encouraged by this success, Mrs. Wilmot began making a collection of all the notices referring particularly to the soldiers from Oregon, including many special letters from the most distinguised leaders in the war. This collection alone, as all intelligent readers will perceive, is of great historic value besides being of vital interest to all soldiers from Oregon and their families.
The material for the book was nearly all in type. Peace had been declared; and Mrs. Wilmot was rejoicing in the expectation of the return of her eldest son, Richard Kenneth Wilmot, a remarkably fine youth of twenty-three years, from the Siemes-Carey Spruce Camp in the Forest Service [where he had been transferred by the government from the officers' training school at Camp Lewis] and where his special work had been that of an expert in spotting perfect spruce trees for aeroplanes. But one of those dread telegrams came, "Son in hospital - pneumonia - condition serious," signed Surgeon.
A terrible day and night journey - fifty miles of it through the bog and mire of the spruce country - brought the parents to their son, only to learn that he had died four hours before their arrival.
That the mother of Richard Wilmot could summon courage of heart to complete the work of issuing this little volume is one of the miracles of the spiritual life. She and his family, including a lovely young wife of six months, were greatly comforted by the testimonials that came from friends who had known Richard all his life, as to the nobility of his character. These came from his teachers in the Portland Academy, from which he graduated into the Agricultural College of Oregon [of which institution he was also a graduate]; from the superintendent of the Sunday school where he had been a faithful member from early childhool; and from his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Boyd, of the First Presbyterian Church of Portland, Oregon, of which church Richard was also a faithful member. Dr. Boyd emphasized eloquently what all present felt, that this young soldier, in patient, unnoticed toil, had given his life as truly for his country as though he had fallen in the trenches of battle.
After the funeral services the young soldier's from was laid to rest in the family lot in Riverview Cemetery - forever consecrating that lot to human grief and love to the noblest sacrifice of patriotism.
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