Did you know this about the IW Knights of Columbus?

Doughboys gather in the reading room of the large K of C hut in Dijon, France, circa 1918 Knights of Columbus Multimedia Archives/J.C. Hemment

Cecilia Hadley has written a wonderful article about the Knights of Columbus effort in World War I.  The piece is too long to publish in this column but the link to the entire article can be found on our Facebook page (address below).  The original article is presented in Colombia On-Line and entitled: A Century after the armistice, the Knights’ work during World War I remains one of the Order’s greatest legacies.

“The United States, after years of debate, mobilized for war in the spring of 1917.  The Supreme Council had a momentous decision to make: Should the Order mobilize, too?

A year earlier, councils in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona had responded spontaneously to assist National Guardsmen sent to the U.S.-Mexico border. The Knights established recreation halls, which were open to all “regardless of creed or color,” and facilitated Mass for Catholic servicemen.

With the world at war, could the Order expand the program to a global scale?  Some Council members thought it unwise to attempt, but support for the idea swelled at the grassroots level. Councils in Missouri and Vermont, for example, quickly raised thousands of dollars to open K of C recreation centers near local military installations.  Canada had entered the war in 1914, and Canadian Knights were also raising funds to support troops.

So, in May 1917, Supreme Knight James A. Flaherty sent a letter to President Woodrow Wilson, proposing to establish centers “for the recreation and spiritual comfort” of servicemen. The proposal was readily accepted, and the Knights’ “hut program” became the flagship initiative of the K of C Committee on War Activities.

The Knights eventually established approximately 250 recreation centers in Europe, as well as 450 in the United States, each with the slogan: ‘Everybody Welcome, Everything Free.’

Find the link to the entire article at www.IWKnights.com/bulletin or at facebook.com/IWknights 9981 and NOW on Twitter at twitter.com/IwKnights.

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