To the Editor:
National Salvation Army Week is May 14-20 as declared by Congress and proclaimed by every U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. In part, President Eisenhower’s proclamation stated, “The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of human brotherhood. Their work has been a constant reminder to us all that each of us is a neighbor and kin to all Americans. Giving freely of themselves, the men and women of the Salvation Army have won the respect of us all.”
I believe National Salvation Army Week is a time for everyone to reflect on the wide array of programs and services provided to our community by the Salvation Army – food for the hungry, gifts and counsel to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, Christmas Red Kettle Program, relief efforts for disaster victims, camping programs for youth, learning centers for seniors and veterans, and much more 365 days a year.
As one of the largest charitable and service organizations in the world, the Salvation Army has been dispending aid, without discrimination, to those in need since 1865.
The Salvation Army won its recognition and popularity during World War One while serving the American Expeditionary Forces, also known as “Doughboys,” in France. The Salvation Army provided moral support, meals, and mended uniforms, assisted with the supply lines, and served as an important contact for families between the battlefield and homefront. Salvation Army war work in Europe did not end with the armistice. Hospital visitations and nursing aid continued after the war, as did other services for the troops in France and later in Occupied Germany.
The Salvationists were frequently given a commission to get a watch repaired or to buy a Christmas or birthday gift for a loved one back home in the states. They furnished paper and pens and assisted wounded soldiers in writing home. They helped troops returning home by sending telegrams announcing their expected return date and time and even assisting families to reunite at the crowded, busy docks.
The Salvation Army continues the same, “We are here to help and assist,” to this very day.