Protecting our grandfathers’ morals

Brief by Central Staff

Leadville history – May 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

Wonder who contributed from State Street

Last fall, many conservative candidates for office, from Bob Dole on down, spoke as though America had once been a perfectly virtuous and moral nation until it was degraded by Baby Boomers and the Biased Liberal Media.

This short pamphlet appeared in 1918, when many of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were off in France, fighting the War to End All Wars (a/k/a World War I).

The idea was to raise money (Leadville’s quota was $2,500) to provide the soldiers with wholesome recreational facilities — card games, checkers, stationery, billiards, dominoes, circulating libraries, etc.

Without those behind-the-lines pursuits, “there is no place for the soldier to find his recreation while off duty but the drinking places and brothels,” and “he is sought after by the camp followers and the lewd women of the cities.”

This could lead to “unspeakable diseases,” reducing the army’s effectiveness. As an unnamed young major put it, “Every day I am losing my boys. I’ve lost more men through these forces of immorality than through the enemy’s shot and shell.”

And so, the YMCA launched a national campaign to raise money for recreational facilities for American soldiers in France, so that they wouldn’t patronize prostitutes eighty years ago.

Certainly that was a worthy goal, but it also indicates that American morals weren’t perfect in the “good old days.”