Coming Home from the Great War
More than 600 Vermonters died overseas fighting in World War I. But thousands more brought their unique experiences of battle back to their home state.
This Episode’s Featured Object:
“Oh, You Twenty-Sixth Division” Sheet Music
Paul Carnahan: Below the illustration of the troops, it says, “Words and music are by Fritz Buchner.” And it’s published by the author, Fritz Buchner, at 46 Pearl Street, Burlington, Vermont.
Amanda Gustin: Fritz Buchner, our friend Fritz, kind of an interesting guy. He was actually born in Burlington. His parents were German immigrants…It strikes me as really interesting that a first-generation German immigrant would be going all-in like this on the American war effort.
Paul: But on the other hand, he probably felt a need to prove his Americanism and that he supported the American cause and not the cause of his parents’ homeland.
Images: (Top) John Aubrey Gordon was born in Barre in 1888. Gordon was a Dartmouth student when he signed up with the American Field Service.
Linda Radtke is a singer and researcher. Some of her repertoire comes from sheet music housed in the Vermont Historical Society.
John McCrae played a key role in the early years of the University of Vermont’s medical school. His poem about World War One, “In Flanders Fields,” made him famous.
Linda Radke: Well, it’s right in the popular song tradition. You could almost write it yourself, and I can imagine the song coming out, being shown in the window of his printing shop. And I also see, around the piano, people singing this to build up their strength and courage for the conflict.
Linda Radtke is a singer and researcher. Some of her repertoire comes from sheet music housed in the Vermont Historical Society. Like this song:
Paul Carnahan: I’ve got an interesting decorative cover on a piece of sheet music. It’s orange and blue and it has the title on it, Oh, You 26th Division. And there’s a column of troops marching toward me, led by a soldier on a white horse. And up in the left-hand corner is a man in uniform embracing a young woman, kissing a young woman, actually, as the troops are marching away….And below the illustration of the troops, it says, “Words and music are by Fritz Buchner.” And it’s published by the author, Fritz Buchner, at 46 Pearl Street, Burlington, Vermont.
Before Your Time is presented by the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Humanities Council, and VTDigger. This episode was produced by Amanda Gustin and Mike Dougherty.
Thanks to Linda Radke, Paul Carnahan, Brennan Gauthier, Kate Bright and Sarah Dopp.
Music by The United States Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, Blue Dot Sessions and Chad Crouch, with selections from “Songs of World War I” digitized by F. Reeder.