Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/77

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and St. Paul, calling especially on the members of the Sokol societies to enlist. Bohemian newspapers in every city publish lists of recruits of their race who have put on the uniform.

Considerable interest has been aroused among the Bohemian-speaking people of this country by the introduction of a resolution in the House of Representatives calling upon the parliamentary bodies of the Allied Powers to make a declaration in favor of re-establishment of Belgium and Serbia, and of freedom for Poland and Ireland. This resolution was introduced by Congressman Medill McCormick from Illinois and is known as House Resolution No. 41. Those who ardently desire freedom for Bohemia are sorely disappointed by the indifference of America to this just demand, the more so as the United States has in the past been the foremost champion of nations struggling for freedom. Representative McCormick and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs before whom the resolution is pending have been deluged with telegrams and petitions asking the inclusion of Bohemia within the scope of the resolution. As no action has as yet been taken on this resolution, it is not too late to address to Congressman McCormick additional appeals in behalf of Bohemia.

In accordance with the recommendation of the Cleveland conference the local branches voted unanimously to have the Central Committee of the Alliance in Chicago for a further term of two years. The committee organized itself on April 4 by the election of the following officers: Dr. L. J. Fisher, president; Dr. Joseph P. Pecival, Mrs. Anna Štolfa and Charles Pergler, vice-presidents; Joseph Tvrzicky, Bohemian secretary; Dr. J. F. Smetanka, English secretary; Vojta Beneš, organizer; Jas. F. Štěpina, treasurer; Adolph Lonek, financial secretary, and J. V. Votava, assistant financial secretary.

The eastern branches of the Alliance had a very successful, enthusiastic and harmonious conference in New York, April 14 and 15. Over three hundred delegates were present and the spirit of the meeting is best expressed in the motto adopted by it: One million dollars before the end of the year.


This was the parting message which Bohemian boys of Chicago took away with them, when they left for Jefferson barracks.

The response of Chicago people to the patriotic call for volunteers was remarkable. The Bohemian Alliance and the Sokol Union of America appointed a joint recruiting committee with the idea of enlisting enough men to form at least one regiment. A delegation went to see Captain Franklin R. Kenney in charge of recruiting in the Chicago district, and were informed by him that it would be feasible to have men of Bohemian race kept together, of course under officers assigned to the regiment by the War Department. A mass meeting was immediately arranged by the committee, and after an address by Captain Kenney over forty young men came forward to offer their lives in defense of their country. The Pilsen Sokols turned over rooms in their hall without charge for the purpose of establishing a regular recruiting station, and Captain Kenney assigned the first Bohemian volunteer, John Vosatka, to be the recruiting sergeant in charge. In two days one hundred and twenty young men were enrolled, passed by the physicians and accepted for service in the U. S. army. Only about half a dozen were rejected for physical defects, and the appearance of the Bohemian boys, most of them trained gymnasts, elicited flattering remarks from the army doctors. The first batch were sent away Monday, April 16th. It was a great occasion for the Chicago Southwest Side.

The recruits gathered in the Sokol Havlíček Tyrš Hall, and after impassioned speeches by the Sokol leaders and spokesmen for the boys, the flag of the Society, stars and stripes on one side, Bohemian lion on the other, was presented to the detachment which was looked upon as the nucleus of a Bohemian unit in Uncle Sam’s army. Led by a military band and followed by thousands of friends the recruits marched from the hall to the army office on South State Street and from there to the depot, a distance of seven miles. At the depot American and Bohemian hymns were sung by the crowd that overflowed the platforms, and the train pulled out amid thunderous cheers of “Na zdar” and “Na shledanou”.

A second smaller detachment left Wednesday and another, numbering over one hundred and fifty, the following Monday. The week which witnessed this outburst of patriotism on the part of the Bohemian people of Chicago was the very same week in which crowds of young fellows overran the county building in quest of marriage licenses intending to avoid military service by getting married. Many of our boys also visited the county building, but with a totally different purpose. They went there to make their declaration of intention to become American citizens, in order that they might have the privilege of fighting against Germany.

It is a pity that the policy of the War Department does not permit the formation of special regiments. Adjutant General Robert C. Davis, wrote in reply to a petition of the joint recruiting committee for the assignment of men of Bohemian race to the same regiment as follows: “It is not the policy of the Department to localize regiments or to have any particular regiments composed of men of any particular class or nationality. . . . It is impracticable therefore to authorize the formation of any regiment or regiments composed entirely of Bohemians, nor is it practicable to promise assignments to or continued service of any men or group of men in the same regiment.”

This order will make it impossible to keep track of men of Bohemian birth and descent who enlist in the army without waiting for conscription. It is, however, already certain that the percentage of recruits of Czech race will exceed the percentage of Americans of other stock. Captain Kenney, to whose efforts is due the record of Illinois as the state furnishing most recruits to the regular army, had this to say in a letter ad-