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As It Was: WWI Soldier Writes Thanksgiving Letter from France

A young soldier in France at the end of the First World War sent a Thanksgiving letter to his family 99 years ago.

In a letter dated Nov. 27, 1918, Pfc. Dana Ament of Grants Pass, Ore., said he didn’t expect to have as fine a Thanksgiving dinner as the previous year, but he felt he had a lot more to give thanks for.  He said he was thankful for helping rid the world of the worst enemy in centuries.  He said he’d seen the sacrifices of others in the war and he was thankful for getting through it alive and whole. 

Ament’s letter, eventually printed in the Grants Pass Courier, described leaving New York for France almost a year earlier, with his convoy escorted by little destroyers called mosquito boats.  Finally spotting land, Ament said he saw the stone houses of France and a real castle before they landed. 

He spent five months in a swamp in Lorraine repairing and building roads before joining the famous Chateau Thierry Battle, about an hour from Paris.  Ament returned home in June 1919 after two years of service with three gold stars, indicating he had fought in three major battles. 

Sources: Ament, American Ex. Forces, France, Pvt. 1st Class C.D. "Soldier Letters." Grants Pass Daily Courier, 3 Jan. 1919, p. 3, Historical Oregon Newspapers, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088181/1919-01-03/ed-1/seq-3/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017; "Personal and Local." Grants Pass Daily Courier, 27 June 1919, p. 4. Historical Oregon Newspapers, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088181/1919-06-27/ed-1/seq-4/#index=3&rows=20&proxtext=Dana+Ament&searchType=basic&sequence=0&words=Ament+Dana&page=1. Accessed 19 Oct. 2017.

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.