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Bells of Peace
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November 11, 1918, in a diary for her son, Norwegian author Cora Sandel (1880-1974) wrote, “Peace, you do not understand it and will never understand it, for war will be unthinkable when you are grown up.” ** Later, Sandel wrote, “I grew old during the Second World War, I had a son during the First and live in fear that he will be sacrificed during the Second.” Both Sandel and her son lived to become nonagenarians.
November 8, 1918, the final days of the Great War, Francis Stupey’s grandson Walter was sacrificed on the battlefield in France. Stupey’s duties as a “liaison runner” placed him in a front line trench to relay messages. An artillery shell killed him as he crawled back after retrieving a message from the pocket of another runner who had perished as he approached the entrenched front lines.
As joyful and optimistic as were the last days of war for those who survived and their loved ones, all soldiers returning home did not adjust after months or years in the war theater. Many were profoundly physically affected by the sounds and reverberations of the “shells” and other artillery. Others were crippled and maimed. Yet others suffered neurological damage from chemical (mustard gas) warfare. The term vernacular term shell shock covered a broad spectrum of afflictions and effects.
In fact, most of the post-war patients at the Fort Sheridan Hospital suffered from what is now diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Thousands of American soldiers convalesced to “heal the mind.” at this site. From 1918-1919, the Fort hospital expanded to accommodate 1500-3000 patients.
Fort Sheridan hospital offered gardening therapy and physical exercise, in addition to medical care, in an effort to rehabilitate traumatized and brain-damaged veterans. According to historian Grant Hayter-Menzies, the local Army hospital gained a reputation for better treatments. The hospital closed in 1920.
In 1926, Highland Park installed a memorial to local participants in World War I, located in Memorial Park, adjacent to the Highland Park Public Library. The National Archives and Records Administration holds the Fort Sheridan Hospital records.
*Eric Jonsson ( 1917-2017) was born in Paris during the War.
**Sandel, Cora. The Silken Thread: Stories and Sketches. London: Women's Press, 1988. One Day in November.
Sandel, Cora. Alberta Alone. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1984. Introduction.
HIghland Park Press, June 30, 1921. Reprint of Letter to Pearl Stupey Courson from commanding officer.
***Hayter-Menzies, Grant. From Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division. 2015.