Roll Call on the Prairies

<em>Red Cross Magazine</em>

Cather Praises the Plains

In the July 1919 issue of Red Cross Magazine, Willa Cather published an account of her wartime visit home to Red Cloud:

"In New York the war was one of many subjects people talked about; but in Omaha, Lincoln, in my own town, and the other towns along the Republican Valley, there was nothing but the war.  Everywhere the Red Cross was fully organized and at work, the first Liberty Loan was over-subscribed, many of the young men I knew had not waited for the draft but were already in training camps.  In the afternoons one saw white things gleaming in the sun off through the trees; boys in their shirts and trousers, drilling in the schoolhouse yard or in the Court House Square.

"...the First Division, so largely made up of Western men, made our debut at Cantigny; and when the casualty lists began to appear in the New York papers, morning after morning I saw the names of little towns I knew in Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado -- little country towns, happy and prosperous, where nothing so terrible or so wonderful had ever happened as to drag them into the New York newspapers, towns hidden away in miles of cornfields or tracts of sand and sage; and now their names came out one after another with the name of some boy who brought his home town into the light once and gloriously.  It was like a long roll call, and all the little prairie towns were answering that they were there."

Roll Call on the Prairies