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He kept it on a shelf in our family den, where for years when I was a kid it roared down at us—unappeasably furious (or so I always thought) at being trapped up there on its high perch, with no company except some painted beer mugs and a set of purple glass swizzle sticks. Probably my brother and I were having a skirmish and a shot went wild.I thought my father would be furious, but he didn't say a word.
Pershing and his staff soon realized how ill-prepared the United States was to transport large numbers of soldiers and necessary equipment to the front, where supplies, rations, equipment, and trained soldiers were all in short supply.
Since even the transport ships needed to bring American troops to Europe were scarce, the army pressed into service cruise ships, seized German ships, and borrowed Allied ships to transport American soldiers from New York, New Jersey, and Virginia.
Carefully, almost reverently, he wrapped up the tiger and the shards of its shattered leg and put them away in a box in the basement.
A long time later, years after my father died, my mother and my wife found the box when they were clearing out some old family junk.
World War I was the first time in American history that the United States sent soldiers abroad to defend foreign soil.
On April 6, 1917, when the United States declared war against Germany, the nation had a standing army of 127,500 officers and soldiers.
By the end of the war, four million men had served in the United States Army, with an additional 800,000 in other military service branches.
Once war was declared, the army attempted to mobilize the troops very quickly.
But I have the feeling my father wouldn't have minded that; he never liked other people knowing his business. It's particularly true, I think, of the mementos of soldiers, because nobody other than a soldier remembers the details of any war once it's safely over. I don't have the slightest idea; war just isn't an experience I'm up on.
I was barely young enough to miss the Vietnam draft, and I'm old enough now that the only way I could figure in a future war is as a victim.