In 1917 when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, the entire nation went to war. Families didn’t just send their sons and daughters overseas, they too were expected to make sacrifices. None other than Herbert Hoover (future president) was in charge of making certain the soldiers and sailors had enough food by making families conserve. His plan was simple—give up one thing per day of the week to help the war effort and bore his name, Hooverizing.
There were Wheatless Mondays (corn meal was substituted)
Meatless Tuesdays (beans and fish were substituted)
Porkless Saturdays (beans and fish were substituted)
Heatless days to conserve coal (needed to power the steamships carrying troops and supplies overseas)
Legal holidays every Monday during the winter to conserve coal
Industrial shutdowns to conserve coal.
And the introduction of Daylight Savings Time to allow work to be done during normal daylight hours.
Woman in large cities were sent to pick over rotted produce to save what could be saved and canned for troop use. These volunteers rescued millions of tons of produce and received extra rations for their families for their work.
Land Armies were created in every available lot to grow produce and we saw the rise to the Victory Gardens usually associated with World War 2. Families sent jars of grease collected from their kitchens for the war effort. Every association banded together to create comfort bags and donate goods to relief efforts.
The efforts were enough to turn the tide of a war that had been stalemated for years and bring an end to the suffering of peoples on both sides of the conflict. So as we look back at the centennial, take a moment to be thankful for those whose sacrifices have been mostly forgotten and remember that when humanity stands united, anything is possible.