The Canteen: Sacrifice and Community during World War II

Arcadia. Oct. 2022. 112p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781467197076.
Gr 3-7–World War II came to the United States after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. government started recruiting soldiers in 1940, but after war was officially declared, hundreds of thousands of men enlisted or were called up to serve. Trained at camps around the country, the men were all trundled to their destination by rail, which inevitably brought them through North Platte, NE. The story of the Canteen begins there on a snowy Christmas Day, when the townsfolk gathered hoping to greet their hometown boys for one last goodbye before they shipped off. Though the train they met at the station didn’t hold their own regiment, they made a good-natured decision to not let the food, money, and gifts they’d brought go to waste, sharing their bounty with the strangers on board instead. Rae Wilson, one of the women at the station that night, had the bold idea to make that North Platte’s mission: to greet every incoming troop train with warm coffee, plenty of food, heartfelt greetings, and loving well wishes upon their departure. That’s just what the North Platte Canteen did for 51 continuous months of service. Using photos, letters, and a multitude of original artifacts, Groce shares this uplifting story of a community coming together in a time of great hardship.
VERDICT With the look and feel of a scrapbook, this piece of history is a unique portrait of the home front during a significant event in American history. A notable, unique addition to nonfiction collections.

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