Monday, July 31, 2017

Seemingly a world away. . .

from the fighting in the First World War, but caught up in it none the less, today, July 31, a century ago was draft registration day for Hawaii.  For whatever reason, Hawaii"s registration date had followed the general registration date in the continental United States by a couple of weeks.

Hawaii was still a territory, of course, but it residents were U.S. citizens and therefore liable for conscription.  The Selective Service Boards had been working to prepare for conscription since June.  And as it was a territory, and therefore directly subject to Congress in a way that the states were not, the wartime prohibition on alcohol that Congress brought in as a war measure had come into the entire territory on June 6 of this year.

The war was already also impacting Hawaii in numerous ways, showing that World War One truly had a global reach.  Hawaii's Army militia had obtained National Guard Status in 1916.  Its Naval Militia had come into existence only in April but had been seeing service since September on the cruiser the USS St. Louis.  Some German vessels had been interned for months, well before the start of the war, where they'd taken refuge from Japanese patrols.  In April they were seized for U.S. use.  Even the war fever that lead to all sorts of outrageous rumors in the Continental US saw a Hawaiian expression, as rumors that anthrax in Hawaiian cattle herds were the result of action by German agents had already circulated.

Hawaii, of course, was different in 1917 from what it would be in 2017 in all sorts of ways.  It was already regarded as an island paradise, indeed a member of my family lived their at the time and her family, including one of my ancestors, visited on occasion from Canada, and they certainly regarded it that way. But it was very difficult to get to compared to post World War Two when easy commercial air travel would come in.  In many ways, therefore, for at least European Americans it was more of a paradise then than now, being much less populated and much more, well, authentic in areas like Oahu.  Its native and immigrant populations were also more evident in different ways, as this poster demonstrates. The poster has more Portuguese text than English, the Portuguese being a significant migrant population to the Hawaiian islands.  Their influence is still felt today, but it'd be unlikely to find a English/Portuguese official poster such as this now.

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